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First of all, I'm sorry if this is not directly a parenting question as I don't have children (yet) and it's about my little cousin. Please lead me in the right direction if you see the topic doesn't fit.

A little background:

I am a 26 year old male with a lot of female cousins (7) and only two male cousins. The older one being about ten years older than me and the younger one being just over five years old.

They are all from the maternal side of my family which is, with a few minor exceptions, very Christian. They go to church at least once a week and pray before eating and going to sleep. I was raised Christian myself by my mother, but around the age of 18 found out that I could't identify with the "worldly" rituals like going to church, communion etc... I didn't lose all my faith but am happy to be left alone with it. I am also happy to have had such a good ethical education when I was younger and still share most of the Christian values. However I am no longer going to church service for a couple of years now. We share very good relationships in my family so this is not a problem.

Now to the question:

My little cousin is brought up in a very Christian way, which I find is not a bad thing in general. But I can imagine that I may even be or become a little role model for him, since we share a similar character and there are only girl cousins or an even older male cousin left in the family. So what I want to avoid, is to be a bad influence and also maybe spare my uncle and aunt some annoying arguing why he doesn't want to go to church on some sunday morning ("But my cousin doesn't have to go to church too!").

I want to give him the chance to be happy with going to church and maybe when he's old enough, he might reach out to me to get a different perspective.

So, if he asks "Hey, why don't you go to church like all my other cousins, uncles and aunts?" I want to be prepared to give him a good answer.

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    I was in the same boat as this kid at one point, and I knew some of my family didn't go to church, and it didn't really affect me. I'd say it was more immediate family hypocrisy that influenced my thinking about church. – Craig Jul 5 '17 at 22:32
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    I'm a bit curious about how likely it is that he will know you don't go to church; do they stay with your family often? Do they all go to the same church? – anongoodnurse Jul 5 '17 at 22:35
  • @anongoodnurse We all live in the same city, which indeed has a couple of churches to got to. But there are special services which are attended mostly in one of them, so in this case, a lot of my family will meet each other there. So it's not 100% sure that you meet everyone everytime, but over a longer course of time it's pretty likely. – user28747 Jul 6 '17 at 20:23
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I would just be honest. Some people (like my mother) go daily. Some go twice a week, some weekly, some less frequently & some never. What matters is that you do what helps you find peace & follow the path that takes you there & that won't look the same for every single person.

Then, when it is children, I redirect the conversation onto something less fraught with potentially annoying my relatives by getting into anything deeper. If the child is persistent, then simply tell them you really have nothing more to offer on the matter & if they wish to discuss how different people practice their faith it's likely a conversation they should have more in depth with their parents.

I will not totally avoid responding to a child's questions, but I am also careful to answer minimally while being as honest as I can. I also do not mean on religion or church specifically, but in general about any issue which parents may prefer to educate their own children. If I am not expressly sure of the parents feelings about me answering such things, I keep it short & simple & then redirect it to another topic & when that doesn't work I revert back to honesty. In that case honesty becomes, I think you should likely continue this conversation with your parents & have them give you as much detail as they like on the subject.

  • Thank you for your answer. I agree, a short and, most importantly, honest conversation would be best. I am thinking about something like "You see, I decided that going to the services is not the right thing for me, but I still value the times I did. I still beleive that being faithful and reserving a place in your heart for god is a beautiful thing." Too much? – user28747 Jul 6 '17 at 20:36
  • @user28747 it's fine as long as it's true. Honesty is a powerful thing. – Erik Jul 6 '17 at 20:51
  • Yep, a good answer would be to tell the child to ask his parents about his dissatisfaction with the church, seeing as they are family they should know the story. It makes it so that you dont insult the childs intelligence by ignoring them and still adresses the issue in a manner that is less likely to offend any parent. – Neil Meyer Jul 7 '17 at 17:25
  • If I were this child I wouldn' be satified by this answer. It doesn't tell more as "that's why". It may be short, but not honest at all. – Albrecht Hügli Mar 1 at 12:07

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