I have a faith, DH does not- what does this mean for our DCs?

(79 Posts)
ByeBabyBatshit Tue 19-Feb-13 20:57:17

Does anybody have a faith which is not shared by their DH?

I was brought up by strictly Christian family. Pulled away from it in my teens, came bqck to it in late twenties, really wrangled with it following suicide of a friend seven years ago. I'm not a regular churchgoer, which is down to laziness mostly, but my faith is an integral part of me.

DH is a scientist and remains an atheist until he sees scientific proof of the existence of God! We talked about this a lot before we were married, and I said all I ask is he continues to ask questions and revisit his views. He is supportive of my beliefs (Christian wedding, attending services to hear our banns read, etc).

However, we now have baby twin DCs, and we're clashing about how our views on faith will affect them. I want them to grow up as part of a church community, which means I have to start going to church again! DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks.

Has anybody else been in this position? How did you resolve it?

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 21:20:24

DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks

You think it's bollocks that your children be allowed to make up their own minds?

You have CHOSEN to be a Christian. Have the decency to allow your children the same freedom to make their own choices. You might personally have a faith, but that does not mean that your children will do by default.

It's fine to talk to them about what YOU believe, and even take them to church with you from time to time, but to assume the right to decide for them whether or not they have a "faith" is presumptuous in the extreme.

Oh, and your sentence..."DH is a scientist and remains an atheist until he sees scientific proof of the existence of God!" with the silly exclamation point at the end says much about your respect for your husbands views which is that of an intelligent person.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:05:32

Ellie, the OP said she wants them to grow up as part of a church community, not to decide for them whether they have a faith.

I don't think it is unreasonable for you to want your children to have an experience of church, to learn about Christianity and to experiment for themselves with prayer and worship. They will make up their minds what they want to believe.

But you, as a parent, have the responsibility to teach your children about the values that you hold and that you live by, the truths that are central to your being. What kind of parent would you be if you did not do this, if you deliberately witheld from your children the values that you held, and refused to tell them about things that are integral to your view of the world? Would it even be possible to do this?

What you need to negotiate is some way to acknowledge both your Christian beliefs, and your experience of being part of a church, and your husband's atheist beliefs. My DH is an atheist -- although (even though he is a scientist) he rejects the scientistic prejudice against religion. We are quite clear with our children that I believe and am a Christian, and DH does not. The children come to church with me sometimes, and stay at home with DH sometimes. Whether they have a faith as adults or not, they will grow up knowing something about it -- which is more than can be said for many -- and it will always be true that knowledge and experience, wisely used, are never wasted.

ByeBabyBatshit Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:08

Niminypiminy- I'd like the sort of balance you describe. Of course my babies will make their own choices about faith one day, but I want them to know what it is to be a churchgoing Christian, and they can negotiate their own position in that knowledge.

Ellie- I respect my husband, but I kind of feel sad for him that he doesn't know what he's missing. He was baptised and confirmed, and went to a Catholic school, so he feels he knows enough, but he's never been part of a church community, so he's never seen how it can uplift you spiritually amd support you practically. To me, saying you want your kids to grow up with no faith is a bit like saying you don't want them to meet their wider family, because they can decide whether to get to know them later. In the meantime they've missed out on lots of love, fun, and a sense of their place in the world.

Of course the irony is I'm not a churchgoer now, but having babies has led me to reassess this.

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 22:36:56

Er, niminy that's not actually all she said.

DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks

She thinks it's bollocks that they should be left to make up their own mind.

She said it, not me.

Oh, and there's no "scientistic (no such word) prejudice" against religion. There's just no evidence that any of your "truths" actually happen to be true. Would have thought your scientist husband would have understood the distinction.

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 22:41:50

Bye Your attitude is horrendously patronising. Doesn't know what he's missing?

Words fail me.

Do you know what the definition of "faith" actually is? It's believing without evidence. You'd bring up your children to accept what they're told without question and not seek verification? That is what you want, and that apalls me.

Take them to church. Tell them stories. If they are as intelligent as their father, they'll reject all of it for the arrant nonsense it clearly is. I did. (And yeah, I had a religious upbringing too).

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 22:45:00

What she means EllieArroway is that somebody can't make up their mind about something if they've never been introduced to it in the first place. By introducing and including dcs in a church community, she would be providing them with an experience that they can either continue with, or reject when they get older.

I wish people wouldn't be so hostile towards church communities. There is very little indoctrination going on these days and children might actually benefit from these experiences.

Raising children to be rejecting and dismissive towards a life of faith is just as damaging as shoving religion down their necks sad

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:47:04

Ellie, this thread is not the place for that discussion.

