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Do You Require Your Children To Conform To Your View Of Faith?


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My children are all grown up now and two have children of their own. When they were young we decided that it was up to them whether they attended church and Sunday School. Both my husband and I had been required to attend as kids and that had put us right off. My husband is now an atheist! As there was no pressure on our children, they all opted to attend church. Our eldest daughter (36) is now an Anglican Priest.

 

I think that whilst children should understand about faith issues as part of their general knowledge, it is not something that should be forced down their throat. Faith is very much a personal matter in my opinion.

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My children are all grown up now and two have children of their own. When they were young we decided that it was up to them whether they attended church and Sunday School. Both my husband and I had been required to attend as kids and that had put us right off. My husband is now an atheist! As there was no pressure on our children, they all opted to attend church. Our eldest daughter (36) is now an Anglican Priest.

 

I think that whilst children should understand about faith issues as part of their general knowledge, it is not something that should be forced down their throat. Faith is very much a personal matter in my opinion.

 

When I was 16, after having been brought up in a fundamentalist church, I told my parents that I was an atheist. My mother insisted that I go to church with my parents anyway, but during Sunday School I would sneak out and wander around town as my little act of rebellion (my parents never knew, to my knowledge, that I did that). I resented that she didn't respect my ability to make a decision about religion at that age. The irony is that I went to a church that believed that baptism was only to be performed on those old enough to make a decision to commit themselves to Christ--which I did when I was in sixth grade. So how was it that 10 or 11 is old enough to make a decision to be an Christian and become baptised, but 16 isn't old enough to make a decision to be an atheist?

 

I always resented that decision by my mother, and my own road towards rediscovering a non-fundamentalist spirituality only took place many years later. I have no children of my own, but if I did, I would certainly respect their ability to make informed decisions about religion.

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Just joined this forum. It looks pretty awesome. I love the topics after a brief perusal!

 

I have young children (3 of them: 6, 4, 2) and I have wondered how I am going to raise them as I am moving through a variety of stages of faith and expect to continue my growth. As much as I have left the old teachings behind, I do value the experiences and perspectives they gave me. In fact, I am certain they were instrumental in helping me move beyond some of the more basic truths which I once upon a time accepted.

 

Recognizing the importance of all these milestones along the way, I am wondering if I should rather begin to influence my children in the fundamental teachings of my early childhood experiences. Even those beliefs I heartily disagree with, I think are crucial to formation of spiritual understanding. I can help to expose the inconsistencies and help them think outside the box as opportunities arise.

 

In the story Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, the scientists are skeptical of Dr. Hammond's dream of reintroducing dinosaurs to humanity. Their critique is that he is standing on the shoulders of many scientists before him to extract the dino DNA (blah, blah) and basically take a massive leap forward scientifically. Their concern is that he has not acquired the maturity and understanding to efficiently and safely manage the creatures. He has not grown through the process of maturation to be able to adequately think through his decisions.

 

In some weird, round about way, I want to provide my children with a healthy, slow process of discovery and growth that in some ways emulates my own growth of faith. The temptation is to imbue in each of them an understanding of God and Christianity that in many ways only begins where I leave off - without the broader foundation of nurture, safety, and dissent. Not that I am anyone to point fingers, but maybe this is the problem with the Baby Boomer generation having grown up with Builder (Depression era) parents.

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Just joined this forum. It looks pretty awesome. I love the topics after a brief perusal!

 

I have young children (3 of them: 6, 4, 2) and I have wondered how I am going to raise them as I am moving through a variety of stages of faith and expect to continue my growth. As much as I have left the old teachings behind, I do value the experiences and perspectives they gave me. In fact, I am certain they were instrumental in helping me move beyond some of the more basic truths which I once upon a time accepted.

 

Recognizing the importance of all these milestones along the way, I am wondering if I should rather begin to influence my children in the fundamental teachings of my early childhood experiences. Even those beliefs I heartily disagree with, I think are crucial to formation of spiritual understanding. I can help to expose the inconsistencies and help them think outside the box as opportunities arise.

 

In the story Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, the scientists are skeptical of Dr. Hammond's dream of reintroducing dinosaurs to humanity. Their critique is that he is standing on the shoulders of many scientists before him to extract the dino DNA (blah, blah) and basically take a massive leap forward scientifically. Their concern is that he has not acquired the maturity and understanding to efficiently and safely manage the creatures. He has not grown through the process of maturation to be able to adequately think through his decisions.

