Context: We are living in a Germany and have a small child (15 months) who will go to a public kindergarten at the age of 24 months.

Problem: In our region, all public funded kindergartens also have a denomination, typically catholic. All kindergartens inform the children of god, will sing religious songs, hold festivities, and may even pray with them. As an atheist, I find this abhorrent and deeply offensive, but there is not much choice - it's one of these kindergartens or no child care at all.

So how can I help my child to understand that most of this is, at best, just a funny story without relevance? I want him to be able to make a conscious choice when he is able to - but I do not want him to believe simply because he has to ingest this at this impressionable age.

On the other hand, I fear negative consequences for him if I denounce this too openly and he says "Daddy says your god is just your big imaginary friend and not real" at the kindergarten.

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22 Answers 22

Well, I would first try not to indoctrinate him myself. If you want him to make a conscious choice, you probably should be very careful with your reactions.

I'm myself agnostic but coming from a Christian culture. My 6 year old girl goes into a non-confessional school but yet manages to talk to me about Jesus and so (we're in Belgium, so a country that is traditionally rather Christian). I try to be careful myself not to tell her things like "this is just a funny story". When asked about religion(s), Jesus, and so on I try to be as neutral as possible with speeches like:

A lot of people think there is a god, some think there are many gods, some others believe there is no god at all, and some other just don't know. Daddy is part of these people who don't know.

I'm also very keen on extending some explanations about who Jesus is for the Christians and so on, within the limit of my own knowledge. I'm quite sure in the future if more questions arise I will invite her to look for the answers herself. Now I must admit this neutral position might be harder to hold when your kid is constantly exposed to things like preachings, but I consider it very important to really let her the free choice of her own convictions, and even to change it as she evolves.

As a side remark, I must admit I don't know the German situation at all, but I'm really surprised by what you describe and the impossibility to find a non-confessional kindergarten.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – anongoodnurse Nov 5 at 23:58
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    What is "non confessional"? Is that similar to "non denominational"? It sounds to me like it's just not a Catholic institution (who confesses)...is it any non-Catholic school? – BruceWayne Nov 6 at 14:45
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    Looking at the second definition of "confessional" on this page, which is "Officially practicing a particular religion, as a state or organization", what I meant by "non confessional" is an organization (school, kindergarten,...) where no particular religion is taught or followed, in opposition to any christian, islamic, judaïc or whatever organization. I've just looked for "non denonimational" and indeed it seems to be the same thing I meant. Not being a native speaker, I'm not sure if one is more suitable than the other... – Laurent S. Nov 6 at 15:16

I'm an atheist living in Germany, and had to face similar problems with the surroundings of my daughter (7).

One very important lesson that I try to teach her every day is to never blindly believe anything anyone tells her. She should double-check any piece of information, even if it comes from a supposedly reliable source (teacher, her parents, grand-parents, ...).

To do so, I often tell her nonsense with a serious face and wait until she notices it and tells me it's hogwash. We've been practising for many years now so she notices 95% of the time. When not, I explain her the correct version and why I did it.

Specifically for religion: I find it easier to expose an agnostic point of view to her : "We don't know, and nobody knows either". It's the most honest method in my humble opinion, it fits with the rest of our teaching philosophy and it shows it's perfectly fine to not know everything.

Some people use religion and the related tales in order to be better humans and that's okay.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Joe Nov 5 at 22:44

As a 54 year old German I just had "Religion" as a normal subject in our public elementary school. I guess my parents could technically have let me skip these one or two hours per week, but nobody did that back then, and there was no non-religious alternative like "Ethics" or such. Of course the lessons were about Christian religion. I remember them fondly, we had a friendly teacher who liked children. We listend to stories about Jesus and painted pictures about them.

The important thing is, it did not indoctrinate me. I think the parents are much more important for mental formation than kindergarten, even if the kids seem to spend more waking hours there.

I remember vividly though how I developed a firm stance of atheism during my teen years; at school we were a group of friends who debated all kinds of deep questions, sometimes in the Religion or Ethics lessons and sometimes in private. Those were formative years.

