I have a wife who was raised baptist and is non denomination Christian now. We have a 6 yr old boy and a 4 yr old girl. I am atheist. There were no good pre-schools in our area other than a private Lutheran school. I naturally want the best education for my my girl but dislike the religion aspect. My wife does not go to church so my kids are not really exposed to religion regularly. At the moment when my kids talk about "God" I just nod say what ever and ignore them. I have told my wife that when they get old enough to question me about my beliefs I will tell them exactly the way I believe. She still reads them children bible stories and I ignore them. I just wonder if any of you are in the same or similar situation and how do you handle it?
My son is 4 and my partner is kind of religious, not at all practicing, but still finds fundamentalism insulting. Luckily we had the choice of where to send our son and we chose the school that was unconnected with the church.
I have a few nutty relatives that keep sending what I call religious propaganda (christmas stories) and although I know she reads them to him on occasion, I never read them to him. We have never read him bible stories.
We have agreed not to involve him in religion and bring him up with an open mind.
I'm copying a comment from a comment on a different post.
My kids go to a catholic school. There are very few non-denominational school where I live and the schools academic record is good. I had to made the decision based on the overall good of my childrens education and I felt it would be wrong to pick a school simply based on my religions beliefs.
So when they come home talking about prayer and God I have to put up with it to a certain degree because I made that choice. I teach them critical thinking myself and when they are old enough to understand I will explain my point of view.
I don't want to do anything to make their school life harder and unfortunalely I DO believe that some teachers might not like the idea of an infidel in their midst.
What I object to tho and vehemently correct is when a teacher uses God as an answer to a non-religions question.
My daughter asked her teacher why is her friends hair curly...she was told because God did it.
I waited until I was calm and explained to my daughter about DNA and Genes (as simply as I could...she IS only 7) and told her that is the real reason.
I am very concious of the nature of kids to turn away from what their parents do/believe so that is why I do not push my disbelief on them just yet. They are too young IMO. But I will correct blatently incorrect statments like God did it and steer them in the direction of using their own minds.
Your situation is frighteningly similar to mine. My wife was raised in the Bible belt (Assembly of God), but would probably now be considered non-denominational, but still believes (just not quite as literally as most). She doesn't read the kids Bible stories, but probably would if she didn't think it would bother me. We have a 6-year-old girl and an 8-month-old boy. I'm an atheist, basically always have been.
We put our daughter into a daycare a while back that was seemingly non-religious. It was on school grounds, and beyond an inspirational phrase in the owner's office, and fish on her vehicle, there was no sign of it. The daycare grew, split between two locations, and her age range was moved to the new location, on the grounds of (and sharing a building with) a Lutheran Church. Within weeks I was hearing all about God from her, she was being taken to chapel, I was hearing awful things out of her mouth ("If you put up your middle finger, God will hate you"), they were making religious crafts, watching religious movies, they had a poster for EXPELLED (%$#$&*$#*#!!!!) on their door for a couple of weeks, and I was pissed off.
My wife thankfully agreed with me mostly on the issue. We had NOT chosen a religious daycare, they had NOT disclosed to us that they'd be teaching our kids religion, and my wife is NOT Lutheran. Even if we were both Christian, they were teaching her things that may not fit our version of Christianity (what a mess), and therefore that's not their place. That belongs at home.
We eventually pulled her out of there and made some changes.
But it is hard for me. I hear my daughter say things she picks up from school or friends or my wife's family, and she's at an age where she believes whatever she's told. Plus, right now, I have a lot less to offer her. When she wants to know something, "God did it," and all the other religious answers make a lot more sense to her than the truth. I'm slowly getting in there, teaching her about astronomy, and nature. And when she comes up with something directly fallacious I can head it off. "God made me." No, you know all about how your brother was born, and that's how you came into the world, too. WE made you. "But God made you." No, you've met my mother and father, and mommy's parents. THEY made us. People make new people. "Oh." Or when she says we need to pray and thank God for making the food we eat at dinner. But God didn't make the food, you watched Mommy make it. You should be thanking Mommy. "Oh, but God put the food in the pantry for us to make." No, you've seen us go to the grocery store and buy the food. "Oh, yeah. But God put the food in the grocery store." No, the people who work at the grocery store unload it off the delivery truck. "So God put the food in the delivery truck?" No, people who work at the warehouses put the food on the delivery truck. "Did God put the food in the warehouses?" No, it was delivered to the warehouses where it came from the places where other PEOPLE made that food, growing it out of the ground, and putting everything together. If we're going to thank anyone, we need to thank all those different people who made it possible for you to eat right now.
