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56

I agree with Tim H insofar as requiring a child to pray when he is too young to have any idea what he's doing, besides folding his hands and repeating after you, is pointless. As to the second part of your question, how to raise a child without forcing your religious beliefs on him... I come from a religion that specifically forbids one from proselytizing, ...


44

As an atheist, how should I explain theism to my children? Treat all religions the same way: explain that they exist, and that you don't believe in them, but you do believe that everybody should make up his own mind on what to believe / believe in. As a non-believer, this can be hard to pull off without sounding dismissive toward the concept of religion ...


33

I think the best approach is to lead by example. Forcing a child to do something they don't want to, without making sure they understand why, runs the risk of fostering resentment. If you and your wife consistently pray before meals, eventually he will start to feel left out and want to participate. Don't force him to pray, but tell him he has to wait ...


28

My answer is going to be a simple one: Teach them why you believe what you believe, and let them make up their own mind This will have the additional benefit of teaching them to think critically in general.


24

You raise them with morals by being good parents and instilling your own values upon them. Morals don't require some form of sanctioned text books.


19

Speaking as an atheist whose child has religious grandparents, my method has been to put religion on a par with any other choice in life and not elevate it to have any special place as more or less important than a great many other choices in life. If someone believes in God and wants you to do the same, then it's up to you to decide if you want to. It's ...


16

My wife is religious. I am atheist. Our kids seem fine. They go to church with her and learn bible stories. If they ask me questions, I answer honestly. Usually "well, some people think that, some people don't" I'd say there is little to worry about psychologically. Having MORE religious point of views in a household seems less harmful than only one ...


16

Part of this answer depends on how much you teach, and trust, your child to question what he has been taught, and to allow him to arrive at his own conclusions. Leading by example is probably the most important factor in this. Your son likes the stories. Can you let him hear all the stories, i.e. take some time in Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim classes, as ...


15

In the following, I'll answer from my perspective as a son of a nonreligious father, and as a nonreligious father myself. Summary: Mixing a Christian and a strong nonbeliever will cause significant tension. Is it that ridiculous to request data to support conclusions one way or the other? Possibly yes. We'd all like to have more solid evidence ...


15

I can tell you how, as an Atheist, I would raise my child. 2 years old is way too young to be able to make any reasonable decision about religion. When he got older or started asking questions, I'd start telling him about Christianity -- but not only Christianity. I think that it is of the utmost importance that religion be presented in whole. Christianity ...


15

As a freethinker I can see the relevance of your question, and I applaud you for raising the topic and asking the question. Firstly I would like to comment that I can not see the sense of forcing your child to pray when he is in no way capable yet of understanding the meaning of this ritual. The only way I see you can convey to your child the importance you ...


15

I'm not sure you do have to tell them, at least not now. What seems to be the urgent issue is this job. If you really think you can't stand doing it for a little while (I assume it's temporary?), which may look good on your CV (resumé), then you have to break it to them seriously but gently. I would suggest avoiding the theological issue if possible. These ...


15

I think the only difference teaching morals as a non-religious parent is that you explain the reason FOR the moral, too. Religious parents may or may not. You don't just do onto your neighbor as you'ld have him do to you. You do it so everybody stays happy and nobody cries. It doesn't have to be just "because Jesus said so" or "it's written in...". ...


13

As others have said, I'd discourage forcing him to pray. First, it sets the wrong message and could lead to resentment of the religion, since that is an easier view to hold in a child's brain than resentment of the parent. Second, requiring someone to pray (or not to pray) before a meal is not a very accurate model of how the world works. There will be times ...


12

First, I suggest you check out the excellent book Parenting Beyond Belief. Second, I suggest you might visit a Unitarian-Universalist congregation if there is one near you, as my family has done recently. UUs believe that each person is responsible for exploring and discovering their own beliefs in a responsible way. Historically it was a Christian ...


11

I think the key question to ask is, Is your son capable of not believing what he's told in his Religion class? If he's capable of disbelieving it, then he's not being brainwashed, and there's no great crisis. You would do well to discuss with him that the facts in religion are less settled than they are in most of the subjects he's learning at that ...


9

I think one of the main benefits of religion is that it gives you an external framework to help determine what is the right course of action that isn't susceptible to your own personal whims and changing desires. This can be attained by other means if you are not religious. I am Catholic but I also tend to go by a coda loosely based on deontology and ...


9

DISCLAIMER: I consider myself an agnostic, and have recently been leaning toward the atheist end of the agnostic spectrum, but I think I'm significantly more inclined toward the possibility of God's existence than you are, and I happen to know a decent amount about the Catholic Church and to have a pretty healthy respect for it (though I have never ...


8

Parents have a hard time when there adult children have a different way of life then they have. Often parents feel it a rejection of their parenting. This being said, you asked about how to discuss it with them. Using the word 'rejection' worries me. I assume you still respect Christianity as a way of life, you just don't choose to embrace it for your own ...


8

This isn't really a parenting question, but it's close enough and you could use some advice. You are stuck, however the reason is not ideological, but financial. Your main concern seems to be that your family will withdraw financial support, so that's what you need to tackle. Work to become financially independent by getting a job which is not dependent on ...


8

Let's be clear: ideological freedom is a basic human right, and your right to believe something is not affected by whether you are financially dependent on another person. The support your parents provide is a gift that they can withdraw at any time for any reason. If your parents are providing you support because they believe you believe something you ...


8

It's possible to not adhere to someone else's beliefs without undermining those beliefs This is a concept that took me some years into my adulthood to really understand. In my youth, I was fervently anti-theistic agnostic. Then I spent time as a very devoted member of an almost fundamentalist sect of Christianity. Now, I've comfortably settled into a ...


7

I agree with Morah - don't tell them that you reject Christianity. It is OK to not be convinced that the faith is not for you - and if you phrase it correctly, your parents will not argue with you, rather succumb to just praying (more) for you. You have to be comfortable with the fact that your parents genuinely want you to be a Christian. So you must ...


7

I live in a christian household with a five year old sister, and I am similarly concerend. Luckily my parents faith differ, so I can talk with her about a lot of things, even things like evolution. She's very smart, but if either my parents succeed in setting their particular religious beliefs into her heart, it may be difficult for her to one day reason on ...


7

It sounds like you are having difficulty because you were raised in a religion that used scripture to support moral learning, and now having turned away from religion—but not necessarily your values—you feel you need an equivalent in order to teach your children appropriate behavior. It may help you to think of religion in a more secular form: religion ...


7

I live in Texas - much empathy! When we moved here our children were in middle school, and one of the first things my children's new friends asked was "What religion are you?" They had never encountered this before, but here in Texas many families, including children, identify heavily with a particular religion, most often a Christian religion. There were ...


7

Ultimately, this is a decision you and your family need to make. There's no right answer. How you feel is fairly common; the feeling that the churches are 'taking advantage' of children to indoctrinate them is from one point of view a logical one. My family isn't all that different, though I would say my wife and I are closer to being "agnostic" (I use ...


6

I'm surprised no one has yet to mention Unitarian Universalism. http://www.uua.org It's a faith that celebrates all faiths, practices acceptance and tolerance of all people and educates on many religious facets. They hold ceremonies influenced by multiple religions. Having a 7 and 3 year old, I'm kind of struggling with similar questions. I was born to ...


6

If your children have specific questions about why you're not participating in certain religious activities, I would answer them honestly without attacking the subject. You could say you have questions about X that you haven't found answers to and because of that, you cannot participate without feeling hypocritical, or that you feel it's disrespectful to ...



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