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February 08, 2007

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leora

Only YOU could tackle such a sensitive taboo subject with such humor and dignity, MD! This was great.

Annie

Hi MetroDad: Longtime reader, but first time poster, here. As far as religion goes, my husband and I were raised Catholic. Me: church every Sunday as a child, but given the choice to go when I wasd 8 or 9 years old. Was confirmed older in life (17) and later married in the Catholic church.

My husband: church every Sunday, Catholic school from K-12, followed religion very faithfully.

Today, I am the spiritual one (we really don't go to church at all, except for the occasional wedding and funeral). I pray nightly and find comfort in it. My husband, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the church. He claims it's because religion was forced down his throat when he was growing up.

We don't have any kids (yet!) but have had numerous conversations about kids and religion. We realize that we have to get on the ball with the church-going (so we can baptize our unborn kid and avoid our families freaking out about the kid going to hell!), but once we do that, we are going to go the route my family did. No organized religion unless it's desired.

I hope that helps a little bit.

RA

Hi, MD! I think you've posed some interesting questions here, and since I don't have kids, I'll give my two cents on the growing-up angle of it.

I grew up in a very religious household and we kind of approached it as another avenue of intellectualism that affected how we lived life. We discussed the sermons on Sundays, learned how to harmonize when singing hymns, memorized verses, and calculated a 10% tithe, my parents definitely brought faith into making decisions about political stances, how to spend money, where to send me to school, what music we listened to, and even what I wore. I didn't find it constricting, necessarily; it was just an everpresent factor. It was a huge part of my life and it still is. My husband and I are really active in our own church and having similar values has helped us be on the same page on a lot of things. I think being aware of something bigger than my own life gives me perspective and allows me to let go of needing to have all of the answers, since I'm a fan of that. But that's just me.

On a slightly-unrelated note, I saw an episode of "True Life" on MTV about spouses who had differing religious beliefs and it was quite interesting. One couple ended up deciding to raise their son as a "Jewstian", (pronounced JOO-stee-in) which just sounds, well, juicy to me. Shrug.

Sorry about the dissertation...

V

Religion is a taboo subject on blogs? SHIT!

Anywho...yuh know I think about this a lot with my daughter and have had all sorts of brewing schemes to expose her (i.e. confuse the crap out of her) to all sorts of religions. But as it turns out, I don't really do anything except talk to her when she wants to talk. I tell her what I (think) believe, what some other people believe. (A random sample of course.) Because I think, in the end, she'll find her way, regardless of what I do. And I dont even want to be the one selecting her religious exposure....its for her to do, when she's ready. I just want her to know that there are a lot of beliefs out there, and to not let anyone shove anything down her throat. And if, for now, she wants to believe in the Powerpuff Girls, that's a-ok.

Ian

My wife and I are not churchgoers. However, my parents are and they take the two little ones to church with them every Sunday. Now, both girls LOVE going to church. I encourage it because I think religion can provide a good moral fiber.

But if they ever start trying to convert me, I'm going to ground both of them!

Lori

I'm Protestant (but unbaptized) by birth, although I can count on one hand the number of times my family went to church (my parents are recovering Baptists of the Southern Kind). I went to a Lutheran international school overseas for seven years, and was close to going Baptist myself, until I got to college and kind of walked away (the Baptist thing was as much peer pressure as anything, since most of my friends were misssionary kids).

My husband is as close to non-religious as a person can get - he has no real concept of religion, except in the abstract. His parents are nominally Buddhist, and he's been to funerals at their family temple in LA, but that's about the extent of it.

But I'm personally interested in Buddhist spirituality (which makes me sound like some crazy white chick who sits at home, lights incense, and bongs away at a bell in the corner under the happy Buddha figurine) - in an abstract sense. That is, I'm not interested in attending services at a temple, but I do want to raise my daughter with a spirit of compassion and detachment (well, relatively speaking, since I'm a complete gadget junkie). I guess it's sort of Zen Lite...which still sounds flaky. But if she eventually decides that the Southern Baptist Convention is for her, well, that's okay too.

