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Help Me Pick My Kid's Religion!

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The holidays are right around the corner -- which one's best for my child?

help me pick my kids religion

Momlogic's Momstrosity: I'm in BIG trouble. Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas and Hanukkah are just weeks away. And no, I'm not stressing because I haven't bought my holiday cards or started my shopping. I'm freaking because I haven't picked my daughter's religion. Since my husband and I are both atheist, we know it's only a matter of time before we either have to go back to our religious roots (I was raised Jewish and he was raised Catholic) or start explaining to our 3-year-old that we don't believe in God.

Time's running out. She's starting to catch on to the whole Christmas thing. She bumped into Mr. Claus at the mall yesterday and called him by his first name.

Why would we be considering a religion for our child if we ourselves don't believe in one? We don't want to impose our religious -- er, non-religious beliefs on our child. My husband and I both came to our own conclusions at an early age. Shouldn't we give her the chance to at least reject religion just like Mom and Dad? We don't want to be hypocritical and teach her things we don't believe in -- but at the same time, we want to give her a chance to join in on at least some form of holiday celebration. But if we let her sit on Santa's lap, are we indirectly embracing Christianity? Then why not just dabble in a bunch of different religions? I hear Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism are popular ones. Maybe we should give those a shot.

The truth is, my husband and I believe there are valuable aspects to almost all religions, we just don't buy into one -- but for our daughter's sake, is it time for us to find God ... any God, quick?



next: Gluing Nativity Scenes and Hearts
36 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ellen Christian December 1, 2009, 3:52 AM

Children aren’t stupid. She’ll realize if you’re trying to raise her with beliefs that you don’t hold & then chances are she won’t put any value in what you’ve been trying to teach her. It’s the whole do what I say not what I do thing.

If you’re going to try to raise her as a certain religion, you’ll really need to practic it as a family.

Wayne R. December 1, 2009, 3:55 AM

@Emily -

From Merriam-Webster:

Agnostic: One who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.

Atheist: One who believes that there is no deity.

@Michelle - Right on!

How about Humanism? (A philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason.) Isn’t that a similar definition to UU?

“Spiritual people inspire me, religious people scare me.”

Alan December 1, 2009, 5:35 AM

Why not pick the most logical and popular religion; Christianity? The basic doctrine is very valid today; love, forgiveness, honesty, etc. Forgo the cultural baggage and just stick with the community part of it. Pick the largest close church and sign up for the duration and allow your daughter to see what the other kids are exposed to and in time let them know where you stand. You never know! you may even fall for some of it as it is kinda catchy.

CMC December 1, 2009, 6:49 AM

I worked with a guy who was Jewish and his wife was Hispanic and a devout Catholic. I asked him how his daughter was being raised - she was about three or so at that time - and he told me, “We’re going to let her choose.” When, I wondered. By the time she “chooses” won’t it really be too late to have anything really instilled in her? I thought she at least should have been exposed to both religions to get a good taste BEFORE she was allowed to “choose.” I sure didn’t agree with the method. I kept it to myself - not my kid, but still…

Krista December 1, 2009, 7:49 AM

I recommend the blog at parentingbeyondbelief.com as well as the book(Parenting Beyond Belief), available at Amazon. For those secular families out there, the resource is wonderful, and helps you realize that religious literacy is important but choosing to indoctrinate a child into one particular faith is not. Lovely, helpful messages abound inside…

Whozat December 1, 2009, 8:50 AM

My partner and I are both what I consider “Culturally Christian,” raised in not particularly religious Christian families, but now rather agnostic/atheist/apathetic.

Our daughter is only a year old, so we’ve not told her much of anything about this yet, but we celebrate Christmas and Easter, in a primarily secular (Santa, Bunny, Peace-On-Earth) sort of way, and will tell her the Christian stories behind the holidays, as “Some people believe….”

We’ll also tell her about the pre-Christian roots of many of the traditions associated with those holidays.

We also plan to tell her about other religions, as well, and I hope to learn more about their beliefs along with her.

