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How to Teach Your Child/Children About God and Religion If You're Non - Religious

Updated on April 6, 2012

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 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.

Be supportive.

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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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 6 years ago from Canada

      Great hub.

      My religious upbringing was a mess. My parents didn't share a religion for most of my childhood, so I went to one church 50 weeks a year and to Catholic mass on Easter and Christmas :-s During my teen years, my parents decided to find a religion they could both agree on - it was hell. We bounced from one religion to another. Some years, we didn't celebrate birthdays or secular holidays while we were trying out certain religions. I often felt force-fed dogmas that didn't mesh with my own views, beliefs or truths .... but no one asked what I believed. I was just expected to tow the line with whatever was laid down by the group we were with at the time. While I learned a lot about various religions, it took me a LONG time to undo the mess it made inside of me. I had to work hard to rediscover my personal truths and my own spiritual path.

      One of the things in your article that really jumped out at me as a truth all parents should have up their sleeve: If you don't know the answer, tell your child that. Then, either look it up and get back to them, or better yet - use it as a learning and growing opportunity by looking it up WITH your child. Children have a surprising amount of respect for an adult that can truthfully admit they don't have all the answers :-)

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Why would any thoughtful person not want to value rational thinking a bit more and see religion as part of our irrational past ... maybe as an old tradition but nothing to seriously get confused about?

      Giving equal value to outdated myths and irrational stories on the one hand, and not focusing on the kind of mental development process which provides the foundation to a well grounded critical world view can't be of much help to either children growing up or adults discussing the value of ideas and the structure of thought.

      Sure, we are free to put into our heads what ever comes easy, but what good will it do not knowing the difference between the values one ends up reflecting to others and society as a whole living in dream land?

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      This is great advice. I do not have any children. But my parents are not particularily religious-one is Prodestant background, one is Catholic. I am not a religious person myself. I do consider myself agnostic. Yet I live in the middle of The Bible Belt, which can create problems. I just have to avoid religion as a topic to discuss. Now religious music is another story. I love to sing religious music, especially in a church-gorgeous acoustics. I think being agnostic I tend to be more accepting of people with differing beliefs. There are Christian friends of mine who are quite indignant in their arguing about which denomination of Christianity is correct. Funny. My Mom`s family went to the Baptist church growing up. The reason why they chose that church was that it was the closest Prodestant church to their home.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      These are really great pointers. My mum sure could have used them when I was a kid and surrounded by a lot of very religious peers- I always felt a bit confused and left out when I heard everyone's differing beliefs. Thanks for putting this together!

      Also, congrats! This Hub won the Daily Drawing prize for Day 12 of the HubPages Share and Share a Like contest!