So my advice, apparently the same as others' here, would be to support your child's curiosity, openmindedness and appreciation of meaningful debate, simply by example and by answering all questions as sincerely and deep as you can.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – anongoodnurse Nov 6 at 14:15
  • How was that religion class taught to you ~45 years ago, though? Is it likely to be taught the same way today, or taught in a more proselytizing manner? – TylerH Nov 9 at 17:39
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    @TylerH Probably less proselytizing, is my guess. There is a general tendency across the board towards less religiosity and more acknowledgement of other faiths. The differences between city and rural areas, as well as north (protestant) and south (catholic), and between institutions are still large, of course. Somebody also mentioned (now buried in chat, probably) the difference between kindergarten and grade school, kindergarten being more indoctrinating. Possible. – Peter A. Schneider Nov 9 at 18:13

You (the parent) are responsible for 'indoctrinating' your children

Let me tell you what I think, from the complete opposite side. I am a fundamentalist Christian, who has the misfortune of living in Washington DC. Christians who want a Christian education in the large cities of the US sent their kids to a Christian school. But, the one near my house is 14k per year, per child. I can't afford that. So I have to send my children to public school, where they are exposed to what I consider to be the 'radical atheist' agenda.

What am I to do? Your fear is exactly the same fear that I have as a Christian parent. All I can do is teach my children. I explain to them the Nature of God and the world that He created. I explain to them the nature of Man, and the purpose for which we were created. I teach them about sin and repentance and Jesus' promise of redemption. And then they go to public schools, and are exposed to the wickedness of the world, and I despair. But as a Christian, I have faith that God will help me and my wife to guide our children, so that they know and choose Him when they get older. And I have faith that their knowledge and interaction with non-Christian society will make them stronger in their faith, stronger even than I am now.

If you have a set of beliefs that you want your children to hold, what can you do other than try to teach them? It is not as if no child has ever rebelled against what their parents taught. My wife never went to church until she was in her mid 20's, and now we raise our children in Christ. And, I know plenty of people who tried to rise their children in Christ only to see them become worldly atheists. You and I just have to live with the possibility that our children might not do as we wish.

Ultimately, there is nothing you can do to 'make' your children follow your beliefs. But it is very silly to think that any sort of indoctrination will be effective, either yours or the school to which your children attend. Teach your children the best that you can, and have faith that they will find the best path by following their Reason.

About 25 years ago I was in the same place as you. So here are my observations:

At 3 years old it's already too late for kindergarten to persuade your kid that their deity is more real than Santa. Your kid copies you a lot more than you think.
Actually they don't try very hard, they all just troop along to church or whatever, sing the songs, decorate for Christmas, paint Easter eggs.

And here is my advice:

You will have noticed yourself by now that there is a time and place for militant evangelising atheism. Teach your kid that we may not believe in talking snakes or flying horses, but many people do, and it hurts them if you make fun of them. Christianity, as practiced in Germany in the 21st century, is mostly harmless. Grandparents may need at least to pretend to be believers.

Also, make sure your kid learns about all religions. It will love the spaghetti monster, also the Greek and Norse myths and so on are pretty good stories. You do not need to point out the similarities, let them notice that bit themselves.

In a Catholic area there is a thing called first communion. Preparation takes forever and the kids don't care for it, but they get lots of presents. My kids wanted the presents, of course, but that's tough.

We never pressured them to be atheist. We always said they could choose and join any religion they wanted when they reached 18. (Privately I thought "over my dead body", but anyway...) They never did.

This is something I also struggled with. I have two children: a son, now 14, and a daughter, who'll be 8 at the end of the month.

I had custody of my son for the first four years of his life, after which his mother begged me to let her take him back. She actually enrolled him in a private Christian school which he attended for several years. I avoided the subject of religion around him, preferring to just enjoy his company whenever I could see him, but if he had asked I had resolved to always be honest with him. Last year I was surprised when he told me had decided Christianity was not for him, and he hadn't been a believer for a long time. Some things just work out like that. I'm sure this will sound odd to believers, but I was so proud of my boy on that day.

My daughter, however... I tried to instill in her a tolerance for all faiths, and decided I'd answer any questions she had as best, and as honestly, as I could. It was important to me not to "force" any kind of religious beliefs on her, but rather give her as much information as possible so that she could make an informed decision for herself. Unfortunately, a family tragedy sent my daughter to live with close family, who, although kind and well-meaning, presented Christianity to her as the absolute, indisputable truth. They also sent her to questionable churches, the kind she comes back from and says things to me like, "Daddy, please believe in Jesus! I don't want you to burn in hell forever!"

