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Your AP approach to Religion (long)


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  #1  
March 2nd, 2013, 08:22 AM
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I understand a lot of people with strong beliefs also feel that it is their responsibility to their religious figurehead (God, Allah, etc) to raise their kids in their religion. This was the reason my mom required me to go to church growing up, and I see that in most parenting groups, if the parents are religious, they require church-going of their children (house rule). So I don't think my mom was so out of the norm with that, and I do understand why she felt compelled by her religion to make me go.

I guess she hoped my mind would change by making me go, but I also wonder if she didn't care that the only way that would have happened would be if I had become brainwashed through frequent exposure at a young age. I would think she would want me to believe because I believe, and for no other reason, but with her, I just don't know (and I think that is where she is different from the majority. I would ASSUME most parents want their kids to believe because they do, not because they were brainwashed). But in my mom's case, I have to say religion was forced on me, even though I also respect she didn't see that way.

I went until I was 18 because I had to, but I had my own mind before that. As an adult, I don't attend church and I'm not religious. I know a lot of believers who will believe forever because they know too much not to believe, and likewise, I can't see myself ever becoming a "believer" because I know too much too believe. And I think that's really the beauty of being human! Everyone can see the worlds in different ways and believe what their heart desires.

That's pretty much shaped our family's approach to religion. Though we are not religious ourselves, we allow our children to be. My daughter, for example, goes to church almost every Sunday with my friend. She believes in God. My friend always asks if she can go and I always say, "If she wants!" And she always wants to go. She does ask me and my husband if we believe in God, and we told her we don't. And she's asked why, and we've told her why, and we've challenged her thinking, but we're gentle about it.

Of course, this is where my husband and I hit a crossroads, because I don't want to be pushy about why we don't believe. We have a lot of information people don't get from church, and he doesn't want to withhold any of it. His argument is they do everything they can to get her to believe, so we should do everything we can to get her not to believe, but I feel like we don't need to "convince" her of our beliefs. We can share some information with her here and there, just as the church does, and in the end she will believe what feels right in her heart or what makes the most sense to her. At the same time, I do see his point. For one hour every week, people try to convince her of God, and I won't really do more than say I feel different. My husband gets in maybe 5 minutes of throwing logic at her to challenge her thinking before I say I think that's enough. But, she WANTS to hear this stuff from him, so maybe I'm holding her back from learning if I only let her learn what the church has to say. I don't know. But I feel like it's very easy for a parent to become an influence, and I don't want to over-influence her to the point she stops thinking for herself. I guess my husband is worried about this happening through the church instead of through us. It's definitely not easy to find balance for us on this subject.

I also really hope we can find someone who can take her to Temple and share Jewish beliefs with her, and that she can meet some Mormons and hear what they have to say, etc. I'd love for her to see how there are many religions and how their are many people who believe theirs is the right and only one very strongly. The only thing I really go out of my way to instill in her about religion is that she should never judge others for believing differently than her, that it's okay for people to believe differently, and that she should never use her beliefs to be hurtful toward someone else.

As for my boys, they have no interest in either way. They already think the religious stories are silly and make no sense, and I'm the last person to be able to convince them otherwise, and I won't force them to learn about it. I don't stop anyone from sharing with them, though, either. I might, down the road, make it part of their school curriculum to cover the beliefs of all religions. I'd definitely support them if they wanted to try out some of the religions, too. I'd like to present them with equal information on each one. What the people in those religions think is the most convincing evidence, what compels them the most, how they practice, their best and worst moments in history, etc, and at that time me and my husband might share more about what we believe and why (in what I hope will be equal fashion to how we share about the different religions).

But thinking about this made me curious what other AP mamas do. I know a lot of you said you wouldn't have you kid do a sport they didn't want to do, so I thought, maybe it's more AP to not make your kids do things. Maybe AP mamas are less likely to push beliefs/non-beliefs on kids, and maybe AP mamas are less likely to require their kids go to church (if they are religious) or not allow them to go (if they are agnostic or atheist). Of course, I won't know if I don't ask! Maybe what some of you ladies do can give me a idea how to have a more balanced approach to this Am I being unbalanced by holding back in what I share with my daughter when she asks? I want so much to respect her currently-Christian beliefs that maybe I am not respecting that she genuinely wants to here what her dad and I think. Maybe that is wrong of me, too, because it operates on the assumption I might dissuade her, which would be an insult to the strength of her beliefs, I suppose. If she truly believes in Christianity with all her heart and mind, then nothing I say would dissuade her, just as my mom had been unable to dissuade me. Then again, she's SIX. anything anyone says to her right now could be influential, and she probably hasn't hit the age of maturity that allows for her to truly believe in anything "completely". Should I share more with her? How do I find the balance of allowing others to share with her and then sharing with her ourselves and letting her decide for herself?

