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Dutchess_III's avatar

How would you handle these conflicting messages with your kids?

Asked by Dutchess_III (41540points) 1 month ago

My son’s oldest daughter spends Sun morning – Wed evenings with her Mom, who suddenly became a Christian somewhere down the line, and Wed. evenings to Sunday mornings with her dad, my son, who quietly became an atheist somewhere along the line. (I raised them in the Christian church. Seems like we spent half our lives in church! I also kept my change of heart under wraps for them as well.)
His daughter has been asking why they don’t have Jesus on the Cross in the middle of their dining table? Why don’t they pray? And on and on.
My son is handling it very well, and very respectfully, and leaving her room to make up her own mind. She’s very analytical so you can guess where that’s gonna lead!
He doesn’t tell her her mom is wrong, says nothing negative about religion he just says he doesn’t believe that. He also asks her questions designed to make her think. They have some pretty interesting discussions about it I guess.
I don’t expect as much from her mother, though. I can imagine her getting very strident about it.

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15 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

Sounds like your son has the optimum approach

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am proud of him.

Yellowdog's avatar

Normally, atheists just mock Christians. Find a few controversial or perverted sounding passages, say it justifies slavery, burning witches and homosexuals, etc etc. and all those passages about putting people to death in Exodus.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not all atheists mock Christmas. I don’t mock Christmas.

“Find a few controversial or perverted sounding passages, say it justifies slavery, burning witches and homosexuals, etc etc. and all those passages about putting people to death in Exodus.” What? are you saying that is how you would handle it with your 9 year old child? What would you be trying to explain to them?

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Sorry. You said “Christians” not “Christmas.”
But my comment stands.
I don’t mock Christians. I’m not afraid to debate a Christian, if they want to.

YARNLADY's avatar

I just tell my kids that “some people” believe and others don’t.

In our family it’s like swearing. Their mom swears profusely and we don’t swear at all in our house. They understand the difference.

Pandora's avatar

@YARNLADY But by default aren’t you telling them that swearing is okay and not really wrong. See. I would say some people swear because they lack the ability to express themselves in an approved socially acceptable manner and that getting use to swearing can have consequences in the future, but so long as it’s not habitual and a person practices how to express themselves in a way that doesn’t always include swearing, that it isn’t exactly a crime to let one slip now and then. But they should be made aware that future bosses and romantic partners and work mates, may think of them as being uneducated if they cuss a lot.

@Dutchess_lll I understand that your son is trying not to say anything negative and let her decide on her own how to approach religion, but less information isn’t more. She is gathering evidence. She’s inquiring and doesn’t want to know just one side. Of course this doesn’t mean that if they debate he should go out of her way to make her feel foolish for believing. He can talk about religion without being in favor or against. I taught catechism decades ago, but I remember enjoying the children who question faith the most. Those were the ones who learn faith on their own terms. They didn’t feel pressure to believe. Those are also the ones most likely to grow up with an open mind. Willing to take in new information and struggle with it till they come to their own conclusion. Children will often see avoidance as a way of shutting them down.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

He isn’t avoiding her questions.

Yellowdog's avatar

@Dutchess_lll Awwwww … you wanted to know where I went.

Atheists usually bash or perversionize Christians. Its evidently the way to go.

If you aren’t going to do it, recognize that most elements of Christmas (Santa claus, Christmas Trees) are secular. Most Christmas songs are about a future age of peace, a ‘messianic age’ rather than a literal Messiah. A lot of it is about love and togetherness.

Or, you could celebrate Kwaanza it’s not religious.

seawulf575's avatar

How old is the child? That might depend on how to deal with it. It sounds like your son is doing a great job, though. Like many things kids ask about, there are several views on them. I always believed our jobs as parents were to give them the information on the various views and let them make up their minds. As for the ex-DIL pushing her views…that happens. My ex used to push all sorts of stupid things (mostly slams on me) on my kids. I never returned the favor. At one point we (the kids and I) had a discussion about my views on this sort of behavior. I told them that I tried very hard not to say bad things about their mom because it was their mom. They were going to have a relationship with her and I wanted it based on their views, not mine. Eventually they realized she was quite a mental furball but of course they still loved her. Just didn’t buy her silliness anymore. If your grandchild decides that religion is for her, how will you deal with that?

