tularcitas: Those of you who might have different religious affiliations, how did you deal with this with your children as far as introducing them to religion..if you did? My husband is a Catholic and I'm Jewish, although non-practicing. I'm wondering if a parent should explain to their children anything about religion, take them to church or temple when they are very young? Baptism, bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation etc. ? Or is it better to let them find their own path as adults?
Nicotina: As a child I attended a Christian School, as did most children in England. Thankfully my parents exposed me to different religions and atheism. The only time I attended church was through school and when I was christened and baptized. I was taught to respect people no matter what their religious beliefs, as was my brother.
Today, I am an atheist and my brother is a born again christian. Our religion does not define us and thanks to exposure to many religions by my parents, my brother and I respect people for the simple fact that they are our fellow human beings.
I think that the more information a child is given about religion, the better. Only after learning about all kinds of religion is a person able to make a choice about what is right for them.
f i s t: I don't have children, but if I ever do, I and my wife plan to raise them as both our religions: Christian and Wiccan. They will be taught the traditions and beliefs, but once they are old enough to begin to think for themselves, they will be encouraged to choose their own beliefs. I think religion contains too much potential, spiritual, cultural, moral, etc. to leave out of a child's upbringing if the parents are religious, but it would be ignorant and backwards not to encourage critical thinking and the freedom to choose one's own beliefs. A child of one or two years old, however, has no notion of choosing beliefs, and is looking to the parents for identity, values, etc. This is essential in raising a child, the child imitates the parent until he/she begins to learn what it is to become independent. My parents made the mistake of never imparting any beliefs, traditions, or culture to me (they believed it would "limit" me), and as a result I embarked on a quest for the "meaning of life" at around 13 or 14, got recruited for a few years by fundamentalist Christians in college, and ended up primarily identifying with alternative parent figures in my life (Christians, Buddhists, philosophy professors, authors, etc), which do not have the power that parents do to instill character or the power of agency that is necessary for thriving in a difficult and unfair world. Partially due to this, I am 33, severely depressed, I have trouble keeping entry level jobs, and I've been talking about going back to school for about 12 years now. I currently live with my wife in my old bedroom in my parents' house and yet we cannot afford to even pay them rent. I have believed many, many radically different worldviews (I used to change my beliefs daily, literally daily), and my "journey" will never find even a place of rest, much less an oasis, definitely not a destination - but neither do I have the ability to affirm the journey itself. I will always feel empty, powerless, alienated, and radically different from the rest of humanity. And I will always be bitter about the lack of identity my parents bequeathed to me. At my core I still feel like my whole way of expressing myself, all my words and all my actions, the whole posture of my soul is like a baby bird with its mouth open, starving, wanting someone to take me under wing and tell me how to live. But habit turns to stone after the formative years. It's too late for me to be raised. That's my story Tular; take what, if anything, assists you and leave the rest. Blessings to you and your child and husband.
tularcitas: Clenched.....If you only knew how blessed I am to know you through the magic of your words and your music. You have a power, an essence, that resonates so very much with my being. And I'm sure I am not the only person who feels this way about you. Your path has been your own. I feel the path, the journey itself is the goal, not some pot of gold at the end. I think that one of the things that can make our journey more difficult is being too hard on ourselves...setting up some ideal of perfection for ourselves instead of just realizing we are perfectly who we are at this point on our path. Having a spiritual foundation can help us feel that we are not alone, separate, but are connected to everything that exists. I personally think that for many people, religion and other beliefs can lead to a separation. Yes, one can belong to a community, but this community can be isolated from the whole...separate..resulting in an "us and them" consciousness. I would ideally like my son to feel an "us and us" consciousness. I'm just not sure that Judaism or Catholicism would aid and abet this, but exposure to these would offer a cultural glimpse ,of sorts, on who his Mom and Papa are, the people responsible for helping him begin his own path. Again, thank you for this heartfelt response!
f i s t: oh tular i think what's important is to instill those values, if you aren't religious then there's no reason your son should be ... of course your husband might disagree, so it might have to be a compromise
tularcitas: Clenched, my husband has talked of our relocating to Trapani, Sicily, where he has family, when Aaron is about 3....for an indeterminate period. Aaron will of course be in an environment in which Catholicism plays a major role. If we do this, I will not 'rebel' against the pressure from family to have my son be a part of all things Catholic.
