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  1. #1
    Senior Member cacaia's Avatar
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    Default Multi religious household and speaking to children about spirituality

    So, my husband is an atheist through and through, who holds science almost as a religion. Both he and my daughter seem to be closely related personality wise. I am spiritual but not religious, and educated my daughter on all kinds of philosophies. I was very open about what people believe, how respectful we need to be, etc.
    Now, my 4 year old son has a classmate who is very religious and my son comes home talking about the christian God often. This sets an alarm in my hiusband's brain. He feels our son will be manipulated and made to integrate into christian society (he was brought up in a very strict christian family). My daughter keeps insisting on her dad's views, and tries to instruct her brother to not believe in anything.

    I want to encourage him to think critically and think for himself, to research what there is and to come up with his own reasoning that fits who he is. Any additional ideas and suggestions about how to raise a healthy boy with kindness and armed with knowledge of every culture so he can make an informed choice when he is older is welcome.
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  2. #2
    ∂ιѕgяα¢є∂ ¢σѕмσηαυт Luminous's Avatar
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    How old is your daughter? I guess the first thing I'd do is gently remind her, and your son, that one's religion or philosophy is a personal choice. What you did with your daughter, the teaching about all kind of philosophies, being open and respectful, sounds like an excellent idea to repeat with your son. I think just giving them the tools and knowledge while imparting positive values is a wonderful idea.
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    Senior Member cacaia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    So, my husband is an atheist through and through, who holds science almost as a religion. Both he and my daughter seem to be closely related personality wise. I am spiritual but not religious, and educated my daughter on all kinds of philosophies. I was very open about what people believe, how respectful we need to be, etc.
    Now, my 4 year old son has a classmate who is very religious and my son comes home talking about the christian God often. This sets an alarm in my hiusband's brain. He feels our son will be manipulated and made to integrate into christian society (he was brought up in a very strict christian family). My daughter keeps insisting on her dad's views, and tries to instruct her brother to not believe in anything.

    I want to encourage him to think critically and think for himself, to research what there is and to come up with his own reasoning that fits who he is. Any additional ideas and suggestions about how to raise a healthy boy with kindness and armed with knowledge of every culture so he can make an informed choice when he is older is welcome.
    Thank you!
    She is 10. I always try to remind her to say that what she believes is fine, but that ultimately it is her brother's choice. She gets sneaky and says what she needs to say in front of me, but then I catch her whispering to him abd trying to influence him....sigh. I guess I'll have a heart to heart with her....just us girls....
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  4. #4
    A Bittersweet Symphony... Eryn Silverfrond's Avatar
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    I think your son will appreciate your efforts. Otherwise he'd be in the same situation as your husband in the future but reversed.
    With all due respect,
    Eryn Silverfrond;
    of the Gentleman Jacks.


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    Our Sky Father and our Earth Mother are dancing.

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    The dreams of butterflies cocooned in the womb of becoming.

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    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    So, my husband is an atheist through and through, who holds science almost as a religion. Both he and my daughter seem to be closely related personality wise. I am spiritual but not religious, and educated my daughter on all kinds of philosophies. I was very open about what people believe, how respectful we need to be, etc.
    Now, my 4 year old son has a classmate who is very religious and my son comes home talking about the christian God often. This sets an alarm in my hiusband's brain. He feels our son will be manipulated and made to integrate into christian society (he was brought up in a very strict christian family). My daughter keeps insisting on her dad's views, and tries to instruct her brother to not believe in anything.

    I want to encourage him to think critically and think for himself, to research what there is and to come up with his own reasoning that fits who he is. Any additional ideas and suggestions about how to raise a healthy boy with kindness and armed with knowledge of every culture so he can make an informed choice when he is older is welcome.
    I raised agnostic children. They had friends and people around them that were religious to very religious. We discussed it, talked about Jesus and the bible in a historically accurate way, we were fortunate to be able to visit the holy land and other places in the Middle East. It was amazing, educational and enlightening. I was raised Catholic but it's nothing I was interested in or involving kids, particularly my sons. When other religions/beliefs came out we looked at them the same sort of way. Minus visiting which I wish we had been able to do, especially in the East.

    In the end, they chose to be non-religious as adults. If you raise children able to determine right from wrong, to be supportive, kind, non-garbage humans - that are secure asking questions from you the parent, that's generally the best way to approach things no matter the subject, imo. Your daughter has the same rights to choose a religion as your son. Or no religion at all. Same as him. Same as all of us in the US.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.
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  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    So, my husband is an atheist through and through, who holds science almost as a religion. Both he and my daughter seem to be closely related personality wise. I am spiritual but not religious, and educated my daughter on all kinds of philosophies. I was very open about what people believe, how respectful we need to be, etc.
    Now, my 4 year old son has a classmate who is very religious and my son comes home talking about the christian God often. This sets an alarm in my hiusband's brain. He feels our son will be manipulated and made to integrate into christian society (he was brought up in a very strict christian family). My daughter keeps insisting on her dad's views, and tries to instruct her brother to not believe in anything.