Meg

Heh... as a minister's kid, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that church attendance is NOT in fact the key to having a good moral compass or knowing right and wrong. My foundation is pretty solid at this point, but I sat next to plenty of kids in Sunday School who didn't have a clue what was going on, or where they were headed in life, or what was important to them.

That was usually because their parents were there out of obligation, and once that hour of church was over, they left anything important there far behind them. Respect for others, grace, charity... you name it. Lip service, but no action.

I'd say the biggest thing you can do for the Peanut is know what YOU think and live a life that you feel proud of. Give your time and money to causes you appreciate, and let her do the same. Show her how to love people, and then guide her in doing the same. Give her the tools to explore faith in a practical, day-to-day way, and then let her feel that out as well.

That's what my mom and dad did, and I think it worked really well.

Generally, the things we abhor in organized religion are the false expectations, the "pretending to be perfect", and the judgmental attitude that we often find within church walls.

If you can offer the possibilities and the hope without the smackdown, I think you'll have the formula right.

BFF

I think masturbation is what they DO in the Devil's Workshop, no?

The nuns promised hairy palms to fellows like you.

Great post.

Meg

My grammar and structure was crap in that comment, but you get the gist:).

Meg

WERE crap. Holy shit.

Jessica F.

HOWARD be they name? Too funny. Even as a kid, you were freaking hilarious, MD!

Keeper

I grew up in the church and my husband and I are very involved in a church near us. We don't consider ourselves "religious". We do believe in the bible and believe in a personal loving God. When we have kids, we'll take them to church, teach them the bible and let them decide when they want to be baptized.

I've heard of a great church in NYC - I think it might be 5th Ave. Pres...

eliaday

I think you're on to something, MD. Let's not save ourselves, but save our kids right? (Whether it be from hell or lung cancer.)

I think that, for better or worse, it is in times of uncertainty that we look to find structure and sense in other places. Maybe parenthood really is the biggest most wonderful uncertainty of all.

Luke

"Maybe in trying to help the Peanut find her faith, we'll find our own as well."

I think you'd be surprised how frequently this happens, MD. I've got quite a few friends (both Christian and Jewish) who become more involved with religion as they introduced it into their children's lives.

metro mama

Sean and I are both athiests. Like you, we want Jane to make up her own mind. I'm not sure how we'll do this yet - maybe we'll let her grandparents take her to church.

Lauren

Man, we are in the same boat. Neither of us are really big on church, but I feel like we owe it to our daughter to expose her to it and let her choose for herself.

I am looking forward to other poster ideas. Great post MD!

merseydotes

When someone raised Protestant (me) marries someone raised Catholic (Basil), the Episcopal Church is waiting with open arms! That's how our family ended up where we are. Well, the open-arms-ness and liberal social leanings of the church were also a big draw.

Petunia is almost three and a half, and the religion thing has been very interesting. She takes communion at our church and asks why she can't take communion in her Catholic granma's church. She sometimes makes up songs like, 'God is great; he is the most wonderful guy in the whole wooooooorld!'

We try to observe Lent and Advent at home each year, but we are spotty prayer-sayers. What I like most about going to church as a family are the reinforcement of a good values system, the sense of community within the parish and the plug-and-play ways to volunteer (homeless ministries, etc) and give back to the community.

Peter

Good question M.D. I have been thinking about getting involved again, it was a Resolution I have not lived up to for 2007.
What got me thinking was your comment about the children opting out. Why not let them decide to opt in?
I our case maybe some of the Catholic guilt will be avoided,if they are presented with the chance to opt in a little later on, maybe.

Jenny

We are dealing with similar questions/issues in our house. My husband is a VERY lapsed Catholic who leans now more toward Eastern religion/philosophy (when he leans at all).

