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How To Explain This To My Child


xandermac
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I have an 11 y/o son that has only been to church a few times but I've always taught him about God and Jesus. Now that I've finally admited to myself that its all been lies and bullshit, what do I tell my son? He really wants to believe in heaven and God. I now feel guilty for ever teaching him. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. At least I haven't forced him to go to church so other people could further brainwash him. I also have 3 other children. My oldest son is the main person that pointed out all the lies I had been fed all my life and how that fear had affected everything up until now. He is 26, I also have a 21 y/o that no longer believes and a 17 y/o daughter that lives with my ex and she teachs Sunday school. I have a feeling that when she goes to college some of her views will change because she is very intelligent. But that leaves me to the11 y/o. How can I go back on all the stuff I taught him without totally confusing him? I'm very new to being an ex- christian and I am still deprogramming. I need all the support I can get.

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Xandermac I hear you. It's not quite the same thing, but I have friend that I "led to Christ" while I was still a believer. Now that I no longer believe I don't really know what to say to her. I even feel a little guilty about ever having exposed her to all that nonsense. I hope that she will eventually outgrow it all.

 

At least your son is only 11. I assume that he still has puberty to go through. I think that you can rest assured that he will do a lot of questioning at that time. Perhaps he will grow out of it of his own accord. You may not have to do anything but wait and watch as he sheds the thing like old skin.

 

In any case, please don't dispair. It's not like you are constantly reinforcing his beliefs. My step father was constantly running the religious stuff down my throat as I was growing up. You won't be doing that.

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You could just be brutally honest and state that you no longer believe that it is real and you were mistaken. Sort of the Band-aid approach I guess.

 

However, since it appears that you don't wish to take that route it seems like it might be a good opportunity to simply expose your son to other belief systems. This doesn't just mean Islam and Judaism and calling it quits but Eastern ones, and some of the ones that are lesser known and even going through sort of revivals (there are some that are in the Celtic religion on this site) and the ancient ones as well and presenting them all as equals to xianity. Sort of water the whole thing down so to speak and let him see the wider view at the same time.

 

If you take the latter approach you can add your new view that you no longer believe that any of them are true (if I read your message right) but he can then have the info to decide on his own instead of just being indoctrinated in the "one true god."

 

mwc

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I'd say just be honest. Tell him you don't believe anymore and why you don't believe anymore.

 

If he's a bright kid, I'm sure he already suspects.

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I have an 11 y/o son that has only been to church a few times but I've always taught him about God and Jesus. Now that I've finally admited to myself that its all been lies and bullshit, what do I tell my son? He really wants to believe in heaven and God. I now feel guilty for ever teaching him. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. At least I haven't forced him to go to church so other people could further brainwash him. I also have 3 other children. My oldest son is the main person that pointed out all the lies I had been fed all my life and how that fear had affected everything up until now. He is 26, I also have a 21 y/o that no longer believes and a 17 y/o daughter that lives with my ex and she teachs Sunday school. I have a feeling that when she goes to college some of her views will change because she is very intelligent. But that leaves me to the11 y/o. How can I go back on all the stuff I taught him without totally confusing him? I'm very new to being an ex- christian and I am still deprogramming. I need all the support I can get.

 

 

Even though I am a recently learned atheist, I am raising my children with religion. As they become of age, they can decide for themselves. Yes, it is hypocritical, but thats what we've decided to do. When I have to attend church functions, I go along but really view it as all bullshit that will no longer control my life.

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Not only are 11 year olds inquisitive, but they can change interests quicker than you can blink an eye.

 

Your problem has a simple solution. Slowly "wean" him off religion while guiding him toward something else of interest. If you happen to have a lot of religious stuff laying around the house that acts as reminders, don't get rid of it all at once. Do it a little at a time so he doesn't think, "Where'd my Jesus go?!?!"

