My parents encouraged me to be a free thinker despite my mother being active in the church.  I was an atheist from my teenage years.

I never deliberately influenced my daughters I feel but I too encouraged free thinking.  They didn't take to football, or my politics but did become sceptics.  They did gain an understanding of science-fiction however.  I am not sure that their lack of religion ever affected them at school although my youngest did make a stand against attending the collective worship.  Both finished with very good results and continuing support from the school.

A few months ago my parents celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.  They chose to do this with a blessing in the church where my mother is a Worship Leader followed by a Barn dance in the church hall.  Of course I had to help arrange the function and was most concerned about the Methodist restriction on alcohol on their premises!

As part of the service that preceded the dry festivities my parents wanted all their grand-children to take part.  As my kids were grown up teenagers a full reading was expected.  I had mixed emotions when my daughters refused!

Neither daughter wanted to go the church and they certainly didn't seem to want to read any religious passage particularly one from the bible.  Of course I was happy with their anti-theist stand but thought respect for their grand-parents might override those feelings.

This left me in the strange position of negotiating with my offspring to convince them to take part in a religious service.  They agreed to read Corinthians 13 as they thought it was akin to poetry and didn't mention god.

Unfortunately when the Order of Service was issued it contained a more modern version of the biblical passage- one littered with deifications.  My children went equipped with the KJV of the text and read this generating tears appropriate for the occasion.

The rest of the day also went well and although I am proud of my parents and the support and upbringing they afforded me my kids do all right too.

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Comment by Suzanne Olson-Hyde on November 8, 2011 at 1:41am

Your parents weren't too "Fire and Brimstone', 'cause you turned out ok - a rational human being.

It is always difficult when it is someone close, loved and respected, wants a xian ceremony of some sort, but out of respect for your parents, I think you did the right thing.

Be very proud of your kids. they are old enough to cope, and also have respect for your parents.

They have empathy, the same as you, really good Atheists.

Your parents aren't going to change. If they were nasty little shites along with their religion, that would be a totally different matter. They bought you up the best way they knew how, and that is what you have to respect them for.

Your parents know you are an Atheist, but they still wanted you and your children there. it is all about the ceremony, another rite of passage for them.



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