Children and religion

I was chatting to a friend recently about religion and whether children should have a choice in what religion they are raised. If you ask most Indian parents, they will tell you children don’t have a choice. Pretty much every one I knew growing up was raised as a Hindu, celebrating Diwali and Janmashtmi, being vegetarian on certain days of the week to honour a particular God. I was raised that way myself (by my mum). However, I was also exposed to lots of other religions as my dad chose to experiment to find the right fit for himself. Adding on to that, I went to a Bahai boarding school in India where we had no choice but to learn all the Bahai prayers and then I went to a Christian boarding school in Dublin where I had no choice but to attend Chapel every morning. When it comes to religion, I have all my bases covered.

And yet, I choose not to raise S in a religious manner. I know this is a bit of a a controversial topic so if you think you might take offence, read this awesome post instead.

I look around me and I see far too many people who claim to be religious harbouring feelings of hate, jealousy and greed, etc. I witnessed someone place his hand on a picture of his guru and lie through his teeth. I know of someone else who will prostrate on the ground in front of an idol and yet ignore and ostracize friends. I see human beings killing other human beings all in the name of God and it saddens me. I’m sure when religions were founded, there was meaning to them. There was honour and respect. People respected religion. But we changed as a world and we took our religious texts and we twisted them. So really, I don’t have a problem with religion. I take issue with what we’ve made of religion in the 21st century.

Instead, I’d like to raise S to understand about the laws of karma. To know that what comes around, goes around. To be kind and compassionate. To put himself in other people’s shoes. To understand that words hurt and once said, they can’t be taken back. To act in a manner that he can live with. To have a conscience!Β To listen to his gut, his inner voice. To reflect and learn from his mistakes.

We all have moments of weakness, moments of anger, moments of frustration. I want him to be able to handle those moments with grace and dignity. With his head held high.

I want him to have gratitude for all that he has and I want him to have faith. Faith in himself. Faith that whatever circumstances he’s put through, there’s a lesson to be learnt.

Essentially I just want him to…


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39 thoughts on “Children and religion

  1. I agree with everything you are saying in this post.

    I have been thinking along the same lines as Aadya’s personality develops so rapidly and I wonder what role I would like religion to play in her life. In fact I have been drafting a blog on this myself. In my quest I did some research to validate what I had already concluded. Children are born with an innate sense of God or creationism. For instance a child believes that mummy is there for me or this toy is made for him. Children instinctively have faith and believe. And we were like that once. As we grow older the more we ‘learn’ the less we know. So I think if we just leave our kids to their own beliefs, things will be just fine.

    (ps the link you have posted i think is a mistake. Please check.)

    • I totally agree with “the more we learn, the less we know”. The more we learn, the less we connect to our inner beings, our inner voice that knows what’s right and wrong.

      Which link? The cake in the mug?

  2. These basic values you are teaching your child are both noble and admirable and I wish more people would follow your example. Raising a child who is empathetic, compassionate, kind, thoughtful: a nice human being, takes patience and time and these teachings are not that far removed from the teachings of most religions for how we are meant to treat each other. Take care, K-A #candidcuddles

    • I think it’s important to be a good person for yourself more than anyone else. Only when you love and respect yourself can you truly show love and respect to another.

      • Yes that is true. However the definition of love is willing the highest good for someone else. And God is love. So loving others is an attribute of God so keep doing what your doing , God likes it, except the fact that you leave him out

      • Oh I’m not leaving God out. I believe God resides in all of us. So loving ourselves is also loving God. And doing good onto others is serving the God within them.

  3. A brilliant post, I completely agree with you. I wasn’t raised to be a certain religion, my parents always told me I could make up my own mind when I was old enough, and from what I’ve experienced I have also come to the conclusion that to ‘be a nice human’ is the best way to live life. I hope I can bring my son up in the same way #candidcuddles

  4. Love this Natasha. We are not raising our kids with religion but happy to let them decide what they want to believe in. We are both atheists and Gus has already told us he believes in God (he’s 5) and I’m not going to try and influence him until he’s old enough to understand it more fully. I agree that the most important thing is to teach them morality and kindness….to know that what goes around comes around and people should be treated with kindness and respect.

    Laughed at the cake post for the easily offended! I might have to nick that idea! πŸ˜€

    • haha go ahead πŸ™‚ I wasn’t sure what to put there but the cake post seemed appropriate! I think it’s great that even as an atheist, you give your child the choice to believe in something that you don’t x

  5. I could not agree with you more Natasha! My dad is an athiest so whilst I had the input of bits and bobs of Christianity through school and Brownies/Scouts, celebrating Christmas etc, we were essentially completely free of organised religion and I would find it very hard to bring my children up in a different way because I agree so strongly with what you have said here about all of it. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout X

  6. I send my children to a Anglican school so yes they have chapel and religious lessons. As a parent I also attend the chapel services so I can discuss these with them, it is for me more about good values and being a good person than being highly religious. Our reverend is actually female and gay, so I think they learn more acceptance through this too. Morals and values are more important to me than anything. #abitofeverything linked up after you

    • Thanks for popping over. I do think it’s amazing that things are changing, slowly. And that even through a religious medium, your children are learning acceptance of someone who even 10 years ago may not have been accepted. But as you said rightly, morals and values are more important than anything.

  7. I’ve never understood why people think it’s more moral to do the right think because you think you might be punished by a god if you don’t and rewarded if you do (which is inherently selfish) than to do the right thing because you just want to. I wasn’t brought up religious and my boys won’t be. If they choose a religion when they’re old enough to understand then it will be their own decision and won’t be something that’s forced upon them.


  8. What a well thought out post! It’s true what you say – what’s important is that the we are nice human and we bring up our children to be nice human beings. I believe in having a strong moral compass, whether secular or religious, and that should be the foundation on which we raise our children and conduct ourselves in everyday life. Hope to see you again at #abitofeverything

  9. You approached a controversial topic in a gentle & uncontroversial way. I really enjoyed learning what you are teaching S. I think the rules of karma are a great way to live. I also love your reply to a comment above about respecting others. Thanks so much for sharing your quote with #candidcuddles x

  10. Religion is a controversial topic – one I don;t talk about very much on my blog. But you nailed it. I share your sentiments on not raising my kids in a religious manner – something that is hard to explain to my parents. And the law of karma: Yes! I love your post.

  11. This is a brilliant post. I am not religious myself precisely for the reasons you state., religion is the cause of so much hatred and killing in the world today. I have seen it all my life, from the attrocities of the IRA in Ireland and England as a child, to the september 11th killings.
    Teaching you child to be a good person is so much more important than teaching them to be a religious one xx

  12. I love that we are all able to reinforce what we believe in and what we believe is important to our children. We are all aware that life could be short and so I am teaching my children what they need to know in case something happens. And I am happy that I am free to teach them that. If they were ever in a bad situation-a life threatening situation, and they have been, I want them to know they are not alone.

    I respect anyone teaching their children to be kind, empathetic, giving, loving.

  13. Pingback: A Bit Of Everything Linky – Week 5 | The Anxious Dragon

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