Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How important is it to teach children about religion?

Yesterday, someone asked me a question about religion, and how it correlates with being a parent and raising children.
"How important is it to teach children about religion?"
Very important, but not yet.
I want my children to learn about religion; learn about ALL religions. I want to teach them about religion with an open mind. I don't believe in a God, and neither does my husband. We don't want to teach our children that there is some guy watching their every move, telling them they won't get into heaven if they mess up, or they have to pray to get what they want. There are so many different people in the world with so many different religious views. I want them to know they exist, and it's okay to be different. If they want to be religious, that is perfectly fine, but I will never tell them, "This is what we are, this is what you are, this is how it is, and this is the only way." Because that just isn't the case.
Kids are smart, but impressionable. Gullible. They're not ready to learn about any religion right now, because they will believe you.
They believe sensational stories. When people teach children about the bible, they tell them over-glorified fairy tales, then tell them the fairy tales are true. They build it up into the biggest and best thing, and then they grow up and build their lives around that. As an example, if I told my 3.5 year-old son that his Daddy is a secret superhero and goes out to fight bad guys every night, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that he would absolutely believe every word I said. You don't need to lie to them about something that is going to affect the rest of their lives. It is entirely possible to be a good person, without being influenced by any form of religion, and that's why I refuse to teach them about religion until it can be discussed with an open mind.

Let me be clear, though. I have no problem with people raising their children with religion. I'm not here to change anyone's mind, or to tell them they are wrong. I won't tell my children not to play with your kids because you believe in God, and I certainly won't teach them that you're wrong because you believe in God. We just do not believe in any God, and raise our children accordingly.

  • I don't tell my children to pray to God to get what they want, I teach them they have to work for what they want.
  • I don't tell my children to pray to God for the health of them or anyone they know, I teach them that there are doctors and scientists who will do their very best to make them or their loved ones feel better.
  • I don't tell my children that God is watching them or watching out for them, I teach them that there are consequences for the things they do, whether that is immediate or further down the line, good or bad.
  • I don't tell them they won't get into heaven when they die because they committed a sin they didn't know was a sin, I teach them to learn right from wrong, and to apologize for what they did. I teach them to learn from their mistakes.
  • I don't tell them to thank God for all they have, I teach them that their Daddy works very, very hard to earn money to get us everything we have.
  • I don't tell them that God is the only way and anyone who doesn't believe in God is wrong, I teach them that everyone is different and everyone believes in different things, and that being different is good.
  • I don't tell them God loves them more than me or their father, I teach them and show them that we love them more than anything, and we want the absolute best for them.
I am a good mother, I care for my children immensely, and I do my absolutely best to do right by them.
I don't believe that telling them about God is beneficial to their well-being, and I don't think I'd be doing right by them if I told them there was a God.
I don't believe in God, your God, or any God.
I believe in communication, kindness, love, and honesty. If you disagree with me, that's fine!! But do not try to convince me or condemn me for what I believe or don't believe in.

I would love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think in the comments, but please, keep it civil!

Twitter: @itslikemusic


  1. this is an interesting post. I started early by reading my son Greek and Norse Myths. When we learned about the planets we talked about how people used to believe the planets were "gods," which are like "superheroes," not real, but fun to read, hear stories about, and pretend. Same thing with watching, "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro," and "Ponyo."
    The other day I explained Christmas. People used to think the sun was a god, like a superhero. In the winter, the days are short, it's called the winter solstice, and people thought the sun was sick. So, they would have a big party. When the solstice passes, the days get longer and people thought the sun was better. Everyone was happy. Now, even though we know the sun is a star, we still celebrate the winter solstice. People call it different things, after different gods. We call it Christmas.
    Eventually we'll get around to the idea that some people still believe in gods and that's okay. And that personally, every time I'm in a park, I imagine little Totoros leaving acorns.

    1. It's funny you say that, "Eventually we'll get around to the idea that some people still believe in gods and that's okay." I literally just said those words to a friend about this situation. :)

      Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it. With my son being 3.5 (4 in March) we haven't really come to the God "mountain" yet. I like that you started with Greek and Norse Myths, because that's pretty much where I'm at, when the time comes. I figure starting with the old and coming to the new will be an easy way to learn about religion, and I'm really excited to teach him. So far, no interest has been sparked in him, but I know it'll only be a matter of time before it comes up.

      His cousin went to a religious (Christian) preschool, and sometimes he talks about God around him, but he hasn't asked me, or anyone else, any questions about it.

      He hasn't really been interested in the origins of things too much, yet... except for the origins of his favorite superheros. He asks his dad almost regularly, "Can you tell me more about Captain America? Can you tell me all about Batman? Why is SpiderMan like a spider?" and that's about as far as it's gotten!!

      I'm sure I'll write more when it gets there. Haha :)

    2. The first time I heard about "gods" was when I perused an Astronomy book in the library when I was 6. Followed closely by me finding D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, their Norse Myths, Xanadu, Clash of the Titans, and various Sinbad/Hercules movies :)
      I remember reading about Dionysus and thinking, "wow! he looks just like Jesus! Wine! His mom was human and his dad was a god! He died and was brought back to life!"
      Followed closely by the Norse Baldar, "Wow! He looks like Jesus too!" Midwinter, Holly, decent to the underworld. It was a tiny bell in my young brain that didn't confuse or scare me. It inspired me to think the world was a much bigger place than I was aware of and that people all over the world had a lot more in common.