Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day Four ...

It's Sunday so I'll ask a religion question ...

If your child told you at 16 years old that he was not sure he believed in your religion and wanted to explore different religions - so he could choose another one or maybe come to the conclusion he was Agnostic or Atheist, what would you do?

27 comments:

MrsSpock said...

My FIL is an atheist, my husband is agnostic, and I am a Pagan. I am equally as supportive of Freethought (agnosticism) and atheism. We have no plans of raising our children in any particular religion, but are more focused on their being good critical thinkers, ethical, and compassionate.

So, in answer to your question, if our 16 year old was questioning and wanted to explore, we will think that we've done a good job in raising an inquisitive adult. Even if they choose Christianity or Islam or Buddhism (I've done Buddhist meditation for 15 years), as long as they are tolerant of others' choices, I am all for it.

Melody said...

My partner and I are both agnostic bordering on atheist. We're planning to take our child to a Unitarian Universalist church so s/he can get some religious context. I think it's important for socialization purposes to understand each of the major religions of the world, and if our child chooses a spritual path, we are fine with that. What spiritual path s/he chooses will not be decided by us.

Simply AnonyMom said...

When I was 15 or 16 I told my very strict Mormon parents I was not a believer in their religion. It destroyed my mom. My dad told me as long as I was living at home I had to go to church and started putting heavy restrictions and curfews on me. When I was 17 I graduated HS and I was told that the DAY I turned 18 I had to be out since I was not a believer. I left the next month (at 17) and have not lived with them since. In the past 15 years I have seen my parents a total of maybe 10 times.

I would hate for me and my kids to have the same relationship strain so if they came to me and expressed an interest in religion then I would let them go seeking their own truth.

Denise said...

My husband was raised Catholic, but doesn't practice. I was raised to believe in right or wrong without the structure of religion (although my parents are both Jewish). I don't think we would have any problem with our 16 year old wanting to explore religions. I did the same thing at that age, although it was more of an intellectual exercise than a spiritual one. Education is always a good thing and if they found something that spoke to them, I would support it as long as they were tolerant and didn't become preachy.

Lori said...

I'd be thrilled. I fully support searching. I would encourage that searching to be done with both the head and the heart, and I would encourage that my children leave room for divine mystery.

I suppose it's possible I will some day eat my words.

Io said...

Heh - Al and I often joke hat since I'm Catholic and he's Muslim, that we'll just raise the kids Jewish. (Neither of us are super religious though. Obviously, or we'd not have been able to get married.)
I would support my kid with whatever religious choice they made. Now, if they became Evangelical or something to the point where they started hating gay people or something, I'd beat some sense back into them.

Sarah R said...

Fine with me. I think anytime a child wants to think for him or herself is awesome.

(My husband is agnostic and I'm pretty close to agnostic, so if Andrew made that decision on his own, that would be fine with us. We definitely won't push it on him; we'd rather let his mind explore).

BTW, I was raised Catholic, but left the church because too many things were against my beliefs. The last straw was when the priest told us (before the 2004 election) to "vote for the RIGHT candidate" and then proceeded to tell us we were pretty much sinners if we voted for Kerry. Sorry! I vote for who I want to, not for who the church wants me to.

Church has always equaled brainwashing for me, but I am totally okay with other people believing whatever they want to believe. After all, my grandpa is a regular church-goer and I adore him!

jenn said...

This is a funny one- only because at 15 I told my parents (devout Roman Catholics as I was raised) that I was agnostic & didn't believe in organized religion. I have only been back to church for the family functions, weddigs, deaths, christenings, etc. My sister became an atheist around the same time. While my grandmother was non too pleased, my parents were very blase about the whole experience to us. I would hope that since the hub is also basically a former catholic now agnostic, and since we do not plan to raise our child in a church we can not see ourselves believing in, but rather with good moral sense & ethics- I think that is they come to us at 16 and want to practice whatever they want to practice we will be behind them. I would probably be confused if they wanted to join a strict dogmatic church, but as long as I could see they were tlerant of other's beliefs & choices, I would be 100% fine with it.

Jewels said...

My son does that now, I encourage it, I want him to find him self, but that is part of my belief system, I believe that the reason there are so many different religions and form's of spirituality is because we all hear differently, so God created different forms of communication to reach our ears, If he wants God, Buddha, Allah (sp), Music, fishing, AA, - something Or nothing, I believe that is what he will need to get him to where he needs to go. I just pray (because I do believe in something) that he finds peace and doesn’t get hurt (drugs - fighting - death). But In all fairness, if he chooses something that brings him pain, I will hurt, I'm his mother - how can I not - I may believe and have faith but I am human and I want my child to be happy as much as the next mother. I just hope that I can let go enough to not go crazy if he goes down what I believe is a dark path, I believe darkness leads to light, but when it's your own kid, well... it scares the hell out of me ( Or is it Scares the Hell Into Me) I've seen what that darkness can do to families, we're going through it right now with Reeds brother, his family is crazy because of his actions, and trying to drag me and Reed into the craziness, I pray to do the right thing, (dethatch with love – not enable) not for him, but for me and my own sanity, but I also believe that when I do the right thing for me, the pieces fall into place for God to do the right thing for him.
I don’t recon Dylan will believe God is a Women either so I'm not expecting much for him to believe what I believe. :P

Sara said...

I believe I would be supportive of their decision to explore other religions. My hubby and I come from different religious backgrounds anyway. I think I am open when it comes to religion.