I was raised an Episcopalian by parents who (like yours) saw Church as both a social occasion and as a duty to their kids (pretty much in that order). I really had no deep feeling about God except to be offended by a deity that would command my praise and worship. I was sort of turned off to the church thru my exposure to a generation of prosthelitizing born-agains who insisted that I was going to hell come the rapture. Never mind that I lived well and treated fellow human beings with kindness and compassion. Needless to say, we are not churchgoers.

We've always said that we'd let our kids make their own decisions, but stupidly it never occurred to us that this meant that we'd actually have to expose them to various religious teachings. Duh.

A few months ago my daughter had a friend over to play. Her parents are both religious and spiritual people (not always the obvious combination that it might seem). The friend was talking about how everyone has two daddies. My daughter was confused by this, because (as far as she knew) she only had one. The little girl was equally perplexed. How could she not know that Jesus was also her father? So she started talking about Jesus a little bit, thinking it might jog our daughter's memory. She was getting no hint of recognition from my daughter, so she tried to simplify: "you know--like, GOD!!" she yelled.
"God?" my daughter asked. She was drawing a total blank.

Keep in mind that I was hearing all of this from another room. About this time I thought that I needed to go in and help out, because my kid was floundering in this discussion.

Finally, the friend asked her (rather accusingly, I'll have to admit) "don't you go to Church?"

"No," my daughter replied. "I go to Smith."

Smith is the name of her school.

The point is that I suddenly realized that we'd failed her. Not because she doesn't "know" God in the way that her friend does, but that she had no clue at all about these concepts. She didn't even know what "church" was. A real failing on our part.

I don't know that we'll ever go to church, but clearly we have a lot of work to do.

Helen

We're in a similar situation. My husband and I are decidedly non-religious but now that our twins are 5, we've been talking about what the best way is to introduce them to religion. We've spoken to some churches in the area and were surprised to find that aside from offering orientation meetings for adults, some of them offer them to children as well. I'm not sure how we feel about this (can kids at that age really make their own decision? Doubtful.) Anyway, we're keeping an open mind. At the very least, it should be interesting.

Papa Bradstein

Mama and I have been wrestling with the same issues recently. As much as we'd love to give 3B some choices for spirituality and support, it's been easier for us to get to Dunkin' Donuts than church/synagogue/temple on a weekend morning. However, we are actively looking into it, which forces us to examine our own beliefs, which I've also been writing about a bit as a result of almost throwing my back out. No better time to reach for God than when you can't reach your own feet, right? Spirituality isn't something that we want to rush into, however, and it's not something that I want to just toss off a few snarky lines about, so it's taking some time for us to make a decision about where to go and for me to put down my thoughts. One item of faith for me right now is that Mama's a good enough person for all three of us (Barky's on his own), so we're OK for a little while, but I'd like to get a little churchin' up so I can help her out. I'm sure that I'll be writing more about this soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing where you end up.

sun

I am a Catholic. I've been Catholic my entire life. Religion has always been a part of the family - I mean, my aunt is a nun! I'll tell you how my parents raised my sister, my brother and myself and I think it was a pretty good way to go.

Twenty-five years ago my parents moved us out of Park Slope and to Staten Island. The reason why we left is because my dad did not want to send us to Catholic school and the public school in the neighborhood was shite - my, my, how times have changed.

We went to church every week as a family. But I don't think we started to go regularly until I was five or six. Growing up we went to the Korean church but I know my parents weren't thrilled to go but our friends were there. As we got older we started going to an American Catholic church. I have to say I'm really glad my parents took us to English masses. It helped me to distinguish going to church for fun (to see my friends) and going to church to participate in a community. To this day I find large crowds of Koreans particularly daunting - it's something about the elitism in the air.

Growing up we prayed together every night as a family - it took less than 15 minutes and gave us a chance to practice reading the Korean bible aloud. Seriously, that is a really good way to practice. In the last five years or so our evening prayers have stopped but I think it's because we've gotten older and we're not all at home. Still, we always go to Sunday mass as a family.