 

In some weird, round about way, I want to provide my children with a healthy, slow process of discovery and growth that in some ways emulates my own growth of faith. The temptation is to imbue in each of them an understanding of God and Christianity that in many ways only begins where I leave off - without the broader foundation of nurture, safety, and dissent. Not that I am anyone to point fingers, but maybe this is the problem with the Baby Boomer generation having grown up with Builder (Depression era) parents.

 

 

It is fine to share with kids the understanding that people have of faith, and why people think as they do, providing the children don't feel pressured into accepting it themselves.

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Children are the teachers because they are less conditioned then we are, but we are their parents so I like what Kibran says we are a bow and they are the arrow we point them in the right direction and they will be guided to their target. I think this says to listen to them and express your ideas as counterpoint either adding something, showing a different angle or pointing to something. Learn from them and they will learn from us, but beware they will push buttons to test what you say. Being a parent is a great path to love, compassion and away from intolerance.

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I don't have kid people in my house. But if I did, I guess I would take them where I go, and

let them make their own choices when they are able. You know of course that children will

take their own way anyway, esp. in adolescence. My sister and I used to go out during the

church service (Christian Science) and we did sometimes go into other churches (it was church

alley!). Many a fundamentalist will have liberal children while liberal parents might have fundamentalist

children. You just never know. Look what happened to my sister and I. She is working for Campus

Crusade and I about as far left as a Christian can be.

 

--des

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Mine are 13 and 10. We didn't "do church" until about 6 years ago. We joined a service oriented church that, theologically is much more conservative than we are. The congregation is all over the map and the sermons are practical - mostly focused on how to take this God/christian stuff into the rest of your life. There is quite a bit of trust, safety, love, etc. from God. My kids are thriving religiously... it is so much easier for them to believe - after all they believe all the stuff we tell them! :) We (ok, periodically <_< ) read aloud - right now it's Max Lucado's, God Came Near (great, short essays), watch stuff on TV (or recently saw the famous DaVinci Code) and then casually talk about it... not too organized, but we like it. Anyway, I think making God accessible, giving them information - (as we say it) God is big. When people try to say God only loves certain people, etc, they make God small. We usually talk about fear and people trying to have rules to feel safe.

 

Thich Nhat Hanh has some good children's books as does Max Lucado. They may be old enough for Narnia (CS Lewis) - those are great to read aloud. Then, of course, Harry Potter! :D If you mix up secular and religious, they don't catch on and object as often :P:ph34r: !!!

 

I think you're right in that it helps for them to have a church, some basics, and the overall identity. As any of us can attest - christianity can take you to a variety of places! Just give them the comfort level and information to know God so that they can work it out with "Him".

 

Godspeed!!

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Mine are 13 and 10. We didn't "do church" until about 6 years ago. We joined a service oriented church that, theologically is much more conservative than we are. The congregation is all over the map and the sermons are practical - mostly focused on how to take this God/christian stuff into the rest of your life. There is quite a bit of trust, safety, love, etc. from God. My kids are thriving religiously... it is so much easier for them to believe - after all they believe all the stuff we tell them! :) We (ok, periodically <_< ) read aloud - right now it's Max Lucado's, God Came Near (great, short essays), watch stuff on TV (or recently saw the famous DaVinci Code) and then casually talk about it... not too organized, but we like it. Anyway, I think making God accessible, giving them information - (as we say it) God is big. When people try to say God only loves certain people, etc, they make God small. We usually talk about fear and people trying to have rules to feel safe.

 

Thich Nhat Hanh has some good children's books as does Max Lucado. They may be old enough for Narnia (CS Lewis) - those are great to read aloud. Then, of course, Harry Potter! :D If you mix up secular and religious, they don't catch on and object as often :P:ph34r: !!!

 

I think you're right in that it helps for them to have a church, some basics, and the overall identity. As any of us can attest - christianity can take you to a variety of places! Just give them the comfort level and information to know God so that they can work it out with "Him".

 

Godspeed!!

 

 

When my eldest grandson, a very bright child, was 2-years-old he asked his mother why she believed in Jesus as she couldn't see him, hear him or feel him, she couldn't come up with an answer that convinced her son of the existence of Jesus. He is now aged four, and I cannot see him being interested in religion as faith has too many unanswered questions!

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