What would you do if your child said they did believe. Would you leave them to follow their faith or tell them it was nonsense.

(47 Posts)
Mybabyseyes Mon 22-Oct-12 21:48:21

Just wondering as there are a lot of people on hear that see religion as nonsense. But some people get strength and positivity from whatever they believe in. So my question is if you didn't believe but your children said they did. Would you discourage their faith?

TiAAAAARGHo Wed 24-Oct-12 09:38:31

I'd make sure, as others have said, that my child knows that belief is not the same as fact. I'd also encourage them to ask lots and lots of questions, and would keep an eye on what they were being told (i.e. anything homophobic/racists/etc would be challenged immediately).

MrsArchieTheInventor Wed 24-Oct-12 09:42:04

DS (9) is of an age and sensibility where he can make up his own mind, and he's erring towards the side of agnostic, kinda like Father Christmas; he wants to believe but the evidence, to his mind, just isn't there. I do believe in God and DS and I have interesting theological discussions about what we believe and why, and it's reassuring that he isn't led by my personal beliefs.

There's no right or wrong answer to faith.

I've always found it strange that some atheist parents promote Father Christmas to the level that they seem to - he's always watching you, he judges your behaviour, he gives out rewards and punishments accordingly. A whole set of "theology" has been worked out to explain FCs supernatural abilities, and parents even manufacture evidence to convince their children because they want Christmas to be "magical".

And it's deemed totally fine to tell these untruths to children. But if a parent tells their child anything vaguely similar that they do actually believe, that is considered unacceptable influence.

I never once used religion as a threat/promise to make DS behave. But people use FC for that while telling me I shouldn't raise him to follow a religion... I find it very odd.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 24-Oct-12 10:15:24

>some atheist parents promote Father Christmas to the level that they seem to

do they? Not IME. I told her the story of St Nicholas, and I certainly didn't manufacture evidence (anathaema to any scientist), and was quite pleased when at a young age DD became skeptical from her own observations. Christmas was of course no less 'magical' once she knew it was just pretend.

Not you Grimma, but some do. The floury footprints, the taking a bite out of a raw carrot, the tinkling bells outside in the garden in the middle of the night...

I don't have a problem with people "going along with" the whole Father Christmas thing. It's the use of FC as an alternate "bogeyman" that bothers me, and pushing children into believeing something you know to be a lie.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 24-Oct-12 10:49:04

AMIS - IME its not so much atheists who play that sort of game - I think its more 'apatheists' (the people who don't really give a toss either way about god). I inferred from Owed's post that her christian parents made FC into a bogyman ... I don't know why anyone does that to a child.

Probably not careful-thinking atheists. I guess I class as atheists anyone who tells me I'm in the wrong to have brought up DS in the context of my religion grin

niminypiminy Wed 24-Oct-12 12:54:02

I was brought up in a family of atheists who are on various points of an atheistical spectrum ranging from indifferent to rabid Dawkinsite. I began going to church as a teenager and as an adult became a Christian. My family don't like it, but they don't trot out quite so much anti-Christian stuff as they used to; I would never attempt to 'convert' them. But if they start with the old canard that religion falls apart when you apply reason and logic to it, I will argue the toss -- and I usually win.

technodad Wed 24-Oct-12 16:38:36

AMIS said: Not you Grimma, but some do. The floury footprints, the taking a bite out of a raw carrot, the tinkling bells outside in the garden in the middle of the night...

I don't have a problem with people "going along with" the whole Father Christmas thing. It's the use of FC as an alternate "bogeyman" that bothers me, and pushing children into believeing something you know to be a lie.

AMIS. I agree with you that these things should never be used in a negative sense. A child should never be told that FC will hunt you down and eat you if you are bad (aka your bogeyman analogy), but what is wrong with using the little white lie as a positive motivations.

There are various levels that parents use positive motivation with kids:

- If you behave whilst we are shopping you can have a sweet.
- If you play with your sister for an hour while I do some work, I will do lego with you.
- If you are a really good girl this week, I will get you that book you have been asking for.
- If you are good and meet your targets, then Father Christmas might bring you more presents.

Where is the harm, and why is the last one somehow evil, when the first two are acceptable? Hey, the Father Christmas bit of it may be an untruth, but the rest is true (as a parent, I am likely to get them something nicer if they consistantly behave!)

