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Kids and church, what to do

I am very pleased with how the church thing worked out for my older kids. I started going to a Lutheran church in time for them to go through the confirmation class, which lasts for a couple of middle-school years (per kid). I wanted them to get the experience of attending regular services, some knowledge of the culture, and expand their range of acquaintances. The music program was a big unplanned plus, especially for my daughter. Now my son is a senior in HS, my older daughter is in college, and we haven't attended for about two years.

It's a big relief to me. I was hoping I could expand my range of acquaintances as well, but I never really fit in. I chaperoned study hall for the confirmation class for three years, then I spent another four years teaching the 9-12 grade sunday school class. I thought volunteering would help me get into the social groove there, but I was pretty uncomfortable with most of the grownups. The kids were fine, great actually. The fact that I don't believe in any god didn't help matters. I kept as neutral as I could, but of course I felt fake most of the time.

So what do I do with my youngest? She is three now. The thought of another long stint of smiling and respectful head-bowing doesn't make me too happy, but I don't want her to miss something important. I looked into the local ethical society, but it's just too out there for me and I can't imagine my husband ever having anything to do with it--he was very cooperative with the Lutheran thing. Unitarians? I don't know. I have some time to figure out something, I guess.

(cross-posting to atheist_parents)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
efbq
Dec. 23rd, 2004 08:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not clear on why you want to do this. Why not wait until she's middle school aged and see what (if anything) she's interested in?
koralleen
Dec. 24th, 2004 02:56 am (UTC)
I am definitely waiting. It's just that the last go-round was good for the kids and bad for me. There must be a less stressful way to accomplish this thing. I'm looking for that way.
efbq
Dec. 24th, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC)
I wanted them to get the experience of attending regular services, some knowledge of the culture, and expand their range of acquaintances.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say 'the culture'. You could certainly find other organizations, which share your own ethical and spiritual views, and which meet regularly. I can't see how making yourself a hypocrit can be good for the kids.
koralleen
Dec. 24th, 2004 02:53 pm (UTC)
I mean the culture of people who believe that stuff--I want my kids to see society as mostly "us" rather than mostly "them". It's like an immersion program. I consider the result of our previous venture very successful.

I don't think it makes me any more the hypocrite than I was in sending them to public schools which don't teach my particular set of values.
efbq
Dec. 24th, 2004 04:14 pm (UTC)
OK, I'm still confused.

'people who believe that stuff' refers to which stuff? Who do you see as the 'us' and 'them' in the sentence above?

Unlike public school, you have a nearly unlimited range of choices as to which church you send your kids to.

I was raised in an athiestic household. My parents never made any effort to 'send' us to church, but were supportive of us when we expressed an interest. My older sister attended a synagogue regularly for about a year. My younger sister and I occasionally visited churches with our friends and neighbors.

To be completely honest, I did feel like I was missing something, but I would have lost all respect for my parents if they had gone out of their way to give me a religious education that they felt was based on a lie.

I'm not sure where you stand religiously, we've never discussed it before, but the fact that you cross posted to 'athiest parents' implies to me that you've decided organized religion is not the answer.
koralleen
Dec. 24th, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC)
I will try to explain/answer in order.

Which stuff? Higher power, prayer, documents originated by beings not human. Community of faith.

Us and Them. I would like for my kids to feel themselves a part of their community. An occasional visit is good, being with friends and neighbors is even better. Regular attendance for my family was a way to insure some of these interactions. I think religion in itself is quite powerful and worthy of caution. But I would hate for my kids to fear or reject individuals on the basis of their professed religion.

Choice of churches. I don't want to send my kids to a church. I want them to experience what religion is, see if there are good parts they want to use for themselves, and accept that it is a way of being for many people. It's something you have to discover and shape over time. It's not like sending a kid to ice-skating lessons: have fun, I'll pick you up at 7:30. It's a subtle combination of personal beliefs and social responses. I prefer to be an intimate part of the development process. Having a regular church is helpful to me in providing that framework. It is uncomfortable, though.

Our parents. Sounds like it worked out great for your family, which is always nice to hear. Read about. Know. Everyone should be so fortunate!

Where I stand religiously is sorta atheistic, but it's more accurate to just say that I don't get it. I don't see any reason why we should not be as good as possible to one another. It does seem as though a lot of people need some kind of religion, though, organized or not. Some spiritual framework.
efbq
Dec. 24th, 2004 06:07 pm (UTC)
OK. I think I see now.

I think it's important that what you share with your kids is what YOU believe in. If you're uncomfortable with it, then that's going to come through. Likewise, if you're uncomfortable with the community you provide for your kids, THAT's going to come through too. Stay away from anything which sets your teeth on edge.

Unitarianism might be a good fit for you, and it would probably be a good starting point for the little one.

scooterbird have tried 'home-bible schooling' the kids, and the MCC church. (He's Christian, I'm not.) We've found it a lovely community, but the congregation near us is not set up for kids.
mommyrex
Dec. 25th, 2004 02:59 am (UTC)
Wow. Trying to give them religion without giving them a religion. I can't do it. I can't even being to try to think about doing it. I can see why it wore you down. I'm going with the "raising my kids in an atheistic household" plan. I hope my kids'll see things as efbq has. If I were trying your plan, I think I'd look at the Unitarians.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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