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The Battle For The Mind Of My Child


roadrunner
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Long post so bare with me....On multiple occasions my daughter (almost 5 yrs old) has asked where certain things come from.  

 

First instance:

 

Child: "Who made the trees?

Me: "Trees come from seeds, and when the seeds grow into big trees, they drop more seeds, and the big tree dies but the new little trees live on and continue the cycle, just like how people do."

Child: "But who made it?"

Me: "Nobody, they grow on their own as long as they have water and sun"

 

Second instance:

 

Child: "Who made the animals?"

Me: "The animals parents. All animals come from other animals"

Child : "But who makes them grow?"

Me: "They grow on their own. They just do it by themselves."

 

 

Third instance (while watch a special on the solar system)

 

TV mentions something about Copernicus keeping his ideas from the church...

Child: "Is this a church show?"

Me: "No. They are saying the church didn't like science because it wasn't agreeing with what the bible says."

Child: <Spaced out and Confused>

Me Completely butchering the opportunity:  "Some people believe the bible no matter what. And some people look at what the world looks like and then decide which is true". 

Child: <No response, Spaced out, and Confused>

 

Moment: GONE

 

With her I usually have one sentence to get my point across and it better be straight forward bc if its too far beyond what she can absorb at that moment, she disengages and loses interest.  I really dropped the ball on that one. I'm trying to avoid her running and saying "Daddy said there is no god!" or "Daddy said the bible thats not right". I dont want to confuse her but thats what religion does. shes not old enough to realize the discrepancy between science and religion and I dont want to be the one to point it out since she may rat me out. 

 

It is just now setting in THIS MORNING that this is something that is being taught to her. OMG! How did i miss this. God made this God made that is being taught to her and her seeking reinforcement is asking me and me with my head in the clouds didn't even catch it at the time. I always gave scientific answers for her questions but I thought this was solely out of curiosity and now so much about reinforcing anything that she had been taught somewhere else. The very idea of "WHO" when it comes to a question of nature implies that shes been primed by church.

 

 

When I was young we heard "Mother Earth" or "Mother Nature" but for church folks its "God". This is a slippery slope if they want to play this game because the instant she finds out that god isn't necessary for for any of that, the whole thing crumbles and you're left with a spaceless timeless immaterial blah blah.....cue the WLC junkies.

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Third instance (while watch a special on the solar system)

 

TV mentions something about Copernicus keeping his ideas from the church...

Child: "Is this a church show?"

Me: "No. They are saying the church didn't like science because it wasn't agreeing with what the bible says."

Child: <Spaced out and Confused>

Me Completely butchering the opportunity: "Some people believe the bible no matter what. And some people look at what the world looks like and then decide which is true".

Child: <No response, Spaced out, and Confused>

 

Moment: GONE

 

Maybe I'm having one of my slow days, but what else would you have told her?

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Third instance (while watch a special on the solar system)

 

TV mentions something about Copernicus keeping his ideas from the church...

Child: "Is this a church show?"

Me: "No. They are saying the church didn't like science because it wasn't agreeing with what the bible says."

Child: <Spaced out and Confused>

Me Completely butchering the opportunity: "Some people believe the bible no matter what. And some people look at what the world looks like and then decide which is true".

Child: <No response, Spaced out, and Confused>

 

Moment: GONE

Maybe I'm having one of my slow days, but what else would you have told her?

 

Something more digestible for a four year old. Reading it back I probably did say the best thing but realizing what was going on after the fact  I'm reevaluating everything that I said.  Im basing my failure more off the fact that she disconnected and not so much of what I said.  I guess I should expect her to be confused. Welcome to cognitive dissonance. 

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I wouldn't worry about it too much.  Just keep plugging away.  Slow and steady wins the race.  

 

The big deal will be years from now when the kids reach the age where their brain starts questioning things.  It varies from person to person but somewhere at age 8-12 they will throw off the child world view, figure out Santa and the Easter Bunny are pretend and they will also question religion.   That is when you need to be supportive.  You kids might become atheist on their own.  You just have to protect them from Christian hawks who might try to swoop in on the situation.

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You'll have a lot more chances. Sounds like you did ok this time around. If you teach a child to think you've done a good job.

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dude it took my wife and I over a year to get the boy potty trained.   

We STILL have to remind him to wipe and wash his hands, and this is something "routine and simple".  

The fact that she is asking these questions is awesome.  It means she is at least thinking about these things.  It very well could be that she heard your answer was filing it away somewhere in that very active mind to chew on it. 

 

 

My son has a different experience because we have planted seeds with him several times  and watched the plants grow. He even peeled apart a green bean on day at dinner to get the seed out so we could plant it. 

 

So you might want to do more with her like Dr Scott the paleontologist says "Get outside.  Get into nature and make your own discoveries. "
 

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Maybe I'm lucky but I consider my strategy successful, workable and repeatable.

 

My environment is one where:

- My wife clings to her christian heritage, does not want to be seen as a heathen but on the other hand...