But, for the record, the Oxford English Dictionary defines scientistic as ' Of or pertaining to scientism', and scientism as 'A term applied (freq. in a derogatory manner) to a belief in the omnipotence of scientific knowledge and techniques; also to the view that the methods of study appropriate to physical science can replace those used in other fields such as philosophy and, esp., human behaviour and the social sciences.'

Since my husband has a first degree in natural sciences and a phd in philosophy of science I think he is able to decide for himself whether there is a scientistic prejudice against religion. Which he thinks there is.

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 22:52:38

'arrant nonsense' 'imaginary friend' yadda, yadda......it's as predictable as it is depressing hmm

Funny how the militant atheists are amongst the most miserable and begrudging buggers around grin

austenozzy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:56:23

"I don't think it is unreasonable for you to want your children to have an experience of church, to learn about Christianity and to experiment for themselves with prayer and worship. They will make up their minds what they want to believe. "

Have you got friends of other faiths? Your twins can go along with them to experience jewish, muslim, sikh, etc ways of believing. At least they will have a chance to look at other faiths (or none at all, like your silly dh) before being indoctrinated by your church.

memberofthestowmassiv Tue 19-Feb-13 23:00:03

DH was raised Catholic. He doesn't go to church, but he still has a faith and believes that there is something bigger out there than us. He also believes that religion provides a moral framework.

I was baptised CofE but have never been to church and am now an athiest. I find religion interesting, fascinating in fact, and think it has it's place, but it's not for me.

DH's faith is more important to him than my atheism is to me. So our DC's have been baptised and will be taught about the Catholic religion. I'm comfortable with this, though have made it clear that I will never lie to my children. So when they begin to ask me questions, I will tell them what my beliefs are.

When they are older, they can then decide which way thy want to go.

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 23:01:25

We all hand down our beliefs to our children. Don't atheist parents pass on their own values and beliefs to their kids? Politics, culture, how to speak, what to wear, personal values, treatment of others, attitudes, folklore?

Or are you really all just robots? wink

Shakey1500 Tue 19-Feb-13 23:05:15

You lost me at "that's all bollocks" quite frankly.

That comes blazing across as you having zero respect for your DH's view but expect him and your children to utterly respect yours.

I would possibly wildy assume you asking him to revisit his views was you expecting that you would change them in due course.

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 23:06:50

In this house it's the other way round, DH believes in God, I think it's a load of rubbish.

Weirdly we are both scientists and agree on evolution the Big Bang etc. it's just DH manages to slot in God and life after death. Even after 25 years this still puzzles me.

As for the DDs, they went to Cof E primary and that got us involved a bit in church things, DD1 sings in the choir so that gets us involved in more church things.

Both DDs (12 and15) are devout atheists [resists grin]

LadyWidmerpool Tue 19-Feb-13 23:06:59

How is the DH silly? He is standing up for his principles. When atheists criticise believers for doing the same they are called every name under the sun.

Viviennemary Tue 19-Feb-13 23:12:22

It is going to be very difficult to agree on a compromise when you both have such opposing views. Did you not discuss this before you had children. I do know couples that have different beliefs but they had made a decision beforehand as to how the children are brought up. That is brought up in a particular faith or brought up to make their own decisions. Or a bit of both.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 23:21:12

Viviennemary, that's a classic example of a false dichotomy: 'brought up in a particular faith or brought up to make their own decisions'. The two are not mutually exclusive!

People can change their minds -- and often do, about all sorts of things. It is common for people to find the very profound experiences of bearing and bringing up children draw them closer to a faith they might have been distant from before, and leads them to explore the big questions of life in a way that leads them to faith.

Compromises are possible. One operates in my family, as described above.

SwedishEdith Tue 19-Feb-13 23:29:53

I said all I ask is he continues to ask questions and revisit his views. Did he ask you to do the same?

ByeBabyBatshit Wed 20-Feb-13 00:34:34

The reason I said being brought up with no faith and making a decision later was "bollocks" was
a) how can you make a decision when you don't know what you're missing; and
b) the implication that I'm indoctrinated, which I take to mean unquestioningly adhering to church teachings learned in childhood. I've actually been a Hokey Cokey Christian- in, out, in, out and now in again, but with an understanding that it's ok to have questions and doubts- God doesn't expect us to check our brains in at the door. I continue to doubt, question and revisit my position constantly.

I don't expect to convert DH either- I watched a Christian friend's desperation to convert her dying stepmother, and saw her anguish when the stepmother died without a deathbed conversion. My friend felt for years that she'd failed her stepmother and failed as a Christian. That taught me that each person's spiritual journey is their own and I just have to live mine.