So what is your AP-Style of handling religion?
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  #2  
March 2nd, 2013, 08:52 AM
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I guess it's safe to say I don't look at introducing our beliefs to our children as part of AP, or any parenting style really. It's just something that will happen in our household because it falls into the way we already live our lives.
We are Christian, but we actually don't currently attend any church because we haven't found one that 'fits' since moving almost a year ago. We are still looking.

It is my expectation that our children will HAVE to attend with us until they are at least 12 years old and can stay home alone otherwise. Just like they HAVE to go to the grocery store, or they HAVE to go to their siblings hockey practice, because we can't leave a 6 yr old at our home, while we are out and about. It's just the way it is, that's life.

My personal beliefs include not being caught up in religion, tradition, and rituals. I have a relationship with God, and that's all I need. Of course I enjoy going to church to learn, but mostly to socialize with others who are like minded. To me there is nothing 'wrong' or 'inappropriate' with teaching your children about what you believe, and how you would like them to live, and what you'd like for them to believe... just like a parent may teach their child that they think doing drugs is bad. They want their child/teen/adult children to abstain from using drugs, and also to believe for themselves that drugs are not a healthy lifestyle choice.

These lessons are important for me to teach at home, not by dragging my kids to church every week. It's not a battle I'd personally choose once there is an option for my child to stay home, because I can see how it is damaging to the over all goal, of having your child develop their own beliefs, and of course they'd be much more likely to rebel from anything you try to force them into against their own will. However, it is something that I will encourage, and I know from my personal experience, there is very little you can do after that. For example, I grew up in the church, and I feel that through that, and several other really influential experiences, I developed my own relationship with God. My brothers however have both turned away from Him, and live a different lifestyle. We were all raised in the same home with similar expectations.

Just like you can preach and teach all you want about drug use. Some kids are going to listen, they may never try drugs, and others growing up in the exact same environment will become addicts. To me, that isn't good enough reason not to bother teaching about what you believe as a parent, and why you'd like your children to believe similarly.
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  #3  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:16 AM
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Well I was raised in a very open way. My dad is Jewish, reform, not big on temple attendance. But we always lit the candles and did the challah and blessings on shabbat, he observes Yom Kippur and the main high holy days, we usually did Passover, Hannukah and maybe Purim or Sukkot too. For awhile as kids, we did a DIY Saturday school with another half Jewish family and learned some bible stories and Hebrew letters. After several weeks they said, "well, who's into this? Who wants to go to the real school at Hillel (reform temple)?" And my brother wanted to. I didn't. He ended up having a Bar Mitzvah too so he is really Jewish now. I identify with it as an ethnic/cultural heritage but I never liked the whole Chosen People vibe and don't consider myself at all religiously Jewish. We will not circumcise our son, which will pretty much mark him a non-Jew for life unless he does it later as an adult. But we do celebrate some holidays and do shabbat with my parents sometimes. The kids will know it is part of their ancestry and heritage.

My mom is not AT ALL religious and hates going to church. She took me exactly once just to expose me. All I remember is the teacher getting mad at me for asking questions. We never went back. I have been a few times since with DH's family and in Mississippi we went a few times to watch my friend sing in a big "creative worship" church. Overall I have no interest in Christianity. My personal views of G-d/the universe are closer to Judaism.

Okay subbing to finish this later lol... we are going on a walk!
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  #4  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:18 AM
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My kids are a little young for me to put my beliefs in action, but I think what I would do is similar to you (ideally).

If they want to go to church/synagogue/temple/whatever I have no problem with that. If they show a real interest in religion I think that it would be a prudent time to teach them about other religions.

