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So, last night, my wife and I were discussing our immediate family, and, with both of us being new parents, we were talking about our daughter. I was trying to explain to my wife that I want my daughter to have every possible chance to succeed in life. I want to give her the ability to explore any areas she might be interested in (like science, art, sports, or whatever) and that I wanted to give her the ability to experience many things while she is growing up so that she can feel free to pick whatever she wants to do when she grows up. She was in agreement that we should do that. But then she tells me this: That it is the most important thing for my wife that our daughter grows up with faith. That she wants the most important thing for her to leave our daughter is a relationship with God. She wants to make sure that we take her to church every week and teach her about God and make sure she trusts in god.

 

Frankly, I am not sure how I am going to fight this battle. I have made it clear to my wife that I do not plan to sugar coat anything and I will tell her the truth regarding everything that I am aware of (it is important to note here that I have not yet come out to my wife or anyone else). Things like the answer to why the sky is blue? (Not "because that's the color god made it!") 

 

This is something I am completely unprepared for. Raising a child is a tough task, in and of itself, but now I am facing the challenge of trying to raise my child in the truth, and to avoid indoctrination into the cult and I have to fight several people at once. Discreetly.

 

My daughter is only 16 months old, so I have plenty of time to come up with a plan, but even now, I am finding that this whole jesus crap thing is going to try my patience and my nerves. A couple of weeks ago, my in-laws (who watch our daughter during the week) said that my daughter can say jesus. So my wife and my father in law spent the next 15 minutes trying to get my daughter to say jesus. It drove me crazy. My wife still does it from time to time. My daughter has yet to say it, but I sure hope she doesn't. But this is the crazy crap I am going to have to deal with for the long haul and I will be facing not only my wife's trying to teach her stuff about god, but my in-laws will be filling her head with garbage every day.

 

Is there any hope for me?

 

I am truly ok if my daughter makes a decision to follow god on her own after weighing her options and beliefs, but I want her to make an educated decision. I am thinking this is probably too much to ask and/or expect. I have become comfortable where I am currently at in the whole deconversion process, but this new thing is really starting to bug me.

 

I know there are others that have been where I am now. Can you help me with any thoughts or ideas?

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It's a good thing I don't have kids and would not be in that situation. Indoctrination of children would be a deal breaker for me. Obviously, most other people would compromise on this to keep peace, but I know I couldn't. I wish you well with this dilemma!

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The tricky part is getting your kids out of church.  I found subtle ways to undermine church attendance and now we go mostly on Christmas and Easter.  Teach your kids a wide variety of things when they are small.  Realize as they grow they will reach a point where their worldview changes.  You will know they are there around the time they figure out Santa Clause isn't real.  That is when they toss away their child world view and form another.  At that point they will probably reject religion on their own and you can support them.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

That's the approach that Dan Dennett recommends.

 

Have you tried expanding your wife's horizons at all?  You might plant some seeds by watching documentaries on religious history and science shows with her.  Has she watched Cosmos?  How has she responded to it?

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

I think this is a suitable idea and I would like to do something like this. I am seriously considering getting the children's book "I wonder" which, as I understand it, simply helps the reader understand that its ok to say "I Don't Know". If my child is anything like me, she will definitely question everything, which plays into what I would like to happen. But, she is not old enough yet to have shown any of those things.

However, the fact that I have not come out yet is playing a part in the problem. Reading stories from other religions would definitely raise an eyebrow for my wife. I don't know how she would take it.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

That's the approach that Dan Dennett recommends.

 

Have you tried expanding your wife's horizons at all?  You might plant some seeds by watching documentaries on religious history and science shows with her.  Has she watched Cosmos?  How has she responded to it?

 

I have talked to my wife a little bit. She knows that I am in a state of questioning what I believe. I made the decision to leave christianity almost a year ago, but she doesn't yet know that. She is willing to listen to my reasons for "struggling" in my faith, but the biggest problem is that she doesn't think critically. Its not important to her to look at things with scrutiny and to question things. She just accepts Christian "truths" at face value because, like many who are Christians, its in the bible and it "makes sense to her" and fits her current worldview. She is heavily entrenched in MOPS and being a small group leader and that type of stuff, and she loves doing them, so she has no reason to leave christianity.

 

In the few conversations we have had, she dismisses my questions by saying the all encompassing "you just have to accept it on faith". I don't know if she will ever change. I will definitely keep trying, but I am skeptical she will ever truly listen or change her mind.

But a guy can hope, can't he?

