Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
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02-07-2011, 07:10 AM
Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
So my boy (who is 5) was in daycare yesterday when a boy (Jehovah Witness) started preaching about god. My son told him there was no god and to get over it and deal. In the heat of the argument some kids started crying as did my son. The teachers obviously did not break it up fast enough as they are instructed to do if religion comes up in class. The teacher also told my wife to have a "talk" with him about what happened. As far as I'm concerned If the JW had not been preaching about god this would never had happened. When I asked my boy what happened he was visibly shaken and cried because he said nobody believed him when he told the JW there was no god. So what do you tell a boy who is taught to think rationally rather than apply god to every unanswered question is the universe. I tell my son that I believe there is no god, that I can't prove it, and evidence suggests that there is not. I also tell him that when he gets older he can decide for himself what he wants to believe. I think this is not going to be the last time something like this happens and I fear that when he gets to middle or high schools things could get worse. So do I teach him to keep his mouth shut and ignore others pushing their beliefs or do I let him have at it?
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02-07-2011, 08:06 AM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
Yikes. This is exactly why the subject should never be brought up at all ever. You position is a scary one that I know I will have to encounter when my little girl gets older, and I really don't know what can be done. I know that my views will come out to my daughter even though I'd rather the topic just never come up as though the discussion on whether or not there is a god is a non issue, but that won't happen I'm too vocal. So what do we do? let our child speak up too? I would say not. It's too serious and fragile a conversation to have at such a young age. I mean even when adults try talking about it calmly it almost always turns into a shouting match, I'd rather my kid didn't have to deal with it at all. I'm probably just going to tell her to ignore all religious people who feel the need to be overly preachy until she forms her own belief structure and knows more about all sides of the argument so that she can make a more informed rational argument. I'm sure it won't work out that way however, as being calm and rational even eludes me sometimes in my older age, and if she has any of my younger demeanor things should get very interesting.
Good luck to you and your family.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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02-07-2011, 09:04 AM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
That's hard to say, but I think my completely baseless and uneducated approach to this subject would be to explain that some people do believe in god, and that it is a subject that may get very heated. That he shouldn't fight religion at every turn, but if someone does ask him about it, just politely say that he(or his family, depending on if he identifies himself as an atheist or not) doesn't believe in god. As an adult, it is really messy if every time you hear someone preaching you argue it. 98% of the people who do preach in random places like that aren't open to any real discussion, and it is best for us to ignore. If someone tries to argue with me and I can see they are not willing to have an open dialogue, at most I'll say I don't believe in god because I feel the evidence has not supported it, and after that I more or less dodge question until they give up.

Ignoring the preachers isn't exactly fun, but getting into situations likes those isn't going to chance, be him five or fifty. It gets heated and people get upset and there is nothing to it but yelling out your side in hopes that if you say it loud enough, it'll become true. It's important to learn how to pick your battles, and I think that is what is at the core here.

I don't believe Jesus is the son of God until I see the long form birth certificate!
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02-07-2011, 10:14 AM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
I have to agree with most of the guys here. It is important for your son to stand up for himself but it is also important to respect other peoples beliefs (whether we agree with it or not). Most parents/kids would be upset if that same conversation was about Santa or the Easter Bunny so perhaps explaining to your son that not talking about it is a better idea or tell him/her to change the subject. That will likely work until he/she reaches middle school (while the preaching kids attention span is still short). After that time hopefully they will have a fully formed and educated opinion on the matter so as to have a discussion or to know when to simply sit idle and/or walk away.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
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02-07-2011, 11:48 AM
 
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
(02-07-2011 10:14 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I have to agree with most of the guys here. It is important for your son to stand up for himself but it is also important to respect other peoples beliefs (whether we agree with it or not).

I would go with just respecting all people; beliefs merit absolutely no respect just because they exist. When those beliefs are dangerous, offensive, or downright ridiculous then they deserve ridicule.