I am spiritual, and my husband is a Christian, and I'm sure that will come across, and I think that's okay. As long as I teach them to look at things objectively and act out of love, I think that I can trust them to make good decisions with their religion.
Like most aspects of AP, it's about teaching your children to make the right decisions for themselves as they're faced with something new. I hope that I raise children who know better than to listen to someone just because they say they're in charge, and that sometimes religion is wrong. And I hope that when and if they end up in a spiritual group who is teaching something contrary to a message of love, they'll have enough will to walk out with their head held high.
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  #5  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:19 AM
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I have to say I definitely feel that teaching about drug use and religion are different. One is about healthy choices in life, the other is about a personal decision that has to do with YOUR heart and YOUR relationship with god. Religion seems like such a personal thing to me. I can't make my kids believe, even if I do, because then their beliefs mean nothing. They need to believe because they believe; then it means something. I guess that's what I want for my kids. even if they believe different than me, I want it to be because they believe, not because it's an expected thing to do, ya know? I can understand a kid having to go where you go, of course, we're one to have someone (husband or myself) stay with the kids when the other goes somewhere else and just bring the kids who want to go. But yes, when we both leave the house, so do the kids, so I can understand the situation with church until they are old enough to stay home.

When I was growing up, I was not "allowed" to say I didn't believe, or my mom would make me pray to repent and I'd be grounded until I did. Oddly, though, none of that is why I'm not religious. I was already not a believer before that; it's merely something I had to endure. I do think it related to AP, though, because my mom's religion and her "requirement" of me to follow her religion and listen to her talk about it put up a huge wall between us. Like, Great Wall of China sized. My dad is also Christian, but we have a great relationship and he never required me to listen to religion or be religious. (They also called it "having a relationship with God")

I don't really care if my kids believe similar, either. I want them to "hear all sides" and believe what they want. I'd be happy to one day tell them about what I believe, but I will NEVER EVER EVER tell them why I want them to believe what I do. I just can't bring myself to put that pressure on my child and I'd feel so selfish and self-centered doing it. It just didn't sit peacefully with me to do that, though I respect for some people that feels like exactly the right thing to do.

It's really interesting to hear thoughts on this, though. I suppose some people will see how being AP would affect their approach to religion while others their religion trumps AP. I do wonder, though, if religion trumps AP, what happens to those mamas who genuinely believe the bible is telling them to spank their children? (I usually point them to gentle christian mothers and the rod study, but alas, everyone interprets the bible differently and everyone says their way is the right way, so you won't persuade someone who doesn't want to be persuaded.) I guess, though, that would be the case for those who put religion ahead of their AP relationship, in the instances where that is what their religion is speaking to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shen7 View Post
Well I was raised in a very open way. My dad is Jewish, reform, not big on temple attendance. But we always lit the candles and did the challah and blessings on shabbat, he observes Yom Kippur and the main high holy days, we usually did Passover, Hannukah and maybe Purim or Sukkot too. For awhile as kids, we did a DIY Saturday school with another half Jewish family and learned some bible stories and Hebrew letters. After several weeks they said, "well, who's into this? Who wants to go to the real school at Hillel (reform temple)?" And my brother wanted to. I didn't. He ended up having a Bar Mitzvah too so he is really Jewish now. I identify with it as an ethnic/cultural heritage but I never liked the whole Chosen People vibe and don't consider myself at all religiously Jewish. We will not circumcise our son, which will pretty much mark him a non-Jew for life unless he does it later as an adult. But we do celebrate some holidays and do shabbat with my parents sometimes. The kids will know it is part of their ancestry and heritage.

My mom is not AT ALL religious and hates going to church. She took me exactly once just to expose me. All I remember is the teacher getting mad at me for asking questions. We never went back. I have been a few times since with DH's family and in Mississippi we went a few times to watch my friend sing in a big "creative worship" church. Overall I have no interest in Christianity. My personal views of G-d/the universe are closer to Judaism.

Okay subbing to finish this later lol... we are going on a walk!
I'd be happy if my kids turned out like you And your parents sound awesome and balanced about the approach they took with you <3
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  #6  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by breathing for two View Post
My kids are a little young for me to put my beliefs in action, but I think what I would do is similar to you (ideally).

If they want to go to church/synagogue/temple/whatever I have no problem with that. If they show a real interest in religion I think that it would be a prudent time to teach them about other religions.

I am spiritual, and my husband is a Christian, and I'm sure that will come across, and I think that's okay. As long as I teach them to look at things objectively and act out of love, I think that I can trust them to make good decisions with their religion.