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So, last night, my wife and I were discussing our immediate family, and, with both of us being new parents, we were talking about our daughter. I was trying to explain to my wife that I want my daughter to have every possible chance to succeed in life. I want to give her the ability to explore any areas she might be interested in (like science, art, sports, or whatever) and that I wanted to give her the ability to experience many things while she is growing up so that she can feel free to pick whatever she wants to do when she grows up. She was in agreement that we should do that. But then she tells me this: That it is the most important thing for my wife that our daughter grows up with faith. That she wants the most important thing for her to leave our daughter is a relationship with God. She wants to make sure that we take her to church every week and teach her about God and make sure she trusts in god.

 

Frankly, I am not sure how I am going to fight this battle. I have made it clear to my wife that I do not plan to sugar coat anything and I will tell her the truth regarding everything that I am aware of (it is important to note here that I have not yet come out to my wife or anyone else). Things like the answer to why the sky is blue? (Not "because that's the color god made it!") 

 

This is something I am completely unprepared for. Raising a child is a tough task, in and of itself, but now I am facing the challenge of trying to raise my child in the truth, and to avoid indoctrination into the cult and I have to fight several people at once. Discreetly.

 

My daughter is only 16 months old, so I have plenty of time to come up with a plan, but even now, I am finding that this whole jesus crap thing is going to try my patience and my nerves. A couple of weeks ago, my in-laws (who watch our daughter during the week) said that my daughter can say jesus. So my wife and my father in law spent the next 15 minutes trying to get my daughter to say jesus. It drove me crazy. My wife still does it from time to time. My daughter has yet to say it, but I sure hope she doesn't. But this is the crazy crap I am going to have to deal with for the long haul and I will be facing not only my wife's trying to teach her stuff about god, but my in-laws will be filling her head with garbage every day.

 

Is there any hope for me?

 

I am truly ok if my daughter makes a decision to follow god on her own after weighing her options and beliefs, but I want her to make an educated decision. I am thinking this is probably too much to ask and/or expect. I have become comfortable where I am currently at in the whole deconversion process, but this new thing is really starting to bug me.

 

I know there are others that have been where I am now. Can you help me with any thoughts or ideas?

 

Encourage your child to question all things. Encourage your child to draw her own conclusions. Encourage your child to ask God questions and draw her own conclusions regarding the silence she receives.

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I feel for you and your situation. Mine is similar, except I am the mom. Our son is almost 4 1/2 and our daughter is 11 months. My little guy... man, he is BRILLIANT. I know all moms say that about their kids but he really is. I can't stand the thought of his bright mind being washed out by religious nonsense.

 

Unlike you, I have come out to my husband. It wasn't easy at first, but we are doing all right now. I keep hoping (like you) that he will come to realize that his beliefs are based on made-up stories, but (also like you) I have to accept the distinct possibility that that may never happen. I can only hope that my kids are smart enough to see through it. But then that breaks my husband's heart, which, crap, it's not like I want that, either!! Effing religion.

 

Best wishes to you and yours.

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I don't think it's fair to take little ones to church.  The lessons have strong effects on little brains that don't know how to question.  I started going at two.  Although the crafts were fun, I found most of the lessons to be violent and traumatic.  I grew up in a family where religion was very strict and we were not allowed to question any of it, or complain about it.  If you must take your daughter to church, understand that her brain will be soaking up what she is taught like a little sponge.  She won't be able to ask the questions.  You'll have to do that for her.  When you bring her home say "What did you learn in sunday school today?".  And then talk about it.  If something is immoral, like Abraham trying to sacrifice his son and then sacrificing a ram- make sure you talk about it together and give her another perspective.  I grew up being forced to believe that bloodshed and pain were good things, and that God owned my body and could do anything he wanted with me.  If God wanted to stick a knife in my chest, that was his prerogative.  Likewise if God wanted me to stick a knife in someone's chest, well, who am I to question the mind of the Almighty?  You see how dangerous these teachings can be. 

My young nephew goes to sunday school and theres' nothing I can do about that.  He is not my child.  But what I can offer him are other points of view.  One day I will teach him about Native peoples and how they suffered from the intrusions of Christian missionaries.  My nephew is going to benefit so much from having a Native person's point of view on things and not just a white Anglo Christian perspective. 

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

I think this is a suitable idea and I would like to do something like this. I am seriously considering getting the children's book "I wonder" which, as I understand it, simply helps the reader understand that its ok to say "I Don't Know". If my child is anything like me, she will definitely question everything, which plays into what I would like to happen. But, she is not old enough yet to have shown any of those things.