 

You followin' me here? :scratch:

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I'd just be open and honest about your doubts and where you stand. I think the best lesson to teach children is there always room to grow and change and perhaps looking at evidence of things critically can change an opinion drastically. Bringing attention to doubt is healthy and teaches them critical thinking skills which can only benefit them in every aspect of life. IMO

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I have an 11 y/o son that has only been to church a few times but I've always taught him about God and Jesus. Now that I've finally admited to myself that its all been lies and bullshit, what do I tell my son? He really wants to believe in heaven and God. I now feel guilty for ever teaching him. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. At least I haven't forced him to go to church so other people could further brainwash him. I also have 3 other children. My oldest son is the main person that pointed out all the lies I had been fed all my life and how that fear had affected everything up until now. He is 26, I also have a 21 y/o that no longer believes and a 17 y/o daughter that lives with my ex and she teachs Sunday school. I have a feeling that when she goes to college some of her views will change because she is very intelligent. But that leaves me to the11 y/o. How can I go back on all the stuff I taught him without totally confusing him? I'm very new to being an ex- christian and I am still deprogramming. I need all the support I can get.

 

xandermac....

 

My father and mother left Christianity when I was in my early teens - I was 12/13 years old at the time.

 

I've always believed in some sort of God - although I've not always considered myself Christian. For a long time I considered myself Diest.

 

I guess the reason I'm writing you - is to give you the perspective of a young teen who's parent's left Christianity.

 

Firstly - it was not nearly as "traumatic" on us children as my mother thought it was. As adults she told us she hung on as long as she did out of concerns of what it would do to us children. For us - the biggest impact was not having to attend church on Sunday's anymore and we were all quite happy with that. :)

 

Secondly - for many years my father considered himself agnostic/atheist. I was a young teen and my father was quite honest with all six of us children about his own questioning. Our dinner table discussions abounded with his questioning about life in general with Christianity and politics (during the late 60s and early 70s) topping the list. By the time I was 15 years old I was quite familiar with all the reasons not to believe. I was familiar with all the inconsistencies in the Bible, I was familiar with the mythology, with the many different writers, etc...

 

By the time I was 15 years old I was quite familiar with WHY my father and mother left Christianity and WHY my father was unsure that there was a God. I (and my siblings) watched him struggle with all of this.

 

And through all of it - I continued to believe in God - although I didn't consider myself Christian anymore.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say - is just be honest. In the area of spirituality the biggest gifts my parents gave us children was honesty about their own spiritual lives and respect for our spiritual lives. They did not demand that we see things through their eyes and they were honest about their own questioning.

 

Now that we are all adults, some of us consider ourselves Christian - some don't. But we are all respectful of each other and we are all aware of the limitations of any religion.

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I honestly don't see a problem. You've already got TWO older children who have figured it out. You obviously have very intelligent genes running through the family. Take it easy and be honest with your youngest. Between you, the siblings and the hypocritical world giving testimony to the lie, your 11-yr old will figure it out just like everyone else did.

 

Don't Panic!!! :HaHa:

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Guest Donjared

Xandermac, that too is my greatest challenge.

I have friends and family that I'm afraid to tell. But it's my 9 yr old daughter that worries me the most. She loves Jesus, just like I did as a child. I hung a cross up in her room when she was much younger. If I tried to remove it today, she would flip out. She overheard a discussion between me and my wife where I was openly skeptical about Christianity. She approached me and asked if I had stopped believing in Jesus. Then she caught me off-guard with this affirmation of faith,"Because I still love Jesus even if you don't." My daughter is a very gentle little girl. For her to be so assertive with her father was stunning to me, and a bit scary. I assured her that I still do believe in Jesus (yes, I lied) and this seemed to relieve her greatly. I really don't know what to do either. I created this holy little angel. Now I don't know how to undo all my work. My two younger sons are much easier to handle because they never gave a crap about religion, despite my best efforts. But my daughter....

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Xandermac, that too is my greatest challenge.

I have friends and family that I'm afraid to tell. But it's my 9 yr old daughter that worries me the most. She loves Jesus, just like I did as a child. I hung a cross up in her room when she was much younger. If I tried to remove it today, she would flip out. She overheard a discussion between me and my wife where I was openly skeptical about Christianity. She approached me and asked if I had stopped believing in Jesus. Then she caught me off-guard with this affirmation of faith,"Because I still love Jesus even if you don't." My daughter is a very gentle little girl. For her to be so assertive with her father was stunning to me, and a bit scary. I assured her that I still do believe in Jesus (yes, I lied) and this seemed to relieve her greatly. I really don't know what to do either. I created this holy little angel. Now I don't know how to undo all my work. My two younger sons are much easier to handle because they never gave a crap about religion, despite my best efforts. But my daughter....

 

 

Man.... this thread is taking me back decades....