I don't think the OP's son did anything wrong. As far as what he should do in this situation, I think it depends on what kind of outcome he wants. He should understand that many people believe in a God and can get very nasty and defensive when their belief is challenged. And when he's in a group of people where the majority is religious, there will be a lot of pressure to conform. If he wants to stand up to those people, he needs to be prepared for their reaction. If he doesn't like conflicts, especially those where he's going to be in the minority, then he should avoid those kinds of arguments.

The best thing to do is make sure that he understands there is nothing wrong with ignoring kids like the JW, and nothing wrong with calling them on what they're saying. All that matters is which outcome he feels like dealing with. He shouldn't feel obligated to publicly disagree with the preaching kid, and he shouldn't feel bad for saying something unpopular. What he did was brave, but it sounds like the reaction was more than he could have expected. Teaching him to do one or the other is (in my opinion) a bad idea if you can teach him the pros and cons of each and let him decide for himself based on the situation.

I have very little knowledge of developmental psychology, so it may be easier, as the others have said, to tell him to avoid these conflicts when possible. I don't know when a child has developed the skills required for making this kind of decision on his own, so that has to be taken into account by someone who does know. But I feel it's important, at least when you think he'll understand, to let him know he has a choice and no obligation to be quiet or speak up. If someone is going to judge him for avoiding conflict or standing up to someone spreading misinformation, he shouldn't care what that person thinks of him.
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02-07-2011, 03:06 PM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
I don't know, maybe don't talk to a kid about atheism when he is five? He shouldn't even know what a god is at this point or care...

If you really think teaching your child about the issues of religion at the age of five, a point in his life that I don't think it will really be purposeful then you might want to rethink your situation. In my opinion you might be no better than the person teaching their child that there is a god.

tl;dr Child is too young to bother with the question/teaching of if there is or isn't a god.
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02-07-2011, 04:21 PM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
(02-07-2011 03:06 PM)NotSoVacuous Wrote:  tl;dr Child is too young to bother with the question/teaching of if there is or isn't a god.

Yeah I'd save conversations like that for later. I didn't even start considering the
existence of religions until I was out of elementary school completely.

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02-07-2011, 05:20 PM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
(02-07-2011 04:21 PM)Mindprowler Wrote:  
(02-07-2011 03:06 PM)NotSoVacuous Wrote:  tl;dr Child is too young to bother with the question/teaching of if there is or isn't a god.

Yeah I'd save conversations like that for later. I didn't even start considering the
existence of religions until I was out of elementary school completely.

God was never mentioned until he came home one day asking all kinds of questions several months ago. So obviously it was being talked about on the playground or in class. We ignored it and blew it off for awhile but he kept asking more and more questions. As far as being to young I completely agree, but I refuse to lie to my son about my beliefs to appease the masses.
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02-07-2011, 05:33 PM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
The best thing is to simply be a supportive father to him, as you clearly are already. With your guidance I'm sure he will be fine, sadly you can't watch over their lives all the time, sometimes they're out of sight.

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02-07-2011, 06:29 PM
RE: Kid vs. Jehovah Witness
(02-07-2011 05:20 PM)Phacops Wrote:  
(02-07-2011 04:21 PM)Mindprowler Wrote:  
(02-07-2011 03:06 PM)NotSoVacuous Wrote:  tl;dr Child is too young to bother with the question/teaching of if there is or isn't a god.

Yeah I'd save conversations like that for later. I didn't even start considering the
existence of religions until I was out of elementary school completely.

God was never mentioned until he came home one day asking all kinds of questions several months ago. So obviously it was being talked about on the playground or in class. We ignored it and blew it off for awhile but he kept asking more and more questions. As far as being to young I completely agree, but I refuse to lie to my son about my beliefs to appease the masses.

If it is unavoidable because of pressure by other children then yes, I would state that there is no evidence to prove it. Then I would try to find a way to explain to my son it is something that should just be left alone and to each his own ( at that age )

Then I would contact the school to put pressure on the parents.
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