What to do when it comes to kids?

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What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Momma Heathen on Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:48 pm

Those of you out there who have kids, or plan on one day having kids, how do you approach questions concerning religion? You have likely had, or will have, one of your kids come home with questions about things said to them by another child. How did (would) you handle that?

Would you educate your cildren on the many different religions? Or wait until they are old enough to explore on their own?
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  blacklens on Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:02 pm

I don't have kids, but I hope I will have some day. Having been raised in a secular society myself, I have to say 'teach the controversy'. By that I don't mean to be overtly critical/negative, but to be honest and say that this is what some people believe and that is what some other people believe. But above all I think it's extremely important to encourage questions and critical thinking and to answer those questions as truthfully as possible.

In Sweden we have mandatory religion classes in school, where we learn about all important religions and mythologies - greek, roman, viking/norse, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Shamanism etc etc etc. As I remember it viking/norse was the mythology we focused most on (due to it being a great part of our history) and Christianity was the modern religion most focused on (for the same reasons), BUT at no time did any of my teachers ever claim that any of these were true. I think this is a good approach, since it places the different religions in the proper context - mythology - and I would definitely want my future kids to gain that kind of knowledge.
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Momma Heathen on Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:15 pm

blacklens wrote:I don't have kids, but I hope I will have some day. Having been raised in a secular society myself, I have to say 'teach the controversy'. By that I don't mean to be overtly critical/negative, but to be honest and say that this is what some people believe and that is what some other people believe. But above all I think it's extremely important to encourage questions and critical thinking and to answer those questions as truthfully as possible.

In Sweden we have mandatory religion classes in school, where we learn about all important religions and mythologies - greek, roman, viking/norse, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Shamanism etc etc etc. As I remember it viking/norse was the mythology we focused most on (due to it being a great part of our history) and Christianity was the modern religion most focused on (for the same reasons), BUT at no time did any of my teachers ever claim that any of these were true. I think this is a good approach, since it places the different religions in the proper context - mythology - and I would definitely want my future kids to gain that kind of knowledge.

I wanted to quote all of that because I think it's great. And I must say that I am jealous of the society you grew up in. Smile With our kids we answer questions, explain things to the best of our abilities, and we try (though it can be hard) to not make fun of other beliefs. (Especially when hey involve snake handling and/or speaking in tongues. Yeah . . .) I want our kids to be able to think clearly and critically and come to the best conclusion for themselves.

Here there are no 'religion' classes, though those subjects are touched upon in mythology teachings. There is a fairly strict separation of church and state in America (mostly, grr) so any classes with that as a core teaching would likely have to be an elective, or at a school that is allowed to teach such things (x-tian school or private school).

It's tough to raise freethinking kids, but very fulfilling. Smile Laughing
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  blacklens on Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:29 pm

Momma Heathen wrote:With our kids we answer questions, explain things to the best of our abilities, and we try (though it can be hard) to not make fun of other beliefs. (Especially when hey involve snake handling and/or speaking in tongues. Yeah . . .)
I can imagine! I don't think we ever covered snake handling in religion class, though.... But I do recall that we did group assignments on a christian denomination of choice and that we were to interview a representative of that denomination. My group chose the Baptists, and I remember thinking 'Ooooookeeeey, they seem to be a bit on the weird side here...' when she talked about the speaking in tounges bit (swedish word of the day: glossolalia/tongue speaking = tungomålstal)
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids

Post  RachelCK on Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:41 pm

I think blacklens and Momma Heathen are right on target in regard to "teaching the controversy." I'm a single mother with a 14 year old daughter. When she was younger, a playmate invited her to church (that happens frequently where I live). I let her go. When she came home, one of the first things she mentioned hearing was John 3:16. I said yes, it does say that and I got out a Bible and we both looked it up. Then, I got out a book of Mormon, the Koran, and showed her various other religious writings in hard copy and on the computer. I wanted to get across the basic tenets of these religions and show how they contradicted one another. I tied to make it a fun exercise without being too didactic or overbearing. Later on, we visited the services or gatherings of various non-Christian religions. Long story short, she seems to have developed a skeptical attitude. Of course, she's not yet an adult, so I don't know she'll turn out. She told me recently it saddens and kind of shocks her that some of her friends really do fear hell, so much so that it stresses them out. If I can do nothing else, I hope I have freed her of fears like that.