- Doesn't go to church, knows little about her religion

- She agrees with me that kids should not be frightened with hell talk

 

The main guiding principal that I consider critical is to respect your child's choices. This is really important because it is the compete opposite of what xtians do. As a non-believer you must be able to respect your child's choice to believe/conclude/think that the tree in your yard was made by god "because any other explanation make no sense." Fundy Xtians are unable to respect their childs non-belief and as such teach their kids not to think for themselves and that thinking is handed down from parents to kids. You on the other hand will teach your kids that it is OK to think for yourself and that it is OK to disagree with dad, mom, the teacher, the preacher and the ass next door that say's "your dad is going to hell because he goes to movies". If your child thinks there is a god, don't argue - respect!

 

You can support this thinking by telling your kids, as I have done, "Don't let anyone else tell you what you believe to be true" and "You have the right to disagree with others" and "Do your own thinking" and "Make up your own mind about things".

 

It helps to point out that some people don't believe that kids should think for themselves and that you respect opinions that you don't agree with and will attempt to bully them into agreeing with them. Then you point out that bulling people into agreeing with them does not make them right and only makes them a bully.

 

I think it also important to talk to your kids about issues and ask your kids, "What do you think about _____?"

 

I think you need to acknowledge other religions and expose your kids to other religions. I believe in educating kids in world religions. My kids go to public school and run into other religions regularly - this is really good.

 

You should not talk about xtians in terms that indicate they are enemies or in derrogotory terms. It is better not to emphasize xtianity over other religions.

 

On that note, I think it is important to frame xtianity as just another religion. Consider that before xtianity, pagans took their religion seriously and so you can use opportunities to point out that before xtianity, people worshiped the sun, many different gods and also that the word god did not necessarily mean what xtians say it means today. Talk about religion and ask your kids how **they** think about religion.

 

Now... in regards to your 5 year old. I think you have realized that you give overly complex answers. Dumb it down and give them more complex answers if your response causes them to ask for more information. This is the exact same as "Mommy has a boo boo" when telling them that mommy has cancer. You don't explain cancer to kids unless they are exceptional and keep asking and you can tell that they actually understand. You don't have to get it right the first time. When they have more questions they will ask more - keep the lines of communicaiton open.

 

Be open about what you believe or don't believe. I tell my kids that I don't believe in god but only when they ask. I know my son doesn't believe but he never asks me and I never push him. One day it may come up for discussion. I do however, insist they respect other people's beliefs and insist that buddists, hindus and xtians all believe in their religion with the same fever that the other one believes. I don't let the lie persist that xtians have the truth and the others don't really believe it in their heart the same way. We can thank muslims for making it crystal clear that they believe in their god equally to xtians.

 

Lastly, focus on the end goal and always be willing to lose a battle to win the war. No battle is worth harming a relationship with your kids or your spouse for a religious point. This too demonstrates higher moral fiber than xtians.

 

Other than that, you need to relax and have casual and frequent conversations with your kids on all kinds of topics.

 

Which brings me to the absolute last item. Nothing about religion specifically. You need to keep a good relationship with your kids. Learn to be a good parent - talk to them respectfully and learn to discipline with respect. If you find that hard - I share your lament. The fact that you come here for advice indicates that you value relationship. This alone will keep them coming to **you** for advice and not the ass next door who says you're going to hell.

 

Chill, be yourself and talk about religion/science openly, think long term. You will be just fine.

 

Mongo

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What Mongo said.

You didn't butcher anything. She's almost five, and that's the avalanche of questions age. Besides, the "who" questions might not be a reflection of her having been indoctrinated. It might just be a logical step: people make cars go, people make toys, people make stuff. (Something) makes trees? (Something) makes things grow? It's a bit tough to explain autonomous processes to some ADULTS, let alone five year olds. Hey, at least she has the curiosity and critical thinking skills to ASK, rather than "have faith" that God made them. She's already headed in the right direction. Asking questions is always healthy. A closed mind is a learned thing.

I'd like to add, too, just have the information available, with no commentary. Kids are smart, and the lessons will stick, even if subliminally. Exposure to information seems to sort of vaccinate people against closed-mindedness. There's lots of books, or songs, or fun things you can do to combat misinformation.

by They Might be Giants is a cute song about the Sun, and why it's important for the Earth and plants and life. Loads of picture books are out there, with a different perspective. Like pretty much anything by Paul Goble. The Magic School Bus books might also be fun.
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We've had plenty of teachable moments like with a muslim kid in class who doesnt celebrate christmas or the little girl who yelled at her that "SANTA IS REAL" . I constantly tell her to "ask questions" and she has already been introduced to non-belief (though not in reference to God). I am carefully not to train up a child but more just making sure that she is given answers to her questions, questions everything, and knows that if something is too good to be true it probably is

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BTW this is a book that I want to read to her so bad http://www.amazon.com/What-Do-You-Believe-Publishing/dp/0756672287/

 but this would put my wife in a frenzy. even though its sterile of any bias and presents cold hard facts, it demotes christianity (that my wife holds so dear and sacred) and puts it alongside several other beliefs which is not what any xian would do. even me when I was a believer.