Needless to say, I was not then, and am not now, amused to hear my then-5-year-old little girl saying these things. So I tell myself as she grows, she'll see things differently. I do my best to respect her beliefs, and not try and change her mind, or argue with her (though for a while, her favorite thing to do was try and provoke a faith-based argument); I tell her, "Look, sweetie, I don't disrespect your beliefs, or try to convince you they're wrong, you need to show the same respect to me."

I was very, very worried about my children being indoctrinated into Christianity, but then I remembered something... I was brought into the church as very young, naïve, impressionable child, and I managed to see through it all, and find my way out. My son has, too. So I nurse the hope that one day my daughter will either wake up and see something that changes her mind; or at the very least that I'm able to better teach her about tolerance, and respecting the beliefs of others. I feel like the world would be a much better place if tolerance (religious and otherwise) was more widespread, or a priority at all for most people.

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This is the strategy I took when my daughter had been introduced to Christianity by a kindergarten teacher and begun professing a belief in God.

  1. Teach her about many other religions, myths and origin stories.
  2. Explain how these stories contradict each other and cannot all be true.
  3. Explain my own atheism and why I do not believe in Christianity, and told her that people have to make their own minds up about these things.

I carried out step 1 for some time (maybe 6 months to a year) before introducing steps 2 and 3.

She started out professing a belief in God around 4 or 5 years old saying "because [her teacher] believes it and so do I". After a a good while of teaching about other beliefs, then next time she said she believed in God (around age 6), I asked her which ones and she said "baby Jesus and Thor". Recently when the subject has come up (now she is 8) she has said that she now does not believe in God either.

So this strategy seems to have been successful and happily has not required excluding my daughter from kindergarten, avoiding that teacher or any situations where proselytising was (or may have been) occurring, and without the need to argue directly against her, or try to ban or forbid anything.

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It is inevitable your child assumes the norms and values from the society he grows up in. If you don't like your environment, your only choice is to put your child in another environment.

But norms and values are fundamentally different from taking everything people say for granted, which is something most people learn when they become more self-conscious and start to question things. Be patient, this process will take at least one or two decades.

From a psychological perspective, be careful with your fears. Present a red button, and the more you tell not to press it, the more curious one becomes.

That being said. Like vsz already commented on your question, I urge you to reassess your objectivity on this matter. Do you also tell your child that Santa - spoiler alert - is "just a funny story without relevance" just to "prevent your child from being indoctrinated" by a load of Santa? I hope this reminds yourself to not fear when your child tells you he ate the body of Jesus - which doesn't necessarily entail cannibalism. Your fear is only rational if they would actually perform questionable non-symbolic acts.

If you want to teach your child to be rational, start with the man in the mirror.

I fear you are worrying too much. I would encourage you to read bedtime stories from Norse mythology, Greek mythology, Aesop's fables, and maybe even Hindu mythology. The notion of powerful figures will be quite acceptable to young minds, but many of us "grow out of it". The parables in the Bible are part of our Anglo-European literary culture. It should not be difficult to point at the behavior of supposedly Christian groups (especially in the United States, but I suspect also in Germany) who apparently cannot generalize from the parable of the "Good Samaritan" and have apparently never attempted to fully implement the various radical teaching attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. My perspective is that if Christians cannot act like Christ and the Apostles, then they really cannot claim to be "followers of Christ". Children are quite capable of identifying hypocrisy. I guess you can hear in my words the disillusionment that struck me in my middle teenage years despite a fairly concerted effort on my parents' part to "bring me up in the Church".

My wife and I never attempted to discourage our son from attending church with his friends. However, our dinner table discussions were conducted from a mostly rationalist, scientific perspective. As a teenager your children will probably gleefully torment you with their skeptical perspectives. And if all goes well, you will hear from them in their twenties that they figured out that you really did have a bit of wisdom after all.

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I can't speak to the schooling system in Germany since I live in the US, but I do understand your desires, albeit from the opposite perspective. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and as a father I fear the indoctrination of my son by an atheistic world view. We may desire differing world views for our children but our base desires are the same.

