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My daughter is 11 months old. Even though I am from conservative family, I am a non believer in any religions. But my wife believe in god. And she use to go church regularly. Now a days She is taking my 11 months old baby to church. And now she is starting to kiss god's photos and all. But I dont like this to happen. I would like my daughter to believe in herself and science.

What should I do? Can I insist them to come in my way or I should keep calm? What is the best way?

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    It seems you have a very fundamental conflict with your wife. It hasn't anything to do with your daughter in my perspective. Fix the conflict you have with your wifes believe and the rest of issues coming forth will be solved automatically. Your wife should respect your vision and vica versa. – Mike de Klerk Apr 8 '15 at 7:49
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    I think your last couple of paragraphs aren't necessarily important to your question: it doesn't matter why you are a non-believer, at least not for the purposes of figuring out how to address religion within your family. There are a number of related questions which may help you and your wife find a balance: (1) (2) (3) (4) – Acire Apr 8 '15 at 12:58
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    Can your wife insist that your daughter doesn't get taught science? – user11394 Apr 8 '15 at 16:09
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    This is not an answer but a thought: You implicitly state that your family is religious. I presume that means that you were raised in a religion and eventually chose a different path. If that's the case, then why can't that be the same path for your daughter? If religion leads her to a happier life, then so be it. If she tends towards your views, she's likely to reach the same point faster than you did because she'll have a parent as an example so she'll challenge her faith earlier in life. – Engineer Toast Apr 8 '15 at 18:06
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    Two quick comments. First - this is why most religious institutions insist on "marriage preparation": a time when a couple honestly explore questions like "do we want to raise our children in this faith; do we even want children". Finding that stuff out after you tied the knot is unfortunate and I feel sorry for you and your wife that you have to solve this. Second - you chose as your avatar a stylized devil. If you don't believe in God, presumably you don't believe in the Devil either. Odd choice. Third - no, you can't "insist". Keep calm. Love your child and your wife. Unconditionally. – Floris Apr 8 '15 at 18:48
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It seems the conflict is not about your daughter, but about you and your wife. You disagree about religion.

That obvious point being said, your daughter should not become the center of a belief battle between you and your wife.

To answer simply your main quest : No, you cannot insist your daughter to be non believer in religions., but neither can your wife insist your daughter to be a believer (or to disbelief in science). You can teach your daughter that some people believe in god and some don't, and let her make her own mind about it.

If the fact that your wife brings your daughter to church is unacceptable to you, you should address this problem in a civilized manner with your wife.

If it seems normal to you that your wife brings your daughter to church, it should be normal for you to teach her what the concept of god is, and that god is something some people believe in, and that you don't believe in god. And it should be OK to you that your daughter might believe in god, now or someday.

If the kissing of god images and mimicking of whatever your wife does at church makes you uncomfortable, you could make your daughter aware of what you feel, and that it is something that is OK to do with her mother, but not with you.

  • I have no issues with my child going church and all.. But she should not conclude that god will give her everything even though if she doesn't tried for it and no working hard towards the things? – Butterfly Apr 15 '15 at 11:51
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    @anto.nishanth I don't know of a religion that says that a God will give you something without hard work. In fact, most religions do incentive hard work and honesty as a way to please their God. Try to understand what the religion of your wife teaches before assuming those things. – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Nov 11 '15 at 19:57
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Can I insist them to come in my way or I should keep calm?

If you live in a civilized society, then, practically speaking, you can't insist that anyone "come in your way".

I would like my daughter to believe in herself and science.

It may surprise you to learn that many people believe both in God and in science (I would phrase this as, "If you're willing to believe in God, believing in science comes easy", but that's just me.)

And, believing in yourself isn't incompatible with either.

Once your daughter is capable of independent thought, she'll make up her own mind about whether God exists. You will have ample opportunity to explain your point of view to her over the next two decades.

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    It may surprise you to learn that many people believe both in God and in science. +1. I do believe in both. And they are mutually supportive yielding synergy even. Read My big TOE - T. Campbell free on Google books. A NASA physicist that integrates science and religion in one bigger model. BTW, imac#developer ;) – Mike de Klerk Apr 8 '15 at 8:08
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Mike de Klerk Apr 8 '15 at 8:26
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You can control what your daughter practices (i.e., you can declare that she will not be taken to church and not participate in communal worship) while she lives in your house and is in your care. However, you can't control what your daughter believes. As she grows up, she may embrace atheism, or she may be curious about and drawn to religion.

