Raising free thinking children with religious family
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08-03-2012, 03:10 PM
Raising free thinking children with religious family
After growing up in a devoutly religious family and being heavily indoctrinated in Christianity I want my children to be able to make their own choice. I'm finding though that my relatives are pushing their own beliefs.

One night, my 5 yr old started telling me about Jesus loving her and how when she does bad things it makes him sad and that she has to pray to say sorry to him. She is a very advanced reader soon after this little bed time revelation she started reading a children's bible that was a gift from a family member.

I'm upset because I don't want her thinking there's some imaginary being is watching her or that she owes this being anything much less an apology. I was so scared of hell and demons when I was growing up. I don't want my kids to think that anything like that is even remotely real.

I feel like the whole Jesus topic is not even age appropriate for her. I wouldn't let her watch a show as scary and violent as the jesus story so why if it's someone religion is it appropriate?

I feel like I'm being forced to bias her because other people can't mind their own business and have to push their beliefs on my child. It's so overbearing to teach my child something they know I don't believe. It's ridiculous.

So far I've been countering this by reading through the children's bible with her and discussing the stories. Pointing out obvious things like in the creation story when god separated the light from the darkness two days before he made the sun. I asked her where she thought the light came from before there was sun or stars.

I don't know how to approach my mother about this. It may not have been her to talk to her but either way she slips things into conversation all of the time and it really bothers me. I need to tell talk to her about it soon. Religion has always been a touchy subject between us and though I value our relationship it's very fragile. I don't want to jeopardize it because I've spent so long trying to rebuild it.
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08-03-2012, 03:11 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
Wrong section.


She's five and you are grown. Take the bible away until she's old enough to understand discussions about it and tell your family to fuck the fuck off. That's what I do. My step mom got my 1 year old a stuffed angel that prays (now I lay me down to sleep, etc). I threw that shit in the trash when I got home.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”

-Mark Twain
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08-03-2012, 03:15 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
Sorry
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08-03-2012, 03:19 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
(08-03-2012 03:15 PM)JLMomma Wrote:  Sorry

No biggie. A mod will probably move it to the Casual Coffeehouse or Atheism and Theism.

But srsly. Don't just allow your family to brainwash your daughter. I've found the best way to get them to stop trying is to be very confrontational and disagreeable on the subject. If grandma gives her a bible knowing full well that you don't want your daughter to have it then burn it on her driveway (srs). If she has no clue whether you care then just hand it back to her and say 'thanks but no thanks'.

To me this is a big enough issue that I would completely disown my entire family to protect my daughter from religion/belief.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”

-Mark Twain
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08-03-2012, 03:34 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
I tend to agree here- 5 years old is way too young to understand what any of that means. Religious people tend to put the age of innocence around what- 8 or 10? That being when a child can actually consider what "wrong" is? But they have no problems indoctrinating their children up to that age so that they feel guilt as soon as possible.

I'd teach the contrary. If someone has taken it upon themselves to teach your children about God, then I don't see how you're out of line to teach them about reality. And then tell family members to butt out (as gently as you can if you're trying to preserve the relationship).

I don't see anything wrong with showing your child why the Bible stories don't make sense though. But I'd prefer to keep it away until they're much older.

But, I don't have children, so take what I say as worth a grain of salt... If I had children I just might get pissed enough to be confrontational, but it's otherwise not my nature to do so.
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08-03-2012, 03:38 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
(08-03-2012 03:10 PM)JLMomma Wrote:  After growing up in a devoutly religious family and being heavily indoctrinated in Christianity I want my children to be able to make their own choice. I'm finding though that my relatives are pushing their own beliefs.

One night, my 5 yr old started telling me about Jesus loving her and how when she does bad things it makes him sad and that she has to pray to say sorry to him. She is a very advanced reader soon after this little bed time revelation she started reading a children's bible that was a gift from a family member.

I'm upset because I don't want her thinking there's some imaginary being is watching her or that she owes this being anything much less an apology. I was so scared of hell and demons when I was growing up. I don't want my kids to think that anything like that is even remotely real.

I feel like the whole Jesus topic is not even age appropriate for her. I wouldn't let her watch a show as scary and violent as the jesus story so why if it's someone religion is it appropriate?

I feel like I'm being forced to bias her because other people can't mind their own business and have to push their beliefs on my child. It's so overbearing to teach my child something they know I don't believe. It's ridiculous.

So far I've been countering this by reading through the children's bible with her and discussing the stories. Pointing out obvious things like in the creation story when god separated the light from the darkness two days before he made the sun. I asked her where she thought the light came from before there was sun or stars.