The whole floury footprint and carrot biting is all about making an event feel magical for a small child. It is no different from when I do a magic card trick - you get the same look of excitement on their face as they try to work it all out (it is what being a child is all about). The fact that it only lasts for a couple of years before they work it out, but that there is a great educational spin you can put on them learning the truth is another bonus. I fail to see how this hurts anyone, actually, the way the FC myth convinced my kids to eat their vegetables means that it has had a very positive impact on their life expectancy smile.

As you know from my posts on MN, I am very atheist. But being an atheist doesn't mean that you take all the wonder out of life, quite the opposite actually!

I am an atheist and have been since my early teens. If my children decide that they believe in a god then I will be absolutely fine with it, as long as it is their own decision.

I am uncomfortable with the Santa myth but it is so pervasive that it is hard to avoid. Santa doesn't bring gifts in my house though, we are very clear on who they are from as they are bought with love and consideration.

CrikeyOHare Wed 24-Oct-12 19:33:06

Are you saying that you have never said "Father Christmas is coming tomorrow night" to your kids?

I only have one, TechnoDad, and no, I have never said that to him. And I certainly never said that he wouldn't get any presents from Father Christmas if he didn't behave.

BUT.....we did have the Santa experience, because it's fun. He knew it was a story that was played out over Christmas & we had great fun with snowy footprints & half eaten mince pies. A bit like a play or a pageant - but I was the present buyer & stocking filler and he always knew that.

CrikeyOHare Wed 24-Oct-12 19:44:23

Crikey, Interest in religion and science are not mutually exclusive. Many scientists are and have been religious.

Yes - we keep being told this (by Christians, funnily enough) but it's total nonsense.

There are indeed Christian scientists, but really not that many these days. And those that are admit that their religion is kept separate from their science, simply because the two are not compatible.

Faith = I believe 'cos I just do.

Science = experimentation, evaluation of data and conclusions based on verifiable evidence.

These are compatible...how?

CrikeyOHare Wed 24-Oct-12 19:52:13

But if they start with the old canard that religion falls apart when you apply reason and logic to it, I will argue the toss -- and I usually win.

Frankly, I doubt that. Don't know who said it, but I've always thought this is true: "If Christians understood logic, there wouldn't be any Christians".

Oh - and my other favourite: "Don't understand science? Try religion".

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I know. I'm being rude wink.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 24-Oct-12 20:32:27

Faith is experiential.
Science is experimental.

It is ridiculous to say that belief in science negates faith and vice versa.

The Big Bang theory was first proposed by a catholic priest.shock.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 24-Oct-12 20:36:49

Btw, I don't think you're being rude, more bigoted.wink

getoffthecoffeetable Wed 24-Oct-12 20:47:26

I think it'd be good to leave your DC to make up their own mind. It's only your opinion that it's all nonsense. It's not fair to rubbish your child's beliefs. Leave your DC to reach their own conclusions, you could have a talk about other religions and views too so that your DC can make an informed choice of their own.

CrikeyOHare Wed 24-Oct-12 20:56:47

Yes - Father Le Maitre did propose the BB. He then had stop the moronic pope from claiming that he'd proved Genesis.

No - faith is belief without evidence. Science is ALL about evidence, dear.

Bigoted, Dione because I am incapable of believing the childish, superstitious, completely illogical nonsense that you do?

Whatever.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 24-Oct-12 22:54:33

Not at all Crikey. Bigoted because you are intolerant of different views. And given your post, unscientific as I have provided evidence of religion and science not being exclusive and you still maintain your original position.

Dione how is faith experimental? Otherwise I broadly agree with your posts.

getoff - exactly.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 09:02:22

Joyful - she said it was 'experiental' not 'experimental'. Science and religion are mutual exclusive activities, they operate on totally different bases - but neverthereless, the same person can do both if they can manage to switch modes. (turned out I couldn't, so I had to discount the 'experiential' as being essentially something just happening in my head rather than having any external reality)

Ah. Oops. Sorry! blush Sleep deprivation affecting my reading abilities again - that makes much more sense!

RedMolly Thu 25-Oct-12 11:38:18

I would be fine with ds finding his own path, even if it was not mine. I would however be far from happy if this was a consequence of him being taught faith as fact in school. He's not yet two though, so i have a little while before i need to worry about that!

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