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I don't want to offend anyone, please help.

(31 Posts)
sugarplumfairy28 Fri 12-May-17 21:14:47

Ok I will be blunt, DH and I do not believe in any religion. We do however believe that our children should be able to choose the path that is right for them and we will support them.

After a family member had his confirmation which we attended (the family in question know our stance on religion and just wanted us to celebrate with them anyway, no issue whatsoever) our son started asking questions. DH and I spoke to him in a way that explained the basic concept without imparting our beliefs as not to tell him what he should think. I won't say what our son came out with but he has decided he is not religious.

He is 8 and has a religion class at school. DH and I thought this was a general teaching of religion but in fact it more a Sunday school type thing, where it is teachings from the bible etc. DS has asked not to be included which is OK. However (and here is my question) teachers and some children are rather insistent on continuing to tell him 'facts' about life and christian teachings, which is making him uncomfortable. How do I firmly tell them to stop without causing offense?

Ragwort Fri 12-May-17 21:36:05

I find it hard to believe that an 8 year old really has the philosophical understanding to feel so strongly about 'christian teachings'; unless it is a very, very religious school I also find it hard to believe that he is being taught subjects as 'facts'.

If he is so bright then surely he is capable of having a discussion with the teachers about the subjects he is being taught and putting forward counter arguments?

sugarplumfairy28 Fri 12-May-17 22:01:34

He is a very bright boy yes, and we have told him not to tell people they are wrong, and that different people are perfectly within their rights to believe what they want.

Some of things he has been told are: "God does exist" "God did create the world in 7 days" "Even though you don't believe I will pray that God looks after you" It's not really something he should have to debate with a teacher, with the added difficulty in trying to be respectful. He no longer has to attend the lessons (along with several other children) but these are things that have been said outside this lesson.

BertrandRussell Fri 12-May-17 22:04:51

Find a different school.

Seriously. If it has teachers who seriously believe the world was created in 7 days then you can have no faith in them or in the teaching your child will get in the school.

newtlover Fri 12-May-17 22:10:27

I feel your pain.
We had similar. So I went in and spoke to the teacher.
'hahaha you'll never guess what DD said!
she said you told her that (insert religious belief stated as fact)!
as if you would say anything LIKE that!
I told her, no, DD, I'm SURE what Mrs X said was that Christians believe (whatever it was)
I can't say it necessarily changed anything but I hope she realised I'd got her number.
All you can do for your DS is reinforce the difference between belief and fact and ensure he is able to respect others views. He doesn't have to debate at all.

Kennethwasmyfriend Fri 12-May-17 22:12:28

Is tbis a faith school?

MrsCK Fri 12-May-17 22:14:22

This all sounds odd to me. I can understand children discussing religion as they so in passing and also teachers commenting on religious examples if in the right context. But I absolutely cannot imagine it being shoved down his throat as your op suggests. Could he take notes of when these comments are made and in what context to give you more of an idea?
I'm also not sure I agree with some things he doesnt like...praying for someone can be a huge sign of respect and love even if they don't believe.
Honestly I think you're being ott and I think it's rubbing off on him. Hold off on the religion conversation at home and see if that makes a difference

sugarplumfairy28 Fri 12-May-17 22:18:21

Unfortunately we can't change school, we live in a small village and there is only one school. The next school is miles away and he isn't eligible for it.

Newt it is actually our DS who comes home and laughs at what his been told. It's the praying for him, and making him feel like his done something wrong that bothers him (his words).

RebelRogue Fri 12-May-17 22:19:46

Is it a faith school? Do they learn about other religions? Do these things happen/are said predominantly around significant Christian events like Christmas,Easter? What exactly is being said by teachers and what is being said by kids? What prompts these discussions?

BertrandRussell Fri 12-May-17 22:22:12

"praying for someone can be a huge sign of respect and love even if they don't believe."

Not if the person doesn't want to be prayed for. Then it is a sign of a disrespectful, arrogant arsehole.

sugarplumfairy28 Fri 12-May-17 22:29:20

No it's not a faith school but I am actually abroad not in the UK. From what I understand from him it is one teacher in particular, and these are things she has said at the end of a lesson by a way of trying to reassure him or something after we took him out of the class.

