Steadfast Madcap

"Not in My House" -- How far are you willing to let your kid diverge from your moral beliefs?

40 posts in this topic

But parents choose their children's religion. A baby can't decide for themselves what or who to follow and believe in. They're born with a "blank" state about the world.

 

That's true. Likewise, if your parents are of a particular political persuasion, or have strong views about certain issues, that's what you'll be brought up with. You're not going to be able to decide for yourself about those issues until you're old enough to understand them.

 

I'd say adults do that, too, although we might be more conscious of doing so. For example, if anyone asks me about particular issues, for example, my views on whether it should be legal to own guns for protection, I'd readily admit that because of being brought up in the UK where it's illegal, I was always taught that they were unnecessary and overly dangerous, and I'm biased towards that position - now, I'm still open to arguments on both sides while I try to decide for myself. Likewise, I was brought up Catholic, but it wasn't till I was a teenager that I was able to question my beliefs and decide for myself whether I believed in them or not.

 

Anyway, with regards to the thread question, I'd agree with what's been said: if they're living under my roof, then they'll have to live by my rules. As for the specific issues mentioned:

 

Painting their room a different colour: That's not really a moral issue, so I think I'd be pretty open to that. If they're still little kids, then I might veto it if it's a particularly strange colour, but when they're older, I'd probably leave it to them.

 

If they're attracted to the same sex, then I'd want them to tell me. Hopefully, our relationship is going to be good enough that they're not afraid to tell me stuff like that. In that case, they're still my child, and I'll love them no matter what. I might not agree with some of the life choices they might make, and not approve of those, but they can't help how they feel. Similarly, if they feel that they're the wrong sex, then I'll still love them, and I'll want to help them, even if I couldn't approve of something like surgery.

 

Medication and so on, it'd be about discussing options with doctors as well as with my child. It'd depend very much on the drug or side-effects etc. on whether or not I'd allow them to take them, as well as how serious the thing is they're treating and how old they are. But that's going to be a case-by-case thing.

 

I'm going to bring up my children to learn about their faith, and I'm not going to discourage them questioning it. I think I'll have something along the lines of a weekly session where they can just sit with me (and my husband), and we can discuss the faith together. They can ask their questions, and we can answer them. If they don't ask questions, they're not really going to believe for themselves, and even if they did, they wouldn't understand how to explain or defend their faith properly. If they're really considering a different religion, then the same rules would apply - they sit with us, and explain why they're considering it, and we can answer their questions. I wouldn't allow them to actually convert to a different religion while they're still living at home, and I'd still expect them to participate in Catholicism (going to Mass every week, etc.), but questioning is fine, as long as they are sincerely looking for the truth. Now, if they were being rude or disrespectful about it, then that'd be a different issue, but I've nothing to fear from them just looking for the truth.

 

xxx

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a Christian perspective, it's a mistake to say that every generation, or every child needs to figure out what is right or wrong or best for them, spiritually. That is why we have several thousand years worth of experience and guidance in the Bible, so we have something to look to for answers. You have to make it your own, embrace it, love it, or you will become hollow and either just go through the motions or reject it altogether.

To expect every person to rediscover all spiritual truth for themselves as a blank slate is like expecting a doctor to invent or discover all of the tools, medicines and procedures over again without any precedents. It is like asking each lawyer to rewrite the constitution and all of the laws afresh, rather than use the ones we have for reference. Take any skill or profession that has been developed over generations and nobody would lightly suggest throwing out all the accumulated experience and tools and recipes and procedures to start over from scratch.

A child of obedient Christian parents is considered by God to be an obedient Christian until he/she is old enough to be capable and responsible for such decisions, as per Paul in I Corinthians 7.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To expect every person to rediscover all spiritual truth for themselves as a blank slate is like expecting a doctor to invent or discover all of the tools, medicines and procedures over again without any precedents. It is like asking each lawyer to rewrite the constitution and all of the laws afresh, rather than use the ones we have for reference. Take any skill or profession that has been developed over generations and nobody would lightly suggest throwing out all the accumulated experience and tools and recipes and procedures to start over from scratch.

 

I see telling a child to find their own spiritual path as being more akin to letting them figure out which profession is right for them, rather than forcing them to go into the family business.

 

I can't imagine what I would be like if I had been forced to go to church every week as a non-believing teen, but I don't think the results would be very pretty.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see telling a child to find their own spiritual path as being more akin to letting them figure out which profession is right for them, rather than forcing them to go into the family business.

 

I can't imagine what I would be like if I had been forced to go to church every week as a non-believing teen, but I don't think the results would be very pretty.