f i s t: is it that everyone is expected to be devout? or is it more of a cultural identity than an individual religious and spiritual life? mass every sunday and regular confession? or mass on holidays followed by family gatherings?
tularcitas: I know that they have religious festivals throughout the year. There is Mass every Sunday and family gatherings. I suppose it is in large part cultural identity, yes.
f i s t: one great treasure of roman catholicism, as well as buddhism, is the sharp distinction between lay and religious ... the ordained monastics, priests, deacons etc. are the ones tasked with having a personal, direct relationship with god, and their work benefits the lay community, whose primary task is to function in society - the layperson is not expected to be particularly religious, and may not even attend mass every sunday, because the prayers of the ordained and of the saints and mary "do the work" for them ... taken literally this can sound silly and even restricting ... but take it as a metaphor, and compare it with a primitive village, only certain people are tasked with venturing beyond the safety of the village into the great unknown (the wilderness) to procure food - everyone else reaps the benefits and performs functions in the village ... a religion at its best makes it possible for the everyday person to have a secular life, a family and job and interests and friends, all protected, blessed, surrounded as if by a frame, by the ordained holy people who directly face the "living flame of reality" ... this makes possible a whole world of immense beauty and meaning, the intimate, enclosed beauty of medieval squares and narrow streets and markets ... this is i believe one of the primary functions of religion, to make it possible for the majority of people in a society to live their lives without existential dread, to not take religion or the meaning of life too seriously, a mary statue in the corner of the living room, christmas day, children playing, a fireplace, this is the joy that the lay/religious divide makes possible, the joy of a human secular life blessed indirectly by the divine that shines through the confessional screen and the stained glass windows, filtered, dappled light of many sumptuous earthly colors
got carried away there sorry
tularcitas: Darling, nothing to be sorry for. I've happily learned something that you have expressed exquisitely.
Cenababy: If ypu and ypur husband do not follow your faith, teaching your children to follow is rather hypocritical. Children follow their role models. How can you take yoyr child to church or temple and you not attend? Children see, hear, and wonder, question everything. If they see you not believing, not acting not folliwing, they will question that. They will also question why one parent is christian and the other isnt. If you dont folliw God at home, your child wont learn how to behave or learn whats right. So i guess talk to your husband and see how he feels.
My experience has been, i wasnt raised in a christian home, i wish i had been, my life would have been great compared to totally dysfunctional, to bad.
tularcitas: Cena..I was thinking in terms of my son being exposed to his Sicilian heritage as well..Catholicism being such an integral part of life there. I really don't know the best answer. I suppose I'll just have to see how it goes..if we go.
Cenababy: Sara if your husband wants to follow his faith and wants your child to, 1) will both of you follow it, 2) will you convert, and learn?
tularcitas: Cena...I will allow my husband to have our son follow the faith...as for myself, I don't know what I will do...At this point, I wouldn't want it to become a issue in our marriage that would create my son not having both parents. My husband is willing to let some major things slide in our marriage already and i don't want to push it any more.
Nicotina: If you do not know wrong from right, you need empathy not religion.
Amazingly, millions of people manage to learn how to behave without the need for any specific religion or god.
f i s t: you could both attend a unitarian universalist church with your son, they are all religions ... barring that, i believe an episcopal church might be just progressive enough for you and just traditional enough for him ... if it comes to the point where a serious compromise has to be made
f i s t: at least you are getting the full gamut of opinions here, i am right in the middle between cena and nico
Nicotina: Indoctrination - The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
Source - Oxford English Dictionary
The key word in the definition is "uncritically".
Cenababy: Look in other dictionarties, ok uncritically so, if i teach my daughter about our nationalities, that is teaching her uncritically? Nice try no cigar. The point is we teach them, they grow up. They then do what they do. My whole point was, why teach them what you dont believe or practice. Why ruin it for them, or, you could introduce them, let them learn and decide such as her husbands faith!!!! That is up to her husband as sara is a non praticing jew.
God said, bring the children to me! So in the end? I guess God decides