APRIL 27, 2011 10:36PM

Teaching My Children About God: Information Versus Indoctrination

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I’ve thought a lot about how to teach my children about God. I have a strong faith. I pray every single day. I talk to God. I listen for God. I long for a closer relationship with God.

But we stopped attending church this summer. When walking the line of monotheism, rainbow flags in our front yard, a desire to spend time with families who are pro-God, a firm conviction in evolution, no willingness to believe in Satan, tears at the chorus “They will know we are Christian by our love, by our love” and a strong desire to stand up and clap along, it’s hard to find a church.

We have non-religious books like Where is God? and more religious books like The Children’s Illustrated Bible, which is VERY illustrated and VERY biblical and a little terrifying.

My husband and I talk about God in our daily conversations, but as a family, we only occasionally pray together.

If we’re homeschooling are kids on God, we’re definitely falling short. And I can joke about it, but I’m not okay with it.

I don’t have a lot of desires for my children. I don’t care if they are doctors or lawyers or run a mall kiosk for Furbies.

I don’t care if they have purple hair and tattoos. Or if they’re a peppy blond cheerleaders. (At least, I’ll eventually get over the cheerleader part.)

What I truly want is for my children to grow into caring adults with extraordinary integrity.

And I want them to find God.

I know that the key to integrity is to explain the choices I make and lead by example. (Man, is THAT tiring.)

But the God part is trickier. I’m cool with my children finding ANY God, Christian or not, as long as s/he is nice. I have some fear over them finding the unfriendly god who smites gay people and Muslims, but maybe the integrity piece will keep them from praying too hard to that guy-in-the-sky.

I don’t even need them to be pro-choice as long as they use that energy to help women, who are pregnant or have small children, instead of mulling around Planned Parenthood yelling at people.

I just desperately want them to have something bigger than themselves to rely on.

Something not human.

Something that can’t let them down.

Because that’s what God is for me. The only permanent in my life. No ulterior motives. No bad moods. God loves me as I am and hopes that I’m willing to grow into the person that He believe I can be — even when I can’t imagine being THAT patience, kind and honest.

I want God for my children even though I have nothing against atheism. I don’t think that not having a God creates a less fulfilling life. I happen to need God in my life, and I don’t know why some people don’t.

I can even concede that my children could possibly be people who don’t need God.

But I can’t let go of the desire to have my children believe.

Which makes me a hypocrite.

And forces me to understand the parents who PUSH stuff. When I read these Facebook statuses and tweets and hear these playground comments about kids being forced to DO STUFF and LOOK GOOD, I think quite smugly: HOW AWFUL…. Psst, let’s pray for them, kids!

OMG! I’m doing it, too!

Maybe I’ve misunderstood the parental pushers all these years. I’ve always thought it was about living vicariously through their children. Making up for an emptiness in the parents’ lives. Showing off to others.

But maybe it’s a desire to have their children do and have better. Because I only want my children’s lives to be more gentle. Easier. And I believe that a relationship with God makes that possible. Because my life is better with God.

But there it is. I’m forcing my experiences on my children because it was best for ME.

Would I disown my children for atheism? No. I wouldn’t even flinch.

But, deep down, I would be afraid for them. I would worry that it was due to a lack of thoughtfulness. Or a belief that they are too smart and too important to need something bigger than themselves.

Friends, who have found atheism after a thoughtful exploration of faith, are fine by me. Friends, who embrace atheism because God and religion is stupid and believed by stupid people, are not okay by me. They seem as sad as those who embrace religious doctrine before their own spirit and understanding of God.

I am going to walk this invisible line. Between guiding and pushing. Between independence and indoctrination.

I won’t pray to get my way with my children. I don’t think God works that way.

But I will pray for my children to find their path.

I will pray for my actions to speak louder than my words.

I will pray for God to teach me acceptance of their choices.

And I will teach what I know and believe while listening carefully to what my children know and believe.

I will pray that we both grow into the people were are so very capable of being. People well beyond my own vision for myself. Or my children.

Because good people are not always God people. And I know my children are good people.

Disclaimer: The books are amazon affiliate links. Which means if you buy something during your click-over from this site, 4-6% goes to me instead of Amazon. But that’s not why I picked those books. God told me to do it. JUST KIDDING. We own and read those books.

Not enough? Read another post:

  1. A Crisis of Religion, Not A Crisis of Faith
  2. God, What If I Can’t Handle It?

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