When I got to college, I came to the realization that I could go to church if I wanted to. For the first time, it was a true choice. To this day, I go to church every week no matter where I am. (Which is another nice thing about being Catholic - the mass is the same wherever you are in the world so you can always follow along.) On the other hand, I know that my brother doesn't go to mass every week - he made his choice. Then again, when he comes home he always goes to mass with us. Most practicing Catholics I know are not evangelical in nature. For me, my faith is my own but if you ask me about it I'll answer your questions.

I like being Catholic - I'm as liberal as they come and I can still reconcile my faith with my own principles. I like going to church every week - I find that it centers me and gives me an anchor to the week. For a time in college I used to go to church in the middle of the week - not for mass... just to sit and think. And in the summers, churches are always nice and cool, especially in the city. In the end, church politics and doctrines kind of fade in the background for me.

The best decision my parents ever made for me was NOT to send me to Catholic school. My Irish friends who went to Catholic school their whole life are mostly agnostic or atheist. Having religion shoved down your throat is not a way to find God - with me, religion was always in the background and I think that helped me to find God in my own time.

Sorry for the long post. I was only going to write a couple of sentence but I kept typing. Anyway, I hope this helps in some way.

twizzle

Excellent post, MD.

Unlike you, I'm going to hell (because I was not baptized). I was brought up with no religion -- my parents are agnostics -- until I was about 11 when my dad (divorced) discovered some proto new age bullshit philosophy called, "Theosophy." I was forced to become vegetarian, live in a commune, and go to Sunday school every week to learn about Krishna, Buddha, and Gandhi. I rebelled terribly, eating at McDonalds after school and swearing like a sailor. This cult situation was relatively shortlived, though, as the leader of the group was found to be a crock and many people were hurt, swindled, and disillusioned after the whole thing blew up. That was the seventies and early eighties.

Now, I'm attracted to Buddhishm, but am too lazy to get my ass to a temple. My husband is an atheist and hates organized religion. Now that I have a 2 yr old daughter, I think about these things: I want her to be exposed to some sort of moral code, be it Jesus, Buddha, or L. Ron Hubbard!

I will continue to ponder this issue, but will probbly not do anything about it for many years, if ever. But you're right -- the kid definitely is an impetus for getting off one's pathetic irreligious ass and pursuing some sort of life philosophy.

Love yer blog!

Twiz

Gregory

This is a great idea, MD. As a parent, I'm finding it fascinating to read about other people's religious experiences. Looking forward to reading more of them.

William

I went through the same soul searching before my son was born. I went to three or four different types of churches and was still unsure( I was raised Catholic). After we moved away from family and friends my son was 2. We tried some more churches. I just couldn't find the right one. I was looking for a church to speak to me.

Then one day I was having a conversation with my dad about it and he said something (I can't remember exactly what) but it made me think and realize, I don't need a church to speak to me but I need a church that I could speak to. A place to go to be closer to God. It did not make a difference which one.

Part of the experience was realizing that Organized religion is done by man, but the words of the bible, especially the words of Jesus are what is important. Take away the pomp and circumstances of holidays and of traditions and even the "religious" part of JC being the son of God and what he said and did is still amazing.

We as a society will quote great orators and thinkers and philosophers all the time. JFK, Ghandi, MLK, Tom Jefferson etc...but we are always afraid to quote Jesus because of the religous aspect of his life. But if you think about what he said about living life and how to treat others, it is amazing.

That is what I think you should go for when teaching Peanut.

MammaLoves

I grapple with the same issues/approach to religion.

I want to start taking my boys, but I feel so hypocritical for sitting there myself. And then there's the whole thing about answering their questions. How can I tell them God created the world if I'm not so sure myself? I just think they might be too young to understand the concept of allegories. But who knows...they can beat my ass in PS2 games.

navi

I had a pagan friend who was a strong advocate of raising my children Catholic (she was raised Catholic and her mother is a beautiful example of religion done right). Of course I don't have the patience, and I have a lot of misconceptions thanks to having a Protestant mother who attempted to raise me Catholic (because my father was 'technically' Catholic).