However, the fact that I have not come out yet is playing a part in the problem. Reading stories from other religions would definitely raise an eyebrow for my wife. I don't know how she would take it.

 

"I Wonder" is one of my son's favorites.  I highly recommend it.

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"I Wonder" is great! Please get it! Also, I believe Richard Dawkins has an app for iPad aimed at kids too, so when your daughter is old enough...

 

I think exposure to as many belief systems as possible is important too, as well as learning to think critically and scientifically. 

 

The fact that you have not come out yet is a huge issue. You are not likely to be able to expose your daughter to other ways of thinking without attracting attention. Also, consider how it might affect your everyone down the road if you stay closeted, but your daughter expresses her disbelief when she is 11 or 12. Will you come out then? How will they react to the fact that you have kept this hidden for so long? Does your wife have a right to know what her husband's basic belief system is, especially if you two decide to have more kids down the line? Is keeping this a secret ultimately healthy or unhealthy for you and for the relationship?

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I'm dealing with the same thing, except my oldest just turned 11, so I need to figure it out ASAP. I actually took her last nite to her first youth group meeting. I am "out" to my husband, but very few other people, so I had to sit through the sermon cringing. My husband is still a believer, though, so for now I'm going along with it.

 

I did have a conversation with my daughter afterwards, though. I told her that if/when she has any questions that she can always ask us, and that it's OKAY if she doesnt' agree with something that she's told at youth group. I said that what you hear at church is just what SOME people think, that there's a lot of people out there who don't agree with it, and that's okay too. I didn't want to say much more than that, because my husband and I have not totally agreed on this issue yet, so I didn't want to be doing something "behind his back". She said that she believes in Jesus, and I told her that that's fine, she can believe whatever she wants, that the important thing is to ask questions and not believe everything you're told. I'm hoping that will insulate her from some of the indoctrination until I can figure out a better game plan.

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"I Wonder" is great! Please get it! Also, I believe Richard Dawkins has an app for iPad aimed at kids too, so when your daughter is old enough...

 

I think exposure to as many belief systems as possible is important too, as well as learning to think critically and scientifically. 

 

The fact that you have not come out yet is a huge issue. You are not likely to be able to expose your daughter to other ways of thinking without attracting attention. Also, consider how it might affect your everyone down the road if you stay closeted, but your daughter expresses her disbelief when she is 11 or 12. Will you come out then? How will they react to the fact that you have kept this hidden for so long? Does your wife have a right to know what her husband's basic belief system is, especially if you two decide to have more kids down the line? Is keeping this a secret ultimately healthy or unhealthy for you and for the relationship?

I plan to come out at some point in the future, but I am waiting for a good time. I think that after a few conversations with my wife regarding my "struggle" she has come to accept that things are not the same and likely will not ever be. There have been a few times that I have been close to revealing the truth and I know that I at least owe her this courtesy. I used to think that she would leave me and just blow up our marriage over it. And she may still. But I think I have seen some things that lead me to believe that she may not. But... and this is a big but... her mother and father are very, very fundy and they have a huge amount of influence on my wife and I cannot fathom that this will go over well with them. My MIL is a very pushy and in your face type person and she will not hesitate to make my life miserable if she feels that its "necessary" to do so. That is the biggest hurdle I believe I will face by coming out. I really want to and I am ready to do so, but I am still holding back due to not knowing how things will go. Maybe I will have to just take the leap and hope it works. That's the scary part. I don't know if I am ready for that just yet.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

Prof,

Is there a specific book you are using to share these multi-religious stories or are you just finding books and reading them? I am curious as to how you are going about this.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

Prof,

Is there a specific book you are using to share these multi-religious stories or are you just finding books and reading them? I am curious as to how you are going about this.

 

Here are a few titles:

 

Buddha At Bedtime

 

Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs

 

I Once was a Monkey

 

Indian Childrens' Favorite Stories

 

The Brick Bible

 

Wisdom Tales From Around The World

 

In The Beginning

 

...

I hope this helps.

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We read D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, books on ancient Egypt, books on the Incans and the Spanish conquest, the story of the Buddha.  Joseph Campbell has some great books on comparative mythology, but they are not very kid-friendly.