What I think is more important to consider is that there are two sides to this parenting story. (Imagine the question from your wife's perspective: "My spouse is an atheist, can I insist my daughter be a believer?") The key factor is to reach an understanding with your wife on these issues. Discuss in advance how your differing viewpoints will be both shared with your daughter, and respected by the other parent. You both have a right to share your perspective on big life questions.

It's certainly possible for parents of different belief systems to raise children together, and there are a number of other questions on Parenting.SE which can somewhat help with how to accomplish that.

  • If he attempts to "declare" what his wife may and may not do with their daughter while she lives in "his" house, he may find that she is not living in his house as often. He may even find that he is not living in "his" house anymore. – Aravis Apr 10 '15 at 15:07
  • Quite true, and the second paragraph was about that (albeit more subtly). – Acire Apr 10 '15 at 15:32
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It is important to teach your children to think and act logically. If you teach your daughter to question what she is told, read and listen to arguments on all sides of a question, and then come to a conclusion, you will have succeeded as a parent. One important thing to teach are logical fallacies. See this site: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/whatarff.html Many people are swayed to believe falsehoods or impossibilities because they never learn how to distinguish a good argument from a bad one.

One huge logical fallacy is the fallacy called "appeal to authority". As parents, we appeal to our own authority all the time in dealing with our children, because explaining everything all the time would be exhausting. We need to balance this with patient reasoning based on evidence and logic from time to time. The area of religion is one area where striking that balance is important. Neither unquestioned atheism nor unquestioned belief in a given religion are healthy positions. What is established without a reasonable argument can be torn down without a reasonable argument. If you want your children to build a successful worldview to guide them through life, one that will not be battered by every changing fashion subjecting them to uncertainty and wrong turns and even harmful habits, then you must help them construct it patiently.

  • Another important lesson we teach our children is that not everything can be reduced to a logical argument. There is no logical argument for why you chose your spouse for example (over someone else). There is no logical argument for why you enjoy rock music over classical music. Many things in life are simply opinions or lifestyle choices. There is no right or wrong in those cases. For many people, religion falls into this category. – Calphool Apr 9 '15 at 18:41
  • True, but that belief is also one subject to logical analysis. For example, read "Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth" by Mortimer Adler. See thegreatideas.org/apd-trut.html where he discusses the matter of deciding if something should be regarded as a matter of truth or taste. Or consider the dictum attributed to Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living." – Paul Chernoch Apr 9 '15 at 18:52
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I would be concerned that you might be a "believer in Science" just as your wife is a "believer in Christianity," and so I will discuss that potential pattern first. If those words resonate with you, that phrasing may help reframe the situation to help you identify solutions which may be less apparent with other wordings.

Science is, at its heart, an epistemological subject. Science does not attempt to say what the world "is;" it merely capture how it behaves. However, given its extraordinary track record with some topics, it becomes easy to slide into an ontological phrasing. Instead of using the most scientifically accurate phrasing of "the theory of evolution is consistent with the collected data," we start saying "evolution is how we came to be." The instant we change to such wordings, we shift from science chasing after the truth to science declaring the truth. This turns it into a religion in its own right, with its own forms of worship.

If you have fallen into this point of view, this may be a good time to discuss the differences in your beliefs with your wife, because both of you will have a religion that claims to have a source of truth, and they are inconsistent. However, let's assume you are talking about the more precise meaning of "science." Not only is it kinder for me to claim you hold this position, but it is even more interesting to discuss. Far more interesting.

You can easily teach your daughter science while your wife teaches her religion. As many have stated, they are compatible. The key feature to remember is that science is founded deeply in statistics. If there is a reasonable sample size to work with, science has a strong tendency to arrive at a good answer very rapidly. However, what about situations where N=1... there is only one sample to work with. None of the statistical approaches used in science apply until you have at least N=2 so you can define a standard deviation. Any event which is singular is outside of the reach of science.

Let's cut right to the chase: "did God create the universe?" All such debates eventually try to drive towards this question anyways. Creation of the universe is a singular event. There is no scientific way to approach this, and if you look at big bang theory discussions, most of the scientists admit that all they're trying to do is offer the most likely possibility.

You may say "no," and your wife may say "yes." What about teaching your daughter to try to find a life which is "good" regardless of the answer to that question? Your wife might teach your daughter a religious point of view, and you may teach her how to find ways to make sure she's doing good, even if she gets the answer to that question wrong. Alternatively, you may teach your daughter a non-religious point of view, and your wife may teach her how to always reach just past the logic into the unknown to find the good.

Raise a child which can see both sides of an argument like this, and you raise a child that will be able to deal with tremendous pressure as she grows up, because she will have been raised to look for the good in both sides of the argument.

