Jump to content

Deconversion With Small Children?


seeking26
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have four kids ages 4,3,2, and 5 months. I just started the process of deconversion a few months ago so I had already told my children about God and a few Bible stories before I came to the point of questioning my faith. We have not attended church in over two years but my parents and husbands parents occasionally bring the older two kids to church with them. My Seven year old brother is very indoctrinated into Christianity and freely tells my kids about the Bible. I have never told my kids about hell, nor was I ever told about hell until I was much older then they are. Even so, I don't know what to tell them now that they believe much of the Bible to be true and they have family who will continue to reinforce that. We have not told our relatives that we are leaning towards atheism. We have no idea how to even begin a conversation of that magnitude. Both my husbands parents and mine would see it as a personal failure if they thought the children they raised had left the faith that they spent their lives trying to pass on to us. I don't think kids should be raised in any religion anymore but I'm not sure of the best way to begin deconverting my own, especially with family involved who will tell them things to confuse them. I wouldn't want to cut off all contact with the grandparents but we may have to. Has anyone else had this happen? How did you handle it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, that certainly is a dilemma. Although I don't have children, I do feel the nausea when I see my great nephew at age six being indocrinated into the mind virus, already wearing corny christian t-shirts! :( I do think your children are at the right age to be greatly influenced by yourself moreso than others. I think if you teach them about other cultures and religions and that not everyone believes the same thing your family does, then I think that they will come to their own conclusions. If given the proper facts I feel they will make the right decision when they are older. Yet I do think you should let your family know of your decision about them indocrinating your children and that you no longer will accept this. Will they scream and cry and try to pray you back into the fold? Probably, yet given time I hope they will realize that their relationship with you and your children are more important than any invisible, magical sky daddy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

, yet given time I hope they will realize that their relationship with you and your children are more important than any invisible, magical sky daddy!

 

I doubt it. They believe that their relationship with God is more important than anything else ever. They take Jesus words "any who has not left father or mother or brethren is not worthy of me," to be very literal. When I was a kid we had almost no contact with my Mom's parents because they were not Christians and associating with them would be too "worldly."

I was homeschooled, and raised in a very conservative background. My family wasn't as hateful as the fundies you see in the news, they tried to take a more loving approach to things they thought were sinful, but they were and are completely to see any truth aside from the Bible. They still believe in 7000 year old earth, and raise my youngest brother to believe the same. They know that my husband and I have not been attending church but have assumed it was due to lack of time to get ready on Sunday mornings with so many small kids to get dressed and fed. How would you break the news? "Mom, I'm sorry but I don't believe in god anymore" ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How would you break the news? "Mom, I'm sorry but I don't believe in god anymore" ?

 

It's truly sad that your family would choose to willingly shun their offspring over their magical deity! I would ultimately hope they will not. Yet I don't think you should have to apologize for your non-belief. If you intelligiently state your reasons and prepare yourself for the emotional outbursts then you will get through this initial shock period. With time their proselytizing will become less and less. You may be surprised that despite your past experiences with your parents shunning others in the past that their grandchildren may have an amazing effect on readjusting their attitudes. Will they still try to instill their religious propaganda to your children when they visit? Probably, yet I think you will be able to counteract this with your common sense reasoning and logic where eventually they will reason for themselves and determine their grandparent's religion is all nonsense. Just like you have. Although with your influence they will come to this realization much earlier in life. They are more than fortunate to have you as a guide.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest awake now

HISTORY. Be sure and teach your children about the history of religion. All religions, any religion. This will give them the skills to think for themselves and just not openly accept things as true simply because they are written in a book and passed on from one generation to the next. Explain what people used to believe about the universe, where thinking took place (the heart, kidneys, etc) and how we've learned that those things were actually incorrect. There is no archealogical evidence to support the "historical" tales in the Bible. Explain that to them. How history leaves behind traces that can be found and investigated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years afterward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with teaching them history, and also science. But most importantly, you should be able to be yourself around your children. They should and will learn from your example. Is your husband on the same page? Make sure he is first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I have just joined here and at the beginning stages of deconversion i guess, just got my toe in the water at the mo, i have 2 little boys age 3.5 and 8mths - i'm still going to church cos the oldest likes sunday school - i'm in a dilemma about what to do so i've been reading your responses with interest - all my family are christian too, very christian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I deconverted long before my kids were born, but...

 

Your oldest kid is 4. Any kid 4 or younger has a lot of time ahead to learn to think or to be indoctrinated, as the case may be.

 

Fostering critical thinking skills in kids, from an early age, does wonders. Take something age appropriate, or, just a bit of a reach for them, that requires reasoning skills and have a discussion: "Why do you suppose this and such?" No need for the topic to have anything to do with magical religious thinking. Let them reason through it. Suggest insights and little explanations of how you might rationally reason something through to help them along. They will learn to apply critical thinking skills to ALL things, religion included.