 

Donjared... my father and I had this very same converstation..... Even in all of his doubts he was very respectful of us children and our beliefs.

 

At one point - when we got into the Jesus conversation in more detail - he took the time to explain to me that there are many ways to understand Jesus. He explained to me how Jewish people view Jesus and that Jesus was Jewish. Dad explained how he viewed Jesus in context of this conversation - at that time he explained to me that he thought of Jesus as a Rabbi or teacher.

 

Later in his life Dad would come to believe Jesus was a myth - but that was a few years down the road from this conversation.

 

I was maybe 12/13 at the time and still attending Catholic schools. As things go I had to deal with what I was being taught there and reconcile it with my what I was learning at home. (Some of it is not reconciable and I had to deal with that as well.)

 

When I was a freshman in highschool a priest told me in religion class (in front of the whole class) that my Mom was going to hell because she took us kids out of church. I had to deal with that too ...

 

In all of it my love and respect for my parents never waivered - and because they were honest with me I was able to walk away from the literalism that was all around me.

 

You all love your children, trust their love for you as well. It may not be easy - but they will grow and learn and be better adults for being your child.

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Thanks to all of you for your replies. I have so many questions but I'll try to not hog the board to much. It's just very unpopular to be a non-believer where I live, which is North Alabama, There's a Baptist church every 2 miles here. Around here being Catholic is looked down on, can you imagine how they would look at me if they knew I don't believe at all?

I think I'll just do like ya'll said and tell the truth when the subject comes up. Last year he was invited to Bible school at the Baptist Church thats a block from my house. The lady said he would have to wear long pants and the girls had to wear dresses,no shorts allowed. It was 100 degrees outside! He refused to go and he said and I quote"Mama its so hot even Jesus would wear shorts!" "Thats stupid!" So maybe theres hope.

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Welcome, and feel free to ask questions. Don't know you well enough yet, but you don't seem to be the kind of guy who will just spam for attention and will ask what you need. As for your kid, well, they're pretty resilient, and from growing up, I remember that honesty was the best idea. Good way to develop respect.

 

I'd also like to point out that in Jesus' period in history, pants weren't exactly in vogue in the middle east. Robes and sandals were the things to wear (along with long hair and a beard). I'm surprised that that doesn't ever dawn on the uber christian lawyers.

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I have an 11 y/o son that has only been to church a few times but I've always taught him about God and Jesus. Now that I've finally admited to myself that its all been lies and bullshit, what do I tell my son? He really wants to believe in heaven and God. I now feel guilty for ever teaching him. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. At least I haven't forced him to go to church so other people could further brainwash him. I also have 3 other children. My oldest son is the main person that pointed out all the lies I had been fed all my life and how that fear had affected everything up until now. He is 26, I also have a 21 y/o that no longer believes and a 17 y/o daughter that lives with my ex and she teachs Sunday school. I have a feeling that when she goes to college some of her views will change because she is very intelligent. But that leaves me to the11 y/o. How can I go back on all the stuff I taught him without totally confusing him? I'm very new to being an ex- christian and I am still deprogramming. I need all the support I can get.

 

Hi xandermac, I don't have kids yet, but I can imagine you are going through a dilemma with your youngest. They trusted you to tell them the truth and you told them Jesus was the truth, but now you realize it was a lie. I know that kids forgive their parents for fibbing about Santa Claus for several years to their children. Now, that is done intentionally, and the kids find out Santa is not real, and they are still okay. And since your child was not yet exposed to church or "hell" teaching, most likely, if they realize Jesus is a fairy tale, it will not hurt them mentally or emotionally. And you didn't even intentionally lie about it as a parent would with Santa Claus, you yourself believed in Jesus as much as you were telling them to. So, don't sweat it.

 

I would sit down with them and tell them that people lied to you and you in turn lied to them. Tell them you are sorry for not realizing you were misleading them. Maybe take them to a favorite place they like to eat. Show them that they didn't do anything wrong and neither did you. You made an honest mistake. I'm sure your kid is a forgiving kid as most are. Just don't beat yourself up because of an honest mistake.

