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To find dh's refusal to ever mention god to the dc annoying

(27 Posts)
lecce Mon 15-Aug-11 20:56:38

Dh and I are both atheists but we have very different views on how to explain religion to ds1 (4.5). Today we walked past an old church on a day out and ds asked what it was for. I said something about how some people believe in god and built churches as somewhere to go and think about him. Cue lots of sighing and muttering from dh along the lines of, "here you go again, pushing it on him," blah blah.

I have no idea why he said that - he knows my views - they are the same as his and he should therefore know that I have no wish to 'push' anything on my dc. Ds asked the question again and dh answered, "It's somewhere people can go when they feel sad or worried and want somewhere quiet to think." Annoyingly, I think this answer is bettter than the one I gave - which was probably confusing for a 4 yr old, but the incident reminded me how annoying dh's attitude is on this.

When it is Christmas he tuts and sights whenever the Nativity is mentioned, despite the fact that I always say, "some people believe that..." I think if it was up to him the dc would be told Christmas is all about Santa and worshipping the Argos Catalogue and I find this a little vacuous. I have already mentioned that I would like to get the dc a book of Bible stories for children beacause I believe it is important for them to know the basics of Christianity since it has been such a massive influence on all aspects of our culture. I had a similar book as a child and I loved the stories and the illustrations and it in no way influenced my beliefs. Dh is dead set against this and I am annoyed that he would be happy for our dc to be left in ignorance in this way.


TidyDancer Mon 15-Aug-11 21:00:10

YANBU. I think your approach is measured and very smart. I think DH's is a bit weird tbh.

virgiltracey Mon 15-Aug-11 21:01:59

You'll probably find that he comes home from school telling you all about God and the bible anyway. We certainly had this a lot when DS1 was in reception since it was something brand new to him and therefore interesting. We have told him that some people believe in God and some people believe in other things and that Mummy and Daddy don't believe that the Bible is true but that he will be able to make up his own mind when he is older.

I do think its a little odd that you say you're an atheist but you want to buy a book of bible stories.

maighdlin Mon 15-Aug-11 21:02:23

my DH is the exact same. YANBU i think it important to let children know about god but if they make their own mind up that its a load of shite then fine. i hate the way DH says that people who believe in god are thick and is quite intolerent of their views. i want DD to grow up accepting others views whether she agrees with them or not.

PedigreeChump Mon 15-Aug-11 21:02:57


virgiltracey Mon 15-Aug-11 21:04:10

I didn't mean that I think YABU by the way. I agree with your approach apart from the book of bible stories

smoggii Mon 15-Aug-11 21:04:17

I too am an Athiest (Humanist) and I would have gone with your answer as DHs answer would imply that people who are worried can go to a Church to cheer themselves up which is confusing to a little one. He did not qualify it with why people might go to a Church if they were sad or worried and ultimitely the answer to that is because they believe in God.

Knowledge is power and not letting your DC know about religion is restricting their education on how the world works and why people do what they do.

smoggii Mon 15-Aug-11 21:07:00

FWIW I don't think it's weird to give your child a book of bible stories, they are parables which have a moral rooted how Humans interact Christian or otherwise. I wouldn't be averse to giving a book of stories from other religions too.

Soups Mon 15-Aug-11 21:07:21

YANBU I don't understand your DH's problem [confused), it's weird and doesn't make sense. You're not pushing, you're clearly, logically and simply explaining why churches exist.

I think your answer was better, people may go to church when they're sad, or want to think. They also go when they're happy and want to think about God. I so want her to ask Daddy to take her to church next time she's feeling sad grin

I'm an atheist and have no problems explaining things as you have done.

LuceyLasstic Mon 15-Aug-11 21:08:38


leave the bastard

Nagoo Mon 15-Aug-11 21:09:49

YANBU I think if you have strong atheist beliefs you need to get in there first with god, like you do with sex education.

If you don't explain what 'some people believe' and that there is a concept of god then they are likely to come back from the first week of school telling you about a story like it is fact.

I did struggle with what are churches for, but went with your description. If anything, your DH's description makes me want to go grin

Scarletbanner Mon 15-Aug-11 21:13:22

YANBU. Whether or not you believe in God, i think it's important for dc's to know the Bible stories, as they are the bedrock of so much else in Art and literature. Like Greek myths. You can tell them they are stories.

LittleSarah Mon 15-Aug-11 21:14:34

God. (Sorry!)

I have your attitude. I'm trying to imagine how your dh would react to my mother who is always talking about god to my dd (mum is a Catholic) and telling her about heaven and Jesus and so forth. I haven't really checked her (although sometimes I want to), I just tell dd there are different ideas about religion and different faiths, she can make her own mind up when she is older. Granny told her recently that the Buddhist idea of reincarnation is rubbish (I, having mentioned it as another belief system)!

LittleSarah Mon 15-Aug-11 21:15:48

Agree there is nothing wrong with telling children about the stories, etc that come with different faiths. My mum is much more 'oh there is a god, etc'.

diggingintheribs Mon 15-Aug-11 21:21:40

I agree with you - but I wouldn't just introduce him to christianity

DS (also 4.5) asked about church and I explained that some people believe in one god, some in many and some in none. we then briefly covered what a god is.
we have a lot of different religious buildings in our area so we have talked about the bare basics of each when he has asked.