It's that kind of thinking I'm trying to teach her. To work around the easy answer and think of the reality. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of time. But we're getting there slowly. As long as I can teach her to think critically and question everything, whatever she decides in the end I can be comfortable with. If her thinking leads her to a different conclusion than mine, I can accept that.
Wow Turbo, that sound terrible. I would flip if my kids school went as far as thinking Expelled was a good idea!!!
Thankfully my daughter doesn't seem to see God in that way at all (as being responsible for everything).
Recently my wife and I have been reading them (instead of bedtime stories) the Why, Why, Why books ( this is one of them http://www.amazon.com/Why-Cant-Penguins-Fly-Encyclopedia/dp/1842366...) and they LOVE them. For me it is great because it gives me a gilt edged opportunity to introduce them to evolution, science, astronomy but because they look forward to the night time read (or "my learning time" as my 5 year old calls it) it sinks in a bit easier.
Thanks for the input. I am glad I am not the only one out here with this problem. You have a good approach to heading of the God did everything statements. I am trying to lead my son to science and thinking for himself. My wife does not really push the religion thing but she does not stop if they ask or want a religious book read. As for that daycare, I would have been furious. They would have heard an ear full from me even though it would do nothing to change those people.
I agree with your last part about leading them to think critically and question everything. If my kids feel they need to believe in a myth when they get older then I can accept that too.
Well I think it's okay for kids to believe in god, even if both parents are atheist. Kids need a sense of security that comes from believing things are going to be fine, whether that comes from believing in heaven or santa or that their dad is indestructible and their mom is all knowing. My daughter for the longest time thought I ate monsters cuz they tasted real good and they generally avoided our house, and would never be found in her closet or under her bed.
Me and my daughter who is 8 had a talk about santa and she more or less said she doesn't believe, my reply was "when I was a kid I stopped believing in santa.I'm not going to tell you what to tell your mommy, but I didn't tell my mom, I knew if she thought I didn't believe in santa there would be no extra present from santa." I assume(hope) in a few years I might be saying "when I was a kid I stopped believing in god, I'm not going to tell you what to tell your mommy...." and at that point go ahead and discuss my views.
Good line on the 'thanking chain.' This is what I've been trying to impress on my nieces; lots of people worked hard in the process to get the food here, nothing supernatural happened. Also getting them to help make dinner seems to impress on them that its 'us' that make the food.
I was raised in a really restrictive religion. My ex was raised baptist. My husband was raised Presbyterian. We put our kids in a religious pre-school because that was the only choice around. It was Methodist and a really good pre-school. I'm not sorry.
I would never say whatever and ignore my kids though. I don't think that is the best tact to take. I think it send a message of neglect which will earn you nothing good.
If you are wise you can over come all this by doing things with your kids and communicating with them. You don't have to address religion specifically. It's far more important to say, "What do you think?" rather than tell them what you want them to think at this age.
At one time I was worried that my son might turn out religious but that phase passed. It's difficult in the bible belt where we live. Social things often hinge on what church you go to.
Currently our kids are teens. They are not religious. They are ethical and moral. They are great human beings, particularly when you consider we raised em and we were trouble. LOL.
Wow, you sound exactly like me and my husband. The only pre-school in our school district is a catholic school and I really don't want religious views forced on my kids either. If you are really concerned about putting your daughter in pre-school, put her in an educational daycare. I personally didn't go to pre-school and I was among the top of my class, so it really isn't a must. My oldest [he's 3] will just wait. I'd rather have him wait then be brainwashed at a local religious school. As far as telling your children about your beliefs, I think you're doing the right thing. It's what I'm doing too. My kids rarely mention "Jesus" or "God" but when they do, they get directed to their Daddy. Keep doing what you've been doing, it sounds like you and your wife are doing a fine job.
I feel you. Just to know that I am not the only one feels better, already. I am a Buddhist, but I pretty much hold atheist/secular views, that is, I believe ALL is GOD: you, I, everyone and everything. I guess I am an atheist as far as the existence of a separate, non-human deity is concerned; such a god is a figment of human imagination.