I don't know how to approach my mother about this. It may not have been her to talk to her but either way she slips things into conversation all of the time and it really bothers me. I need to tell talk to her about it soon. Religion has always been a touchy subject between us and though I value our relationship it's very fragile. I don't want to jeopardize it because I've spent so long trying to rebuild it.

My parents were closet atheists. I had no idea they were. They did not ever influence me in one way or another.

I went to church with neighbors starting at age 4. Because I wanted to. I chose to go to catholic school (they left me free choice) and I was crazy religious, attended a group for girls who wanted to become nuns, and just generally went bonkers with religion.

Then, at age 10, I decided that it was not cool to send innocent babies to limbo just because they didn't have a chance to get baptized before they died.

And it took very little time from there for me to toss religion in the trash alltogether. Well, I put it in the category of the Brother's Grimm fairy tales. Interesting but a bit gruesome to read and not real.

All the rest of the family around me (except my parents) were very religious catholics.

I have been atheist since age 10, and I never talked to my parents or anyone really about it. I am sure they noticed that suddenly I quit going to church. They didn't go either. It wasn't treated as a big deal. I never felt the need to talk about it, and they never asked. I grew out of it like I grew out of playing with dolls. Not a big deal.

I am very happy with the way it went. I am glad they let me think for myself. Had they pushed me in either direction, I may well have ended up going the opposite way, being the rebel that I was.

I thank them for letting me think for myself, and for not making a big deal out of it one way or another. If you think it's a big deal, the kid will think it's a big deal. Then the kid will investigate and may end up on a path you do not like.

So my take on this is to avoid pushing in either direction. So your relatives shouldn't push either, but if the kid decides to explore anyway, I don't think forbidding that will help.

I can see how hard it may be with your mother, your kid may have more sense than your mom. If your mom is the type where there is no conversation without god popping up, then you may have to mop up after her sometimes, teaching free thought to your kid.

Like if your mom says "praise the lord for the weather" , you may take some time the next day and explain a bit about the weather.

Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for...

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08-03-2012, 03:48 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
I tell my daughter it's make believe that some people believe but I don't. 5 year olds are smart and old enough to figure out the truth. I find the truth is the best thing to explain to my daughter because it's so congruent with everything in life. The bible is a fable, just like the book of Aesop's fables (Tortoise and the Hare, Crow and the Candy Jar, etc). I don't allow her to know the violent bits either though, just like I don't let her know about other violent things that could hurt her innocence at this point.
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09-03-2012, 01:54 AM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
I find your approach very good, we often consider children to be mentally impaired but that's just wrong, they might have a harder time to grasp abstract concepts but that doesn't mean they can't, actually some times they might be better as they're not biased by reality and thus have greater imagination to understand weird things.
So explaining her the contradictions in facts, moral rules, and philosophical teachings of religion could be a great way to introduce her to scientific thinking and abstract reasoning, who knows maybe you'll get to rise a little scientist Big Grin

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09-03-2012, 06:09 AM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
I have a 10 and a 14 year old. I have told them bible stories when they ask about what they have heard from other kids, but would not allow them to read the bible on their own (too violent and explicit in parts for children). But mainly, I try to teach them to question and research, or have me help them do so, everything that people tell them to see for themselves if it is true or not. If it goes against 'common sense' or dowen't hold up to investigation, why would you believe it? My 14 year old will even stand up to a teacher if they get something wrong! Some teachers hate that, sometimes the teacher looks it up and apologizes to the class........ Now a lot of kids think he is smarter than the teachers and ask him questions! LOL

Ann
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12-03-2012, 06:00 PM
RE: Raising free thinking children with religious family
I have a four year old (turning five at the end of this month) and a six month old. We have the luxury of living far form my religious family. However my family is very religious. This is, and has always been my approach, honesty. My parents know where I stand, and my son understands that some people believe in different things. I explain that there are many people that believe in jesus, mohammed, et al. I explain that neither his mother or I believe in that stuff.
As for your family, they mean well. You can't villify them in the eyes of your child, nor can you state they are wrong in a way that the child will understand. They will come of an age where they will struggle with the concepts of faith. If you shelter them from it it may bowl them over and your efforts will have the opposite effect. If you keep them aware of these things by being honest they will use critical thinking when they get to an appropriate age.
As for your family, you don't need to start world war three, but be sure they understand that you are an atheist and have no intention of raising your child in a religious environment. Keep it simple, succinct, and honest. If your family can't accept that, then that is their choice. remember you have the power here, they love your child, and you control who has an effect on their life. If they persist, you need to decide which is more important to you. I suspect you can raise your child surrounded by jesus freaks, and have them make up their own mind. Christ, a lot of us were brainwashed as kids (myself included) and look how we turned out. Your child will be better off even then us for having secular parents.

JM2C,

Shawn

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