Raising a child with a believer
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03-12-2013, 10:30 AM
Raising a child with a believer
My girlfriend and I got into an argument last night. I am an atheist and she, as she says, believes in a god and Jesus.

All my life I have lived with a family who are blindly religious. By that I mean, they haven't really studied religion, but they just worship God just to be safe. They also ask questions such as "If you're an atheist then where do you get your moral?" You know how annoying that can get.

So I thought once I'm with my gf, all that insanity around me would be over. But my gf told me, that she will teach our kid religion. She says that she will teach him moral lessons from the bible, and from other (non-religion related) books too. I ask her "Why do you really have to include the bible, I'm sure all moral lessons from there can be found on other books as well." But she keeps insisting anyway.

She says she respect my non-belief. But I feel like it's the opposite. She says she'll teach our kid religion just like how she'll teach it other subjects such as history and math. She said she'll just teach it as a belief, not a 100% fact. Sounds good but my question to her was, "Why would you teach a kid, something that would require it to make a hard decision whether to believe or not? Of course it's going to believe there's a heaven than not." And she just says maybe I'd be better dating an atheist.

What am I supposed to do? Should I really just let her do what she wants? I really feel like it's sickening since it's like brainwashing a child into believing myths, just because she believes in the same myths.

Or should I break up with her? She's not religious but at the same time she doesn't see how sickening it is especially when it comes to spreading it as if they are facts, especially to little kids. She thinks it's just another subject, another aspect in life that is needed too by a person to become a better person.
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03-12-2013, 10:44 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
There are a lot of therapists I've read and studied from who strongly recommend people with differing religious beliefs don't marry if they're planning to have children. Even if each party is not an active member of their religion, once you have children you have a strong natural desire to raise them based on whatever beliefs you have deep down. It's a HUGE source of contention for many married couples with children and definitely something you need to seriously consider.
The fact that you're both already feeling so strongly about your own "side" and you don't even have a child yet, is a huge warning sign. As hard as it is to break up with someone for something that isn't currently directly affecting you, to be able to look to the future, see such an important conflict, and take the necessary steps to eliminate it, is a sign of maturity.
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03-12-2013, 10:49 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
How old is the child?

My husband is a believer, I am not. I take the same approach as Dale McGowan. He is an author of a couple books about raising free thinking children. My goal isn't to teach my girls that they should believe this or that. My goal is to teach them to question, look for evidence, proof, etc. Otherwise I'm just indoctrinating them with my view and they aren't choosing for themselves what is right. When you examine things and reach conclusions for yourself - it sticks with you--

Right now I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old that call themselves agnostic. As they get older, learn more, mature more I have no worries. They are already questioning the bible stories they hear from friends (we live in the South-can't really escape)

Here's a video that explains it better than I ever could: It runs about 45 minutes-but really puts it into perspective-atleast for me.




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03-12-2013, 10:51 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
(03-12-2013 10:30 AM)Yoh Wrote:  My girlfriend and I got into an argument last night. I am an atheist and she, as she says, believes in a god and Jesus.

All my life I have lived with a family who are blindly religious. By that I mean, they haven't really studied religion, but they just worship God just to be safe. They also ask questions such as "If you're an atheist then where do you get your moral?" You know how annoying that can get.

So I thought once I'm with my gf, all that insanity around me would be over. But my gf told me, that she will teach our kid religion. She says that she will teach him moral lessons from the bible, and from other (non-religion related) books too. I ask her "Why do you really have to include the bible, I'm sure all moral lessons from there can be found on other books as well." But she keeps insisting anyway.

She says she respect my non-belief. But I feel like it's the opposite. She says she'll teach our kid religion just like how she'll teach it other subjects such as history and math. She said she'll just teach it as a belief, not a 100% fact. Sounds good but my question to her was, "Why would you teach a kid, something that would require it to make a hard decision whether to believe or not? Of course it's going to believe there's a heaven than not." And she just says maybe I'd be better dating an atheist.

What am I supposed to do? Should I really just let her do what she wants? I really feel like it's sickening since it's like brainwashing a child into believing myths, just because she believes in the same myths.

Or should I break up with her? She's not religious but at the same time she doesn't see how sickening it is especially when it comes to spreading it as if they are facts, especially to little kids. She thinks it's just another subject, another aspect in life that is needed too by a person to become a better person.

↑ THIS

So much this.

I had this massive revelation with my girlfriend a couple of months ago, except the other way around. She doesn't hold any real religious beliefs and tends towards the realm of science more, and I (at the time) was still clinging on to my Christian faith, which I had been growing apart from for nearly 5 years.

It was really scary to think about raising a child outside of the religion just because that's what I had known my entire life, but as I took time to sit down and really think about it, I realized that I didn't really want to tell my kids that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that God created the world 6,000 years ago, because I didn't truly believe that, and that whole process is what kicked my deconversion into high gear.

Interfaith relationships have worked in the past, but just understand that having children does throw a big, lofty wrench in the gears. With just yourself and your girlfriend as intelligent adults, you make decisions for yourself, and you can respect each other's views. However, when you bring religion into the mix, having one parent side one way, and one parent the other, somewhat forces the child to identify with one parent more than the other, and can reach into extended family as well if you have differing religions there. Also understand that, even if you choose to raise your child outside of religion, when he goes to see your parents or comes into contact with your "blindly religious" family members, they will probably bring it up, and the child will eventually want to know why grandma and grandpa believe in God and you don't.

