God and dying children
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16-05-2011, 11:04 PM
 
God and dying children
I work as a nurse in a long term care facility for medically fragile and technology dependent children. Most of these children are slowly dying, and for the most part have been abandoned, or at the very least, have very few visits by their ( very Christian) families. I have known some of these kids for six or seven years and have become very attached to most of them.

Some on occasion, will ask me about God and Heaven, I normally lie through my teeth and tell the younger ones what ever they want to hear. I am just wondering at what age ( we have kids until they are 21) I should be truthful with what my real beliefs are. I was a Christian when I started hear seven years ago, but if suffering kids don't turn you into an atheist, I don't know what will.

Thanks for any advice.
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17-05-2011, 01:32 AM
 
RE: God and dying children
Tell em while they're infants, before they get attached to the whole idea.
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17-05-2011, 02:41 AM
RE: God and dying children
I would admit you don't believe as they do, that you are not convinced there is a heaven, and that that is fine. People can have differences of opinions and theres nothing wrong with that. I wouldn't try to breed little atheists, but I suppose it would be alright to ask them why they believe what they do.

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
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17-05-2011, 05:13 AM
RE: God and dying children
(16-05-2011 11:04 PM)Jumping Atheist Wrote:  Most of these children are slowly dying, and for the most part have been abandoned, or at the very least, have very few visits by their ( very Christian) families.
Please please please tell me your exaggerating... Sad


This is a though one...
The problem is clear however: "These children have on one side the comfort of knowing that there is an all loving god and an afterlife. But on the other side that same God gave them an incurable disease, or at least is unwilling to cure it."

Depending on how much grasp on reality these children have, I would be more likely to tell them the truth. Now, I would, however NOT tell them more then they ask for. If they ask me if I believe in heaven, I would truthfully answer I don't. If that settles it for them, leave it be. If they have follow-up questions, further answer them truthfully. You would be amazed how much courage and flexibility there is in such small package. What also works, is asking them follow-up questions after your answer. (eg: Why do you ask?, How does that make you feel?, What do you believe?, ...) This shows genuine interest in how they feel and gives them importance. Be prepared to get shocked by their responses however. In general, adults often grossly underestimate the grasp on reality children have.

It's much clearer what you shouldn't do however... Walk out on them, Avoiding their questions, show cowardice towards their situation. (Sounds like they have their parents to do that Angry) At least show the same courage like they have. They can't walk out on their situation, you should stay too, and be there for them. Sometimes that suffices...


My respect goes out to you!
Peace in your life and your mind.

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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17-05-2011, 01:03 PM
RE: God and dying children
I'd say that you best to tell them all that some people believe in God and some don't, you don't but they should decide for themselves. With the very young ones it would probably be best to let them believe in heaven as it would probably be comforting for them. As for the older ones again just tell them that some believe, some don't and that you personally don't. I wouldn't put a specific age at which you change what you tell them. You know them well so decide whether you think they are ready to be told based on their maturity etc. on an individual basis.

Also, I agree with The_observer, I think adults do underestimate the grasp on reality that children have. I work in a school and am still shocked on a regular basis by the level of some of the things the kids say.

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
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17-05-2011, 01:40 PM
RE: God and dying children
Hey, Jumping Atheist.

Tough job. I gotta say that I love nurses, so full props to you. Straight up.

I can grok your difficulty, but I guess the supreme question is, what is best for them? You're not helping you face death, you're helping them. In the end, whatever you're grappling with is irrelevant. It's what they're grappling with that matters. You can tell them your version of the truth, but are you arming them for their struggle or disarming them? Do they have the time, strength and wherewithal to assimilate an entirely new worldview before they die, without crisis, will that help them and is the energy of their final days better spent on other pursuits?

That being said, not having a clue what the actual paliative care unit's policy is and what you could get sued for, I imagine that there's nothing wrong with discussing your beliefs as long as you're clear that they're your beliefs. But I don't think it's cool to bring it up unless they broach the subject. I don't think that their psychological state can bear the burden of being converted.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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17-05-2011, 04:37 PM
 
RE: God and dying children
Thank you all for your responses, it's always nice to hear other points of views, and I feel these will help me and how I deal these situations when they arise.
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17-05-2011, 05:03 PM (This post was last modified: 17-05-2011 05:32 PM by Seasbury.)
RE: God and dying children
Jumping - my wife is a nurse on the other end of the spectrum, critical care in the VA hospital system.

I showed your first post to her and she replied - after making it a point to say how wonderful she thinks you are working with children, something she has always said she could not do - said you should engage in the subject with them at an age when they are cognitively able to handle "adult-level" subjects, such as sex, politics, or something along those lines of maturity.

As others have mentioned, just be truthful from your perspective Smile

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17-05-2011, 05:26 PM
 
RE: God and dying children
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17-05-2011, 06:00 PM
RE: God and dying children
Jumping Atheist,

First of all, let me say how much I respect and honor the work that you do, I couldn't do it and can't say enough good about people (like you) who can. You are a wonderful person.

In all honesty, in your position I would probably lie my ass off to the little ones and tell these kids anything they wanted to hear to lessen their suffering. I see nothing to be gained by removing what little comfort they may have. Having raised kids, I know that by the time they are teenagers they can spot a phoney a mile away, so telling the truth (or at least saying that there are many different views on the issue) would be a better strategy for these older ones.

If course you also have to pay close attention to the type of facility you work in, if it is owned by a religious organization you would have to be very oblique in your answers.

I empathize with your position.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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