Our main goal as fathers is to help our children learn the tools needed to face situations and environments that we may not agree with. We teach them how to reason, be patience, have compassion and accept other people's differences without losing sight of their own person. We want them to be secure in who they are and what they believe and to carry on with confidence long after we are gone.

To get to that point, though, we need to work with them in situations that challenge our beliefs and help them work out their beliefs as well. We can not prevent their choices, we can only guide, advise and love them. Your patience and willingness to discuss the topics brought up by your son is the key to maintaining a healthy, open and free discussion about religion and world views with your son.

If you end up having to send your son to one of faith-affiliated schools, talk with your son about what he is experience regularly. Ask him questions and patiently listen to and answer his.

I was raised religious and I am now a proud atheist. I would encourage my children to learn all about the christian mindset. There are in fact valuable parables to learn, and I would consider their christian learning one facet of making them well rounded.

As an adult, I am far more anti-religious than my wife, but it is funny when she never gets any biblical references people make about Judas, Samson's hair, the trials of Job, wandering the desert for 40 years, etc... I am glad I am well versed in mythology. Consider these stories akin to aesop's fables.

Then, when my child is older I can point out the blatant flaws of religion. Raise your child to have a rational mind, and embrace scientific thinking. Point out that religion tends to be regional and that billions of people all within one geographical area believe in one faith mostly because their family and society endorses that, and contrast that with another geographical area with billions of other people that believe in an opposite religion only because their society enforces such beliefs, and therefore supporting one, somewhat implies damning a whole other large group of people.

Point out how religion has usually been anti-progressive, and most times humanity has made progress, it's been against the church. My child is still in diapers, but we've decided this will be our approach to dealing with the ubiquity of the religion.

I can sympathise with your viewpoint, but now that I am a grandfather and have a longer perspective, I think I can perhaps reassure you a little.

One of the best antidotes to religion is critical thinking - the willingness to explore, to question, and to abandon false ideas. Children will readily believe anything they are told - but they will also reflect on things and ask questions, and they are able to understand reasoning - in fact, very often certain adults feel exasperated at just how well such a young mind does understand logical reasoning; it will be a good thing if you can teach your child that it is always OK to ask questions and that their opinions are respected (respect does not necessarily mean agreeing - often it means explaining or persuading them why they are wrong).

As the parent, your influence over your child far outweighs the influence of the kindergarten and the school, and if they grow up knowing that they can always ask you and get an honest and respectful reply, then they will keep referring to your authority even through adolescence and into adulthood.

Religious stories aren't a bad background - they are often entertaining or give a moral perspective on certain situations. Don't worry about the God thing - a child will soon enough spot the inconsistencies and the outright nonsense. And you can read stories from other religions to add a bit of balance.

My children both go to a Church of England school and, like you, I'm an atheist.

I deal with it by letting them make their own mind up. I have made it very clear that I don't believe in God but if they want to, that's their choice. If they want to talk to me about it, I remember what I learned in school and use phrases like "some people believe" and "what works for others".

If you start forcing your opinions on your child, you run the risk they will not believe anything the teacher tells them. If they're lying about God, what else are they lying about? Your child must trust teachers otherwise they won't want to learn anything.

I grew up and lived most of my life in Germany. Your description makes it sound like you are in the south (catholic) and in a more rural area (all kindergardens are religious).

You will not escape religion in that setting, the same problem will re-appear in school. However, as others have already mentioned, religion in Germany does not mean that same thing as, say, in the US. The vast majority of us Germans doesn't take religion seriously, even if we are not atheists. I'm the only militant Atheist in my family, but except for one very religious grandmother nobody really cares much.

So check the kindergardens not just on what is on the label, but also what is inside. Many kindergardens are religious on the label and seem to be run by the church, but are actually run by and paid for by the government. Only in some cases are the kindergarden teachers actually nuns or other religious figures, and most of the religious rituals are more habit than serious indoctrination. That said, there are exceptions, so check.

You can also point out your desire to keep your child away from religious indoctrination to the people running the kindergarden. In most regions of Germany, for example, attending the subject "religion" in school is voluntary and a parent can decide to pull their child out of that subject without having to give a reason. I'm sure you can come to an agreement with the kindergarden as well that your child will partake in some of the harmless rituals, but not in those you object to.