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I plan to come out at some point in the future, but I am waiting for a good time. I think that after a few conversations with my wife regarding my "struggle" she has come to accept that things are not the same and likely will not ever be. There have been a few times that I have been close to revealing the truth and I know that I at least owe her this courtesy. I used to think that she would leave me and just blow up our marriage over it. And she may still. But I think I have seen some things that lead me to believe that she may not. But... and this is a big but... her mother and father are very, very fundy and they have a huge amount of influence on my wife and I cannot fathom that this will go over well with them. My MIL is a very pushy and in your face type person and she will not hesitate to make my life miserable if she feels that its "necessary" to do so. That is the biggest hurdle I believe I will face by coming out. I really want to and I am ready to do so, but I am still holding back due to not knowing how things will go. Maybe I will have to just take the leap and hope it works. That's the scary part. I don't know if I am ready for that just yet.

Well, I assume she hasn't told them about your questioning. Maybe she wouldn't tell them, or would at least agree to wait until you have a better idea of how you want to do that.

 

If they do find out and are as pushy as you say, I hope you point out how un-Christlike they are being.

 

Ultimately, some people are just going to have a hard time accepting where you are at, and nothing you do will please them. If they cannot respect your decisions, then their love for you was never really unconditional. But if you live your life trying to make everyone else happy at the cost of your own integrity, you are going to have regrets down the road.

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I plan to come out at some point in the future, but I am waiting for a good time. I think that after a few conversations with my wife regarding my "struggle" she has come to accept that things are not the same and likely will not ever be. There have been a few times that I have been close to revealing the truth and I know that I at least owe her this courtesy. I used to think that she would leave me and just blow up our marriage over it. And she may still. But I think I have seen some things that lead me to believe that she may not. But... and this is a big but... her mother and father are very, very fundy and they have a huge amount of influence on my wife and I cannot fathom that this will go over well with them. My MIL is a very pushy and in your face type person and she will not hesitate to make my life miserable if she feels that its "necessary" to do so. That is the biggest hurdle I believe I will face by coming out. I really want to and I am ready to do so, but I am still holding back due to not knowing how things will go. Maybe I will have to just take the leap and hope it works. That's the scary part. I don't know if I am ready for that just yet.

Well, I assume she hasn't told them about your questioning. Maybe she wouldn't tell them, or would at least agree to wait until you have a better idea of how you want to do that.

 

If they do find out and are as pushy as you say, I hope you point out how un-Christlike they are being.

 

Ultimately, some people are just going to have a hard time accepting where you are at, and nothing you do will please them. If they cannot respect your decisions, then their love for you was never really unconditional. But if you live your life trying to make everyone else happy at the cost of your own integrity, you are going to have regrets down the road.

 

I honestly don't know if she has talked to her mom about it. She and her mom are very close and talk all the time about everything. I am sure my wife has mentioned my "struggle" to some of her friends and has asked for prayer regarding it.

 

I think the biggest thing is that I have been through divorce once and I really don't want to go through it again. And now that I have a kid, the divorce will be even more difficult. I love my daughter to death and I do not want to give her up, but I do not have the money to fight for full custody. My in laws will pony up whatever money needed so my wife could get full custody. So I face that as well. My fear of what will happen is the greatest obstacle I am facing at this point. I am content at this point to accept some loss of integrity and peace for a bit more stability in my family. If a sacrifice needs to be made, I would like to take it. Not my family. If my daughter decides to be a Christian, then so be it. I was one for a long time before I left. I had a lot of good experiences and I am who I am today because of the "relationship" I had with god and his people. So I cant necessarily complain about that. But I will always work to make sure my daughter is a questioner and always tries to look for the truth without accepting things at face value. I have already made that clear to my wife and she accepts that, so I do have that on my side.

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I read my son children's stories from all different religions at bedtime.  As a matter of fact, just last night I was reading a story about the birth of Krishna and how the king had heard that a baby would rise up against him so he ordered the deaths of all infants.  My son immediately saw the similarity with the story of Herod and jesus.  That might be a subtle enough approach that your wife would be willing to compromise.  Later you can slowly up the ante.

Prof,

Is there a specific book you are using to share these multi-religious stories or are you just finding books and reading them? I am curious as to how you are going about this.

 

Here are a few titles:

 

Buddha At Bedtime

 

Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs

 

I Once was a Monkey

 

Indian Childrens' Favorite Stories

 

The Brick Bible

 

Wisdom Tales From Around The World

 

In The Beginning

 

...

I hope this helps.

 

Thanks Prof. I will look into these and see if they might fit into what I am hoping to do.

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Man, I'm in the same boat! My wife knows about my unbelief which is hard all by itself. Now she feels the need to protect our two young boys against their father's atheist poisoning when they get older. Because Christianity is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help her God!!