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Maybe I'm lucky but I consider my strategy successful, workable and repeatable.

 

My environment is one where:

- My wife clings to her christian heritage, does not want to be seen as a heathen but on the other hand...

- Doesn't go to church, knows little about her religion

- She agrees with me that kids should not be frightened with hell talk

 

The main guiding principal that I consider critical is to respect your child's choices. This is really important because it is the compete opposite of what xtians do. As a non-believer you must be able to respect your child's choice to believe/conclude/think that the tree in your yard was made by god "because any other explanation make no sense." Fundy Xtians are unable to respect their childs non-belief and as such teach their kids not to think for themselves and that thinking is handed down from parents to kids. You on the other hand will teach your kids that it is OK to think for yourself and that it is OK to disagree with dad, mom, the teacher, the preacher and the ass next door that say's "your dad is going to hell because he goes to movies". If your child thinks there is a god, don't argue - respect!

 

You can support this thinking by telling your kids, as I have done, "Don't let anyone else tell you what you believe to be true" and "You have the right to disagree with others" and "Do your own thinking" and "Make up your own mind about things".

 

It helps to point out that some people don't believe that kids should think for themselves and that you respect opinions that you don't agree with and will attempt to bully them into agreeing with them. Then you point out that bulling people into agreeing with them does not make them right and only makes them a bully.

 

I think it also important to talk to your kids about issues and ask your kids, "What do you think about _____?"

 

I think you need to acknowledge other religions and expose your kids to other religions. I believe in educating kids in world religions. My kids go to public school and run into other religions regularly - this is really good.

 

You should not talk about xtians in terms that indicate they are enemies or in derrogotory terms. It is better not to emphasize xtianity over other religions.

 

On that note, I think it is important to frame xtianity as just another religion. Consider that before xtianity, pagans took their religion seriously and so you can use opportunities to point out that before xtianity, people worshiped the sun, many different gods and also that the word god did not necessarily mean what xtians say it means today. Talk about religion and ask your kids how **they** think about religion.

 

Now... in regards to your 5 year old. I think you have realized that you give overly complex answers. Dumb it down and give them more complex answers if your response causes them to ask for more information. This is the exact same as "Mommy has a boo boo" when telling them that mommy has cancer. You don't explain cancer to kids unless they are exceptional and keep asking and you can tell that they actually understand. You don't have to get it right the first time. When they have more questions they will ask more - keep the lines of communicaiton open.

 

Be open about what you believe or don't believe. I tell my kids that I don't believe in god but only when they ask. I know my son doesn't believe but he never asks me and I never push him. One day it may come up for discussion. I do however, insist they respect other people's beliefs and insist that buddists, hindus and xtians all believe in their religion with the same fever that the other one believes. I don't let the lie persist that xtians have the truth and the others don't really believe it in their heart the same way. We can thank muslims for making it crystal clear that they believe in their god equally to xtians.

 

Lastly, focus on the end goal and always be willing to lose a battle to win the war. No battle is worth harming a relationship with your kids or your spouse for a religious point. This too demonstrates higher moral fiber than xtians.

 

Other than that, you need to relax and have casual and frequent conversations with your kids on all kinds of topics.

 

Which brings me to the absolute last item. Nothing about religion specifically. You need to keep a good relationship with your kids. Learn to be a good parent - talk to them respectfully and learn to discipline with respect. If you find that hard - I share your lament. The fact that you come here for advice indicates that you value relationship. This alone will keep them coming to **you** for advice and not the ass next door who says you're going to hell.

 

Chill, be yourself and talk about religion/science openly, think long term. You will be just fine.

 

Mongo

  1. I am dealing with this right now, because my 6 yr old really believes in the bible and I just deconverted, she was trying to tell her sister something about the bible and I said she didnt have to, but I dont want to crash her world right now so I am slowly trying to ease her into the idea that its not real and she doesnt have to believe it, also my family reinforced the religion constantly and now that I am no longer speaking to them or have my kids around them I think it will help. but it really sux to think my child believes in this religious garbage and I helped! thankfully my 5 yr old doesnt hold a strong belief and thats good because my mom was already starting in on her telling her she wasnt going into the kingdom and freaking her out.
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  1. I am dealing with this right now, because my 6 yr old really believes in the bible and I just deconverted, she was trying to tell her sister something about the bible and I said she didnt have to, but I dont want to crash her world right now so I am slowly trying to ease her into the idea that its not real and she doesnt have to believe it, also my family reinforced the religion constantly and now that I am no longer speaking to them or have my kids around them I think it will help. but it really sux to think my child believes in this religious garbage and I helped! thankfully my 5 yr old doesnt hold a strong belief and thats good because my mom was already starting in on her telling her she wasnt going into the kingdom and freaking her out.

 

 

As time goes on without Christianity in your life the less of an issue it will be. You may also begin to ease your child into the idea that Grandma is a fine person, means well, but is a little bit eccentric with the Jesus talk. "Just nod and say 'ok, Gramma' whenever she starts up about Jesus" :-)

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