Its a really scary situation to think about, and honestly, I'm not sure what specific advice to give you. Two of the biggest factors in the success of an interfaith relationship is planning and compromising, but if your girlfriend is a devout Christian, then the compromise part may not be possible.

Hope you find a way that works out for you. I personally, loved the girl I was with too much, and she was more important to me than the religion I had clung to for no good reason, that only caused me anxiety. Choosing happiness and a future versus anxiety and blind faith was a no-brainer for me.
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03-12-2013, 11:01 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
I didn't see QT's reply above because I was typing my own.
(03-12-2013 10:44 AM)QueenTit Wrote:  The fact that you're both already feeling so strongly about your own "side" and you don't even have a child yet, is a huge warning sign. As hard as it is to break up with someone for something that isn't currently directly affecting you, to be able to look to the future, see such an important conflict, and take the necessary steps to eliminate it, is a sign of maturity.


(03-12-2013 10:30 AM)Yoh Wrote:  And she just says maybe I'd be better dating an atheist.


um…..there's your answer.


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03-12-2013, 11:04 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
(03-12-2013 11:01 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  I didn't see QT's reply above because I was typing my own.
(03-12-2013 10:44 AM)QueenTit Wrote:  The fact that you're both already feeling so strongly about your own "side" and you don't even have a child yet, is a huge warning sign. As hard as it is to break up with someone for something that isn't currently directly affecting you, to be able to look to the future, see such an important conflict, and take the necessary steps to eliminate it, is a sign of maturity.


(03-12-2013 10:30 AM)Yoh Wrote:  And she just says maybe I'd be better dating an atheist.


um…..there's your answer.

While I hate to tell anyone what to do in a relationship, sadly I have to agree here too. If she is already refusing to compromise, and her solution is for you to date someone else, maybe that's best. A breakup now is far better than a divorce later, especially involving children.
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03-12-2013, 11:07 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
(03-12-2013 10:30 AM)Yoh Wrote:  And she just says maybe I'd be better dating an atheist.

Sounds like she's telling you about something she wants.

(03-12-2013 10:30 AM)Yoh Wrote:  Or should I break up with her? She's not religious but at the same time she doesn't see how sickening it is especially when it comes to spreading it as if they are facts, especially to little kids. She thinks it's just another subject, another aspect in life that is needed too by a person to become a better person.

I don't know how old you are or how deep this relationship is.

If this relationship is a casual boyfriend/girlfriend thing, why are you talking about children? Are your feelings deeper for her than her's are for you? Sounds as if it might be the case, since she's telling you you might be better off dating an atheist.

If you feel the need to educate her about indoctrination that is up to you. You might use some of the experiences of members on this forum as examples of the painful struggle a child can have throughout life as a result of religious indoctrination. It can result in a life of delusion and continually trying to live up to that delusion.

You might also balance your discussion with examples of those of us who have never been indoctrinated; we don't have to spend half our lives back tracking to gain a proper education, we don't struggle with certain repression anxieties, etc.,.

As I said, I don't know your age or the relationship but, if you are both young and the relationship is still somewhat casual, it might be easier on both of you not to waste each other's time.

I'm very serious about that; it is often better to cut ties, than to let things drag on and become even more of a problem to adversely effect others ... such as family and children.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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03-12-2013, 11:40 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
My wife is Catholic, I am (duh) atheist. We are raising our 3 kids Catholic, because her family is Catholic and our kids attend a Catholic school. I don't really have a problem with it because (from what I've heard) the Catholics accept Evolution and science. Our oldest is 8 and I'm constantly adding more science to what we talk about. We watch Ancient Aliens and whatever science documentaries we can on TV.
He'll ask me what I believe and I'll avert the question.
For now. He's only 8, after all. When he's older we'll have an in depth conversation. For now, I don't want to crush his world.
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05-12-2013, 11:14 PM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
Thank you all for your answers. I do dislike religion but I don't think it would be enough for me to break up with my girlfriend. We're both at our 20's and we've been together for 5 years.

I told her that we should teach our kid not the "answers", but teach them how to question and how to doubt. And let them decide on their own especially as they get older. And she was fine with it.

She's not really "religious" anyway. She's just like, a mum who doesn't go to the gym, but wants to teach her kid that going to the gym is good for their health. If you get what I mean.
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06-12-2013, 07:36 AM
RE: Raising a child with a believer
Well, to me, it's scary that she's completely discrediting your opinion. the problem I see here isn't that she want's your kid to be religious, but that she won't even listen to your argument against it and then throws the "Maybe you should date an atheist" line.

I've said this in alot of relationship posts, but it never gets less true: A relationship is a two way street, if she is completely unwilling to compromise to something you are both happy with, a relationship will fail. Same goes for you, but you seem to be more willing to compromise to something that suits her. Draw the line, and enforce it.

It's a team effort to raise a child, not "my way or the highway" and if she doesn't understand that, it's not worth it.

"She's just like, a mum who doesn't go to the gym, but wants to teach her kid that going to the gym is good for their health."

Yeah except this Gym can forever hinder your childs critical thinking abilities and shelter them from reality, Religion is not a health spa.

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