And, if you do it just right, you'll find that the important question of "does my daughter believe in God" ceases to be quite so important. Both parents will be able to be proud of their little daughter in their own, slightly different, ways.

  • A refreshing, honest, and humbling approach. Also great for their child. +1 – anongoodnurse Apr 10 '15 at 0:46
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I have to think what would I want to do with my daughter. Fortunately for me my wife and I are pretty much inline with each other on the topic. In other topics we are not. In the ones we are not I ask myself. Why not? I certainly hold sway with my daughter just as my wife does. We both bring our unique life experiences into play to mold our daughter as she grows older. There are parts of my wife's background I hope my daughter does not emulate and there's parts of mine I hope she does not either.

End of the day I want to give her all the information to know that she either needs to seek more information or to make her own informed decision. If she ends up taking on those parts of our backgrounds I hope she doesn't - well we both ended up pretty good. I believe my daughter will be just fine as well.

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Regardless of what beliefs you try to instill in your daughter, at some point she will be exposed to multiple points of view and decide for herself.

I believe in myself, science and God.

Now would be the time to remember Hamlet's lament to Horatio. "There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science].

But if you are sure you have all the answers and your answers are the right answers, then by all means march on. Just do not be surprised 15 or 20 years down the road your daughter doesn't read you the riot act and rebel, even against your best advice, because you tried to decide what is best in areas that most human beings are charged with making those determinations for themselves. Sorry to quote the Bible, but I believe it is all wrapped up in "free will."

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    By the way, I was raised by my grandparents, who later in life said, "We always sought to teach you how to think, not what to think." And Einstein may have put all of this more eloquently. He said, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." – BlueSkyBill Apr 9 '15 at 14:25
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There is nothing in the field of 'science' that proves God doesn't exist and most scientists who are athiests will say scicene can't prove he does exist either.

So you're saying your personal FEELINGS are that you do not believe in God. You're an atheist. The term and/or field of science has nothing to do with your confliction.

I ask that you ask yourself is your wife doing any harm with her beliefs? Will your daughter be a bad person if she believes in God as she grows up?

I think if you are honest with yourself, the answer to both of those questions will be NO.

Second, think about what made you fall in love with your wife. I assume you do love her since you ASKED her to marry you and had a child with her. You knew before you asked her to marry you that she believed in God, that she went to a church, that she believed in a religion. But yet you still ASKED her to marry you. She couldn't be a bad person if you wanted her to be your wife. I would hope you trust your wife and think of her as a good person. So if your daughter grows up to be as wonderful of a woman as the woman you love and wanted to marry, then there should be no problem with her belief system. If you do have a problem with it, then the problem you have is with your wife and your feelings for her, not whether or not your daughter is going to grow up believing in God.

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Perhaps you could negotiate an agreement with your wife, that limits the aspects of her religious indoctrination that you find the most damaging. Perhaps your negotiated solution would involve compromising on a choice of religious institution. (Some couples in your situation are able to meet halfway in a Quaker meeting house, a humanistic Judaism group, or a Unitarian church.) Perhaps it would involve an alternation of how your daughter spends her Sundays. Perhaps it would involve setting some limits on certain expressions of religious rituals around the house.

You might want to begin the conversation with your partner by acknowledging that this is a difficult topic to talk about, and that you probably won't get everything settled all at once; and that you are trying hard to be tolerant of the differences in your belief systems, because the last thing you want is for her to feel any pressure to change her beliefs (I assume you have suffered at the hands of people who tried to convert you -- as I have).

The situation I've been in that was somewhat akin to yours was that one of my children went to part-time family daycare, starting when he was a few months old, with a warm, wonderful woman, who believed so strongly in her religious faith that to her, not providing some religious indoctrination to the children in her care would have been akin to feeding them pig slop at lunchtime. She was older than me, but shared my Latin American heritage (we were both in the U.S.), which made it harder for me to assert myself. Actually, I was not able to negotiate anything with her. So, I had to have short chats with my son from time to time in which I told him that Doña L. had some, in my opinion, weird religious beliefs, which meant a lot to her, even though they struck me as ridiculous (and I explained why); but even if he thought some things about her religion were weird, or ridiculous, or gruesome, it was important not to tell her she was wrong, because then she would feel offended, and we didn't want that, because we loved her. Also, I told him that when he became a teenager, he was welcome to choose a religion if he wanted to, for example (I named about five wildly different religions at this point).

My husband has some tiny vestiges of the religion he was raised in. Based on that experience, and other more major cultural differences, I can say that humor is going to be the most important tool in your toolbox over the years.

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