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My Child Doesn't Believe in God. Is It My Fault?

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Elizabeth Lindell: My 11-year-old daughter told me last week that she does not believe in God. She said it firmly, said that she stands by it and that a lot of people feel the way she does.

kid inside a church
I told her that I agreed with her about evolution, and she replied with, "Well, then, what did God do?" I did not have an answer. I didn't know whether to feel extremely proud of her intelligence and strength to stand by her beliefs, or wonder if I had failed somewhere by not taking her to church or temple service. 

I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school, but when it came time for me to make my confirmation, I didn't want to do it. I was in seventh grade -- a year older than my daughter is now -- and I knew that standing up in front of our church and promising things that I didn't mean was fraudulent. But I did it anyway, because I felt I had no choice. 

I wanted my daughter to have choices. In our house, we don't have a Bible, but we do have books about people who seek or have sought to bring about peace and change in the world. I didn't have an answer for my child when she asked her question, but a few days later, while I was driving to pick her up from school, John Lennon's song "Imagine" came on the radio, and some of the lyrics helped things come into focus for me. 

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today ....
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace ....
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.

Later, I shared the song with my child (who has recently discovered music), and I told her something I learned in therapy -- which is my church; the place I seek wisdom. I explained that good and bad exist in all of us. It's not either angels or demons. We choose who we are, we choose our lives and goodness comes to us not because we prayed for it, but because we shared it and reached out for it. 

I realized, during that same conversation, that my child knows who she is and what she believes, and is proud to say it. That has been my biggest hope for her.


next: Is Your Caregiver Undermining Your Parenting?
25 comments so far | Post a comment now
TRUE BELIEVER November 20, 2010, 1:30 PM

Rachel, the only crazy person here is you. If there isn’t a GOD, than why are you in this EARTH.I feel so sorry for your children to have a mother like you that can’t even teach them the TRUE ways to OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR,JESUS CHRIST.I’m going to keep you in my prayers and you will be thanking me instead of calling me a CRAZY PERSON. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN.

skinner city cyclist November 21, 2010, 6:45 AM

My daughter went through a Christian phase for about two days when she was in middle school and hasn’t looked back since. We should guide our children intellectually, converse with them openly, and let them make their own decisions when they are at all capable of doing so.

When my kid was flirting with Jesusism, I was a little put out, but figured in the long run it would do her little harm, and I was right. A young adult now, she is pretty much an atheist when she bothers to think about it, which is seldom. As a college student she has more interesting and important things to think about. And True Believer, I would say the emanation of less-than-sane you put out is due to 1) your use of caps lock, which impresses no one and 2) your inability to understand that a world view that works for you does not necessarily work for all. Think it over (at least about the caps lock).

TRUE BELIEVER November 21, 2010, 1:07 PM

WOW……….!!! SKINNER CITY CYCLIST, YOU MUST BE RELATED TO RACHEL.UNLESS THIS IS SHE WITH A DIFFERENT NAME.WELL I TRIED BUT YOU SEEM TO HAVE MANY ISSUES IN YOUR LIFE.MY JOB IS DONE HERE. IF YOU WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST IN YOUR LIVES SO BE IT. BUT WHEN YOU DIE AND FACE OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST AND HE TELLS YOU, REMEMBER TRUE BELIEVER? AND YOU SAY, AHH,WELL,YEA. HE’S GONNA SAY,WELL THAT WAS ONE OF MY SERVANTS THAT I PUT HERE IN THIS EARTH TO HELP YOU BUT YOU DIDN’T WANT THE HELP SO TO THE LAKE OF FIRE YOU GO!IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S THE LAKE OF FIRE I SUGGEST YOU READ YOUR BIBLE.AND IF YOU WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN JUST ACCEPT HIM IN YOUR HEARTS. AND WHY CAPS LOCKS? BECAUSE I LIKE WRITING/TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS. BE VERY BLESS AND I WON’T BE COMING BACK TO THIS SITE.

CT December 8, 2010, 3:20 PM

True Believer and others:

I’m really curious to hear how you feel about this author’s latest post about Santa Claus. :)

Felicita Landram March 29, 2011, 5:23 AM

Good content,It looks like you’ve without a doubt produced a site I wish to come back to on a consistent basis. Keep it up.


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