being honest to children.
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30-05-2013, 09:02 AM
being honest to children.
I have just recently dropped my robe of religiosity (3 weeks ago) after being a biblical fundamentalist for the last 10 years and a evangelical/charismatic christian for 5 years before that.

I am married and have 2 children : my daughter is 4 and my son is 8. My wife knows i have stopped believing in the bible, or God for that matter, and until now has seemed cool about it. We had a somewhat heated discussion, but there was understanding and acceptance from both sides.

Now enter my children. I have been bringing them up with the bible since they where born and have been teaching them to think in a “biblical manner”. They are both going to a “christian” school. I have always told them that they needed to make decisions for themselves but at the same time indoctrinated them with the bible and a certain level of skepticism towards science such as : the age of the universe and biological and cosmological evolution.

Until today I had not told my children that I do not “believe” anymore. However my son asked me something today about the bible and I do not want to install in him the idea that i still believe in it, so told him flat out that I did not believe in a God anymore, (at least not one that has manifested himself to me in a manner that I could scientifically reproduce it), and that I did not believe the bibles account of creation and revelation of a God anymore either. He seemed shocked and I am afraid I might have told him the fact in a rather unwise manner.

I am wondering if there are any other people out there that have had to tell there young children that they do not believe anymore and what there experiences where.
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30-05-2013, 10:07 AM
RE: being honest to children.
I don't have a similar experience to share, but as I see it, the biggest problem with being honest to children is the reaction of other adults, who act like you are being a jerk by exposing children to anything but indoctrination. I remember reading something about atheist banners being torn down "so children wouldn't see them." Or one parent freaking out because the other parent said something that goes against what's in the bible.
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30-05-2013, 10:13 AM
RE: being honest to children.
I can't help you because I haven't children. But I would like to know how you deconverted yourself.
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30-05-2013, 10:47 AM
RE: being honest to children.
I've got nothing either. Even when I did believe by the time kids came around, it was already waning. My husband was already atheist more or less...

I would worry about the child being scared or concerned that you're going to hell or something like that -- I hope your wife remains supportive.


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

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30-05-2013, 01:48 PM (This post was last modified: 30-05-2013 02:13 PM by Dark Light.)
RE: being honest to children.
It's all settled then. No one here can help you. :/ I have no children either, but when the time does come and I do have rugrats scampering about I already know I will either have to outright confess my disbelief to my family, or tiptoe around the subject. I really don't wish to do either. I would say you've made your decision, what's left to do about it? I presume from your text that your spouse is still a Fundamentalist Christian. This can lead to all sorts of relationship problems, divorce, or nothing significant at all depending you your attitude about it and your wife's as well. If your wife is okay with you sharing your lack of beliefs then I'd say you're in the clear. The kids will learn to accept it. Give your children the facts, explain your position and why you have disbelief and let them decide for themselves. That's what I'd like to think I'd do anyhow. Good luck!

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30-05-2013, 04:20 PM
RE: being honest to children.
I came out to my daughter relatively recently (there's a thread somewhere about it). She's 7 now. Previously when she had parroted something I didn't agree with I told her that some people believe what she said, and others didn't... and I would talk about some of the things that others believe. She figured it out eventually though and started asking me what I think about those topics. The deciding event was her starting to genuinely fear "the red devil who lives in hell", and I think she picked up from my tone that I was one of those people who don't believe in that sort of abusive nonsense. I told her then. She started asking everyone about their beliefs and she outed me I think to my very religious mother in law who she spends a fair bit of time with. Said mother in law has been in her ear a fair bit, but I've held the line that I'm happy for her to think and believe what she wants to believe.. but that I do care about how she makes those decisions. I've talked to her about scepticism, and whether or not you should believe everything you hear, and when and how confidently you should accept new ideas. I've taught her that it's ok to question things, and ok to say "maybe yes, maybe no". She doesn't have to believe things without evidence, and she should put her confidence in ideas based on the evidence that supports them.

She's gone through stages but generally talks about herself as an atheist around me. I don't know what she tells my mother in law Wink To this I tell her that I don't think she's an atheist, and that I don't think she's anything yet. I tell her she has plenty of time to find labels that fit her if she wants to fit them to herself. She doesn't have to decide these things right now and she is allowed to wait until she better understands what she is deciding between. I base this approach loosely on Dawkin's view that there is no such thing as a Christian or a Muslim child. That children may be raised by Christian parents and in a Christian tradition, but that doesn't make them Christian. The have the right to choose for themselves, and until they have enough information before them it should be shocking to us to hear them described as such. He compares it to describing children as Keynesian or Marxist economists.

So my feeling is that slowly slowly, softly softly is the best approach to talking to your children about all this. It's perfectly OK if they don't believe what you believe, even if they never believe what you believe. I think it is worth answering their questions openly and honestly, and asking them about their feelings. The same goes for your spouse - they may never believe as you do, but so long as there is mutual respect there - trust and accepted boundaries... that's what we're all after.

My son is 4, and he doesn't care about any of this stuff yet Wink

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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31-05-2013, 04:01 AM
RE: being honest to children.
(30-05-2013 10:07 AM)amyb Wrote:  I don't have a similar experience to share, but as I see it, the biggest problem with being honest to children is the reaction of other adults, who act like you are being a jerk by exposing children to anything but indoctrination. I remember reading something about atheist banners being torn down "so children wouldn't see them." Or one parent freaking out because the other parent said something that goes against what's in the bible.