Avoid to do anything that might make your child feel "different" from the other children. At that age he doesn't understand - or care about - indoctrination, superstition, logic etc. and he only cares about fitting in with the other children. It will backfire if you interfer with this. Considered your purpose ("I want him to be able to make a conscious choice when he is able to"), your being "radical" is the biggest threat to that desired outcome - and the reason why you are so rigid in seeing a big threat in this and being so determined in wanting to prevent it.

Instead, just make sure to mention every now and then things that will automatically make the child face the fact that thousands of different religions exist, that most of them say very different things from each other and of course only one can be true, how lucky one needs to be to live right in the area of the world where the "correct" religion is mainstream, etc. Let the child's brain do the rest, don't push, don't try to give a specific direction to how this develops, and most importantly don't let your child feel you are doing that.

I, and most of my childhood friends who like me are non-believers, did go to church and kind of "believed" until we were more or less teenagers, and that did not decrease our ability to start thinking with our own mind thus dropping religions around that age; if anything, having listened to priests and their stories for years has made it even more likely that we would drop all that when possible.

Your being low-profile and easy-going about what happens in the kindergarden related to religion will automatically transmit to your child the awareness that these things (religions) exist but don't need to be taken too seriously if one doesn't feel the need to.

I grew up in a Hindu household planted in the middle of a Catholic/Protestant environment. It was fairly easy for my parents to supplant the baseline level of Christian chatter with Sanskrit shlokas, visits to the the temple for holidays, etc. But as an Atheist adult and parent, I realize that it was easier to replace a belief with another belief than it is to replace it with a "non-belief." So, we've taken pains to educate ourselves about the norms and festivities of many belief systems (we're lucky to be a Hindu and an Anglican to start with, in addition to having many Jewish friends), so that we can discuss the many counterpoints to the prevalent Christian viewpoint, and not just whether our son's Christian friends are "right" or "wrong". Whether they are ALL stories (or not) becomes beside the point. He is, and hopefully will be, comfortable with his own view of the world without being judgemental of others. After all, most kids will believe what they're told... but if they're told everything, they'll be forced to figure it out for themselves!

...there is not much choice - it's one of these kindergartens or no child care at all.

It's worth looking from time to time again. The situation might have improved. Living in a medium sized town in Germany I have enough choice and sent my kids to a confession-less kindergarten.

So how can I help my child to understand that most of this is, at best, just a funny story without relevance? I want him to be able to make a conscious choice when he is able to - but I do not want him to believe simply because he has to ingest this at this impressionable age.

Talk with him/her about it. Point out some problems. If it asks you about your own belief you can say that you do not believe in the Christian God (will be a disappointment for him/her) but that you believe it's a nice story which appeals to many people. Rather don't try to indoctrinate the kid yourself but point out ethical, moral, logical issues with whatever the kid comes up. Argue with him/her in a gentle way. Don't overdo it, but make clear what you hold true yourself. Don't hide. Be assured, the kindergarten will equally be clear, especially catholic ones (from what I have heard).

On the other hand, I fear negative consequences for him if I denounce this too openly and he says "Daddy says your god is just your big imaginary friend and not real" at the kindergarten.

I think a good kindergarten should be okay with it. Even though your kindergarten is operated by some catholic organization it probably does not require the kids to be of a certain confession. So it should be okay if your kid doesn't believe in it. While I can understand that you want to avoid complications that way, this could also teach the kid an important lesson. But if the fallout gets too big, you may want to decide to pull the kid out of the kindergarten (depending on the availability of alternatives then) or row back. I don't think you have to hide right away. Let's wait for how the kindergarten reacts first.

As a summary: Kids in kindergarten age believe easily. Their ability to critically think about religion only comes later. Your kid will be influenced in the catholic kindergarten. The best you can do is talk with it about it and show by your own example that different morale principles (being kind and nice to others without believing in a God) are possible. If the possibility arrives and if it still bothers you, choose an alternative kindergarten.

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I read (or was given to read) all kinds of things when I was young: Aesop's Fables, for example, fairy tales and children's stories, the Mowgli stories, and who knows what.

I guess I got used to being able to suspend disbelief and to picture the story (in my mind) as it's being told.

Perhaps that has left a little residue (e.g. some tendency to anthropomorphise animals, some sympathy for them anyway).