Solomon made the following observation: "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." I think many parents would agree that their desire is to direct their children into a right and positive path. But it also takes living as an example, and many willingly fall far short of that for selfish reasons.

I don't know what you were or were not taught as a child, or what you saw that pushed you away from any faith, so I cannot really comment on your thinking as a teen. But church is like anything in life - you get out of it what you put into it. A relationship with God can fail just the same way that a relationship with with a spouse can - through things like indifference, lack of trust and neglect.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know what you were or were not taught as a child, or what you saw that pushed you away from any faith, so I cannot really comment on your thinking as a teen. But church is like anything in life - you get out of it what you put into it. A relationship with God can fail just the same way that a relationship with with a spouse can - through things like indifference, lack of trust and neglect.

 

I think the opposite is often true. Many atheists/skeptics left their faith after a period of intense study and seriousness about their faith.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know what you were or were not taught as a child, or what you saw that pushed you away from any faith, so I cannot really comment on your thinking as a teen. But church is like anything in life - you get out of it what you put into it. A relationship with God can fail just the same way that a relationship with with a spouse can - through things like indifference, lack of trust and neglect.

 

In my case, I was raised in an irreligious household; I had absolutely no exposure to the concept of a deity or deities until I went to school and met people who went to various religious services. As a result, I likely don't believe in any god or gods in much the same way you don't believe in Horus, or Vishnu, or any other deity aside from God. You likely don't feel bitter, mistrustful, or neglectful to Horus and Vishnu because you don't believe in them; it is much the same to me for God.

 

I have, at various points in my life, felt distrustful towards *religious people*, because I know of many cases in which others' religious beliefs have resulted in direct harm to people I care about. But that is separate from my belief or non-belief in any god/gods.

 

I almost feel like I somewhat lack the wiring necessary to have any kind of religious faith due to my lack of exposure to religion as a child. I went through a phase where I actively sought out a spiritual path, but I could not *make* myself believe...I just thought that particular faith was cool in the same way I thought Lord of the Rings was cool. 

 

The thing I would find unnerving about being forced to go to church, or go through the motions of any religion really, is the idea of being forced to effectively live a lie in order to please the people around me. As a kid, I would always feel horrible while participating in any form of prayer, because in that moment, I was lying to everyone around me. I hate lies and deceit more than pretty much anything else in the world, so being forced to lie about something as important as religious beliefs would make for an extremely uncomfortable living situation. I am probably particularly sensitive about lying due to my experience with being in the closet -- pretending to be heterosexual for ten years was the worst experience I've ever had (and I have had some life threatening experiences, so I do not say that lightly). I can't imagine how I would have survived had I felt like I had to lie about my sexuality *and* my religion.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the opposite is often true. Many atheists/skeptics left their faith after a period of intense study and seriousness about their faith.

 

I would truly be interested in a list of these many examples.  I honestly think that if you make such a sweeping statement that isn't describing your own experience, you should substantiate it.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would truly be interested in a list of these many examples.  I honestly think that if you make such a sweeping statement that isn't describing your own experience, you should substantiate it.

I've found this to be true as well. Many atheists I've met are those who questioned their faiths and could not find satisfactory answers.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would truly be interested in a list of these many examples.  I honestly think that if you make such a sweeping statement that isn't describing your own experience, you should substantiate it.

 

Actually it is.

 

Anyway, I've heard and read many first-person accounts of people who became atheists while all-in so to speak. Preachers, people who wanted to become preachers so they started studying the Bible more closely than before, people that finally decided to read the Bible cover to cover, etc.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've found this to be true as well. Many atheists I've met are those who questioned their faiths and could not find satisfactory answers.

 

I would also like to add, that some people have studied various faiths, and while they didn't become atheists, they concluded, while striving for objectivity, that they can't be true.

 

I still believe this universe was created by an infinite Being, but I do not buy into Christianity, for example.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also like to add, that some people have studied various faiths, and while they didn't become atheists, they concluded, while striving for objectivity, that they can't be true.

 

I still believe this universe was created by an infinite Being, but I do not buy into Christianity, for example.

Aye, I use the word 'atheist' as a blanket term for anyone who doesn't believe in an organized religion, but what I truly mean is atheists and agnostics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hear what you are saying.  My point is that you can't be a Christian from your head only.  It has to involve your heart and your soul. Without a conversion of the heart, it is all vain jangling.  These periods of extra study and of questioning faith before rejecting God are because these ones have allowed doubts to settle into their hearts and separate them from God.  Once that happens, unless they can overcome the questions and get back to the heart of their faith, just studying the Bible for facts and meaning will not resolve their doubt.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hear what you are saying.  My point is that you can't be a Christian from your head only.  It has to involve your heart and your soul. Without a conversion of the heart, it is all vain jangling.  These periods of extra study and of questioning faith before rejecting God are because these ones have allowed doubts to settle into their hearts and separate them from God.  Once that happens, unless they can overcome the questions and get back to the heart of their faith, just studying the Bible for facts and meaning will not resolve their doubt.

