Religion is one of those touchy subjects that a lot of people don’t want to talk about – I speak from experience! It’s something that people feel passionately about, one way or another. I’ve talked about how much of a private person I am in the past and I’ve always felt uncomfortable with people who “get in your face” about religion and it’s a huge reason I would never bring it up to someone unless:
a. I know them REALLY well (and know their comfort level on the subject)
b. they bring it up first
Jennie and I have never really brought up our religious beliefs on this blog before because our goal is to be as “neutral” as possible for parents and give constructive resources for you to do your own research and come up with your own opinions.
This post is no different and I’ve been itching to write about the subject for a while but have been waiting for the right opportunity. I recently came across another blog of a single (divorced) mom who was pained to have a conversation with her 10 year old daughter who told her she didn’t believe in God. I could tell she was pretty upset about it and she didn’t know what to do or tell her 10 year old. She was asking for advice and she admitted that they hadn’t gone to church and she was more of a spiritual person, while her ex-husband was atheist and very verbal about his lack of beliefs. She had gone on to say that she was going to start taking her daughter to church every Sunday she had her daughter and of course this caused a “you can’t make me” attitude with her daughter.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they are more “spiritual” (i.e. they believe in God) when it comes to their beliefs and I’ve heard people say they want to take their kids to lots of different churches and teach them all kinds of beliefs and ultimately let them choose when they’re older.
Here’s my concern with that approach…kids don’t know right from wrong and that’s OUR job to teach them. What you’re telling them is that your beliefs aren’t important and because they model after you their own faith isn’t important as well. This leaves a pretty wide hole for them to fill in on their own, which is so hard for kids to wrap their heads around. You have the life experience they don’t, that’s why it’s our job to teach them right from wrong.
If you have a particular belief, start teaching them from the day they’re born and be that role model for them. Part of me wonders if our society has gotten so PC friendly that people are actually afraid to tell their kids what they should be believing because when kids ask questions…and they WILL ask questions, they are afraid they might offend someone. I’ve seen this in person time and time again, you want to say the right thing but it can be difficult in the moment to know what that is!
I’m definitely not going to preach to you about what you should believe. Only, if you have those beliefs and a faith that you want your kids to have when they are grown don’t wait. Show them, teach them and talk to them about how your faith and beliefs have affected you, what you’ve learned and give your kids a solid foundation so you’re not finding yourself wondering what to say when your 10 year old tells you they don’t believe in God. It’s okay to say, “I understand Johnny says blah blah blah BUT this is what we believe in our house.” Kids need that guidance from you, they aren’t going to get it elsewhere. Don’t forget, you’re the best teacher they have!
It’s a tough one, especially for me because our church here has fallen to the wayside and is on the verge of closing. We’ve gone to others and it’s been really difficult for me to settle going somewhere else. Luke will never know the kind of thriving church community that I had growing up and that’s pretty sad for me to come to grips with so we will do our best to teach him what we know, have learned and…have a little faith about the rest!
If you have young kids and want to get them involved but don’t know where to start or how to talk to your kids about religion here are a few suggestions for you:
- I love how a girlfriend gets her kids involved through prayer – since they could talk, each night they pray together and it is a great way for kids to talk about their day and what’s going on in their lives.
- Find a church with a great children’s program (make sure you ask what the teachers certifications are)
- Find a church where people know you and will remember your name!
- If you’re not sure what you believe, you may want to start with a “non-denominational” church
- Does charity and local community work motivate you? Find a church that is active in their local community and is committed to strong charity work
- I would also suggest finding a church you like before dragging your kids to 5 different churches – they’ll only be confused and it’s pretty unsettling for them.
- Listen to your kids and talk to them about why they did or didn’t like the church. Have an honest conversation about it with them and tell them what you liked or didn’t like about it.
- Remember…it’s OK to be uncomfortable at church sometimes! Chances are, it’s challenging you to break out of your comfort zone and it’s not always about having fun, it’s about learning new life lessons and challenging yourself!
- The best advice I can give you is to find a church that really matches your fundamental beliefs and get involved! You’ll get out of it what you put into it!
In my quest to find a great church in Cincinnati, I’d love for you to leave a comment telling me what church you go to and why you love it!