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.
The fact that the kids are saying they were praying for her stuck out for me too. I'm pretty sure that its being discussed with the kids that she isn't going to church with the intent to guilt you into going or to damage your future relationship if you don't fall for the guilt trip.
Don't FORCE your kid to share your beliefs. Let them decide. I know a few people who are christians and they want nothing to do with their parents because all they ever did was try and persuade them that there is no God. On the other hand, I know plenty of christians who have great relationships with their atheist parents. Which do you want?
I have to ask this though. Do you force your kid not to believe in Santa? In that context, there really isn't a choice. The fact is, there's no such thing as Santa... and it would be unhealthy to allow your kid to carry the delusion into adulthood. There's absolutely no difference. But parents who tell their kids Santa isn't real aren't "forcing" a lack of belief in Santa on their kids; they're being honest.
I just think the more education a parent delivers to their kid, the better. I would treat the topic of Christianity like I would the topic of Greek mythology, or any other ancient religion people collectively accept as myth. I think it's best to tell kids all about Christianity! I'd also tell my kids about the Norse gods, the Druids, the Mayans... but allowing them to "choose" between those ancient religions seems absurd. Sacrificing our babies to the Sun God is out of the question. It's interesting history, nothing more... and it shouldn't be validated by saying it's a "choice".
i am not a parent, at 20 but eventually i will be. here's my two cents in it.
and as you build anti belief in them, be sure to install criticism in them, if you nudge them to see the idiocy of santa claus and easter bunny then they'll not be so swayed by christianity. the best skeptic is a cynic and you root that in with sarcasm, so as you ease in the topic of god, you then add on the blanks with humor, they'll soon laugh at the thought of a naked guy in the sky not think real hard about it.
- why dont we go to church
- because the bible doesnt say we should
Personally, I would be very open with my kids about the concept of a god/gods... just like I'll be open with them about other mythological creatures. I find Greek mythology fascinating, and Christian mythology could be just as fascinating if I didn't have such resentment towards the religion. I wouldn't hesitate to discuss the origins of Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc... because even those came from Pagan religions. I don't want my kid to have to ask; I want them to know before they ever encounter other kids with fundie backgrounds. The more knowledge they have, the better able they'll be to either refute or simply dismiss the kids whose parents believe in fairy tales.
Many of the Greek myths are quite violent... lots of incest and rape, murder and torture... you just have to tell them the gist of the stories without going into detail until they're older. I think it's important for children to understand culture, and religion is part of culture. It would be easy enough to explain that, thousands of years ago, people believed in Zeus and Athena, and built temples to honor these gods; they worshiped those mythical beings just like Christians today worship mythical beings... both were ignorant to the fact their gods weren't real. I can just hear the kid going "Ohhhh I get it now!" Adults who believe in gods were never told by their parents that they weren't real, just like the kids who still believe in Santa.
I suggest taking it less seriously. The more nonchalant you are about it, the less your kid will be traumatized by the concepts of religion. You can't be overly protective, or overly sheltering... or they may suspect you're hiding something. The more a parent tries to shield their kid from something, the more that kid wants to find out about it. And you don't want them learning about all this from someone else. It's kinda just like talking about sex. If you're open, honest, and nonchalant, they won't feel such a burning curiosity and will have the knowledge to cope with the issue when it comes up outside the home.
Remember... it's ALWAYS better to be educated than to be sheltered.
We definitely do this-- it's a great history lesson. I also always like to point out that the god(s) differ depending on the people and the region. It might not make a lot of sense to them yet, but it will hopefully get them thinking later.
Mostly, I just want them to make up their own mind. I want them to think.