posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 02:34 PM
I'll throw in my two cents as a believer who doesn't force religion on my kids. Now to clarify things, I make them go to church. That's an
activity that I feel is an important family 'bonding' ritual. As for their participation, I only expect them to be polite and respectful of
In my religion, children may be baptized at 8 years old. By and large most every member's kid gets dunked on or near their 8th birthday. My first
son wanted to be baptized at that age. We sat down and really explained what it meant, that it was an act of promising to God. We wanted him to have
a clear (for an 8 y.o.) grasp of his choice. He now has the opportunity to hold the priesthood, but has waited almost two years now. A
decision we have supported, and will continue to support. We ask how he feels about it, if he has come to any long term choice, but we never slant
our words or emotions.
My middle son however wasn't ready at 8. He thought about it for about a year. He threw some curveball questions at us as well. "So why do I have
to be baptized now, if Jesus was baptized at 30?" Our response was honest- That you can choose this course at anytime in your life, you don't have
to be baptized now. He finally did choose to be baptized which of course made us happy. But more importantly HE chose, of his own free will what HE
wanted to do, spiritually, in his life.
Anyone who is following a religious path correctly (IMO) ought to see that at some point early on their child will begin to grasp and question
spiritual things. In this arena parents aren't supposed to dominate or dictate or command...That goes against the very core ideas of so many world
religions. If we are to find God for ourselves, can one find Him while being pressed into belief?
So that is the goal of my parenting, to avoid 'making' my kids believe this or that faith. If my teen has an honest and open discussion with me
about not believing in God and not attending church, I wouldn't force him too. I would be sad to not share that time with him, but I hold his free
will above my wants.
So for your dilemma, I would encourage you to hold your child's free-will paramount in any decisions you make on the subject. Respect that they are
entering a facet of life in which personal experience, and nothing else, is the only true factor that will decide their beliefs.
Heck, look here on ATS. Atheists and Believers type till our fingers ball up with carpal-tunnel, and no one ever "wins" the argument. No one wins
over the opposition (OK occasionally both sides have a convert from time to time). But by and large, it is our personal experiences that forge our
belief or disbelief in a higher power.
It's OK to allow you child to talk to a believer. I am sure there are people in your life that believe in religion that are rational, calm,
intelligent human beings. You probably know someone whose faith intertwines quite closely with science. Engage those folks, find out if they are
"sane", if they would be interested in mentoring/teaching your child a different point of view. Have them over for dinner, sit back and let your
kids amaze you with their questions and ability to wrestle with pretty deep concepts.
It's also OK to explain science to your child as a counterpoint to religious beliefs. I do that with my kids as well. But just as I can't hide the
science from my kids, you shouldn't hide the religion from yours. They will be exposed to it in their lives, and the most noble outcome of your
guidance should be to prepare them to analyze the whole of the data, both measurable and intangible, and come to a mature and peaceful conclusion.