I tend to be nondemoninational and don't generally attend church, but when I do, it's at the University United Methodist church in our area. I like them, well because they follow their motto, which is something like open hearts open minds, etc (can't remember it now). They also seem to practice religion by doing, rather than preaching. I'm guessing they don't kick 'wild' children out of Sunday school, either, as my daughter has never been kicked out...

I've raised my kids with general Christian beliefs, but I explain they should respect the beliefs of others, because we don't fully understand God and what is the right way for us, isn't necessarily the right way for everyone, and a person's beliefs are between that person and God.

I'm glad I hold that belief, especially when I got asked a sticky question about whether my eldest daughter's Hindu best friend would go to heaven.

Mike B

We have a slightly different problem in our household. Both my wife and I are atheists but our children go to a Methodist pre-school. It used to drive me crazy when my son would list all of the things Jesus made (trees, fish, dogs, babies, etc). Since I don't think it is healthy (or useful) to tell a three year old that his teachers are wrong and trees were made through differential survival of replicating entities, I stay silent and move on.

Essentially, I treat religion like I treat anything that can not be proven scientifically like magic, Santa Claus, and talking trains. In our household religion is something that that it is OK for a child to believe in but it is our job as parents to guide our sons away from.

egnb

Real interesting discussion here. As someone who was raised Buddhist, I had no idea what God or church meant. I didn't even know Buddhism was a religion, actually. It just meant that my grandmother kept a table with incense and we bowed to it on special occasions.

But I distinctly remember a conversation in the first grade, where my friend asked me, "What religion are you?" And I had no answer. She prodded me, "Do you believe in God?" I responded, "I believe in temple." (Because we drove to a Buddhist temple in upstate New York several times a year -- there were no Buddhist places of worship in Queens in the 1970s.) Later on in grade school, I wanted to fit in so badly that my sister and I tried praying before bedtime, because we'd read about it and seen it on TV. But we really didn't know what we were supposed to be saying to God.

Nowadays, I don't hold any place in my life for religion, and generally consider myself an atheist, or maybe closer to simply agnostic (depending on how self-righteous/civil libertarian I'm feeling). My husband wasn't brought up with any religion either -- his dad was a lapsed Catholic, and his mom an unobservant Jew. It still makes me mildly uncomfortable when I meet other people who are very religious or observant, because it remains rather foreign to me. Being in the military now though, I know to bow my head out of respect when the chaplain gives invocations and benedictions at ceremonies -- but that's about the extent of it.

So we don't anticipate a role for religion in our daughter's life either, though I'm a little anxious about the likelihood that she'll have an experience like mine, but then again, I don't think I've been scarred by my lack of exposure to organized Western religion.

bluepaolo

Been there recently. We are lapsed catholics in a filipino/mexican marriage who couldn't take the teachings of the catholic hierarchy anymore but wanted some sort of spiritual basis and education for our three year old. Did several visits to various churches etc. but if I had to do it again, I would honestly start off with the belief-o-matic at beliefnet.com and start from there to narrow your search. Didn't use it in the beginning but it validated our eventual choice.

Wendy Boucher

I'm an atheist and my Hubby is agnostic. We've both studied religion in various ways and we've shared (as even-handedly as possible) the beliefs of different religions with Girlie. She knows that great minds can differ and isn't judgemental about anybody's religion. So far she has made up her own religion involving the 100 Acre Wood but she may have outgrown that one. I'll have to check back.

Aaron

My Rabbi once said that his parents introduced him to just enough Judaism so that he would reject it.

OTR sister

My parents strongly believed in a combination of faith in Jesus and social justice. They ran a non-profit in an inner-city ghetto of Cincinnati. We were raised in that same neighborhood because they believed that to really impact a community you need to be a part of it.

