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Advice About Children


heather
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Hello all!

 

My first post here, be gentle...

 

After alot of reading, thinking, and difficult discussions, my husband and I decided we just didn't buy it anymore. We've been in church all our lives and we've been raising our kids in the church, but now we want out. Our girls are 9 and 11, and happy to go to church and see their friends and have doughnuts and whatnot, but my husband and I are more and more irritated every time we step through that door. We haven't had any discussions with them about how our beliefs have changed, but they've seen the books we've been reading. We recently told them that we'd like to take a break from church, but that's as much as I could bring myself to say at the time. I would love to know how others have told their children about their loss of faith and how they reacted. I just really don't want to screw this up, and for some reason I'm desperately afraid that my children thinking their parents are going to hell is going to mess them up for a while. To my shame we've definitely gone to churches that teach that particular doctrine, and I'm not sure how to reassure them that it's not true when they've always been told that it is.

 

Any advice?

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My advise would be honesty.

 

Personally, I have not had to deal with this.

 

 

If ilovemybrain, Foolishgirl, or any of several other find this thread, then they will have better advise becuase they are going through it.

 

Not to offend others, just brain and FG were the first two that came to mind.

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Hi, heather, and welcome to ExC.

 

You have something very important and positive in your favor that many on this site do not have. You and your husband deconverted together so there is a united front between the both of you. If you read posts on this site, you will read of those situations when only one of the parents deconverts and then there is a tug of war with the children, one wanting the children in church and the other not wanting that. Use the great fact that you and your husband agree to the advantage it is. My recommendation for children as old as yours, is for both you and your husband to sit down with them and explain your reasons for your decision. But you may want to spread this over time and a number of conversations. I don't think you should forbid them from going to church outright at their ages because I am sure they have friends there and it is undoubtedly an important part of their social lives. Educate them on the truth and then give them the choice of whether to stay in church or not. To suddenly pull them out without a full explanation could garner resentment from them. You just might be surprised at how they will understand things coming from their mother and father who are 100% united on the issue.

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Keep in mind that when Heathen parents suddenly convert to some Christian denomination, they have no qualms dragging the kids into the new environment. They think it is the right thing to do for their kids, but you are actually doing the right thing. Change can be uncomfortable, even painful, but if change is the right thing to do........

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I think it's important to tell your children how you feel, and what you've decided, and let them decide for themselves. If they still want to go to church, you should let them.

 

I used to be convinced that you should always do "what is right" and make sure everyone knows what is right. But I am slowly becoming more of a believer in letting everyone choose their own journey.

 

So my advice would be to give them all available information, and let them make the decision. Their decision will probably change many times over the course of their life, but they will respect you for what you've done. Which most "Christian" parents do not: Allow them to choose.

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Just getting "lazy" about going to church is a good start. It sends the message that church attendance is not compulsory or important.

 

Taking some family weekends away and / or scheduling some other activities on a Sunday is a good start.

 

When parents teach their kids about sex, the best advice is to answer the questions as they arise. So too, with the religion question perhaps?

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My husband and I recently went through the same thing. We were heavily involved in a Southern Baptist Church. He was a Deacon and Sunday school teacher. I was running the nursery and sang in the choir. We deconverted about 3 months ago. We have 4 children ages 9, 6, 4 and 1. We just sat them down and told them that we were no longer going to go to church. Our oldest Daughter took it the worst. We do fun things on Sunday mornings like going out for breakfast, swimming in our pool, and playing games. They are doing great now.

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Thank you everyone for the advice! Here's an update: We still haven't told them outright that we no longer believe, but we're slowly introducing some of our doubts. We didn't deconvert overnight. We accepted one new idea at a time, and sometimes it took a while to adjust to each new doubt, so we're trying the gentle approach for now. We've pointed out that some of the bible stories aren't really true, historically, and that some are really quite cruel. The golden rule is still good, but many cultures came up with that, so it's not really dependent on the bible, just humanity. We discussed the pastor's last sermon, and how it contained some logical fallacies (our older daughter has been studying this), and that it was at some points intellectually insulting. They've figured out on their own that not everyone who says they're a christian acts the way they should, and I think that's an important step to seeing that morality doesn't depend on religion. Our attendance had already become pretty lazy, so that's covered. :) So, have I missed any points that might be helpful for cultivating skepticism? Knowing how my Christian friends would view that statement, I feel just a little evil even saying it, but I want my kids to think for themselves and stop believing whatever the church tells them like I did for so long.

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We've done some of what chel356 posted, we made Sundays more fun at home by going to the lake, picnic, other family outings and our son got over not going to church quick. We also explained to him what we believed and why we did not go to church anymore but left the choice to go to church or not up to him. He is 18 now and still chooses not to go. He can still go or not. It is difficult to tell him one thing and he hears other kids talk about their churches at school. When they try to get him involved, he just says 'no.'

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A whole lot of christian based dogma can be arguably characterized as a form of child abuse which might eventually result in low self-esteem from belief in original sin, black and white thinking and in-group/out-group thinking which might contribute to depression, and numerous traumas when picturing hell, damnation, being judged and the possibility of separation from loved ones for eternity. Not to mention paranoia from thinking you are being watched all the time. Everybody has different reactions to these kinds of things, but I have seen firsthand christianity-induced psychological devastation in at least 2 members of my family. It took me a long time to diagnose and attempt to get over a host of theologically based psych problems I never realized I had because the whole show was simply "going to church", and it was considered a righteous, moral and good thing to do - and everybody was doing it.

 

If there are lingering doubts in your head, listen to them.

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Thank you everyone for the advice! Here's an update: We still haven't told them outright that we no longer believe, but we're slowly introducing some of our doubts. We didn't deconvert overnight. We accepted one new idea at a time, and sometimes it took a while to adjust to each new doubt, so we're trying the gentle approach for now. We've pointed out that some of the bible stories aren't really true, historically, and that some are really quite cruel. The golden rule is still good, but many cultures came up with that, so it's not really dependent on the bible, just humanity. We discussed the pastor's last sermon, and how it contained some logical fallacies (our older daughter has been studying this), and that it was at some points intellectually insulting. They've figured out on their own that not everyone who says they're a christian acts the way they should, and I think that's an important step to seeing that morality doesn't depend on religion. Our attendance had already become pretty lazy, so that's covered. :) So, have I missed any points that might be helpful for cultivating skepticism? Knowing how my Christian friends would view that statement, I feel just a little evil even saying it, but I want my kids to think for themselves and stop believing whatever the church tells them like I did for so long.

 

I think your method is the best. It doesn't feel like you're dumping a new dogma on them to replace the old, but instead, will encourage them to think independently and also realize that dogma is not a good idea anyway, so they'll be more likely to dump it and not come back.

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Heather--

Sounds like you are definitely headed in the right direction. Read Dale McGowans book, "Raising Freethinkers" to get some great practical ideas and activities for showing them that questioning is satisfactory and much more interesting that being told what to believe.

 

Good luck!

 

Rose

secularfamilynetwork.com

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