Anyway, when I was exposed to Catechism I think I tended to put it into one of three categories:

  • Right versus wrong -- this is socially-accepted, practical doctrine
  • Theology -- this is talking about something (e.g. existence of God) that may be unprovable, i.e. a topic to be agnostic (albeit polite) about
  • Bible stories -- the Nativity, all the parables, they're like fables, i.e. they're meaningful in the sense that they are intended to convey a message

Perhaps you could, I don't know, introduce the child to fiction, if you haven't already: would that help?

Also "just a funny story without relevance" might an error in fact (i.e. 'wrong'), even from a atheist POV, e.g.:

  • I think it's also part of the culture/society (i.e. doctrine that many children have been exposed to) -- so you might want to learn it e.g. like you'd want to learn Italian if you were living in Italy
  • It includes moral doctrines -- perhaps you want to teach your child morality (whether or not Christian morality I don't know), and you might want to compare and contrast what morality you teach with whatever morality is taught in kindergarten

I suppose you can also be socratic, like "what did you learn in school?", "did you understand that, do you believe that's true?" and so on.

(Only posting an answer 'coz I can't comment) From what you are saying, you will end up indoctrinating your child. Why not help the child understand the lessons learnt from these "stories", just like Aesop's fables or other fictional stories, if you find the idea of religion so abhorrent? Every story has a lesson to teach, doesn't matter which book it came from. Help him to learn those lessons without becoming a mad-devout. When he/she grows up, they can make an intelligent decision about which way to go.

An extreme case: What you are saying is exactly how young suicide bombers are born, by telling them the same things over and over and to believe nothing else.

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    Hi and welcome to Parenting.SE! Can you please explain and back up this statement: "What you are saying is exactly how young suicide bombers are born, by telling them the same things over and over and to believe nothing else." – Anne Daunted Nov 5 at 16:30
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    @AnneDaunted What I want to say is young, impressionable persons are held and taught day and night that some "X" country / civilization is wrong and that killing them is the way to heaven. Simply go to any news site. This is indoctrination. This is also why I labelled it as an extreme case. – Veda Nov 5 at 17:30

If you want your child to understand the reality of different beliefs, try this:

As soon as the child can read you could have them read this very thread, the original question and as many answers as they are willing to sit through.

The child will be able to see how we all disagree, and they will get a behind the scenes look at what the grown-ups are trying to encourage. Hopefully they will also see how many people are being disingenuous in their statements here (starting with the question itself, which makes it obvious that they actually just want their child indoctrinated by a different belief), and that might help them to exercise their discernment if you make sure they take notice of it. Discerning that which is not true can be just as important as teaching them to find out what is true.

So again, the answer could be: Have the child read this very parenting.stackexchange question and answers, and if they cannot read yet then either read it to them or have them read it once they learn to read. Doing this will be very eye-opening for them.

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    An answer that basically just says, read other answers, wow that's meta. While I do not disagree, I think there must be easier ways to illustrate the variety of beliefs on Earth. A StackExchange Q&A might not be simple enough to be understood by a kid. – Trilarion Nov 7 at 8:17
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    Also, OP is probably German. It might be a loooong time until the kid can read an english Q&A. – Eric Duminil Nov 7 at 14:33
  • @Trilarion That is disingenuous. It is not "an answer that says 'read other answers'". It is an answer that says "have the child read your question here and the answers to it; bring the child in on the concern". Not the same at all. – Aaron Nov 7 at 16:22
  • @EricDuminil That is a valid argument, and it might be true. However, StackExchange is intended for answers to be useful to other readers as well, and I think a great many other people could benefit greatly from this answer. – Aaron Nov 7 at 16:23

Let's consider here that most people throughout history used to be religious until very recently. What changed was the influence of science. If you promote the view that, at least in principle, science has all the answers to difficult questions like where we came from, how the universe came into being etc., before your child learns about religion, then that can immunize your child from being indoctrinated by religion. There are many science books for written for children that you can use to educate your child.

We have the inverse problem in the states. Public Schools routinely indoctrinate kids with an empty, secularist religion, in my humble opinion of course.

My advice to you is either find a private school or home school your kid.

Lastly, remember that you are your kids' first teacher. If your children aren't solid in their religious beliefs by now (or lack thereof) then it's your fault.

It's not too late for you to teach them, but it's also not the end of the world if your kid learns something different.

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