SwedishEdith Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:23

Why don't you go to a mosque or a synagogue then? Or a satanist church? I presume you've missed out on those as well.

I would have thought that having been brought up as a Catholic he is well aware of what he's "missing out" on.

And as a scientist he would constantly be "revisiting his views" anyway - just not necessarily about the existence of god. If something doesn't exist to you, you don't generally spend much time mulling over it; it's simply not there.

Greensleeves Wed 20-Feb-13 01:43:30

Wow, your dh must have a LOT of patience.

Be prepared for his beliefs and commitment to his values to "deepen" once you become parents as well. You may have a struggle on your hands.

And FWIW I would be disgusted if a Christian friend felt sad for me. How utterly ignorant and disrespectful that is.

Gingerdodger Wed 20-Feb-13 07:06:38

It must be difficult for you when you both have essentially opposing views and I suppose raising your children either in a Christian way or with no exposure to this at all is going to be difficult for the other.

However, if your DH truly wants your children to make up their own mind they are going to need some exposure to your faith in order to consider their own views on it. There has to be some compromise in there somehow.

For what it's worth I believe that everybody does, in fact, make up their own mind at some stage, as nobody can make another person have a faith they don't have. (In fact I am not even sure that faith is a choice, it's an underlying conviction that, for me is just there, whether I like it or not! You do, however, have the choice to act on it or not).

I think it would be helpful for you both to discuss how, when your twins are old enough, you will both share this aspect of your life openly with them. This could mean attending church with you. I don't believe this indoctrinates children, but it does teach them about the Christian faith and introduces them to a wider community.

Your DH could consider how he can facilitate discussion of his own views also.

Even if you both decide against taking them to church if your children see that you openly have a faith, which informs how you behave and your view on the world they are going to want to know about this at some stage, just as they will want to know about your DH's views.

Perhaps then the most important thing is that you and your DH both agree that you openly practise and talk about your respective viewpoints and open the channels of commiunication for your children for when they are ready to discuss with you.

Good luck with it, it's a difficult one. I will be thinking of you.

Snorbs Wed 20-Feb-13 08:01:33

You are happy for your children to make their own minds up provided they're doing it from having a childhood filled with regular Christian worship.

That's like saying "I want my children to experience having hobbies so they can choose how to occupy their free time" and then only allowing them to build model aeroplanes but nothing else.

You may like to portray your church as an "extended family" but it isn't. It's a more-or-less exclusive club for people who hold broadly the same point of view.

I'm no expert but I don't recall Jesus saying anything about regular church attendance. Quite the opposite in fact.

How does your DH feel about you taking the twins to church with you? I am a Christian and DH is not although was raised as a regular church attender.

Having moved away from faith himself he is confident that our DCs will be able to make up their minds as he did and not feel indoctrinated. At the moment I take the DCs to church with me. DH sometimes comes along but I am the one who considers it important so I take responsibility for it.

Could you discuss with your DH which aspects of church life he enjoyed (if any). It could be that you have both had very different experiences of church. If I had found my early church life restrictive and dictatorial, which many people do, I wouldn't want my kids anywhere near it.

Please keep talking and working towards a solution that will suit you both. You sound v frustrated with him for not sharing your views. I know it can be challenging but I think ultimately you are both pushing for what you regard as the 'best' start for your DCs which is a positive bit of shared ground.

Do you have someone you could pray with about this or would your DH not feel comfortable with that?

Startail Wed 20-Feb-13 08:29:34

I think you and your DH have to talk and decide on a comprise, say attending church once a month when it's children's service or something similar.

You are right children need to be exposed to the church family. They also need to meet people, other than their parents, for whom faith is important.

I'm slightly less anti religion than I was as a child, because I have people in my life, I love dearly, for whom faith is part of who they are.

For my DDs exposure to these people happens because they are family and friends. They go to church sometimes both because of school and DD1 singing and also to meet friends who go to messy church.

They can't help, but also see the atheist perspective they are my DDs and my families grand daughters/nieces.

For DCs of mixed faith families, where one isn't prepared to let the DCs be brought up fully in just one, it will always be an imperfect situation.

For DH and I the choice was made for us, to change our views would be unthinkably disloyal to our families and the beautiful childhoods they gave us. There is a certain peace in simply having or not having faith, it's just one less thing to worry about.

In my post above I was a bit flippant about my point of view prevailing with my DDs. The truth is I think my less secure, more pessimistic DD2 might, as her very similar father does, find something for her in faith.

Maybe one day she'll look, but at present preteen I know everything prevails.

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