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?

To clarify, I'm not expected your DH to want to pray about this! But would he feel comfortable with you discussing the issue with a Christian friend or would he feel annoyed/upset (insert appropriate emotion here) by that?

I started going back to church when my children were born. My husband didn't. He did not have a faith and it was was find. I took them to the midweek toddler service so we had family time together on a Sunday. It was a compromise that worked for us. When I did start taking the children to the Sunday service we didn't go every week and if they didn't fancy going then they could stay home with DH.

It sounds as if the OP and her DH are at different stages of faith. It will take patience and understanding from sides to work this through. The OP's DH wants to engage with this rather than dismissing it then he might like to look at some of the work of John Polkinghorne. His is a physicist at Cambridge University and also a man of faith so he comes at questions of faith from that perspective. I found it really hard to explain my faith to my husband when he got to the questioning stage as he is an engineer and I'm a people person. Luckily my husband never questioned my intelligence or integrity as as a woman of faith; we just had to find a way to have the conversation.

headinhands Wed 20-Feb-13 09:44:33

I don't think your husband is being silly. Surely the way to ensure it's purely their own decision and not indoctrination is to either regularly expose them to all religions in equal measure or none at all (which is impossible in out culture) otherwise any declaration of faith will be down to the amount of exposure to that one religion? I think you're trying to dress your willingness for church attendance as a desire to give your children a fair choice but it won't be for the reasons above and that's why DH has something to say about it.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 10:47:58

Ellie, this thread is not the place for that discussion

Kindly do not tell me what I may and may not discuss on a public forum. Who do you think you are?

hiddenhome When you have to resort to personal insults, you prove all by yourself that you're not worth listening to. Grow up.

And, btw, I most certainly do not pass on my own values and beliefs to my son. I tell him how I feel about things - but I respect the fact that he has a mind of his own to make up. Telling a child that God is real and they are a Christian/Muslim just because you are is disgusting.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 10:52:21

The number of Christians on this thread thinking that the OPs husband just needs to pray or talk to other Christians is quite staggering.

He doesn't believe in your God. That's it. I think you'll find that most thinking people don't.

I was brought up in a family with a Catholic mum and an atheist dad. I was forced to go to church, make Holy communion etc. I'm an atheist. However much you get this stuff forced upon you, it won't really change your beliefs.

I agree with your DH that it is indoctrination, but if your children see a balance of beliefs from both parents that should help them to make up their own minds.

MadHairDay Wed 20-Feb-13 11:22:16

I don't know what it's like to be in this situation OP, but have friends who are, and they resolve it through communication and compromise. I have a friend who is an atheist and her dh is a Christian, he'd like to take them to church every week, but she feels uncomfortable with this, and therefore they made a decision together whereby he takes them once a month to a family service, and they go to some church social stuff together - picnics, quiz nights etc, and it seems to work ok.

I think this is the best way - to listen to his concerns, to communicate what you would like to happen. Maybe look at some church websites together, talk about what a church community could mean, and listen to some of his more difficult experiences from his childhood. Show him that you are as concerned about him and his feelings as you are about the possibility of joining into a church community.

Hope you can find a way which is healthy and good for your relationship and all of your family. smile

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:35:04

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.

This sentence seems to have caused a bit of grief but I think op has been misunderstood as to what she was trying to say. To give you a scenario: I have a friend who is a church goer and a vegetarian. Her DH is the opposite. He feels DC should not be taken to church as it is important they are given the opportunity to make up their own mind about religion. However he feels they should be given meat to eat - so they can make up their mind as to whether they want to it.

It would be ridiculous to suggest children should be able to make up their own mind about meat eating by never giving them the opportunity to taste it. I personally don't have strong views but want my children to be exposed to l

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:35:47

Oops...

Exposed to lots of different religions and the atheist argument.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 11:58:52

Sorry, but most vegetarians talk to their children about the issues & let them make up their minds from there. What meat "tastes" like is the least of it.

The OP clearly has absolutely no respect at all for the view of her DH. She thinks his insistence on evidence is silly (evidenced by the !) and expects him to question his lack of belief regularly.

