Monday, September 13, 2010

The post where I offend anyone who is of any religion...

I recently realized something about myself. It's not pretty, and I'm not proud.

It's honest and I am trying to come to terms with it so that I can alter my way of thinking.

I proclaim to be open-minded to anything. Should my children be homosexual or hetero, artists or engineers, wealthy or nomadic; I just want them to be happy. I have always stated that this applied to their religious choices, as well.

"As long as they truly believe it and aren't force fed a religion, I don't care what religion they are. I just want them to be happy. I don't care how they reach their spiritual peace, just that they reach it!"

You know what? That was complete bunk. I am just as prejudiced as the people I pity; the ones who can't accept their children for who they have always been. I'm no better than the parents who turn their backs on their homosexual kids and instead hold onto their religious tomes. Because it's obvious to me that the thought of my children becoming Christian or Jewish or any other religion that has strict Rules makes my heart clutch and palms sweat.

Apparently I'm only open-minded if my kids are open-minded in the SAME WAY as I am.

Pretty pathetic.

But how would I react if one of them came to me and professed a wish to study a religion at a place of worship more in depth? Corinne recently asked to go to our neighbor's church and I had to tell her I thought she was too young to fully digest what they would preach without having the adult mind to process and decide for herself. Turns out, she just wanted the damn goldfish they served after Sunday School and was appeased by buying some at WalMart, but there may come a day when it's not so simple to sway them to wait. And then what? Do I attend with them? Do I become the embarrassing mom in the background raising her hand and asking questions? That's what turned me off to organized religion in the FIRST place! They don't generally like 7 year old girls in Catholic CCD classes who badger the teachers with questions like,

"What about kids in the jungles? Are you telling me God really wouldn't let them into heaven because they didn't have a bible nearby? What about the millions of people who believe in God but in a different way? You're telling me they're all WRONG and we're RIGHT and I just have to have faith?!?"

I was a precocious little brat, eh? The teachers were quite happy when my mom told me to just be quiet and get through the classes. I got my first communion with a fake smile on my face. I received my confirmation AND wedding vows in the same Catholic church without a true belief in any of what was told to me. Just nod and smile and be a good girl and no one will look at you weird.

It has taken me my whole life to be able to stand up to ANYONE (including family and friends who believe in the bible verbatim) who tries to convince me that my way isn't ok with God. I won't argue their belief with them. They're allowed to believe whatever they want and I am honestly of the mindset that whatever lightens your spirit and brings you happiness is good for your soul.

So why can't I allow my kids to be ok with God in a different way than mine?

If I keep the doors of communication open and allow without judgment any and all questions about God and the Universe, then I have to have faith in my kids that they will follow no one or group without first questioning and considering all that it may mean...


Vodka Logic said...

I can't imagine, from what very little I know about you but from what I have read, that if your child came to you about becoming Jewish [for eg.] or saying they were gay you would react much different... all are difficult choices to proclaim.

Just remain open to listen to them and you will be fine.

Great post xx

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I hope not. But the difference is that being a religion is a choice to follow man-made laws and rules.

Being gay is who you are inside.

Can I really release the fear I have that my kids might want to believe in books that I have strong issues with? Could I not only be tolerant of their religious choices but also supportive?

I sure as hell hope so...

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I've come to find more than ever that I do not want my children to have faith in something they are "taught" or that is a tradition. I want them to experience it, and that will happen individually. I was brought up Christian and was a good little girl. But I did not truly *know* God until I had a life changing experience, deep in a very dark place, and I was forever changed,- that is something you can not explain or "learn" unless you go through it in first person.

Also, I have a hard time about churches, because I feel they are misleading many, with the guise that they are doing good. It's very confusing. It's important to me that my children do NOT equate church with God. And it's important to me that they can be curious and inquisitive about other faiths/beliefs/religions but not have anything forced upon them.

I think what you feel is very honest and true for many many parents. Also, I don't know if you already read Her Bad Mother but she's posted some interesting posts on the same subject.


Kami's Khlopchyk said...

You and I, we think alike here... I believe in God, but He is much different than the God of any organized religion.

And if someone tells me that I won't get into heaven if I don't believe, do or say X, Y or Z, I say, huh, your loss then! It's not a sorority for God's (excuse the pun) sake!

Joy said...

That's my biggest issue, as a couple of other commenters have stated - God v. organized religion. I know some amazing people that lead fantastic flocks, and have a church community that is cohesive, supportive and good, but sadly, they are the exception to my experience.

DeBi said...

Hello from Manila!
Your blog brings me to thinking, what if it happens to me? Oh my, I really don't know. I would understand religion as my Hubby and I Had different religions. All I know is that you need to have a personal relationship with God and live according to his will. period.
But with the homo or hetero issue..i really dunno...
by the way, nice blog you have here. Ive been following you for a while now...:)

Shari said...