Like most aspects of AP, it's about teaching your children to make the right decisions for themselves as they're faced with something new. I hope that I raise children who know better than to listen to someone just because they say they're in charge, and that sometimes religion is wrong. And I hope that when and if they end up in a spiritual group who is teaching something contrary to a message of love, they'll have enough will to walk out with their head held high.
Awe! <3 I had a feeling there would be more spiritual AP mamas like this than non-ap spiritual mamas. It's really neat to see. I think your approach is great. So do you think I should start talking to my daughter NOW about other religions and our thoughts, too? I just want to make sure we do it from a place of "Well, this is what we think, and this is what other people think, and you can think what you think" and not a place of "well, this is what we think and you should think it too". I just worry about getting that balance right. I think you hit the nail on the head about what it's all about, in terms of what we want them to learn in the end. I don't care if my daughter isn't agnostic or atheist, but I do care that she believes in what she wants and doesn't fall for gimmicks or hateful practices.
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  #7  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:44 AM
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Sorry, I should have been more clear. I only meant to compare feelings on drug use and religion as both examples where you can talk to your kids until you're blue in the face, and it can mean absolutely NOTHING, because your kid is going to do, say, and believe whatever they want and you as a parent have little control or influence in the long run. From personal experience it doesn't matter what you say or teach, your kids are going to develop their own ideas and beliefs based on their own ideas, experiences, and all sorts of outside influences. That is not enough reason for me not to guide my children towards the life I'd like to see for them in all areas, not exclusively in religious beliefs.

Just like there are all kinds of white people and black people, all kinds of jews, muslims, and atheists, I've met all kinds of christians, all who parent differently than others, some are traditional, and some are AP, some are floating around in the middle. For me, the type of parent I am is not as closely related to my faith as much as the type of person I am.
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  #8  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:55 AM
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Now I see what you are saying. I agree, I wouldn't not teach my kids something just because they might not listen to me anyway, but I do differ in that when it comes to religion I don't feel comfortable even TRYING to convince them to believe what I believe, because I *personally* feel that if they are going to have a relationship with God (or not) it should be because they were exposed to it and chose that, not be I (or someone else) successfully persuaded them. Where I feel different about drug use in that sense. Of course, I realize people who are religious sometimes feel different because they think not believing in God is "bad for you" the way drugs are bad for you, so I do see why people see this in different ways. I do, unfortunately, know way too many people who have been brainwashed about religious/non-religious beliefs, and I just want to avoid that as much as possible with my kids.

I do agree there are all kinds of religious people who are AP and those who aren't. And there are all kinds of AP parents who are religious and who aren't. However, I do think generally the way AP mamas handle their religion with their kids is often different from the way non-AP mamas handle religion with their kids, though I do agree with you it has to do with the type of person they are. The type of person to be an AP mama I think is the type of person less likely to use religion as an excuse to hit their kids or to push their religion on their kids, where I think the type of person not be an AP mama might see nothing wrong with those things. But there are always exceptions to every things, I just mean in terms of "on the whole". IE, people with very fair skin are more likely to sunburn, but not all people with fair skin sunburn easily. You just start to see "patterns" about some things, and this is one I noticed
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  #9  
March 2nd, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittlelost View Post
Awe! <3 I had a feeling there would be more spiritual AP mamas like this than non-ap spiritual mamas. It's really neat to see. I think your approach is great. So do you think I should start talking to my daughter NOW about other religions and our thoughts, too? I just want to make sure we do it from a place of "Well, this is what we think, and this is what other people think, and you can think what you think" and not a place of "well, this is what we think and you should think it too". I just worry about getting that balance right. I think you hit the nail on the head about what it's all about, in terms of what we want them to learn in the end. I don't care if my daughter isn't agnostic or atheist, but I do care that she believes in what she wants and doesn't fall for gimmicks or hateful practices.
I don't have much experience teaching older children, but if she's interested in religion, I'd say go for it. If she's only interested in Christianity, that's a great learning experience too, it's got thousands of years of history to delve into and learn from.
You can only talk to your daughter and do what feels right for both of you.
I wish I could be more helpful, but I have no experience, only ideas.
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  #10  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:22 AM
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I want to add that since I didn't totally answer the question that I do think some churches or religious groups would be counter to most AP families. Like some churches specifically preach stuff like not spending time with unbelievers, shunning them, even if they are family. And some churches preach stuff that I *really* think is wrong, like telling children that they are inherently sinful and bad, and need the church to save them. So I would make sure I talked a lot to any child of mine that was going to a church with friends, see what she was being told in sermons and so on, and I would make sure it was all positive stuff. I might attend sometimes just to keep tabs on things, or read/watch the sermons online sometimes since many big churches now do that. I do think many Christian churches are positive and all about love and following Christ's example of how to treat people, which is awesome and would not be a problem at all. But unfortunately I have seen a lot of the negative side too, so I am wary. One of my best friends from high school was completely cut off by his family when he came out as gay, they are Jehovah's Witness. Just as one example.

