How to Teach Your Child/Children About God and Religion If You're Non - Religious
Whether you're atheist, agnostic, or just plain not religious, it is inevitable that one day your children will ask you about God and religion. But how do you tell your children about your beliefs, or lack thereof, on God and religion, while still allowing them to come to their own conclusions about what they hold to be true?
Being a non-religious mother of two, I feared the day that my children would ask me about God. Though I am not an atheist or agnostic, I do not identify with any religion in particular. I wanted to be sure that I was not forcing my own beliefs on my children, because when I grew up, I was not given that chance to choose for myself. We were christians, there was no other way! As parents, we will always fear for our chidrens' well-being. That includes their emotional and spiritual growth. There is no way to keep our children from being influenced by the religious beliefs of others. So what do you do when your child comes to you with questions about God?
Don't force the issue.
Don't offer any more information than your child asks for. Your son or daughter may just want a simple answer. You don't want to overwhelm and confuse them. If you don't know the answer to the question, tell them you'll get back to them after you look it up. You may just learn something new! Offer a few different perspectives with every answer. For example, if your child asks of God is male or female, you can tell them what you believe, what the Christians believe, and what Wiccans believe, or any other philosophy you choose.
Teach them a variety of different theories.
Buy a book on world religions and read it with your child. There are many chidren's books that cover the basics of the major world religions. There are also websites for children on world religions, such as www.uri.org/kids/world.htm. Giving your children access to this information will help them make an informed decision, rather than blindly following a religion.
Encourage them to ask questions.
Start a discussion with your child about different theories, ask your child for his or her opinion on various aspects of religious topics. If your child is older, you can debate more controversial topics, such as abortion, homosexuality and corporal punishment. For younger children, I suggest sticking to simple moral topics, such as honesty, jealousy, respect and the Golden Rule, which is a universal concept accepted by most world religions.
Let your child know that no matter what they decide, you will be there for them. Children, especially in their early teen years have enough on their plate as it is, without having to worry about what their parents think about their beliefs.
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