 

I have no problem with them being taught about Christianity and going to church. I feel the need to compromise to keep the peace because I think it's better for my kids that they don't feel pulled in two different directions. That said, I'll probably make sure they see the contradictions and moral atrocities in the bible so that they will question it. The bible, after all, is a great path to atheism.

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Another piece of advice I would offer is: Don't be afraid of indoctrination.  Children are most likely to do what they see their parents doing rather than what their parents tell them to do.  If your kids see you thinking critically, reading books from different religions, or books written from a skeptical perspective, or having a calm and rational discussion about religion, they are more likely to mimic that behavior.  It may not completely vouchsafe them from indoctrination, but it will help.  It will also open the door for them to ask you questions like, "Why do you not believe in jesus but Mommy does?"  Even the sternest of wive's should not prevent you from answering your child honestly.

 

Lead through example.  Demonstrate to your kids, through your own behavior, the kind of people you would like for them to become.  The best way to instruct your children is to provide a good model for them to follow.

 

My son attended VBS last week because his babysitter was teaching it.  He's been singing a song he learned there about jesus being the lord and savior ever since.  I'm not worried about it because I know that I am instilling critical thinking skills in him; skills I've already seen him employ against my fundie mother and attempts at witnessing by neighborhood kids.  In fact, I had to specifically instruct him not to open his skeptical mouth during his sojourn through VBS because I didn't want him running this babysitter off like he did the last two.

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Wow. Difficult. And since I have no kids I don't really feel qualified to give you any advice. Only a few thoughts.

 

When I was little I spent my days at daycare or foster families and my weekends at my grandparents. When I was three years old my godmother and her family became my foster family for five years until my adoption was complete, means they adopted me. They where christians. And somehow not really fundy style like pentecostal though there was a time when my dad went this direction but nonetheless pretty narrow minded and just weirdly religious. Anyways. My grandparents where not religious at all. What I remember from thinking back is all the love my grandma (actually my grandpa's second wife) gave me. Unfortunately when my adoption was complete they moved to Spain and when I was ten my grandma died. I think if they had been close and my grandma did not die so soon they would have had the greater impact on me then my adopting parents just because their words matched their actions and my parent's did not. Love is always more convincing than religion.

When I left it all behind I was surprised that there where so many people loving others without having to have religion to motivate them. When your daughter sees you loving her even without having faith she might see the emptiness of religion.

 

And I think you don't need to hurry with coming out. Especially with your situation. But sure you should come out sometime. When your wife sees how you live without faith and it is not much different love-wise, she might think about her own faith. And maybe not. I hope for you she does. Despite her parents.

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Another piece of advice I would offer is: Don't be afraid of indoctrination. Children are most likely to do what they see their parents doing rather than what their parents tell them to do. If your kids see you thinking critically, reading books from different religions, or books written from a skeptical perspective, or having a calm and rational discussion about religion, they are more likely to mimic that behavior. It may not completely vouchsafe them from indoctrination, but it will help. It will also open the door for them to ask you questions like, "Why do you not believe in jesus but Mommy does?" Even the sternest of wive's should not prevent you from answering your child honestly.

 

Lead through example. Demonstrate to your kids, through your own behavior, the kind of people you would like for them to become. The best way to instruct your children is to provide a good model for them to follow.

 

My son attended VBS last week because his babysitter was teaching it. He's been singing a song he learned there about jesus being the lord and savior ever since. I'm not worried about it because I know that I am instilling critical thinking skills in him; skills I've already seen him employ against my fundie mother and attempts at witnessing by neighborhood kids. In fact, I had to specifically instruct him not to open his skeptical mouth during his sojourn through VBS because I didn't want him running this babysitter off like he did the last two.

Wow. Thanks for that advice Professor. That helped me too. My wife and I had a great talk the other day about how to raise our kids. We both agreed that we cannot control what they think, ultimately. We will be their primary influences but in the end, we both want them to be equipped to make their own decisions and opinions. That's the ultimate goal of parenting! I don't want to discourage them from going to church and learning about Christianity, mostly because it will keep my wife happy. But I also understand that I cannot shield them from everything I don't like, nor should I. I want to teach them to face life's hard questions and to critically think. My wife agrees with that. Yes! Finally! Common ground! As time goes on, they will see that I think differently and will ask me questions. I want to answer them in a way that makes them think and reason so they can make up their own minds. I always want them ask themselves why they think/believe what they do. I think most believers don't give the "why do I believe" question a thought. While I want to guide and protect my kids, I also must respect the fact that they are individuals and will think for themselves. My wife and I both just want to give them the tools to think well.

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