For those of you with children, how do you address the issue of your belief system? If kids are too young to understand religion or non-religion, how might you, for example, answer questions about "Jesus"?
I have two boys 12&14. Religion was not part of their young childhoods. I had been an atheist for many years already and did not want to sway my children’s beliefs. I believe everyone should choose their own path. When my ex found religion, it became a constant subject in the household. My 12 year old considers himself an atheist but won’t say that in front of his father for fear of angering him. My 14 year old is a somewhat believer with a very liberal social belief system. It’s their life, their choice. I’m here as a parent to support, provide clarification and information when asked
My rule was similar to what others said. I'm an atheist-leaning agnostic. My daughter's mother was a liberal Catholic.
I answered all of her questions honestly and the best of my ability, whether they be about religion, sex, science, or whatever.
No long lectures though, just answered her questions. When she was ready or wanted more, she would ask.
I remember being 3 and asking my mum why people sang hymns at school and why we had to say grace before lunch, again at school. She said that hymns are just nice tunes, but I shouldn’t pray, and god was nonsense. She said “God is like a fairy story, I don’t believe in it and nor do you”. Job done. And 42 years later I am still an atheist. Never too early!
Weirdly though, I like studying religion, all religions. I find it fascinating in a objective kind of way, and I find the conflict of faith, belief and real world behavior of religious people interesting. I think belief is a brain chemistry thing, and that people can bring on a “spiritual experience” in various ways related to their bodies and brains, like using breath and movements to have a “kundalini awakening”, or doing drugs, or being alone for 40 days!
I keep it simple and honest. I don't believe in God but some people do. They have gone to church with their dad so they have had some exposure. I will not force them into atheism because I see no difference in that and forcing them into religion. They will be allowed to choose whatever path they like and I will be supportive either way.
My ex-wife tried to get our son into religion right about the time he started Middle school-- he had questions, naturally, and I tried to provide fact-based answers. I encouraged my son to do his own research, and made sure he knew the door was open to talk out anything he had trouble wrapping his head around. Wouldn't you know it, he's as much an atheist and antitheist as I am.
I already decided to be atheist before my daughter was born. We never discussed religion as she was growing up, so she never brought me questions about Jesus or any Christian ideas. When she got older, not sure how old, maybe 8 or 9. I probably told her I was atheist. It most likely came up in conversation based on some news item about someone doing something and religion was referenced.
I allowed my kids to experiment with religion and explained my beliefs in a manner not to influence them. They attended many churches and developed their own beliefs. Of the 3, one is a borderline Christian, the other two are agnostics. I feel better knowing they came to that decision by themselves
It depends on how old the children are answer honestly he really existed but I couldn't swear to the fact that he's actually the son of a god and you know why. End of answer begin discussion. I have always been very honest with my daughter who was raised mostly by her Christian mother about my religious belief system and she actually is agnostic now too. Some of the things the Bible says are actually true. If you bring your children up in the ways of the Bible they will act like that if you bring them up in the ways of the Quran they will act like that if you just bring them up to question everything and be a good person and have good character then they'll act like that. I don't like things about the Bible that create homophobia, mistrust and Division. I always had a hard time believing my gay friends were condemned to go to hell because they were gay that is absurd that a God would create people only to condemn them and send them to hell. Then of course the Koran I suppose commands its followers to throw gays off of a high place so if you're gay over there they will throw you off of a 10-story building and let you splat on the ground. It's amazing that people don't understand their own religion, which are supposed to generate peace love and understanding. I find it much easier to live without religion. I don't understand why their religions would tell them to do such bad things in the first place like stoning people for adultery or you know throwing gays off of high places you know where is the love in that? What are they afraid of? I could go on and on.
My daughter Claire never attended church, since both her dad and I are atheists. She grew up to be an atheist, too.
She never asked me about Jesus or the Bible.
In elementary school, Claire became friends with a Mormon girl. I told her about polygamy, and the fact that she will be rejected by her friend at age 15. Claire laughed it off.
Sadly, Claire felt deeply hurt when her Mormon friend turned 15 and rejected her.
This is part of the Mormon religion. It's cruel how they reject outsiders who are not Mormons.
I'm just honest with them about why I feel the way I do. I give them both sides, I was brought up a Catholic so have a bit of insight, and will let them make up their own minds. I will of course encourage critical thinking and educate them on how to think not what to think. I think they'll be ok
I raised my kids without religion or any spirituality, but with the idea that they should be respectful of those that are. Everyone deserves respect, right? They were not afforded the same in return, unfortunately, but I don't regret it either. I think my kids ended up with a stronger sense of kindness and right and wrong than most of their peers.
I have always been honest with them. "I don't believe that God or Jesus exist and I don't need to believe in them to be a good person. Neither do you but if you want to learn about those things I can take you to church and get your a bible." Their dad/grandparents took them to church and it didn't stick. Their questions always revolved around, "how can grown people believe that stuff?".
Communicating with children is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. I follow the Socratic method of is it true, is it necessary, is it kind. I investigated and encouraged my kids to investigate, not just the beliefs but the true actions of religions. Truly dig in with the option of not "buying in". And then, discuss.
I've tried to teach them to think critically, and let the rest take care of itself... It sounds simple... and I guess it is... but once they understand that supernatural phenomena simply doesn't exist, and things like psychics are just scam artists, the skeptic in them kind of takes over when it comes to religion... My eldest is 17 and she's completely analytical, so I guess I'll have to see when it comes to the younger kids... But for me... searching out facts, and understanding that just because someone says something and REALLY believes it, or possibly more importantly, really WANTS to believe it, doesn't make it a fact...
I was very lucky in this respect. As a single father who raised two kids (one daughter, and one developmentally disabled son), I never had to worry about this. I explained early on to my daughter that the grandparents were not ones to talk about religion or faith to - because they saw things very differently, and would not be able to understand a different view. Since the age of five, my daughter has taken this to heart - and even now, when my mother starts in on the religious stuff, B just smiles and nods, and politely changes the subject.
My son is non-verbal, and all he knows is that he is loved and cared for by us all.
My child currently lives independent of religious nonsense but sooner or later it's going to creep it's way into her sight. My hope is that I won't need to explain something like Jesus to her until somewhere around the time she figures out Santa isn't real, or that dad isn't actually Superman.
I don't think religion gets assimilated by children without lots of work. Indoctrination is labor intensive process. Raising agnostic children is actually very easy. Imagine the burdens on the religious: they're trying to sell a fairy tale as truth; sell a scripture that's complicated, esoteric, and not child-friendly; and push a whole worship process that's generally pretty tedious. In my experience, kids don't ask a lot of religious questions. They're far more interested in bodies and sex in the impressionable years.
I didn't try to raise atheists, they just turned out that way – much to their mother's consternation. Tho, their mother was raised a Southern baptist, she couldn't stand church either. Plus, she's a scientist – she was torn at best. Like many, she doesn't want to accept there's no life after death. She also knows the Biblical explanations are inane.