interested in feedback/morale support in my being honest with my daughter about (the fact that) there is no god. i live in south carolina, where even not going to church causes one to be labeled a 'heathen' , and parents are giving a good deal of flack about it also. now to really introduce a wrench: i am also going through a divorce, where my lack of religious views were exploited and used to demean me. perhaps i thought the group may have some advice to a n00b such as myself.
I could almost weep for you, but it makes me deathly afraid for my own situational future as well. My wife and I don't have any kids yet, but she insists she will be able to stifle her religiosity and allow our kids to "makes up their own minds". If only I could believe that absolutely...
I remember coming out to my religious parents and telling them I expected problems when kids came into the picture. The answer was so simple to them: "why wouldn't you want your kids going to church? Why would that be a problem?"
Well, that's a tough one. Let me see... homophobia, hate-mongering, illegitimate fear of people groups who don't accept your broad stroke of rigid fundamentalist morality, superstitious incantations, diabolical televangelists, mutilation of the english language? OR, how the fact that you want to pump the asinine idea of a monotheistic, loving creator (despite the abounding conflicting reports and thousands of inherent contradictions in the same book that you mean to prove this God with), who births everyone with a disease that will damn them to eternal torment which is otherwise incurable, save for the blood of your God's son, whom even the most skilled of scholars are unable to demonstrate the existence of today.
Aside from that, yeah! Kids should TOTALLY go to church!
I admire your courage and honesty. Please stay strong - I believe in you.
I think you and your wife would be doing a serious injustice to your kids by not discussing what you believe and why you believe that way. She should tell the kids about her religion. As a counterpoint, you should tell your kids about why you don't believe. Your kids deserve to know who their parents are. That way, they will know a little about were they come from. I think it is important for children to know how different everyone is from each other. I'm pretty sure they won't feel so much pressure to conform to some mold that is not of their choosing.
Don't tell them what to believe. By doing so, you will only make a fool out yourself. Or worse yet, you could hurt your kids by asking them to take sides.
This is just what I was thinking. When it comes to politics and religion, I just let my son know how I feel about things and why. I also go over why other people believe differently. Letting him know that he can believe whatever/wherever his heart and mind lead him keeps him from having to hide things from me in fear of disappointment, and allows open discussions which we both can learn from.
You and Michael have both stated precisely the solution that I'm hoping she and I will be able to agree on. I've no problem with my wife and I stating outright what we believe and why - it's the proselytizing nature of churches that I'm worried about. As long as no one forces my kids to go to church if they don't want to, I'm supremely confident everything will be A-ok from my end of things. Thanks for the input!
You and your wife are the only one that can make your kids to attend church. Neither forcing kids to go to church will make believers of them, nor will forcing them to attend an atheist and skeptics meeting will make nonbelievers of them. You will have to love and accept them as they are with only a few exceptions (these vary from person to person).
Had that children being invited by friends to a "God is gr8" experience with my son, a girl he was interested in had invited him to an evangelist youth function, supposedly just for music and fun at a squash center purchased by the Pentecostal loons to use as a church. All was fun and games until suddenly the music stopped and pastors stood at the court doors and suddenly my son's friend and a couple of her comrades started telling how their lives were made great and enriched by God. My son had many times been warned by myself and my daughter about using fanciful stories to snare people into thinking god or any other non-existent hero is wonderful, though what spiked my son's skepticism is that he had known this girl since they started pre-school and the story she was telling, he knew well and her version was nothing like he remembered it. He left in a hurry and ceased contact with her completely, he was horrified at the once sweet girl had become a religious, conniving and lying bitch.
Oh, BTW, that girl is now a pastor in that church, continuing with her lie telling and false tales to reap an income from the church. Yes, she is lying for God, to earn easy money without having to work for a living.
Honestly dude, I wouldn't risk it. You can hypothetically say what ever you want to, but when it comes down to it, the vast majority of people try to teach their children to think like they do, whether consciously or not. But the issues you encounter with divorce while childless are much less than those you encounter with children.
That must certainly be true, but if I may offer my humble opinion (after reading your own story), I think your own situation may be making you slightly more cynical towards the idea than I am presently. I suppose the way I view it is like this: not having children simply because of my fear that they MAY grow up believing in god has about as much merit as not having children because they may end up being raped, murdered, living through a nuclear fallout, etc - or abandoning my marriage because of the difference in faith. Having reread my post, I realized I've actually been somewhat ambiguous on some of the methodology behind my thinking, almost to the point of vilifying my wife, unduly so.
She goes to an extremely "open" and "free" church, if you could call any church such a flattering thing. She's pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-birth control, anti prayer in schools, etc - and hates the way many sects of believers see things. Now, I'm not making any remark on whether or not these beliefs she holds are ethical or not, I'm simply noting them in order to point out that she clearly has risen above the curve of "do what you're told" church-goers, to a place of a more tolerant manner of thinking. Now, I still have many problems with the willful ignorance that she's happy to adopt, in refusing to learn anything at all about evolution, the big bang, etc - BUT - in general, I'm far more afraid of my kids being exposed to the ideas of my church-going family than I am of my wife proselytizing them. Thus, since there's nothing I could possibly do to absolutely prevent the former, I can't live my life fearful of the latter.
Mathew, on the learning about evolution bit, there's lots of fun dinosaur games and some humorous children's books, which helped our children understand evolution, plus comedy concerning God and creation myths.
I've always found humor to be the best method of enlightenment.
It's how I was un-indoctrinated as a child, my uncle used to tell me dinosaur stories as well as many jokes that ridiculed God and creation in a very funny but not attacking way, just subtle enough to make me think. I wish I could remember some of them, though my uncle died when I was 12, so I cannot ask him. He and my aunt would buy me adventure books, she got me every Biggles book ever written by the age of ten ( started reading them at 6), and no, they did not make me racist like those that banned them from schools used against Biggles books, in fact they made me more racially tolerant. I'm the most racially tolerant member of my entire family.
The blatant stupidity of "Political Correctness" and censorship has been obvious to me ever since. They are examples of irrational, dumber than doggy doo, MINORITIES enforcing their blind stupidity onto the majority.
Humor, exciting stories and challenging their minds is the only way to wrench them out of indoctrination, pushing your values directly bears little fruit, often only creates contempt from those targeted.
Thanks for the tip on the humour bit - I have a natural inclination to poke fun at things which make little sense to me to begin with, and I think as long as one can avoid doing it in a belittling way, no harm done.
I agree w/SB. Kudos and good luck! Fortunately, there is a wealth of books, magazines (see the "Junior Skeptic" section of Skeptic Magazine) and Internet material aimed at teaching kids atheism and humanistic values. I urge you to check it out. Buy atheist books for kids and leave them around the house.
Be strong. Emphasize the benefits of a god-free life. Do not let religious believers demean you or call you amoral. Learn all the counter-arguments and be able to express them in 7-year-old terms.
Your daughter is at a very critical age (the "age of reason," according to the Church -- you are now responsible for your actions) -- this is when kids form their image of reality. Be careful and patient as you teach her the difference between "imaginary" and "real." This is the age when kids are first capable of understanding the difference.