Because of their active and visible faith I was unable to accuse them of hypocricy. A beautiful gift to one's children.

But now with my daughter I'm afraid I haven't passed along that gift. While my faith is a central part of who I am I don't think it is visible in the same way to my child. My life is more arranged for my comfort than one centered around love and service.

Lackadaisi

Contemplating similar issues, I believe that I have decided that I will become Unitarian once my child is born.

Janet M.

Interesting topic, MD. My husband is Jewish, I'm Methodist. Since Judaism can only be conferred on a child if the mother is Jewish, it's a given that our kids won't be going to temple. On the other hand, my husband isn't thrilled about sending our kids to church. I'm not sure I blame him. Also, I'm not sure where this leaves us with regard to the kids. We've been thinking about Unitarian Universalists but as usual we haven't really done anything about it (except surf research on them over the internet.)

Guess the whole family's going to hell.

Sara

We don't have kids yet, but my husband and I have agreed to raise them Catholic, since that's what we know.

Growing up, going to church on Sunday was just what my family did. I attended Catholic school for twelve years and consider my education a very valuable thing. Of course, in high school, after I had been confirmed, I began to question the religion and seek my own faith. I stopped attending mass because it often made me angry (for a number of reasons).

I moved far away from my family in college, and after college, when I settled down into a fairly stable adult life, being apart from my whole family like that was difficult, especially when my grandparents were dying and died. So I started going back to mass to feel connected, and connected in a special way that phone calls and email just didn't accomplish. I felt better after the services, comforted.

At present, we don't attend mass very often. I go every once in awhile, but I imagine that once children come along, the frequency might increase, since the values and structure are important, as is the family connection. We plan to encourage questioning and dialogue, allowing our children to come to their own conclusions and their own ideas of faith, as we did.

I appreciate you raising this question and encouraging honest and friendly discussion. I enjoy these chats, too, especially with those who are able to articulate their personal beliefs without getting on sopboxes or high horses.

So, thanks, and I hope I added something of value to the conversation.

Amy

I am kind of a weido in both secular and religeous camps. I grew up going to church and was baptised and even went to a private Christian college. I was ardent in my faith and condisered myself a firm believer. However, I became jaded by organized religeon and angry at those leading the church. So I took a year off. Now I am finding that the roots of my faith are not in men or the buildings they build. I am finding that the teachings of Jesus truly are radical, heart melding, and amazing if followed. If the actual church would follow the actual Jesus, things would be a lot different in the world. Oh, and a book called Velvet Elvis helped a lot too.

Carrie Jo

My husband and I were both raised catholic but we also both abhorred a lot of the dogmatic crap that they were throwing at us. We tried going back to a church here in San Francisco that was very liberal, and seemed to share our values, but when we went to the services, they spent far more time asking for money and talking about donations than they did about the gospel. So we decided that organized religion just isn't right for us. It causes more sepreation than unity in the long run. We woluld rather be spiritual people who do good deads when we're able. When we have a kid, we'll teach them what we know about religion and they may end up going to a parochial school of some sort, if that's what's best for our child educationally. But it would be very difficult for me to find a church I would be willing to attend for mass.

Angela

Both my husband and I were raised Catholics. His family went to church every Sunday, my family went on Christmas and Easter and I attended Catholic school for grades 6 through 8.

I haven't been excommunicated yet, even though I don't agree with the Church's stance on homosexuality, abortion and women priests. Maybe, I'm taking the smorgasbord view of Catholicism and should not really consider myself a practicing Catholic, but I do believe in the 10 Commandments, that God is merciful and not vengeful and that I have to try and live my life with love, compassion and respect for others.