Indeed, i cannot wait till my mother in-law finds out that i am cleansing myself from the atrocities the bible, and any conception of a personal god, have caused in my mind. I'm expecting her to more or less freak out Unsure
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31-05-2013, 04:26 AM
RE: being honest to children.
(30-05-2013 10:13 AM)viocjit Wrote:  I can't help you because I haven't children. But I would like to know how you deconverted yourself.

It is a very long story, but too cut it short in point form :

1) After years of convincing myself the bible was true I decided it was time to lay the facts down and be honest with myself. Concerning cosmology and the age of the universe the first chapter in the bible can already be thrown out the window. If the first chapter is not to be trusted, why should the rest be trusted.

2) The only experiences that I have had that would cause me to accept the fact that God/Jesus exist, are circumstantial and are reproducible without God, eg. : euphoria, a good feeling, psychological delusions.

3) I find the God of the bible to by unjust and worthy of criticism. Creating beings on a planet, that are innocent and unknowing, and then allowing a rival to be cast down to that same planet and deceive your own creations, while knowing all along what would happen and then punishing them for it, just goes a little too far. That's not even mentioning the fact that that god would have known that the adversary would betray him as well.. it all seems kind of silly.

4) Frustration was the last straw. To keep having to rap the whole lot of shit in duck-tape to keep it from falling apart just makes no sense. If the bible is inconsistent and science demonstrates that many things in the bible are not to be taken as the truth, then i find no reason in devoting my life to a belief that requests me to fully devote my time and energy to it.

Religion robbed me from my passion for science and astronomy i had when i was young, i shall now pursue the latter two with no regret and the passion for discovery that i once knew.

I must say i am not fully deconverted yet, i catch myself thinking and saying things which i now disagree with. It's quite sad how religion has poisoned my mind, i can sometimes get angry at myself for ever falling for it and even more angry for exposing my kids to this ridiculous nonsense.
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31-05-2013, 04:29 AM
RE: being honest to children.
(30-05-2013 10:47 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  I've got nothing either. Even when I did believe by the time kids came around, it was already waning. My husband was already atheist more or less...

I would worry about the child being scared or concerned that you're going to hell or something like that -- I hope your wife remains supportive.

As a fundamentalist i took the seventh day adventist stance. No hell thus, only death. So there is not much of a chance he would think that, only that he would not see me in heaven. But that would indeed be pretty hectic on his mind if he thought i was going to a place of eternal punishment.

I hope my wife remains supportive too, at least open minded and not judgemental.
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31-05-2013, 04:44 AM
RE: being honest to children.
(30-05-2013 04:20 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  I came out to my daughter relatively recently (there's a thread somewhere about it). She's 7 now. Previously when she had parroted something I didn't agree with I told her that some people believe what she said, and others didn't... and I would talk about some of the things that others believe. She figured it out eventually though and started asking me what I think about those topics. The deciding event was her starting to genuinely fear "the red devil who lives in hell", and I think she picked up from my tone that I was one of those people who don't believe in that sort of abusive nonsense. I told her then. She started asking everyone about their beliefs and she outed me I think to my very religious mother in law who she spends a fair bit of time with. Said mother in law has been in her ear a fair bit, but I've held the line that I'm happy for her to think and believe what she wants to believe.. but that I do care about how she makes those decisions. I've talked to her about scepticism, and whether or not you should believe everything you hear, and when and how confidently you should accept new ideas. I've taught her that it's ok to question things, and ok to say "maybe yes, maybe no". She doesn't have to believe things without evidence, and she should put her confidence in ideas based on the evidence that supports them.

Indeed this is the approach i wish to take. I too have parents in law who are quite conservative in their beliefs, and my son and daughter both spend considerable amount of time at their place too. I have no doubt that once they find out that i no longer "believe", that they will up the level of indoctrination. I however do not wish to cause conflict and would rather try and balance the scales without trying to stuff my ideas down their throat. I think i have done enough of that.

(30-05-2013 04:20 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  She's gone through stages but generally talks about herself as an atheist around me. I don't know what she tells my mother in law Wink To this I tell her that I don't think she's an atheist, and that I don't think she's anything yet. I tell her she has plenty of time to find labels that fit her if she wants to fit them to herself. She doesn't have to decide these things right now and she is allowed to wait until she better understands what she is deciding between. I base this approach loosely on Dawkin's view that there is no such thing as a Christian or a Muslim child. That children may be raised by Christian parents and in a Christian tradition, but that doesn't make them Christian. The have the right to choose for themselves, and until they have enough information before them it should be shocking to us to hear them described as such. He compares it to describing children as Keynesian or Marxist economists.

So my feeling is that slowly slowly, softly softly is the best approach to talking to your children about all this. It's perfectly OK if they don't believe what you believe, even if they never believe what you believe. I think it is worth answering their questions openly and honestly, and asking them about their feelings. The same goes for your spouse - they may never believe as you do, but so long as there is mutual respect there - trust and accepted boundaries... that's what we're all after.

Thank you i find that to be a satisfactory bit of advice and information Smile

(30-05-2013 04:20 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  My son is 4, and he doesn't care about any of this stuff yet Wink

Indeed my daughter of four does not care about this stuff either, she does however parrot alot.
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