How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
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02-11-2013, 01:01 PM
How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
As more Christian parents are confronted with the irrationality of religion, many in middle age are faced with the prospect of reversing several years of indoctrination of their young children. Of special concern are kids in their formative years who have always been taught that heaven awaits them upon death.

How should the parents proceed with de-conversion?
1. The big announcement approach? Mom and dad were wrong. The Bible is fraudulent, its God isn't real and this life is likely all their is. Assume this family led a very God-centered daily devotional lifestyle (i.e. strong indoctrination).

2. The phased approach? Stop going to church, end the teaching and praying and bible reading, relax the religious restrictions, and allow the memories of religious instruction to slowly fade without addressing the issue head on until later when the kids have adjusted to a secular existence and are more emotionally mature.

3. Keep pretending and going to church until the kids are older and can handle it better? (pretty sure this one isn't the right answer)

Would #1 pull out the rug of their security so severely that it risks doing damage? Would the ambiguity of #2 cause too much confusion?

While there are many resources on parenting secular kids, I haven't seen the de-conversion issue addressed specifically (admit haven't studied much). Any resources or ideas are welcome. Especially interested in how indoctrinated kids might deal with a reversal of their understanding of mortality.
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02-11-2013, 01:26 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
Depends on the age of the children.


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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02-11-2013, 01:26 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
I'd encourage them to be open to learning about more than whatever it is they believe in. I can tell them that I don't believe in it and why, but I couldn't simply say "I was wrong" because that seems somehow just as wrong as telling them I was originally right.
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02-11-2013, 01:36 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
Absolutely depends on the age like Moms says. Kids are people too and most kids are very smart. I think everyone has a right to think for themselves. I won't force atheism on my children as my parents forced Christianity on me. As my kids get older (currently 5, 4, and 1) I will start providing them with information on different religions and evolution and other things which I believe disprove religion(I won't tell then I believe it disproves religion). I will answer their questions truthfully and let then draw their own conclusions.

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02-11-2013, 01:37 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
Well that is my current plan. The fun thing about being a parent is you can plan everything, some things just work out in the moment despite all your planning.

Swing with me a while, we can listen to the birds call, we can keep each other warm.
Swing with me forever, we can count up every flower, we can weather every storm.
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02-11-2013, 01:41 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
Yes, if both parents are atheist and the children are young, it's easy to simply remove god from your life. Don't do church, pray...because why would you?

If the children are older, talk honestly. You can always arrange for them to attend church without you.


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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02-11-2013, 02:02 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
I guess 2). 1) would probably confuse the heck out of the kids and scare them. Whatever "bad afterlife" they've heard of and believe in isn't going to help for the moment. They'd most likely reach out to someone who they know who is religious and that's a whole new bag of "OMG, NOT THIS!".

My suggestion is to maybe stop going to church, (maybe ask your kid if they want to sleep in, the day before church and when they realize they missed church, you can say it's okay because you missed it, too) and after slowly removing anything to do with religion, and the children have reached the age of reasoning (I like to think the safe-zone is the teenage years, but I was questionning before that) and not present the facts as you see them, but see what they feel and think on the subject. If they ask you how you feel, that's a friggin bonus right there.

There's no blueprint *cries* to this. Best to you and yours in this journey!

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02-11-2013, 02:19 PM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
This is an interesting topic. Perhaps I would tell them that religion was like a mythology. Of course you would have to explain what allegory and metaphor means and what literal means. Non-fiction and fiction...ugh the kids are so young. I take part of the summer reading program at my library and one of the questions I ask is if the story they read was fiction or non-fiction. Many have trouble with this, even the adults. Talking ages 2-8, some children are really smart though, they know when they are being bullshitted. One time this girl brought in a book of jewish torah stories and I asked if it was fiction or non-fiction. She said fictionSmile although her mother had to ruin a learning moment and had to "correct" her. Oh well... not my place.
What I'm saying is you have to teach the children what's what before you talk to them about religion, a simple understanding of myth, fiction and nonfiction can go a long way.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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02-11-2013, 08:26 PM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2013 08:29 PM by Hafnof.)
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
I treat religion like I treat any other topic. When my children show an interest I try not to miss the opportunity. I discuss the range of views that exist on the topic they raised and try to encourage them to think about which one is best supported by the evidence. I encourage them to try out the different alternative ideas on the table, and not to fear "I don't know". I talk to them about sceptical ways of approaching the question.

For example:
"When I die, I'm going to go to heaven".
"Well, some people think that. Some other people think that you get born into a new body, maybe even an animal body. Some people think that you just become some part of a universal mind. Some people think you just die and that's it."

With my daughter, I did this for quite a while before the ideas clicked within her brain. I knew she understood the first time she asked "But what do you think, Dad?". My response was "I don't believe any of that stuff". I'm not sure that doing a big reveal before the child is ready has any positive effect. I'd rather wait until the child has a good understanding of the plurality of views that exist and ways of navigating that plurality before I lock my own position on the subject in.

When someone teaches my daughter a bible story I like to go to the bible and show her the original source, in context. All the better if that context includes bloody violence and genocide. I'm more than happy to explain to her that what she was told, if true, was a half-truth and that she shouldn't take it at face value. To me, it's easier for a child to trust someone who is forthright than someone who consistently tells half-truths. If theistic influences on her life continue to tell half truths then I don't see how she'll fall into accepting their authority.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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03-11-2013, 11:40 AM
RE: How should parents deconvert their indoctrinated children?
Maybe you'll find this presentation helpful?




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