 

I always thought that there should be a law passed that forbids children to attend religious rituals or churches until they are the age of 18. That is because we have a voting law for the right reason. We don't let 8 year olds vote because we realize they are not developed enough to critically think until they turn 18. How much more such a requirement should be for the fairy tales of religion. Imagine a child who has no religious influence for 18 years and then is told about their parents' religion. How many of those children will be willing to believe such nonsense after they have the ability to critically think? I would think very few. That is why religion is almost pushed on them after they are born (Baptism or dedication, sunday school, vacation bible school, etc).

 

So, maybe try what I said and see if it works.

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I raised my son as a fundamentalist Christian for his whole life; he's 9 now. A little while before my deconversion, he started expressing concern about his own salvation, worrying that he's not really saved and that he's going to hell. I can't believe I taught such a detestable doctrine to an impressionable child who looked to me for guidance. I figure I've screwed his emotions up enough already, so I'm trying to ease him into the story of my deconversion, telling him a little at a time. I won't lie to him, so I need to tell him why I'm not going to church with him and his mom anymore, and why I don't pray anymore, but I don't need him worrying about my soul and his own, it's way too big a burden for a little kid who should be concentrating on homework, swim lessons and other 9 year old stuff. I know he's worried about me anyway.

 

When I started typing I thought maybe I had an answer for the OP, but I guess my only answer is that I have no idea how to relate your deconversion to your son without confusing him. Sorry...

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I have an 11 y/o son that has only been to church a few times but I've always taught him about God and Jesus. Now that I've finally admited to myself that its all been lies and bullshit, what do I tell my son? He really wants to believe in heaven and God. I now feel guilty for ever teaching him. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. At least I haven't forced him to go to church so other people could further brainwash him. I also have 3 other children. My oldest son is the main person that pointed out all the lies I had been fed all my life and how that fear had affected everything up until now. He is 26, I also have a 21 y/o that no longer believes and a 17 y/o daughter that lives with my ex and she teachs Sunday school. I have a feeling that when she goes to college some of her views will change because she is very intelligent. But that leaves me to the11 y/o. How can I go back on all the stuff I taught him without totally confusing him? I'm very new to being an ex- christian and I am still deprogramming. I need all the support I can get.

 

Do your son's beliefs make him happy? If so- don't take them from him. People don't usually respond well to attacks on their faith- or lack thereof.

 

If he's showing signs of emotional distress due to his current religion, then now might be a good time to (slowly) ease him into questioning. Of course, the decision still needs to be his, and any points he raises about the issue should be responded to with love and patience.

 

At any rate, don't be dishonest with your son. You will know when the time is right to tell him about your deconversion, and the reasons for it. Don't feel pressured to do things all at once. If asked directly about your beliefs, then just be straightforward. I have found from my own life that living a lie doesn't do one much good, ultimately.

 

It'll be okay in the end. Just try to remind yourself of that in all of this, okay sweetheart?

 

Rosa

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Hi,

 

I'm new here myself. I have a 14 year old and a 17 year old. What I do is ask them first what they think. For instance we were riding in the car one day and talking just in general but whatever we were talking about was something that could be paralled to a religious belief so I asked an open ended question. The question I asked was do you think the Bible is a true or do you think it is something that has been handed down through the ages? Surprisingly the answer to that was "Mom how can it be true, they say the earth is flat". That started a discussion of what my belief about the Bible was and how I compare it to the telephone line game, where someone at the beginning of a line tells something to the person next to them and then they relay it and eventually at the end of the line the story is so distorted it is no where near what the original statement was. But I also threw in the history of how the Bible was supposed to have been written and also stated that some religions believed it to be the word of God and to be followed to the end of time. Did I answer his question, not really but I gave him reason to think it through and arrive at his own conclusion.

 

When we did go to church (very rarely) I would ask him what he thought of the sermon, 9 times out of 10 he would state he wasn't sure what the pastor was saying. Which would result in our taking what she (yes a woman minister, which resulted in another conversation about the role of woman as stated in the Bible) said and putting into non religious terms that would apply to anyone whether they believed in God or not.

 

When we talk about religion now I tell him that he needs to use reason to make his determinations. I have told him in the past and will continue to tell him that he needs to determine what his own beliefs are and that just because I believe something doesn't necessarily make it true.

 

In a nutshell my advice, don't tell him your beliefs first, just ask open ended questions and then once you get his answer if it differs from your belief then answer but make sure your answer is one that makes him wonder if his belief is really correct. He'll eventually start to use reason to see through all the mumbo jumbo.

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