I think the "AP way" to manage religion is just to keep an open mind with it. If you truly love your child unconditionally, then you should be okay with them eventually rejecting your faith or lack of faith, or being gay or whatever else might go against your religion, it should not stop you from accepting and loving your kid. And you should make sure they are not getting sucked into some kind of group that is teaching them that they are bad, or their family is bad, or whatever. I think most religions (when rightly understood) are totally compatible with AP so it should not be a big deal.
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  #11  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:32 AM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by breathing for two View Post
I don't have much experience teaching older children, but if she's interested in religion, I'd say go for it. If she's only interested in Christianity, that's a great learning experience too, it's got thousands of years of history to delve into and learn from.
You can only talk to your daughter and do what feels right for both of you.
I wish I could be more helpful, but I have no experience, only ideas.
Hey, ideas are fine by me! I don't have experience either, obviously I would really like her to see the different religions. Not that I'll force it, but I think she'd probably actually be interested, so maybe I SHOULD be talking to this about her now, while she's interested. I was pretty much raised that there is only ONE right religion and only ONE right way to believe it. Then, as I got older, I met more people who felt that way -- on their "one right religion" and "one right way" was always different from the last person LOL I came to this conclusion: If they thought another religion might be right, too, then they probably wouldn't believe in what they believe in! I don't think anyone is right or wrong personally. I know what I believe and why I believe it, but I think religion can be good for some people just as easily as it's bad for some people and just as easily as having no belief system can be bad for some people. We're all different and we all need different things in life. Yes, sometimes it's hard listening to yet another person tell me why their religion is THE religion and their beliefs are THE right interpretation, but I just remind myself that as much as they think they are speaking fact, to me it's still just their opinion, so I don't need to get upset about their opinion. I do want my daughter to be more accepting, though, even if she chooses religion (or spirituality). I want her to have her relationship with God, if she has one, for her sake, because she believes in it, and not feel the need to convert others in order to justify her beliefs to herself. I hope if she is a believer, she allows her actions to speak for her and lets others come to her. but ya know, no matter what I do, that might never happen. However, I want her to know I'll love her no matter what and that her soul is her own and she is free to believe what she wants without fear or worry because of me. I would like her to see, however, that as strongly as her church believes in God and Jesus, there are other churches that believe in other things just as strongly. Not because I want her to convert to those other churches, but because I want her to see if she is secure in her beliefs and for he to realize, from a young age, that people can believe in different things just as strongly; I would hope that knowledge would be enough to deter her from becoming judgmental toward others or thinking she is superior because of her religion. But really, no matter what, I'll love her and support her beliefs, even if I don't follow them myself
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  #12  
March 2nd, 2013, 11:42 AM
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I know what you mean, Shen. One thing I will say, is my mom always chose churches growing up that ENCOURAGED spending time with non-believers. The pastor even wanted us to invite people with tattoos and piercings to the church. Of course, that was almost just as bad, because it felt a bit like, "pretend to be their friend and "show them god" instead of telling them so they will want to believe in him, too". I don't know why, but that always struck me as manipulative. Like EVERYTHING has be about God, every relationship they have is about making someone else believe in God versus just plain caring about the person. I mean, I guess if you live a "Godly life" and don't shove God down people's throats, they might be interested in hearing about your religion, but to do that with the INTENTION of getting them to eventually convert just seems like "loving" people for the wrong reason. BUT I still prefer that to shunning people and telling them they are going to hell LOL! Church and religion is a difficult subject, which is just another reason why I'm not so sure HOW to get involved in a way that respects her beliefs but without allowing her to be brainwashed or taught to do the right things for the wrong reasons.

