First, I’d like to say that I hate the word “atheists” because I feel like it has such a bad connotation, like devil-worshipers or something.
I prefer to refer to myself simply as someone who doesn’t believe in a deity. It doesn’t have to have some big name, does it? If so, fine. Call me an atheist then but just remember that it also doesn’t mean I’m sitting over here worshiping some evil force either.
I wanted to write this because I read a post the other day from someone discussing how they parent as atheists and raise their children as athiests. (I say “they” because it was a wife sharing a husband’s post. )
Since I grew up and still live surrounded by a largely very religious community, I sometimes feel rather alone in this state of no belief. Andy and I are on the same page (I honestly think marriage to someone who isn’t would be hard) but other than that, most of my family and friends are religious. So, it was nice to read a point of view from people who are like us on this. However, we did still differ on one big thing when it came to parenting.
We both believe that teaching your children good morals and how to be kind, caring, empathetic people who make good choices doesn’t require religion. In fact, I will definitely teach my children how to have faith in many things and how important faith is but it won’t be in reference to religion for us.
However, our parenting choices took a turn here from the other couple. You see, both my girls are currently attending religious schools. Why? Two reasons: 1. They are really good schools. 2. I want them to have exposure to religion so they are able to make their own decision about it.
When it comes to #2, the other couple mentioned not raising their children with religion in any way so as to avoid creating a foundation of conflicting beliefs. I can definitely understand that point of view. In fact, I don’t know if what we are choosing is right or will be detrimental later. I just know that I don’t want to tell them they have to believe or they should not believe.
I grew up going to church every Sunday and attending Sunday school. I went to lots of my friend’s churches too as a teen. I had a foundation in religious belief. I even got “saved.” But over time and with experiences and courses in religion in college, I gradually shifted in my belief system. I came to my current state of non-belief on my own.
I want my girls to be able to do the same, in either direction. Right now, they attend chapel at school and are steeped deeply in class prayers and belief in Jesus and God. They sing songs from chapel and even pray at home. We don’t discourage them or even discuss it yet. But when they ask us why we don’t attend church or what we believe in general, we will tell them from our truths. We will let them choose what they want to believe and we will support them no matter what.