I perceive information and interpret that information with my brain. I feel emotions due to chemical reactions in my brain. I use logic and reason with my brain. What beliefs I have, I have because my brain has accepted information and found it to be sound and reasonable. In other words, I think, feel, love, and believe with my brain. When you talk about the "heart" and "soul" it is "all vain jangling" to me.

 

(That being said, I am intimately familiar with what you are saying. I heard that reasoning all of my life, and once upon a time it made sense to me)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To the topic of the thread..

My moral beliefs have deviated widely in some areas from those of my parents. In other areas not so much. I have no reason to view my beliefs as 100% correct, and so I see no justification for forcing my children to follow my beliefs. I see parenting as a responsibility and not an entitlement. I will have the huge responsibility of teaching my children about the world and giving them the tools and guidance they need to survive and be productive in this world. I don't feel that having children entitles me to decide what they believe about everything.

I think my approach will be to set certain hard boundaries, such as where safety and development is involved, and set soft boundaries around issues that can be debated. For example, no under-age sex, smoking, harmful drugs, excessive drinking, watching reality TV, etc. They will have to complete school work, do chores, not spend all day consuming entertainment, etc. I will make my morals and values and the reasons behind them very clear, but ultimately teach them to decide for themselves.

As for the specific questions..

What if they want to paint their room a color you think is ugly?

Fine, but first I'd tell them the tale of their father being given the gift of a room all to himself at the age of 15 and being allowed to pick the color, and him picking dark green with tan trimming, and of how horrible it was, and how he regretted it to his last breath.

What if they wanted to date someone of the same sex (date, not sleep with), or even just come out as gay or bi?

Well, I'd prefer that they come out before they just show up with their date. But I'd be fine with it, and they'd know beforehand that I would be so it won't be an issue anyway. I can't say their grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins will be thrilled, but we'd cross that bridge together. I love hearing stories about people coming out to their parents and their parents being like, "Uh, yeah, we know".

What if they came out as trans* and wanted to go on hormone therapy and be called by a different name?

This would be a bit more difficult to handle than them being gay, mostly due to my upbringing, and despite doing a presentation in an ethics class about sex reassignment surgery. But I'd do a lot of research, give them all the love and care and understanding they need, and then listen to professionals (and my child) about what they think the best approach would be. Can't say much else.

What if they feel they need to take ADD medication or antidepressants, but you aren't convinced it's necessary?

I think mental health is something that needs to be monitored extremely closely, and it's an area that is woefully overlooked and mishandled in the US. I think there is a difficult line to walk between being too quick to medicate and missing symptoms altogether. It's a tough issue. As an aside, from years of living with and around foster kids and my own siblings, I doubt my kids would be the ones to notice their own symptoms and request medication.

What if they wanted to switch to a different religion, or declare themselves an atheist?

Well I'm an agnostic-atheist. Like others have mentioned, I would not be okay with my young children being taken advantage of and taught things without my consent or knowledge. If I found out they "believed" something, I'd find out why they believe it and discuss it with them carefully and thoroughly. If they expressed a desire to go to a church service, I'd go with them and discuss with them what they heard afterwards. Once they're teenagers I'll be much more hands-off with their religious beliefs, and they'll know that whatever they believe it won't change our relationship.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would truly be interested in a list of these many examples.  I honestly think that if you make such a sweeping statement that isn't describing your own experience, you should substantiate it.

 

My husband was raised Catholic. Attend Catholic school his entire life. Can wrestle with many of the theological issues facing American Christianity today and can provide the perspectives of different theological schools of thought. Spent a lot of time in deep contemplation regarding God and Religion and concluded there's not enough evidence or compelling reasons to support it.

 

Two of my friends from high school, one of whom I'm still in touch with, were both raised in very religious environments. Were both very involved with their youth groups. Were both very involved with FCA in high school. Both eventually became atheists, again after considerable thought and study. Both are very intelligent and successful, and both are very committed to their families, our hometown, and tradition. But neither of them have remained Christian, despite their solid upbringing, Christian backgrounds, and still-Christian siblings.

 

I actually only know one atheist in my life who was NOT raised in a Christian (or Jewish--my two Jewish cousins are atheist) household.

 

Anecdotes /=/ data, but the phrase "Many atheists/skeptics left their faith after a period of intense study and seriousness about their faith" isn't exactly a quantitative statement.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now