That said, my friend is an amazing woman who happens to also be Christian, and I know many like her. They never try to get me to be religious and they are my friend because they are, not because they hope one day they can bring me to God. That, or they are really good at what they do LOL I completely agree with oyu on the "AP way" to handle religion, too. And I'll even say this. I'm not religious. I think my mom knows, but she talks to me like I am religious, and I am evasive instead of straightforward with her because I don't feel comfortable telling her I don't believe what she does. I think that's sad. I do feel bad that it might make her sad I'm not, though. But for me to believe in her religion, she'd have to explain away a lot of the knowledge I have, and I feel like if I brought those things up to her (things that I think put huge holes in the story of her religion) she would get defensive and angry. And that's not my intention. I don't want to debate with her. So I keep my mouth shut about it. BUT the positive side is I'm pretty sure she knows, and I know she loves me anyway. I would like my kids to know that even if I feel different, I still love them. BUT I also want them to feel they can come to me. And I don't think they will if I "require" them to believe or act like they believe in the things I do.

I think all religions can be used in a positive or negative way and it has more to do with the person than the religion. So, I completely agree with you that religion can be totally compatible with AP. It's all about the individuals involved.
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  #13  
March 2nd, 2013, 12:19 PM
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Ugh. It totally makes sense that people feel negatively, or wary of Christianity and Church when these are the types of experiences you've had! It's sure difficult to not get lumped together with Christians 'like that'... My own experience has been quite different (although I've seen the negative as well.. part of the reason we don't attend a church down here yet) I agree 110% with Shen7 when she said "I think most religions (when rightly understood) are totally compatible with AP so it should not be a big deal."

I guess just to clarify, I would be loving and accepting of my child no matter what path they choose. I just don't see anything wrong with teaching them what I believe in, hopeful that they believe the same thing as it's been such an amazing, intimate part of my life!
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  #14  
March 2nd, 2013, 12:37 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Hey Crunchy! I've experienced all kinds of Christian churches and Christians. Some have been good experiences, some not. I am not wary of Christianity because of any person or people, because I realize that people are who they are--it's not a reflection of their religion itself When I meat someone who is a crazy nutter and they are religious, I think, "there's a crazy nutter who is using their religion in crazy ways--because THEY are crazy". And when I meet a kind, non-judgmental, peaceful person who is religions, I think "There's a kind, non-judgmental, peaceful person who's personality is visible even in the way they practice their religion" I don't think, "Christianity made that person crazy!" Nor do I think, "Christianity gave that person a great life and made them a good person." And I wouldn't feel comfortable saying one is the case but not the other, though I know some people are, and that's their view Whatever floats their boat.

Of course, naturally, I don't like when people use religion to hurt people, but I know it is THEM hurting people, not their religion. Just as I know when someone is kind to me it's because they are kind, not because they are Christian. At the same time, I realize the people who hurt others in the name of religion, well THEY believe that is their religion, and you can't convince them otherwise. By the same token, some people think God made them a better person, and that their religion is what guides them to be kind to others, and you can't convince them otherwise, either. In other words, for a religious person, I realize many do tie a lot to how they see their religion, just as many outsiders do, BUT as an outsider *personally* I tie what people do to what kind of person they are. They can claim God made them a better person/made them hurt someone else til they are blue int he face, and I WILL respect that they believe that, but it's just not how *I* will see it. I will see it that they did what they did because that's who they are, and they can blame or give credit to God if that's what they want, and I'm okay with them doing it, even if that's not where I personally assign credit or blame.

So, none of that is why I'm not Christian. I am not Christian because after much soul searching and religious study and scientific study, I just don't believe in it.

I totally see where you are coming from, too, in wanting the your kids to experience a joy you have. I think that's why a lot of people want to convert others, and as long as the person respects that the other person might be happier NOT being converted, I think that's fine. Not nearly the same as the people who think it's their "job" to convert, even if it means pretending to be an accepting person when all the really want is to change the other person (which is clearly, to me, not what you are all about).