My wife is a practicing Christian, and I used to be one as well. In fact, I kind of contributed to her being one back then. The chief four reasons why I abandoned the faith were: 1.when my prayers really mattered they were unanswered, with the coup-the grace, or straw breaking the camel’s back the time when my brother was fatally stabbed in the heart and I prayed to Jesus to let him survive. You can guess the outcome of that one. The second reason was that I was in college studying philosophy and the more I learned the more pointless religion and the Christian god were getting, which contributed to steady decline of my religious beliefs. It’s true what Christians say: you want to fall out of love with Christian god, get educated. Thirdly, I began to look around the world and asking questions about evil, satan, god, free will and “god being in charge”. Fourth reason was that I fell back in love with my pre-Christian music, heavy metal, with even stronger emphasis on Death and Black Metal, two of the most anti-religious genres of music in existence. I was drawn to the philosophy of the musicians, who espoused basically atheist/secular views of the world and mankind. Still, bits and pieces of “the old religion” remained in me until June 7, 2008.That day my brother was murdered, and when he died, so did my religion, so did my Christianity. In fact, I had new found hatred for all religion (Buddhism is not a religion, but a philosophy; you can be an atheist and a Buddhist at the same time). Yet my wife continued in the faith.
We have two boys, ages 3 and 3 months, and we both decided we will not raise them in any religion but let them choose for themselves later. Ideally, as I hate all religion, I would like them to be irreligious, but they have a free will and should decide for themselves. What me and my wife share is the utter contempt for fundamental religion, especially Christianity. However, my wife does read the bible and holds it in certain esteem, so she is probably less sensitive to Christian propaganda from movies, CDs, books, etc., than I am.
Christian fundamentalists like to complain about supposed oppression of Christians, ever tried to run for political office as an open atheist? Good luck! What they want is theocracy for America, and the quickest way for them to achieve that is to brainwash the next generation of leaders, our children.
Therein lies the problem. My wife’s family is all Christians, good people, hardly fundamentalists, but committed. Now, I can usually distinguish between the believer and the belief. While the former gets my respect and compassion, the latter can only be met with scorn and loathing. I especially hate proselytizing.
My older son, a 3 year old toddler has a pretty good grasp of what is being said to him and he repeats EVERYTHING. He is ripe for the brainwashing, if you will. Well meaning family showers my son with Christian books, bible stories, CDs and movies with messages such as “god made you special”, “god loves me very much because the bible says so” and my personal “favorite”, “be careful little hands what you touch, be careful little ears what you hear”. These tools of Christian propaganda are wrapped in neat little stories, ostensibly innocent, but potent with repetitive slogans.
All it takes is 3 times to repeat something in front of my son and he picks it up. Personally, I am not as concerned about him picking up curse words, as I am about him starting to repeat religious slogans, like a mantra. You can imagine that this pisses me off to no end. I tried to talk to my wife and my mother-in-law about that but they say that I am just too worried and sensitive or even that I am intolerant, with my mother-in-law even getting offended. So I tried to ignore all of it, but it really bothers me. Any of you has a similar problem and cares to share a solution, one you have tried and it worked? I appreciate your help in advance,
I feel for you. I was talking to an atheist friend the other day and we both agreed we didn't know if we could handle being married to a "believer." We are both, obviously, not. My atheistic views are very strong, and I DO NOT want my children to grow up being hand-fed Biblical nonsense. I want them to think. Children are such innocent, trusting little people. If you tell them there's a big magical man in the sky watching their every move, they will believe you. It will shape who they are.
I have no advice for you. But I sure do feel for you. Good luck!
I raised three sons with the first two attending a very small catholic school. One of them for 3 years and the other 1 year before we moved and decided to homeschool, not because of our religious beliefs or to protect them from the religiosity in our bible belt public schools, but because it was the right choice for us for other reasons.
My oldest, being in the catholic school the longest and also being one to like the idea of a god from a young age, is still pretty religious. He's 22 now. I was agnostic for most of their lives but didn't really see a problem with religion until the last few years.
In my experience with raising young children, I think it is a very risky proposition to allow religious people to, in effect, raise our kids. I feel like I encouraged my oldest son to question everything but yet he chooses to believe in a god. I don't feel like I did enough to talk to him about other options for his spiritual search.
My recommendation would be to stay on top of the situation and participate in your child's education as much as possible so that you know exactly what it is that your child is learning. Religion depends on hooking the children by working on their emotions. Many times children are not mature enough to realize this and many people in religion will take advantage of that, even to the point of making children fear their own parents if it is discovered that their parents don't believe in god.
I don't say this to scare you, but to encourage you to keep an open line of communication. When your child comes home with statements of a religious nature, do not tell them they are wrong, but ask them what they think about it. Encourage them to think, critically, on their own. Because you can't always be there for them.