(I don’t know alot about them.)

My partner’s sister and her family attend a UU church, so she might go there with them at some point, but we don’t plan to make any particular effort to attend there or elsewhere.

Whozat December 1, 2009, 8:52 AM

Also, regarding how to celebrate - tree or menorah - why not honor both your heritages and do both?

PlumbLucky December 1, 2009, 11:35 AM

I have to say that sitting on Santa’s lap will not make one Christian. My IL’s are far from religious people (they just don’t do religion) and they go completely commercial overboard on Christmas.

Callista December 1, 2009, 12:11 PM

You said your atheist but do you celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday? If so celebrate it with her that way. As she gets older you explain how some people celebrate Christmas the way you do and some celebrate it religiously. You can’t raise her in a religion that you aren’t following. If she wants to know more about Christianity or Judaism she can ask your families right? If she wants to know about other religions, she’ll study them on her own.

xoxo December 1, 2009, 4:06 PM

Santa Claus has nothing to do with religion - he is a product of the card companies and stores.
Christmas is about gifts and stuff and not about the birth of Christ.

Lee December 2, 2009, 11:36 PM

Here…………………..My family was devout Lutheran and had been for some centuries. I was unable to swallow it, and at age 6 was kicked out of my first grade Sunday School class after three weeks. It took me a long time, without any help, to understand that (a) I could chose no religion at all, or (b) I could choose any of the dozens of others that I wasn’t being told about. I studied many on my own and a few other in college. I was a full-fledged adult before I came to grips with my full-fledged atheism and quit being embarrassed about it. I would wish a better outcome for those people who—as I did— are faced with a dilemma over what to believe, as I did.

If I were the parents, I would do the best job I could to explain things such as what religion is, why people have it, what is expected of you if you wish to become a disciple, what it means not to have a religion, and try to give them an honest opportunity to make a choice that fits their needs and feelings.

someone who cares December 5, 2009, 4:39 AM

I almost never reply to these but I was so shocked and saddened I had to. Jesus is the only one who will save and satisfy. Forget “religion” - for the most part it IS a sham. But there’s nothing wrong with a church that teaches salvation through Jesus Christ. If they tell you anything else is required for salvation, that’s “religion” and you are rightfully put off. It’s not popular or p.c., but “any God” besides THE God will lead you and yours to Hell. I say it out of love and without endorsing any particular denomination. Be true to your innate sense that there is a God and if you will read His word with an open mind, you can’t NOT be affected. It’s as simple as this: http://www.myfbc.com/Salvation.htm
Bless you and Merry Christmas! Love, someone who cares.

Holly December 7, 2009, 2:28 AM

I am Catholic (not praticing - with a child in Catholic School), I am marring a man who is Jewish (with a child in public school, but is Jewish).
We celebrate Chrismakah —- I have a Menoraha in the middle of my mantel surrounded by Christmas decorations. Don’t worry about your baby—- I’m 45, and I’m still not sure any one religion is correct - I do beleive in God… but after that who is to say who’s right… I’ll totaly wait to find out and while here not stress about it at all.

Sara December 13, 2009, 11:38 AM

I think that at this point in the game you can still play off Christmas as just another secular holiday (like it doesn’t do that on its own! Am I right?). As she gets older, however, you can expose her to a range of religious beliefs— UU is definitely a good idea.

Personally speaking, I was raised in a Christian household but never went to church. When I was in, say, middle school, I decided on my own that I would be an atheist and have never been unhappy about the decision. As long as you let her know that you will love her no matter what she decides, you shouldn’t have to worry too much. This way, she’s far more accepting of others’ faiths because she’s looked at them equally,she knows that her religion is her choice, and you all know that you each respect the decisions of one another, so it’s a win-win situation.

Happy Festivus :)

RPNova January 7, 2010, 4:58 AM

Icelandic Norse is a nice religion. They have the Ragnarok which is an interesting story, and a lot of other really awesome stuff to talk about too. Not to mention the Icelandic vikings believed in them, so extra awesome points.

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