For us, not being religions has been so awesome, and I would love for my kids to get to experience that same awesomeness and reward! I would love for them to seek out truth and be a sponge for knowledge and be able to feel confident in the intelligence they require to fully understand the hows and whys and histories of religion and understand in the same way we do why they exist and what they really mean (to our knowledge). HOWEVER -- if they can get that same awesomeness and reward, or different awesomeness and reward, from different beliefs, I would be just as happy for them Many people feel the same way about believing in God that feel about not believing in him.

I know my mom struggles sometimes because we don't go to church, yet we are financially stable while she "struggles" year after year and her situation never changes. She always believes God is bringing change. That she's being tested like Job was tested. But in reality, she would be in the situation she is in whether she believes in God or not and we would be in our situation whether we believe in him or not. We don't do well because "God rewarded us" or "God was looking out for us." In *her* case I think *she* would be better off if she realized that, but only because she's tithing instead of paying her rent, trusting God will take care of things. Then when we gave her money to pay rent once, she felt that was God helping her. I'm sure when we don't give her money (because we don't want to enable her) she thinks it's the devil getting in her way. I love her, but she's nuts, and it shows in the way she believes in her religion. and yet many other religious people in her area look up to her and admire her and go to her for Godly advice! so hey, what do I know? I just see that she is miserable when she doesn't have to be, and it LOOKS like a lot of that comes from her unhealthy obsession with her religion, but she doesn't see it that way. One thing I will say is that I was impressed that despite her feelings about her beliefs, she didn't get mad when she found out I wrote a book with a Wiccan character. I really expected her to tell me my books were the reason for the trouble in her life, that I invited demons into our family or something... and I'm not the only one in my family who expected that reaction from her. But, it is what it is. As crazy as she is, I know it's her, not her religion that makes her that way. Though I will say I sometimes think that with people like her, who aren't (IMO) stable, religion can be a bad idea. So can drugs. So can a lot of things, especially when they become obsessions (which to her is just "putting God first in her life") So, Yeah, I've seen the unhealthy. I've also seen the healthy side of it. It can be a beautiful thing for many people, but I attribute that to the people as much as I attribute it to the people when things turn ugly.

sorry to ramble. I hope that makes sense, though.

I really just want my kids to be happy and have a great life. I know that is more about who they are than what they believe, which I think is why I'm okay with them believing in whatever they want. I just want to be sure they believe for the *right* reasons and that they have a healthy mind so they can believe (or not!) in a healthy way. But I also realize that even that may be out of my control. All I can do is all anyone can do -- our best to guide them toward finding their own healthy path in life, whatever that may be.
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Last edited by alittlelost; March 2nd, 2013 at 12:57 PM.
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  #15  
March 2nd, 2013, 01:03 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I will say, to be fair, perhaps if I'd ONLY had good experiences most of my life I wouldn't have been inspired to do all that soul searching and research, so maybe in that way my negative experiences DID affect things. But in the same way, I'm thankful, because I were to believe, I'd want it to be because I challenged my thinking and still believed--I wouldn't have challenged my thinking if it weren't for having those negative experiences before having the positive ones.
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  #16  
March 5th, 2013, 11:43 AM
ohnicole's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I am not religious, my parents were Mormon and Catholic, although neither of them was actually practicing. I guess I would consider myself agnostic. I guess my basic belief is that whether there is a God or not, the only thing that matters is being a good person, so that is what we should focus on. If it were up to me alone, I would raise my kids not in any one religion, but find ways to expose them to different religions. I would like to give them honest information about religion and spirituality, be open about my own beliefs, and let them come to their own decisions about what is right for them. From my sort of exterior position, it seems like religion would be most meaningful if you chose it for yourself, so I would like my children to be in a position to do so.

Because my DH is Catholic, I seem to have gotten into a kind of gray area with Eleanor. DH was pretty insistent that religion and church were important to him and that he wanted that sense of community for his kids. I don't really feel comfortable making those choices for a baby/child, and I also am not comfortable raising my kids to be sort of lazy Catholics where they never attend church and don't know anything about their own religion. We ended up deciding that because it was important to him and because he was going to initiate frequent trips to church, that we would get her baptised. Of course, he hasn't been going to church, and now I don't really like the position we are in. I don't feel it's my responsibility to initiate trips to church, so we are a little stuck.

Anyway, I guess she is baptised, but I don't know how much farther she will go with Catholicism. Maybe she will end up with a more open spiritual education anyway, which is a good thing.
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