As long as my child finds a faith or belief that they are comfortable with, I will be supportive.

Lilith Silvermane said...

Have at it! Being a pagan mother who studies shamanism, I fully believe in allowing a child to make their choice.

I would love to know that they chose their path for their reason and not because I chose for them. It proves to me that the know why they are along their path, even if they spend forever searching, at least they are looking.

Great question

Trace said...

It's funny you ask. My in-laws are strict catholics (so much so that they threatened not to come to our wedding if it wasn't in a catholic church...it wasn't and they came anyway). My husband does not want to practice catholicism. I remember when we were chosen by a birth mother the first question they asked was who was going to be the godmother. WTF? Anyway, after I found out his parents feelings I told him that no matter what we were going to support our child no matter what religion and NEVER force a religion on him.

I feel almost guilty, but we're going to baptize our child catholic to appease my in-laws NOT because we want to be practicing catholics. I was raised lutheran and am considering the unitarian church.

Sugar and Ice said...

I would say that to have true faith you have to ask questions...and then I would pray hard and often.

JamieD said...

I feel I am a spiritual person but not a religous person so much.

Whatever their choice, I would encourage them to be open minded and tolerant of other people's beliefs. Everyone has the right to believe in what they choose.

It seems a lot of people forget that just because it is what they believe in, it doesn't make it 'right.'

Wordgirl said...

Ah.

G is atheist -- I am a catholic-raised seeker interested at the moment in much of Buddhist thought -- though I'm also strongly drawn to Judaism -- I love to learn about theology -- and I feel that love is really the underpinning of most religious thought -- and if the children I raise can focus on love rather than hate, inclusion rather than exclusion, compassion above all things -- than who am I to say how they find it...

The only path I would fear for my children would be one of narrow-mindedness.

Poltzie said...

I would be so proud of him! I would fully encourage his search and would support him with whatever religion (or lack of religion if the case may be) that he choose!
I would love that he would want to make an informed decision and I would support him in that sense!

Cate said...

I would be okay with it. I was raised to believe what I wanted and I want my son to have the same options. I remember when I was younger I wanted to go to churches and synagogues (sp?) and my mom took me so I could make my own decision.

calliope said...

I would be thrilled! When I was aged 6-12 my Mother would take us to a different church every Sunday. It was so incredible. We would go and then go out for cheap lunch and talk about what we liked and didn't like. By the time I was 15 I decided what religion I wanted to be and it felt so powerful to have been able to have that choice. Even now, as I grapple with spirituality and the bastardization of Christianity, she is supportive. Religion is personal and having a child realize that is pretty damn awesome!

Anonymous said...

I suppose it would depend on the exact situation. While right now saying that I'd be totally fine with it sounds really good, if he was building a little Satan-worshipping altar in his bedroom...not so much.

The Captain's Wife said...

Support them in waht ever their religious choices are.

Neither T or I are religious. We were both raised in very different religions and neither support organized religion as a practice.

We have each done a lot of research about different types of religions and how the same religiouns vary across the world....

We have no plans to raise our child in a church. We can teach him/her all they need to know in order to make a decision for themselves later in life.

Jill said...

I would encourage deep exploration in all religions, and support whatever decision he/she made.

tammy said...

Wow... this is a tough one for me. I was raised very staunch, strict Baptist, bordering on Assembly of God.

I have a few ‘truths’ have changed of the years and I am not nearly at rigid as my parents were. I really took time in my late teens to make my faith my own. I don't think of myself as religious though. I think “religious” is a loaded term that can mean many different things.

If my child told me that they were atheist or agnostic, it would break my heart but I would love them all the same. But I would pray fervently that they found direction.

It would also be very difficult for me to see my child pick a non-protestant faith also. Once again, I would be heart broken but I would not alienate them.

At risk of pissing people off, I have certain beliefs that I will not stray from so if my child were to “seek” a faith that disagrees with my biblical foundations, it would be a very hard to sit back and just let it go.

Kaci said...

This is a tough one - I would like to think I'd be ok with it, but deep down I don't think I would. While I generally wouldn't dream of pushing my religious beliefs on someone, I think it would be important to me to have my children share my beliefs. I guess I need to have enough confidence in my faith that I could think they would agree with those beliefs when they did think freely?

I don't think that came out right, but it makes sense in my head! ;)

nancy said...

Wow, what opinions.

For us, we're agnostic and I have beliefs in some of the organized religions but no religion encompasses all of what I believe. So I can't say my kids will choose my religion, since I don't have one.

BUT, the only reason I even searched out my beliefs was because I was raised catholic. Had I not been taken to church, I may have never thought of it. So how will my kids think of it if never brought to anything? Hrm. Maybe I'll have to do something like Calliope's mother.

Brianna said...

I have no intention of raising my children with any kind of religious upbringing. I'll explain that some people believe this, or some people believe that, and here's what I believe, and they can choose to learn (or not) about anything they want.

battynurse said...

I think I agree with Mrs. Spock, I would think I'd done an ok job. I would do anything other than what my mom did which is pretty much disown me although I was older than 16.

Amanda said...

I'd like to think that I would fully support my children in their endeavors to find their own faith. I'll admit that it might bother me if they were Agnostic and it would definitely bother me if they were Atheist, but they would still be my children.

The best thing my father ever said to me was, "I may not agree with your choices, but I still support you."