I want my 2 children to be exposed to religion, they attend Catholic school and when they come home with questions and statements that they have been taught, I always discuss the topics and make sure that they understand that everything is not always black and white. The majority of what they are taught I do believe, they are taught tolerance of other religions and beliefs and that they should live their lives with compassion and respect for others, love and the knowledge that there is a higher power that they can turn to in times of crisis and loss. I know that when our family suffered the devastating loss of our nephew last year, it was God and the Church's teachings that continues to help us deal with our grief. We would have been lost without our faith.

All that being said, I firmly believe there is no one religion or way that is right. Everyone has to find what speaks to them, excuse me for being overly dramatic, but religion or a higher power has to speak to your soul and if you find comfort in organized religion, that's wonderful, if it's in a combination of different philosophies, that's great too, but keep on looking until you find it, I can guarantee it's worth the search.

Bloor West Mama

Both my husband and I were raised Catholic and we married in a Catholic church but only actually attended mass twice a year (Christmas and Easter). Once our daughter was born we started thinking about religion and what faith we wanted her to be raised in. In the end we decided that we wanted to have her baptized in the Catholic church. We went to talk to the priest and we really liked him and once we started going to mass we really liked the congregation as there were many families just like us. This was what really sealed the deal, in the past we have gone to churches were the congregation was over 50.

Now we go to church almost every Sunday (except when it is freaking cold here since we walk to church) and I have to say that it is just great.

I do believe that the priest or pastor as well as the congregation make a big difference. If you don't like either of them you wont enjoy going to church.

Jen

My husband was raised going to church. Even though both of my parents have been baptized, I never was and have only been to church a handful of times. Less then 50 I would say, including weddings. I think that we don't take the kids for several reasons. One being I just wish to piss off my mother-in-law. ANYHOO.....I believe, I really do. Even if I do have ?s. I just don't need the answers right now. Someday I might, but until then, it is nice to know there is somewhere I can go when and if the time arises. I just hate organized religion. However, recently, we had a function to go to that was being held at the local church. My son asked where we were going and I told him church. He asked, "What is church?" I responded, "It is a place where people go to worship God." He asked, "What's God?" Hmmm, how do I begin to explain? Now, I am thinking we should start going to church on occasion so he can get the answser there. I really don't think I could do the guy justice. For me, it seems I am using the "Easy" button. But hey, there is nothing wrong with that!

Leeny

I was raised Catholic (not very strictly) but in my teens I became "saved" and "born-again" through the efforts of my cousin and we attended pentecostal churches. In my first marriage, in my 20's, my husband and I tried various Protestant churches with our little girl (he was raised Protestant but was not a regular church-goer), Presbyterian, Methodist, Southern Baptist, etc. We decided on an Assembly of God through a friend who attended. After I divorced him I distanced myself from all organized religion for years because of the guilt factor.

I later tried going back to church, Catholic as well as Protestant (even researched Wicca and paganism), and although I have an affinity for the Catholic Church (while at the same time not agreeing with certain tenets) I just cannot bring myself to attend any type of service any longer. I know that I'll never find anything with which I agree completely but I've come to the point of turning upside down everything upon which I've always based my faith. I know in my heart I will always believe in a higher intelligence/being/entity or whatever you want to call it/her/him. I think it's good to expose children to your own beliefs while at the same time informing them of other choices out there. I think once they become teens they should be allowed to choose for themselves. Every person on this planet should be able to choose what they are comfortable with and what works for them. One size fits all just doesn't work any longer in this modern age.

Sisco

I love Mike B!

For us, there is the fact of religions and gods to address as a responsible citizen--these have had great influence in shaping the histories, politics, literatures etc of the world--but I don't have to train our daughter up in a particular school of religious thought to do that. Meanwhile, I count among my 4 best friends a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Hindu, with varying degrees of practice; in addition to our regular intellectual exploration of religions, part of our home-training is to talk about and respect and sometimes participate in or witness the practices of our friends.

Anne Glamore

I've written before that I'm the most liberal member of my church, which isn't saying much here in the Bible Belt. But I do go to a church where I seriously think some members believe it is Godly to vote Republican and a sin of you don't.

