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Children and religion

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by WaylonJennings, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. My little one isn't even old enough to talk or walk yet, but already I've started thinking about this. I was raised Catholic and, though lapsed in that I haven't been a regular mass-goer for a while, have always intended to go back to it once I have children. My wife was raised in a completely secular home, but plans to get on board, as well.

    Just wondering what experiences people have had trying to impart religion to their children? I'm torn because I want to be able to have him understand the difference between faith and science, because I can recall myself becoming very confused as stories that were related to me as fact, like Adam and Eve, came into direct conflict with what I was learning in school. It seems like children are too unsophisticated to understand the concept of parables, etc., etc., but maybe I'm not giving them enough credit.

    Any fellow Catholics - or any denomination, really - have some experiences to share?
  2. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I'm Catholic, still go to Mass most weeks and take my little one with me, but she's not old enough to understand anything (20 months). I'm looking forward to the days when she can go the children's liturgy, as I remember that being much more interesting than Mass was to me when I was a kid. I was also an altar server and always enjoyed that more than just sitting in the pew.

    My sister-in-law is Jewish and enrolled both of her girls in Hebrew school at a very young age. I've always been fascinated about how much they seem to enjoy it, even as the older one (just turned 9) is now going three times a week. I think their temple really strives to put the lessons on their level, and it's paid off in a big way. For instance, for Hanukkah, the older one was part of a skit at the temple where she got to be a cheerleader and chant, "Let's go Maccabees!" There's some other holiday, I forget which one, that they invited me to where everyone in the audience gets noisemakers and whoops it up over the defeating of someone. Anyway, my sister-in-law and my brother introduced the girls to the concept of God very early and they take that and the Hebrew school seriously, which is nice to see.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I was raised Catholic, but converted to what my wife is before we got married. I went to church regularly as a kid before my parents got divorced and then we kind of became Christmas and Easter Catholics.

    We go to church regularly and my oldest is in Sunday school and he seems to like it, so I have no problem with it.

    I don't see a negative to going to church and I think it's good for the kids.
  4. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I was born and raised Catholic, went through 8th grade in Catholic school and did religious ed in high school, and I am the godfather of my two youngest siblings.

    The last couple of decades, I've been pretty dissatisfied with the church's stance on a number of issues:

    1. Women clergy
    2. Married clergy
    3. Divorce (my marriage broke up 10 years ago; if i ever want to remarry in the Church while my ex is still alive I have to go through a lengthy and expensive annulment process)
    4. Contraception. (I understand the church will never bend on abortion. Given that, they need to issue a blanket approval for any birth-control method which takes action before the moment of conception.)

    5. The sexual-abuse issues, on which the Church has been disgracefully and unforgivably and pretty much absolutely on the wrong side of the issue from Day One. They need to make a thunderous, draconian (and what will be to many people quite shocking) complete reversal on the whole issue: root the perps out of the church with a flamethrower and a machine gun.

    Now having said all that, I am happy to say my two godchildren (my brother and sister) remain good Catholics, much better than I am. They make a point to get to church every Sunday; I go every two or three months.

    My sister is raising all of her five kids Catholic, sending them all to our same old Catholic school. Her husband, who was Anglican/Episcopal, converted out of a clear blue sky a few years ago -- my sister said he hadn't even told her he was planning to do it. They seemed to be handling the dual-religion thing just fine -- it had never been an issue as far as I ever heard.

    Even though she knows I'm on more-or-less inactive status, she did make me godfather for her twins a few years ago, making me both their godfather and their god-grandfather at the same time as well as their uncle. So apparently she still thinks I'm an OK moral influence. :D :D :D
  5. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    I'm Jewish, and Little E just turned 16 months old and the wife & I have been taking him to synagogue most Saturday mornings (a little over 50% of the time) now for the last 10, 11 months. We also have a traditional Shabbat dinner (Friday night) nearly every week (probably 95% of the time). He's loving the traditions and songs. When he's old enough we can talk about the differences between religion and science and beliefs, but for now, it's just exposing him to the traditions.

    Copperpot - the holiday where everyone gets noisemakers is Purim (which was less than a month ago) and they "whoop it up" to drown out the name of the villain in the story - Haman.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    We feel like the experience of going to church and being with other kids and adults who would tend to be better influences is important.

    So they go to Sunday school, but they also played soccer and basketball in church leagues and are in a youth group where they meet once a week (they especially love going out to eat).

    They also go on trips to go bowling, go to amusement parks, go camping, an a week in the summer they usually go somewhere on a mission to help build a house or interact with less-fortunate kids.

    So church is less strict Bible instruction and more keeping them busy and surrounded by (hopefully) good influences.
  7. Iron_chet

    Iron_chet Well-Known Member

    Good discussion as it is something that I have started to think about.

    My wife was raised in an Evangelical church and I was raised hit and miss with different religion, the result of which is while I think Christian ideals are great, I am not sure I consider myself a Christian.

    The struggle I am having is what and how to expose my daughter to religion. The evangelical churches in my area are very conservative and I absolutely will not go to a church that believes the "bible is the inerrant word of god" however I want to her to have a chance to develop her own spirituality.

    I will definitely have to do some reading before deciding which way to go on this.
  8. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    My wife was raised Catholic, so for a while we did that. But some bad experiences with Catholic school (not the diddling priest variety) and her long-simmering dissatisfaction with a lot of the things Starman discussed got her looking for another church.

    She found a United Church of Christ congregation that she, myself and my kids enjoy. It's very welcoming and has a deep belief in social justice. It's not perfect (no church is) but we've gone from barely darkening the door of the Catholic church to my kids looking forward to Sunday. It's nice, too, that we have that time carved out as family time.

    The lesson I hope my kids learn is that whatever their faith, there are things out their bigger than themselves, and that serving others is one of the most important things you can do.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I found it truly amusing how pissed both of my parents were when I converted to my wife's religion, especially since it's been years since either of them had gone to church.
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I've been struggling with this one too. I want my child to make his own choice about believing in God, I believe church can be a positive environment, but I don't want him being told that he has to sit there every Sunday and listen to stories about how the Bible is literal truth no matter how much it contradicts what we can observe about the world.

    Plus, my father being a devout Pentecostal Christian complicates things a bit.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    They don't have to "just sit there." Most churches have Sunday School classes for kids. And I waited till my kids were 12 to decide if they wanted to be baptized.

    One wanted to earlier, but we told him to wait till he's 12.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Sunday School is specifically what I'm worried about.

    "Go sit with the other kids and listen to them tell you how the world was created in seven days, which isn't true, but don't tell them you know it's not true."
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