Do children need religion in their lives?
We live in an ever-changing world where technology rules, violence persists, entitlement and narcissism reign, and traditions and respect seem to be old fashioned notions.
Kids are connected within seconds to each other through texting and social networking — but have we lost touch with humanity somewhere along the way?
After the recent U.S. election, the only clear conclusion is that we are an extremely divided people.
So how do we teach our kids about morality, and goodness, and kindness, and acceptance? How do we ‘get back’ to each other with open hearts and open minds? When will we collectively learn that we are all connected? When will we understand that the suffering of our neighbor is own our suffering?
What ever happened to loving thy neighbor as you love thyself?
Is religion the answer?
One mormon mom says, “Regardless of my beliefs, I live this religion because it makes me happy and helps me raise my kids now–in this life, every day–even if there were no heaven.”
Another mom shares her story of being raised non-practicing Jewish, but now teaching her kids about their religious background. “I’m still not religious, but at least I know more about what it means to be Jewish, and my kids do, too. When they move out into the world, they’ll have an identity to either embrace or push against. But at least there won’t be a question mark in the “religion” slot.”
While an atheist dad states, “If my son is going to be in a sexually charged situation when he’s older, I want him to be smart enough to use a condom without fear of eternal damnation.” In addition, he shares, “Teach your kids facts instead of mythology. Science is the foundation of what happens in the world around us, and kids need to learn it.”
Along these lines, children’s educator Bill Nye shared his views on evolution vs. creationism. In a video blog that went viral, the “Science Guy” explains his take on what’s wrong with teaching creationism to our kids.
“And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people like engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”
According to Parenting‘s recent survey of more than 1,000 moms and dads in the U.S., the majority believes religion is the key component in building a strong family unit.
In fact, 69% said religion is essential to establishing moral foundation.
And when asked about the five most desirable character traits for children, the parents said:
- 59% Honesty
- 44% Strong self-esteem
- 42% Kindness
- 41% Good manners
- 31% Strong work ethic
For many parents, they want their children “to believe in something,” and therefore taking their kids to church helps them cultivate these desirable traits.
But for me the above traits, and morality in general, can be taught without religion.
Having been raised Catholic – yes, Catholic school and all – I have grown to vehemently deny the dogma.
A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
For me, there’s too much dogma and not enough God in religions.
Why is still OK to openly discriminate against the homosexual community? Why can’t girls and women strive to be the highest leaders in the church I grew up in? Why is it OK for my church to decide what I can do with my reproductive health and my body? Why is ‘our’ God better than ‘your’ God?
The list of questions/rules goes on…and the dogma kills it for me.
So how do I plan to teach my three kids about morality, then, you ask?
First of all, I believe in god (a.k.a God, goddess, the Creator, whoever) and my kids do too…but not the needy and judgemental one I grew up knowing.
Within my own family-of-five, we treat each other with kindness, honesty, gratitude and respect. We don’t name call, we know that violence is never the answer, we make eye contact when talking to one another, we use manners, and we show gratitude for our blessings. And this is how we treat our fellow (wo)man. We have not used any religious teachings in order to cultivate these desirable traits.
I encourage my kids to tap into their creative power, and I foster their self-esteem every day in hopes they will use their free will for the betterment of society, and to create the life of their dreams.
My kids will know about the truths of science and they will accept everyone for who they are — regardless of beliefs, ethnicity, race, sexual preference, gender, class, appearance, and so on. They will know that we are all connected, and there are more similarities than differences in the human race.
And let me tell you, if any of my children came home with derogatory or prejudice sayings/beliefs about any group of people, there would be “hell” to pay.
For me, limits and rules repel the very essence of spirituality. What works for me might not work for my kids. I’m living proof that being baptized and raised in a certain religion doesn’t always ‘work.’
And if my kids choose to be atheist, I will be OK with that too. It wouldn’t be my choice for them, but again, it’s not my choice.
Have I got it right? Only the good Goddess knows! But I can tell you that my children have morals and I don’t think they’re “missing out on anything.”
Sound off! Do you think it’s important to raise children with religion?