We have read some ancient greek and viking stories and fontaines fables. bible stories are no different to an atheist

How is DH going to feel when your son asks to go to church the next time he feels sad!!

lecce Mon 15-Aug-11 21:30:51

Yes, I hadn't thought of it like that, dh woulb be miffed indeed! The thing is, I don't think he gives ds enough credit for what he can understand. He snaps, "He's 4 and a half!!!" whenever I try to bring it up, as if that s far too young to even mention these topics. The replies on here have made me realise what I already kneew knew - he is old enough to start talking about some of these issues and if we fob him off we'll end up causing confusion.

diggingintheribs Mon 15-Aug-11 21:36:41

My DS understands the concept of god being omnipresent. and he's the same age. and he thinks of gods in the same way as he thinks of the tooth fairy and santa claus. they can understand a remarkable amount but it is often framed in a different way to how we view things

the only thing I insist on is that we never say god doesn't exist. we tell DS that when an adult he can make his own mind up. i went through a religious phase when I was about 8 - and my parents encouraged me to explore it. and now i'm an agnostic. i'm very keen for my kids to decide for themselves although fully aware they are likely to follow my lead

MissBetsyTrotwood Mon 15-Aug-11 21:48:50

YANBU - I do the 'some people believe this' and 'some believe that' thing and DS1 seems to gain understanding from that. I read bible stories to him on that basis but DH (atheist) refuses to read them to him, even if he asks specifically for that book. That annoys me.

Nagoo Mon 15-Aug-11 21:49:01

The best advice I read on one of these threads was to "fill their heads with reality" so that they have the capacity to rationalise the world and combat the 'woo' of religion.

I give DS the best answers I can to all his questions. He is the same age as your DS and he understands loads! He knows about death and babies and why some people are brown and some are pink, I try to tell him whatever he wants to know and never underestimate his capacity to understand the world.

It sounds like you are doing a great job smile

Can you ask your DH why he doesn't want your DS to know about the concept of religion? It hard to hide a concept..... sad

toomuchdisneynotenoughJack Mon 15-Aug-11 21:53:38

we had the same issue last week ( sorry newbie here, please don't mind me jumping on your thread), I am an atheist an DH is a lapsed strict catholic, we went to a catholic funeral and took the kids as it was for a good friends dad, I have no issues with anybody believing in whatever they like as long as it is not rammed down my throat! and DD (6) was asking why we were going to a church and I tried explaining that we were going to say goodbye to friends daddy and that he wasn't going to becthete but every one who knew him was! then the coffin went past and she said loudly that he was there! oh the logic if youth! but my hubbie gave off at me for explaining it in non religious terms!!

toomuchdisneynotenoughJack Mon 15-Aug-11 21:55:57

sorry, predictive iPhone spelling, meant to say that friends daddy wasn't going to be there, not whatever the iPhone wrote!

KateBC Mon 15-Aug-11 22:03:38

My DH is the same, doesn't want me telling DS about religion, thinks it will brainwash him if he knows the nativity story or why people go ti church. This is despite the fact that both me and DH went to Sunday school as kids, and neither of us are brainwashed. I find it really annoying, I am atheist, but I respect the beliefs of others, and want DS to do the same.

exoticfruits Mon 15-Aug-11 22:15:53

I shouldn't worry, he will get it all at school. I hope DH realises there are no secular schools in England?
He will make up his own mind anyway when he is older.

Taffybird Mon 15-Aug-11 22:22:41

I like your explanation better. When asked an innocent question it's best to answer simply but truthfully. By failing to mention God when asked what a church is for your DH is essentially lying by omission. There's nothing wrong with saying it's a place for people who believe in God to go and talk to Him.

And don't underestimate the logic and reasoning power of a small child. I remember going to a sort of Sunday school kindergarten, and can't have been much older than your DS when I was colouring in a picture of Noah's Ark... and I distinctly remember wondering where the dinosaurs were. At age 6 I asked my Mum if cavemen were real or if they were just in films. When she said they were real I said, "well Adam and Eve can't can't have been real then because both can't be true." Soon after that she took me out of Sunday school. Either she was scared I'd embarrass her, or she just realised it was pointless!

Give them enough information to reason things out for themselves and they'll soon form their own beliefs. Most importantly, they'll understand why they believe what they do, which is vastly preferable to indoctrination in my view.

piprabbit Mon 15-Aug-11 22:25:33

I think that you and your DH need to come up with a common approach to this problem sharpish. When your DS starts school he will come across increasing amounts of information about religions. Not only will he be studying RE, but he will come across references to religion and churches in history, geography - as well as celebrating Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festival (with visiting vicar at our school) and other non-christian religious festivals.

You can't pretend that religious belief hasn't shaped the whole history and culture of this country - you don't have to believe, but it is unfair on DS to attempt to whitewash it away.

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