    I want to encourage him to think critically and think for himself, to research what there is and to come up with his own reasoning that fits who he is. Any additional ideas and suggestions about how to raise a healthy boy with kindness and armed with knowledge of every culture so he can make an informed choice when he is older is welcome.
    Your approach is admirable, and sadly uncommon. While I see no problem with parents sharing or even emphasizing their own religious traditions and perspective in raising children, that should never come at the expense of understanding and having respect for other traditions and faiths. The best way to instill this respect is to expose your kids to people of different faiths, and what they believe. Religion is unlike science, in that multiple views can be true. I say that as a scientist and a spiritual person. The two perspectives are quite compatible as long as one understands the limitations of each.

    So, I would ask your son, young as he is, what he thinks of his friend's Christian views. Engage him in conversation so it goes beyond his just repeating his friend's statements (which is is probably just his friend repeating his parents' statements). Reassure him that it is OK for his friend's family to believe that, but it is also OK for him not to believe it, and still be friends. His friends' parents might not think so, but that ball is in their court, and you can field it if/when it is served back to you.

    I would ask your daughter how she would feel if someone was pulling her aside and prodding her to believe a certain way, or to reject a certain belief. If she can recognize and appreciate the latitude you have given her to choose her own beliefs, perhaps she can be encouraged to extend the same to her brother, young as he is.

    Finally, you can emphasize to both your kids that there is much commonality among the world's faiths: common symbolism, but also common values, like compassion, honesty, charity, respect for others, etc. As an adult, you might enjoy perusing the writings of Joseph Campbell if you are not familiar with him already. He explores these common threads more detail.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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    The key to deal with multi-religious situations is extremely simple. Just say :

    "follow your conscience"

    You may have to explain it in a detailed way. Often I think of "making my perceived humanity's well-being over future time the highest possible".
    I often say "psychological impact" because it's a central concept to me.
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    @Those_who_liked_my_previous_post :

    Thank you for endorsing me, but I didn't want to sound "cool" because this approach is actually purely rational.

    It's not pure philosophy but psychology and abstract morals, because we have to know what are :

    "conscience", "following", "perceived", "humanity", "well-being", "future", "highest", "possible".

    These words are themselved meant to be explained in a detailed manner.

    Their definitions are to be read from a dictionary.

    But "psychological impact" is a key concept to understand everything.
    I often say "psychological impact" because it's a central concept to me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacaia View Post
    So, my husband is an atheist through and through, who holds science almost as a religion. Both he and my daughter seem to be closely related personality wise. I am spiritual but not religious, and educated my daughter on all kinds of philosophies. I was very open about what people believe, how respectful we need to be, etc.
    Now, my 4 year old son has a classmate who is very religious and my son comes home talking about the christian God often. This sets an alarm in my hiusband's brain. He feels our son will be manipulated and made to integrate into christian society (he was brought up in a very strict christian family). My daughter keeps insisting on her dad's views, and tries to instruct her brother to not believe in anything.

    I want to encourage him to think critically and think for himself, to research what there is and to come up with his own reasoning that fits who he is. Any additional ideas and suggestions about how to raise a healthy boy with kindness and armed with knowledge of every culture so he can make an informed choice when he is older is welcome.
    I think you're going about it the right way, despite the factors of your son's religious peer and your husband's worries. I can relate to this set of circumstances pretty well and I found it a unique challenge, too. My ex and her sons had just left a bad marriage and very strict, repressive religious group shortly before I met them and the mix of religious outlooks in their family was equally complicated. My ex became increasingly resentful (or distrustful) of religious thinking, but kept an open mind about general spiritual values; her oldest was majorly conflicted and swung far left partly out of rebellion and because he had never known freedom of thinking before; and the youngest was until then a clean slate, so to speak. Having been raised in a religious household myself, it was strange to watch each of them change over time, especially her youngest who wasn't baptized (to the shock of my grandparents and mother), had no concept of Christian morals, was largely ignorant of the Bible, and had as a result showed a pretty strong interest in spirituality, concepts of God and Satan and heaven and hell, and creation. This was slightly alarming to my ex, even with her largely laissez-faire attitude about raising her boys, and would always widen her eyes and shrug at me with helplessness or annoyance. Her youngest had some fairly religious friends in public school, too, so he often came home parroting random ideas (like "my friend said Freddie Mercury was gay so he's going to hell" or more complicated, "God made the Big Bang") that were frustrating for me in a parenting role and obviously annoying to my ex.

    My mother's side are Missouri Synod Lutherans, so I have a working knowledge of Biblical history, which worked out perfectly because I rattled off answers for his analytical little brain to process. I'm not practicing, so I tried very hard to objectively explain things without influencing his opinions or outlooks. What made this harder was that he had a very strong interest in STEM classes, so my ex and I had to somehow compromise the two worldviews - which is obviously very confusing for a small child. The situation reminded me of something that my grandmother once warned when I was a rebellious teen: that people that neglect their faith eventually seek it out later in life. As an adult, this lesson is more apparent in the interesting phenomenon of the growing popularity of Christianity in different parts of Asia (like South Korea and parts of SEA). And while I'm not going to draw any major conclusions about this example, I will say that people seek out positive worldviews and hopeful communities, in this case organized religions and codes of moral behavior. And your son may be filling a spiritual void like my ex's son was, seeking a uniquely human experience despite the labels. Restricting his thinking is equally disadvantageous, so it might be best to let him play with the ideas and decide for himself. Like my ex's son, he's a child in his understanding of the world, so my advice would be to keep raising him you and your husband's way and tolerate his curiosity about religious thinking.
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