A parent teaching their child about religionAs secular parents, you may feel that any religious discussion is a non-issue, as why introduce your kids to something you yourself don’t believe? Good question.

While secularism is on the rise, new parents or soon-to-be parents worry over the what, when and how of holding a religious discussion with their children. This is because most parents, regardless of their beliefs, want the same things for their offspring: to raise them to be happy, kind and tolerant individuals capable of deciding what and what not to believe on their own.

That said, though you may be clear in your end goals for your children, what you may not be clear on is how to achieve those goals. Where do you begin, and how can you be sure to handle things with grace, regardless of what your children ultimately decide?

Though unfamiliar territory, the secular path is far from unchartered. Parents who have gone before you share their tips on how to approach the conversation with compassion and open-mindedness.

Balance Scientific and Religious Teachings

For many people, science and religion are at odds with one another. Science teaches the concepts of the Big Bang and evolution, while religion holds strongly to the seven-day theory. Science says death is final, but the church says that if that’s true, then Christ could not have risen. If Christ did not rise, then the church’s preaching is in vain and so too is religious belief.

Yes, it’s true that the teachings of science and religion do conflict, but does that mean you should present them as opposing forces to your children? Absolutely not. Present the facts and emphasize the value of science and knowledge. However, always balance real-world facts with a religious book, lesson or concept. Doing so will equip your children with the tools they need to come to conclusions on their own.

Expose Your Children to Many Religions

Unfortunately, it’s common for parents to either expose their children to one religion or to forego religion altogether. Neither approach is ideal. Give your children a chance at a real religious education by exposing them to many different religious beliefs, cultural dogmas and historical perspectives. Don’t inject your own opinions but rather remain objective. Cover the basics: What is the religion, how did it come about, what do followers believe, and why is it so important to any particular culture?

To make religious education fun for your children, celebrate major holidays from various world religions. Use the holidays as opportunities to discuss the religion’s history and traditions.

Emphasize That There Exists No Right or Wrong Belief System

When it comes to religion and non-religion, most people will argue that their way is the right way. This is ignorance at its finest. Conviction in one’s belief does not need to translate into rude, snarky or downright disrespectful behavior, and it does not need to result in the criticism of others’ views. It is possible to discuss religion without cutting others down, or even to oppose another religion without generalizing, name-calling or degradation. If you truly want to raise compassionate children, this is one of the most important things you can teach them.

Don’t Take Away Your Children’s Ability To Choose

If you’re going to teach your children that there is no right or wrong way to believe, you need to be willing to let them choose their own religious beliefs as well. Otherwise, your teachings will fall flat.

Teach your children the value of science, provide a well-rounded religious education, instill in them strong morals and ethics, and offer guidance. Once you do all that, let them take it from there and let them know that no matter what, you will love and support them.

At the end of the day, what faith your children choose to follow doesn’t matter. What matters is that they grow up to be kind, compassionate and open-minded individuals.

Category: Religion Spirituality Freedom from Religion

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