Why? Does she question her lack of belief in fairies regularly? How about Zeus? Allah? Lord Vishnu? I doubt it. But she demands that he question his lack of belief in Yahweh - just because she happens to believe in that particular god.

Lots and lots of Christian parents go out of their way to allow their children freedom of thought and belief. But they tend to have more respect for the beliefs of others than the OP appears to.

Silly old critical thinking daddy, eh? Never mind, children, if he just thinks and questions a little bit more then he'll get there in the end.

FFS.

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:09:40

To return to the OP's actual dilemma - I think the DH is presenting his way forward as if it is neutral, and hers is encouraging a particular set of beliefs. But what he wants is not neutral, he wants the children to adopt his set of beliefs. Not sure what the way forward is to be honest - surely it is possible though for children to learn "mummy believes this, but daddy believes that, and they both still love and respect each other" (or something similarly mushy).

We are a veggie family incidentally and while the children can start to eat meat when they are older if they choose to, we have not started off letting them have meat and "make their own minds up about it" as we believe meat is unhealthy (and immoral, yadda yadda) and we want the best for our (very young) dcs.

specialsubject Wed 20-Feb-13 12:23:26

take them to the occasional church service by all means, but it won't mean anything to them.

just please, please don't waste days of their childhood stuck indoors listening to ritual. Get outside and appreciate what is there, regardless of why it is there. Get them moving and looking after their health, regardless of who or what gave them that health.

teach your children to know that people believe in certain things, but if you start saying 'there IS a god' as opposed to 'I believe that there is a god' then you are indoctrinating them.

your last sentence makes you appear very intolerant.

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:30:46

131 - yes, sorry didn`t mean to get into a conversation about vegetarianism - was just using it as a comparison. I think its perfectly expected that your children follow your lifestyle hence if both parents are vege it would probably be expected that the child would not eat meat. I just think its an odd argument from my friends DH when only one parent has faith / eats meat. I agree completely that being atheist is not a neutral point of view, although most people seem to think it is. Probably like a lot of meat eaters think eating meat is the neutral point of view!

Ellie - as a meat eater I hadn't appreciated that the taste of meat is the least important thing. Perhaps a church goer would argue that going to a church is the least important thing about having faith - the op states she doesn`t really go to church anymore but obviously has quite strong beliefs.

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:33:27

littlemrssleepy - it must be very tricky when two people don't share the same beliefs (more or less) when raising children. I don't think it gets in the way much till children arrive though. To be perfectly honest, I looked for a man who was a vegetarian as I knew it would be a problem for me if he wasnt'.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 12:36:08

But what he wants is not neutral, he wants the children to adopt his set of beliefs

Nope. Not believing in something for which there is no evidence does not mount up to "a set of beliefs".

Is not believing that the world is held up by a giant, levitating turtle a "set of beliefs"?

It is about a way of thinking - about not accepting what you're told just because you're told it. It's about asking, reasoning & questioning. A healthy way forward for any developing mind.

That's what her DH wants. OP wants them to be brought up to have "faith" - in other words, to accept her point of view and believe what she believes without reason or evidence.

Why do so many of you think this is OK? It really isn't.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 12:39:54

I don't really think that vegetarianism and faith are comparable.

Avoiding meat as a family is not harmful and is not teaching a child that "X is true. You believe X because I do".

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:44:21

Ellie you just aren't right about this. Many religious people are as questioning as any atheist. It is like you are setting up fundamentalist Christians against free-thinking scientists - it's just not that straightforward. The DH has a worldview that does not include a creator, and the OP has a worldview that does. She may well feel she has evidence for her faith (not proof, obviously, but evidence is not incompatible with faith).
Why can't they bring the children up with good critical thinking skills, and an understanding of the different conclusions about life which the two parents have come to?
(By the way we do basically tell older dc that it is wrong to kill animals to eat them, and that is why we are vegetarian - not sure how different that is from expecting them to follow a religion).