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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  MisterChristopher on Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:44 pm

I don't have kids, and I don't plan on having any for another 8+ years, but I see the issue of religion confront me every so often at my childcare job. I try to sneak in some skepticism, but I'm just in a position where it's not the best place to get into the topic. However, the best thing that I've found the works is whenever the kid makes a statement about god, Jesus or the bible, I just simply ask "how?" or "why do you think that is?" and so on, and it works quite well because I find most of the time their parents don't even have a good answer, to which I reply "it looks like you better try and find out yourself."
I think it works because then they ask me more questions, but I can't answer them fully (just with more, "That's up to you to find out"), because I almost lost my job once because a parent complained because she SUSPECTED I was an atheist trying to brainwash her kid. I'd just rather not risk reliving that
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Brad on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:12 pm

I wish I had kids of my own, but unfortunately I do not.

But based on interviews I've heard of the author, I'll bet THESE BOOKS would help a lot.

Much also depends on where you live and what resources are available, of course.

I'll also throw in my opinion that it's vital for kids to travel a great deal and to see very different cultures if at all possible, as soon as they're old enough to retain memories of significant experiences. A tremendous amount of independent and critical thinking can be created through that means.
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Momma Heathen on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:32 pm

Brad wrote:
I'll also throw in my opinion that it's vital for kids to travel a great deal and to see very different cultures if at all possible, as soon as they're old enough to retain memories of significant experiences. A tremendous amount of independent and critical thinking can be created through that means.

I definitely agree with that. However, I don't have the means to take all four of my kids on trips around the world to view different cultures. In lieu of that, we do watch a LOT of educational programming that focuses on different cultures, religions, traditions, etc. Then I absolutely encourage all of the question asking that they can muster! Smile
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Momma Heathen on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:33 pm

Also, Parenting Beyond Belief is sitting right next to me on the counter. Smile
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  blacklens on Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:13 am

MisterChristopher wrote:I don't have kids, and I don't plan on having any for another 8+ years, but I see the issue of religion confront me every so often at my childcare job. I try to sneak in some skepticism, but I'm just in a position where it's not the best place to get into the topic. However, the best thing that I've found the works is whenever the kid makes a statement about god, Jesus or the bible, I just simply ask "how?" or "why do you think that is?" and so on, and it works quite well because I find most of the time their parents don't even have a good answer, to which I reply "it looks like you better try and find out yourself."

I think not giving any absolute answers is a great approach, and I'd say that that accomplishes (at least) two things: 1) the child learns reasoning and curious investigation, and 2) the child learns not to depend on authority.
I think it works because then they ask me more questions, but I can't answer them fully (just with more, "That's up to you to find out"), because I almost lost my job once because a parent complained because she SUSPECTED I was an atheist trying to brainwash her kid. I'd just rather not risk reliving that
This is abslutely apalling and I can't even begin to fathom what it must be like to work in that kind of environment (let alone live). Well, as I said, I think you have a great approach so hang in there!
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Working from within

Post  blacklens on Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:55 am

I just have to give a little bit of kudos to my 16 year old niece. This spring she got confirmed, and when I asked her if she believed in God she just laughed and said 'No, of course not!'. I asked her why she was doing it and got some standard answer (standard in Sweden that is) that it was mostly for the presents. Anyway. Last week she told me that she was going to be confirmation group assistant this year. I was completely flabbergasted and just looked at her and said incredulously 'Why??' She said it was mostly to have something to do, that she 'of course' didn't believe in anything of it, and then she winked at me and said 'Who knows, maybe I can get a few of them to NOT go through with it.' That's my devious little niece for you. I think she might be taking after her aunt a bit Very Happy
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Re: What to do when it comes to kids?

Post  Momma Heathen on Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:57 am

blacklens wrote:I just have to give a little bit of kudos to my 16 year old niece. This spring she got confirmed, and when I asked her if she believed in God she just laughed and said 'No, of course not!'. I asked her why she was doing it and got some standard answer (standard in Sweden that is) that it was mostly for the presents. Anyway. Last week she told me that she was going to be confirmation group assistant this year. I was completely flabbergasted and just looked at her and said incredulously 'Why??' She said it was mostly to have something to do, that she 'of course' didn't believe in anything of it, and then she winked at me and said 'Who knows, maybe I can get a few of them to NOT go through with it.' That's my devious little niece for you. I think she might be taking after her aunt a bit Very Happy

Best. Story. Ever. cheers
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