I intend to have children, even though I don't have any yet. I live in the US... so it will be impossible not to have my children exposed by outside sources to Christianity.

 

As much as I want to protect them from this evil institution... I know I have to in some way prepare them for it. I have read of some horrible stories from atheist parents.

 

One parent said that she had to file a restraining order against an evangelical neighbor who pulled her children aside and told them to "run away" because their home "was evil."

 

Another reported that her 7 year old little boy came home from school sobbing after a bunch of his classmates backed him into a corner and demanded that he believe in Jesus while the teacher did nothing.

 

It goes on and on.

 

I REFUSE to expose my children to the holy porn that is the bible before they are at least 12. I can't justify showing them the horrors in that book when they have made ME as a 22 year old adult shiver and have to put the book down after an hour or less sometimes wanting a drink more badly than ever. I am a horror fanatic... but the bible is sometimes too much for even me. HOW can I expose my child to that before they are ready to handle it?!

 

Furthermore... what should I say when the inevitable question comes... "What's God, Mommy?"

There are a couple of difficulties with this...

1. God is a concept that is difficult to define even with adults

2. The Christian God is an evil tyrant that I don't know how to explain to a child without scaring him/her

3. How do I teach the child not to say things about the non-existence of god when they could get into serious trouble for doing so.

 

 

Furthermore... I don't know if I'm ready to handle the persecution my child will probably recieve as a non-christian child in this society.

 

I have worried about this for a while.

 

What age do you think I should expose my child to religion? And how should I go about doing it? When are they ready to be exposed to the bible?

 

You guys don't have to answer all of these questions... but some help and reassurance is much obliged.

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I am letting my kids (7 and 2) encounter religion on their own.  We live in Salt Lake City a couple of blocks from the Mormon temple.  My 7 year old has asked some questions and I usually give him the "some people believe" answer and why I think they believe that.  And, if he asks, I tell him what I believe.  My 2 year old thinks the temple is a castle.  And for now, that is just fine with me.  Don't make a big deal about it.  And don't worry.  Give your children the tools to think critically and they will figure it out for themselves. 

"Mommy, what's God?"

"Sweety, God is what people use to explain what they don't understand. Now, finish your vegetables."

Wow!  Were you listening in at my dinner table last night?

If you let your child out into society they are going to be exposed to the concept of god at an early age. I don't have my own children but I do teach a whole class of 4 and 5 year olds. Every year I have a few children who ask some really deep questions. How I answer them depends on the family they come from and the nature of the question. 

 

What age do you think I should expose my child to religion?

When your child starts asking about religion or god that is when you as a parent need to address their questions as honestly as you can. If you ignore their questions even if they are very young they will find answers which my be correct or not elsewhere. I'm not really sure how I'd answer questions about god for my own kids but I imagine it would go something like this:

 

What is god? - Some people believe in god others do not. Your parents do not believe in god. For those people who do believe in god, god is a very powerful being who they think created the whole universe.

Is god real? - No. God is just one idea among many ideas about how the universe got here and it's not a very good idea because no one has any evidence that a god did it.

Why do people believe in god? - There are many reasons people might believe in god, I don't know all of them. One of the reasons I do know is because they were taught to believe in god and another is that some people believe in god because they think believing in god makes them feel good.

Why don't you believe in god? - There are much better ideas about how the universe got here and because those people who do believe in god do not have any evidence for god.

 

I'd try to keep the answers short, simple, to the point, and not give them more information then they really need.

 

When are they ready to be exposed to the bible?

When they can read well enough to understand the bible and if they even have an interest in reading the bible. I don't think it's really all that important for young kids to be exposed to the bible. For literary reasons some exposure to the bible in the high school years might be useful. Really the book is so hard to read and so long that most children aren't going to read it unless it's forced upon them. Most adults who believe in the damn thing have never even read more than a few passages.

 

Yes to all of these answers. One of the questions that spoke to me, 

 

3. How do I teach the child not to say things about the non-existence of god when they could get into serious trouble for doing so.

 

I wouldn't prevent them for saying what they want. If the shit hits the fan, that's when Pops shows up and points the fan back at them says, "Does anyone want me to turn it on?" There is certainly a respect factor, but I would be more concerned about being sure that they know to just be themselves even if it means that some people won't be their friends because of it. 

 

These are good parenting concerns Skycomet.

Thank you.

Regarding the last question, I don't think some adults are (were) ready to be exposed to the bible. Results will vary.

I am an Atheist with 4 christian children. my kids are 8,7,5,&4. I've been an Atheist since november 2010 so naturally before then we went to church occasionally and my older two went to christian preschool. I have not told them god does not exist because it would be to confusing for them right now. My 7 year old said to me today mom I've been praying and praying that you would come to church with us (they go to church with my mother in law), I told her that I was sorry, but I have things to do while they are at church (work and school work). I think the people who have answered before me have the right idea. I wish that I would have been an atheist before I had children so that way they would not have been indoctrinated from the get go. i don't know when I will tell them that I do not believe in god. I guess when they quit believeing in santa clause would be a good time. Hope all goes well on this topic for you when you do decide to have children.

Thanks for posting!  I am in a similar situation, in that my two kids believe, and go to church with their mother.  I became an atheist when my oldest was 3.  He is now 6 and she is almost 4.  Their mother, my wife is impossible to talk to about religion.  She just refuses to speak about it at all.  It would be much easier if she would come around to the thinking world, but for now teaching the children to question everything, and think for themselves will have to do.  Hopefully one day they will all apply that to the belief system they are being exposed to.

 

It is refreshing to hear your story as it is an entirely new perspective for me.  Hopefully we can all take baby steps to a more rational and thoughtful future.  

honestly at this point I don't know where my husband stands, He is/was having issues with all of it, it's a lot to take in. In the past 6 months my husband has gone from christian to satnaist to christian and as of right now I don't know where he stands. He knows my views and thinks it makes sense, but he likes the theatrics of it all (his beliefs)...But as far as the kids go it's just one of those things that takes time. I think they will eventually realize that god doesn't exist one day. I mean my kids ask "him' for stuff all the time. "mom go to church" "please don't let it rain on my birthday" (it still rained). and little stuff like that. They are already saying here and there they don't want to go to church. So things may turn around sooner than I think. I must admit though, it's nice having the house to myself on sunday morning lol, it just sucks that the only way my mother in law would have them on sunday morning is if they are going to church.... go figure lol

I feel for you brother.  That's a tough situation.  I hope you can come to terms with your wife.  

My situation is similar.  My kids are 14 and 11 and I've been on a journey towards atheism for the last 10 years with the last 2 totally accepting my atheism.  My wife has been a non-practicing catholic for the last 8 years so my kids don't have much exposure.  She still holds onto some of her beliefs of heaven but generally does not like discussing religion. 

My kids have asked about religion and I've told them my position.  In general, I've tried to teach them to be skeptical and to use critical thinking skills.  I will accept them no matter what they end up believing as long it their own decision.

Good luck.

Just out of curiosity, why are they still attending church? Of course, you're a very recent de-convert! Are you not ready to let go of the community? Is your husband Christian? Maybe you can transform Sunday into a Science Day and go on field trips to learn about things other than Jesus :)

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