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:52:13

Ellie - agreed, but I don`t think taking the children to a church is telling them that they must believe it either. Something like 90% of adults today who went to church as a child no longer have a faith. They have not 'accepted what they have been told' but have 'asked, reasoned and questioned' to come to their own conclusion having been exposed to a number of different views and belief systems.

I know religion can be harmful, but I don't believe going to church is in itself harmful, unless you feel the person doesn't and never will have the capacity to challenge its assumptions.

CalamityKate Wed 20-Feb-13 12:53:57

Agree with Ellie Arroway.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:01:23

Not right about what?

Many religious people are as questioning as any atheist No, they're not. If they were, they wouldn't be Christians.

The DH has a worldview that does not include a creator, and the OP has a worldview that does Wrong. The DH does not have a worldview that there is no creator - he acknowledges that there's no evidence for any such thing, and the rational viewpoint must therefore be not to actively believe that there is. The OP believes that there is one in spite of the spectacular lack of evidence for such a position. The two viewpoints are not equal.

And atheism is not a worldview. Please try to learn that much at least.

Why can't they bring the children up with good critical thinking skills, and an understanding of the different conclusions about life which the two parents have come to? They can, and many parents in the same situation do. But to suggest there's an equality between the two positions is plain wrog.

Critical thinking = evaluating & paying heed to evidence.
Faith = believing in spite of there being no evidence.

I cannot think of two more diametrically opposed viewpoints if I tried. They are not compatible, no matter how many times I am told that they are.

She may well feel she has evidence for her faith Yes, I keep hearing about this evidence people have for their faith. Aside from the fact that, if you had evidence you wouldn't need "faith" (which, again, specifically means belief without evidence) - none of this evidence is ever forthcoming. Funny that.

By the way we do basically tell older dc that it is wrong to kill animals to eat them Then you have no business doing so and I think that's disgraceful. Good luck explaining the biology of the omnivorous human then if you insist that eating animals "is wrong". Wrong FOR YOU is not wrong.

<applauds Ellie>

<reads thread and rolls eyes at usual religious bollocks>

<leaves>

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:05:34

I agree, Little. And I must stress - that all of the Christian parents I personally know do try to give their children a balanced view. They take them to church with them, but are willing to discuss the fact that other people hold different views.

I'm taking issue with the OP specifically because by the tone of her post this does not appear to be her goal.

GooseyLoosey Wed 20-Feb-13 13:11:50

Both dh and I are atheists so the issue does not really arise in a personal sense. However, I have no problem in MIL taking the dcs to mass with her and explaining to them what it is all about.

OP, what you want to do though is something different. You want to bring them up as part of a church community. That is very different to exposing them to your beliefs. That is immersing them in them. I would not have a problem with the former, but would be vehemently opposed to the latter. It would depend a little on what you mean but I assume that it goes beyond attending church on Sundays and could affect the way you live your life. If this is the case, I too would be cautious about exposing my children to it. There is however many compromise positions a long way short of this.

AgathaF Wed 20-Feb-13 13:16:59

I agree with what Goosey said. I would also add that this lifestyle you want to immerse your children in, didn't actually have any appeal for you until very recently, so why the sudden rush to embrace this group of churchy friendships?

I would think your DH must be a little pissed off that the wife he thought he had, with a faith but who didn't go all out to wrap herself in churchiness, has suddenly turned into a full-on church going wife.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 13:23:31

They are not compatible, no matter how many times I am told they are. That is evidence of you having a closed mind, not of their incompatibility. Faith is not believing without regard to evidence. Most people of faith have evidence for what they believe -- you don't accept it, but that doesn't mean that they don't have evidence. The idea that critical thinking and faith are incompatible is yet another example of a false dichotomy.

The idea that faith is belief without evidence is a shibboleth of atheism. It is ultimately traceable to the C19th philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who thought that although there are good reasons to believe in God ultimately faith is lived out not in argument but in inner conviction. Kierkegaard's phrase the 'leap of faith' has been much misunderstood and misused by advocates of scientistic atheism (see my post above) to suggest that belief in God is without evidential or rational foundation.

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