 

At least that's my two cents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hard with children. But, like the others said, at the very young ages of your children, you are still their primary influence. Love them, enjoy them, teach them history, science, encourage their natural curiosity. You will have to really listen to your own heart about how to handle the relatives. But if you are consistent with your kids about what you believe, they will understand in time that people have different beliefs. How wonderful that you are raising them to be more tolerant! My youngest is 8 and has no interest in religion, although my oldest son (age 22) and my mom want to influence him. However, he just chalks it up to them being very religious and doesn't even flinch. He is very intuitive and intelligent and has learned at a young age to be himself. I wish I had been able to pass that along to my older kids. Be glad yours are young!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am in a similar situation and have found just talking with the kids and encouraging them to think for themselves is a pretty good start, and my wife is still a christian and they still go to sunday school and a christian school. The older kids especially (around age 10). Just teaching them that they already are thinking for themselves in having formed opinions about Santa Claus, elves, etc. not being real, has made a big difference. Then sometimes subtly challenging them to apply the same logic to bible stories.

 

So that is the one thing I teach them very firmly -- that they have to think for themselves. The other thing which goes along with that, and helps temper and guide them in their relationships with christians, is to not stop thinking about something. I teach them it is OK for someone to have a different opinion, it is OK for the kids to have a different opinion than I do, as long as they keep thinking about it. And ditto above about exposing them to other stories.

 

de-conversion.com forum has a couple of threads about kids and deconversion up, you might want to check there too.

 

Good luck, it's an exciting adventure!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more note, it has been harder to talk about these things with my 6 year old, he isn't quite at the reason stage as much and accepts what has been taught at face value. At the same time, conversations turn quickly into silliness, so that's fine with me as far as religion is concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Amazing, seeker26 . . . I was just going to post a thread about this topic this very morning. I have four small children, too (5, 3, almost 2, and 3 months). My oldest is an extremely intense, emotional child. I had hoped she was young enough that much of the Christianity we had indoctrinated into her would just sort of, "fade away" as time went on (it's been about 6 months since we began deconverting). However, we were pretty strong Christians - we read the Bible to our children at night, I read bible stories to them during the day, we prayed often, I was always telling my children about the, "beautiful day that god had made," etc. Then, rather suddenly, we stopped all of that. My oldest began asking questions: "Aren't you going to read the bible to us?" "Aren't we going to pray before we eat?" Trying to keep it as casual as possible, we just began lightly telling her that we didn't need those things. Occasionally she would choose to pray anyway, and we let her, but didn't join her.

 

Apparently those wheels have been spinning, though, and she just hasn't known how to express what she's been thinking/feeling. Last night, out of nowhere, she asked me very sadly (keep in mind, this is in little-kid speak), "Mom, did god die, when I used to pray to him?" It saddened me so much. I could just hear the confusion and hurt in her voice . . . even at her young age, she had already come to rely on god as someone she could call out to in times of sadness or need, and now she's lost that comfort. My explanation was something like: "No Honey, god didn't die; he just isn't real. Your daddy and I used to believe that god was for real, but then we found out that he wasn't. Kind of like Santa, he's just a made-up story." She was still quite upset, and with a sort of so-angry-I'm-about-to-cry tone, she matter-of-factly said, "He's [god's] fake. He was in the wind, and now the wind is gone."

 

It bothers me so badly because I never wanted to lie to my children. I've always been firmly against the idea of teaching children that Santa is real, because I think it causes such unnecessary hurt when they eventually figure out the truth. But instead, I subjected my child to an even deeper hurt, by making her think there was some wonderful, invisible, all-powerful being who loved and took care of her, and then telling her otherwise. :::Sigh:::

 

Seeker26, I know there is hurt associated with telling family about your deconversion (my deconversion story), but in our case it was important for us that (1) we be true to ourselves by not pretending to agree with our families' beliefs, and (2) that our children not find atheism to be, "shameful," which they most likely would have if we were to hide it. We're not confrontational or mean with christian family members, but we want to make it clear that we're not ashamed of the fact that we've shed the farce of christianity. And while I know this is a personal decision, I will not allow my children to attend church with anyone while they are young. Once they're older and can make their own decisions about what to believe, then I won't mind. But they're just too vulnerable to indoctrination at this point. I don't want to cut off contact with their one remaining grandparent, either. So should the issue arise, we'll make it clear that, if she wants to see our kids, she must not attempt to prostelitize them.

 

On a lighter note, we're about to leave this weekend for a trip to visit, among others, my mother-in-law and my SIL/BIL (both of whom are seminary grads,missionary-minded, etc.). MIL's a staunch fundy, and this will be the first time we've seen her in person since we told her about our deconversion (she has yet to mention it in phone conversations). So I'm interested to see what will happen when she prays at the dinner table; my daughter is extremely vocal and LOUD, so I can just envision, when grandmother says, "it's time to pray," dd shouting, "But we don't need to pray - god is FAKE!" :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.