Good Parts and Bad Parts
Nonplussedbyreligion’s post on teaching children about all religions - the good parts and the bad parts - really hit home for me. It’s something we do in our house all the time.
My 7 year old can tell you stories about Zeus and Hera, Athena and Hermes. He knows the popular stories from the Bible (the actual stories, not the “for kids” versions). He knows the basics of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. If you showed him a picture of spaghetti and meatballs, he would laugh and tell you that might just be the FSM (then he would be off running to play pirates).
It’s a challenge, though, because the huge majority of his relatives are Christian. And I’m not technically “out” as an atheist (though I’m sure most of my family suspects). Grandma gives him VeggieTales videos and books of kids’ Bible stories. Aunts give him Christmas ornaments with the baby Jesus on them. Grandpa asks if he wants to go to church with him and then to Sunday school.
There is such a fine line between teaching your children the ridiculousness of religion so that they won’t fall into its trappings, but then also instilling the necessity of tact when discussing it with people that hold their faith to be the most important aspect of their life. How do you explain to a child that yes, Grandma DOES believe that 2 of all the animals in the world did voluntarily climb into a boat right before God flooded the entire world. (“But Mom, the story says that FOURTEEN of all the animals, the clean ones, got on the boat… not TWO.”) And yes, that story is absurd and untrue, but don’t tell Grandma that or you’ll hurt her feelings.
It’s a lot to ask of a 7 year old.
And frankly, I wonder if it’s too much to ask of a 7 year old. That’s the bad part of secular parenting… the constant worry that I’m making life harder for my child rather than easier. ~JJ