But church, for us, isn't so much about adhering to EVERY single belief as it is about believing something and having a framework and place for doing so. We go every Sunday that we are in town, and our church has a FANTASTIC children's program, and if you're going to the church for the Peanut, I would think that should be one of your main requirements.

(My sister could probably help with suggestions).

My boys know more about the Bible than I'll ever know, and while none of us are fond of singing hymns, we've all relied a great deal on prayer for the big stuff (my health) and the small stuff (please help me lose this tooth quick so the tooth fairy will come and I can buy a new Hot Wheel.)

I feel sure they'll all question it and drift away, at some point, but for now we feel that our job is to give them a moral linchpin and reinforce it with our actions.

We are NOT always successful!

Nina

Fascinating conversation, MD. It's interesting reading the struggles and decisions that all these parents are facing. My husband and I are childless right now and while we've discussed many issues related to raising a child, not once has the issue of religion come up. Thanks for giving us something to think about.

Kathy

I grew up Methodist too, but I always went to Catholic Mass with my best friend cause it seemed so mystical to me with that holy water, sign of the cross thing going on.
I am actually intrigued with Judaism. I love the sense of community and the emphasis they place on strong family bonds, and they just don’t seem to be uptight and judgmental, at least in my experience. Plus, I’ll take the Klezmer any day over organ music. However, I think I may check out the Unitarian Church, just to see if my family likes it.
I think it’s a great way to meet decent people and to start a family ritual, thus emphasizing the importance of commitment and community involvement.

Kristi

I recently posted about this as well, though wow, you put it so comically eloquent. Our points were the same: Make sure our children are armed with bases that they can make there own decisions from.

creative-type dad

God's name is HOWARD!" Too funny!!

Man, you sound a lot like my here (except for the Korean thing) - it's scary.

This has started bugging me the last year. The wife and I grew up in church going households - her's was a really weird one that I won't discuss. Me- started in a catholic church, then my mom became born-again. Then I ended up going to a congregational (don't ask).
I eventually kind of forget it because of the things I read or percieved. There's some strange people in there, yet again- strange people are everywhere.

Once I became a parent and talked with other parents with older kids who grow up with no sense of anything spiritual. That scared me and the wife.

O.K., we're not religious now but it did give us growing up a sense of morals and some kind of values secular-humanism doesn't have.

Thanks for making my head hurt again. We still haven't figured this out.

nbtd1

I was baptised a Congrgationalist, went to Congragationalist Sunday school through 7th grade and attended Catholic school, 1-12. My spouse was one of those weekend Protestants whose parents sent the kids to Sunday school but never went to church (just like my parents). I have come to despise organized religion for it's divisive tactics. Still, since much of literature, art and music were based on religious concepts I was concerned that my kids wouldn't get it if they weren't exposed. I had this fuzzy ideal that I would try to have them do a yearly rotation through Christian, Jewish and Buddhist Sunday schools. However, when Sunday rolls around I'd rather sleep. So I've taken the low road of reading them bible stories, discussing "WWJD" as opposed to "how Christians really act," and incorporating the religious aspect of Christmas (we have a creche and I tell them the story of Jesus' birth and the immediate aftermath) Haven't gotten around to the Buddhist stories yet; that's next on the agenda.

Danielle

Hey MD. Very interesting post. I'm sorta struggling with the same sort of problem. Hubby has no interest in organized religion, feels that it only encourages intolerance. I grew up Presbyterian and had an okay experience with the church. I was just never moved by it. Now that our boy is a year old I'm starting to wonder what we'll teach him.
My parents taught me that we went to church but that they weren't in lock step with the Presbytery.
I've looked into the Universalist churches around home. They seem to be pretty open and accepting. Bonus is that they post their sermons online!
I sorta feel that I don't have much faith and I don't see that changing but I also see the comfort that others get from their faith. I wish Jeffrey could have that.
Sorry for rambling but very well written post and it's making the mind percolate a bit.

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