Dutchess_III's avatar

What are you talking about @Yellowdog? What does any of this have to do with Christmas?
And you have not explained what you meant by ” Find a few controversial or perverted sounding passages, say it justifies slavery, burning witches and homosexuals, etc etc. and all those passages about putting people to death in Exodus.” I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

@Pandora You suggested that @YARNLADY should tell the kids swearing is wrong….you want to be very careful about telling a child something their mother or father is doing is “wrong,” unless it’s abuse.
I don’t care for swearing much either, but I think setting a good example is the best you can do in this situation.

Good on you @seawulf575. They find out for themselves, eventually. It’s sad when they do, though.
If she wants to believe I don’t care. Their oldest son actually goes to church on Wednesdays. The Baptists in that town go door to door just like the Jehova’s Witnesses, and somehow, through that, he decided he wanted to go to church on Wednesday nights, and they’re fine with that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My youngest daughter is another thing all together. She also had a change of heart about religion but it wasn’t anything we discussed. I just knew it. But SHE didn’t know I had had a change of heart about religion, too. I was at HER house, and the 4 year old girl child brought a book to me and asked me to read it. Keep in mind, I did not bring this book into the house. It was already there.
It was about Jonah and the Whale.
So, I started reading it, but I asked questions along the way, asking did that really seem like it could happen? Does this really seem logical? Like that. My logic is, go ahead and read the books and teach them critical thinking skills.
Suddenly my daughter realized what I was reading and came un-freaking glued. Just went off. I tried to tell her that if she had just been actually listening she would have heard me questioning the story. But she didn’t listen. She just screamed that she didn’t want her kids brainwashed and blah blah blah.
Finally I yelled over her I AM AN ATHEIST!!! Shut her right down, and I was finally able to get a word in edgewise.

seawulf575's avatar

I have he belief that exposure to Christianity is not a bad thing. Exposure to Buddhism or Hinduism or Judaism or Islam or really any other religious belief is not a bad thing. It opens up the mind to possibilities. And there are very good life lessons that can be learned from all of these. What is a key attribute that Jesus taught us that people should have? Humility. Humility is the antithesis of just about every other negative emotion. At some point or another, if you hate, you are putting yourself above others. If you recognize that you are flawed just as much as someone else, you use your humility to temper your views. Many of these other religions extol similar virtues. These are good things. Yes, there are churches that are over the top and annoying. I get it. But those are life lessons as well. Your grand daughter will meet many annoying people in her life. She will be exposed to uncomfortable situations and she might as well learn how to deal with them.
There was a time when I was pretty much agnostic. I didn’t care for religion at all. Yet every time someone said they would pray for me, for whatever reason, I didn’t get annoyed with those people. What they were saying is that they cared enough to do what they felt was good for me. My brother became a born-again Christian (Christian Fundamentalist). We had some very interesting talks when he was trying to convert me. In the end what I pointed out to him was that I had not been touched by God to see the wisdom of his (my brother’s) opinions. If I went through some ritual just to shut him up, that i didn’t really believe in, I felt that would be more insulting to God than me just not believing.
As your grand daughter grows, she will make her own decisions. But my question continues: If, as she grows up, she decides that she really does like what Chrisitianity is saying to her, how will you deal with that? Because that is a conflict you might see in the future.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with every thing you just said @seawulf575. My daughter is just a reactive person. It’s gotten her into some pretty big trouble in the past. I’m just hoping she can get control of it.

If she decides she wants to be a Christian, then first I’d look to her parents to see if there is any particular way they deal with it. Left to me, I wouldn’t have anything at all to say, unless she asks questions. To try and force a kid to think they same way that you do is wrong, most of the time. However, they do have to learn their manners and politeness somewhere.

Like I said above, their oldest, who is 12, became interested in going to church on Wednesdays, so he goes.

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