I think the best you can do is learn about various religions so you can have an educated conversation with your children. We recently changed religions, which started a lot of conversations. We spent a lot of time researching religions and churches before we made our decision. It's amazing how many people don't know anything about any religion except the one in which they were raised.

Manic Mommy said...

Damn it I hate it when I'm more closed minded than I thought I was. HRH is signed up for CCD this year and will receive First Communion.

My name is Christine. I'm a 12-year Catholic school survivor with serious questions about organized religion but not about the existence of God..and probably a hypocrite.

*~(boom)~* said...

I am struggling with the same thing, and Jude is only 10 months old. His dad is not in the picture, but his grandfather on that side is pestering me about having Jude christened Catholic.

My family is not religious in any way, shape or form...and I don't feel that Jude's religion or lack thereof is anyone's choice but his own. But, I so badly want him to understand that simply being a good person is enough, and that mistakes cannot be corrected by praying... that they are corrected by actively correcting them. That his church is the sky and his pew is wherever he is sitting. That he is human...nothing more, nothing less.

But, what if he chooses otherwise? 8-/ I am sure we will all do the right thing when the time comes. And, if we don't? We're only human, right?

Eliza said...

This is further proof that we were meant to be friends (aside from the fact that we live so near each other). Teva is coming up on her first b-day and the family is asking when we will baptize her. Hubby and I were both raised Catholic, but have some serious issues with the church. It's hard to want to take the time to take the baptismal (why does that sound so dismal?) class and then have the baptism when we don't even go to church. It's very conflicting and I feel pressure from family. It wouldn't surprise me if when it's time for my daughter to attend school, that my dad would offer to pay for private Catholic school. I just don't know....yikes!

Anne said...

I'm a Christian and I'm not offended :). I actually love your blog by the way! But back to the point, I don't think you should be afraid of exposing your daughter to church - it would be like exposing her to anything else, and at home you can talk to her about what she may have heard. I understand, though, the hesitation that many people have towards the church - and then they confuse church with God. There are MANY crazy churches out there (christian or not), so you're right to look out, but just don't ignore her search for God, if it ever does happen! It's not a bad thing - an institution full of imperfect people shouldn't keep you away from finding your own spirituality!

Julie said...

It's called unconditional love. I'm a different religion than anyone in my family has ever been and you know what? We still talk and carry on just like always. You'll find that your kids will grow up and do things differently in all aspects of their life and it won't make you love them any less.

You could always do some homeschooling on it to give them some kind of foundation to either follow their curiosities later or follow in your path.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

You are not alone. I think if one of my kids became a devout Christian, I'd be really bothered by it. And, what's weird is that it is only Christian that bothers me: not atheist, not Jewish, not Muslim or really anything else. *(Oh, a cult would also really bother me). Maybe it's b/c I was raised Catholic and in turning my back on the church, I've turned my back on a lot having to do with that faith.

But, you know, my oldest was crying about death they other day, and I thought how much easier it would be to tell her I *know* what happens after she dies and that she should just pray to XYZ to get some great reward after life. Instead I could only tell her that no one knows for sure what happens after we die. But, heck, I wouldn't mind some certainty on that subject either.

WhisperingWriter said...

I get what you mean.

I just allow my kids to make their own choices on religion. I didn't come from a religious family but if they wanted to go to church, I'd certainly bring them.

Leslie said...

I grew up in a church, and am still attending church.

BUT, one where I was / am encouraged to question, and encouraged to not follow blindly.

One where things are not necessarily black & white, there is a whole spectrum of gray.

And I think that if your kids wanted to go to church... you've taught them to ask questions, so the odds are, they wouldn't end up somewhere were they were told "this is how it is," because they simply wouldn't tolerate it... they'd go somewhere that fit in with what you've taught them, and a place that would encourage their questions and seeking.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

See, if they wanted to read or believed in the Bible, that in itself might not bother me. It's the idea of becoming a part of a group which has the mass spiritual growth of its followers in mind. From my own experience, spiritual growth happens within oneself. It happens when I am quiet and peaceful and reflective. If I am in a room with other people, the distractions from without are too great. Different agendas come into play that don't allow me to truly feel spiritual; I'm too concerned with the sermon or the page the song's on or the person beside me who's coughing or.... endless distractions.

Stacia said...

Man, these are tough questions. I find myself asking them right along with you and hoping I can find the right answers (and goldfish) for my own kiddos.

Kim Moldofsky said...

I will say that our rabbi would love to have that discussion with a 7-year-old. I'm not a fan of extremism and blind faith in any religion. It's not always a matter of finding the right religion, because in any larger religion you will find subcategories, but I think finding a faith community who views jive with yours can be positive and powerful thing.

And on the gay/Jewish thing, we've had this discussion in my house. Despots, like Hitler, did not care if a person thought themselves Jewish, he was going by the bloodline and whiles Jews are not a race, we are a people and I have a responsibility to teach my boys about our language, culture, religion, history and food(!). What they take away from that into adulthood is their choice.

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