We don't actively talk about religion at all at home, this is as a direct result from DS asking and telling us what is happening, and initially asking about the confirmation we attended. We don't want to shield him from things just because we don't believe, or try and sweep it under the carpet when he asks. My train of thought is, if it were anything other than religion, would I say something if it was bothering him, truth be told yes I would.

While I appreciate that for a person of faith these might be 'nice' things, if he doesn't like it though, I would like to find a polite way of stopping it.

BertrandRussell Fri 12-May-17 22:40:42

Teach him to say " I don't believe in God. Shall we talk about something else?"

sugarplumfairy28 Fri 12-May-17 22:47:32

Bert I'm starting to think it's going to come down to that, which I think is quite sad.

I have always been respectful of other people's beliefs, I was hoping that it would work the other way around too.

BertrandRussell Fri 12-May-17 22:50:48

Why is that sad? There is absolutely nothing disrespectful in saying "I don't believe what you believe-so let's not talk about it" Isn't that how many adults manage to conexist happily? It's a very mature way to approach the situation.

MrsCK Sat 13-May-17 07:29:50

I agree if someone didn't want to be prayed for and they had explained this to the offer of prayer but it still happened openly it could show disrespect.
However imagine a home where children openly pray to help other people with their problems. Imagine that being the norm for them every day. That by praying it shows compassion and care. We are talking about 8yo children and by the sounds of it the OP'S DS has not asked not to be prayed for so therefore there's no disrespect there at all.
OP I would encourage your DS to ask these children why they believe. That seems to be his stumbling block. He could always respond to his teacher by inserting "Christians believe" when things are made out to be fact.

It might be useful to him to know there are thousands of Christians who use the stories in the Bible as the teachings rather than taking them verbatim.

sugarplumfairy28 Sat 13-May-17 07:34:45

While I agree that is the mature way to deal with those sorts of conversations. It's not ideal to have to keep saying it, to the same person, child vs adult.

Having said that, maybe I'll try this myself and hope it doesn't come off as too stand-offish. In my opinion the teacher shouldn't keep revisiting the subject which is what I'm hoping for.

sugarplumfairy28 Sat 13-May-17 07:59:39

MrsCK I think that going into a school situation regarding religion and saying, we're not Christian, we don't believe in a god, we do not wish for our son to be taught about religion, that should be clear. I think it's rude and presumptuous for an adult/teacher to keep saying things in a slightly different context rather than respecting our beliefs and just dropping it. Personally I think it's taking liberties.

We've told DS a huge amount about religion in general, different religions, different teachings, the difference between scientific fact and belief. DS has friends who are Muslim, Christian, of no faith and Jehovah's wittness . When the children talk, to what I know, they say what they think, DS says what he thinks, and then they go back to playing. It is only a couple of Christian children who are in the class who out right tell others they are wrong. In hindsight, this doesn't really bother me, they are kids and to my mind so much easier for DS to blow it off and get on with life.

We have a school festival this afternoon, so everyone should be quite laid back, I'm hoping that I can casually speak to the teacher, explain that when we said we didn't want him to be taught about religion and this includes offering prayer and trying to reassure him that God is real. I'm hoping that seeing as we'll all be there anyway it will be better than me specifically going into school and having this conversation, and no-one will be offended.

ollieplimsoles Sat 13-May-17 19:04:42

How do I firmly tell them to stop without causing offense?

Just tell them, don't worry about causing offence.

Also, id start teaching your son some rebuttals to these 'facts' he is being told, and send him to class.

Westray Sun 14-May-17 08:10:26

I had a similar situation here in the UK.

We don't don't have "non faith" schools here in the UK, and despite our village primary not being a "faith" school, the headteacher was very religious, and staffed his school with similar.

The "sunday School" ethos permeated the school, bible stories, references to god, jesus , "creation table" in the classroom etc.

My tack was simply to keep up an onslaught at home about how christianity is warped and god is a myth.
Had I a gentler approach it wasn't going to be effective, so I kept up a dialogue at home.

Happily my kids are now young adults and atheist.

CoteDAzur Sun 14-May-17 08:17:01

I kept DD out of religion classes for a few years, until she developed critical thought (& a non-stop tongue hmm) then she had 1 year of RE. During that time, RE teacher & classmates got a grilling on why they want to believe in stuff for which there is no evidence.

It's a good thing that your DS knows his mind, OP. There is nothing to worry about there.

Strawberrybubblebath Mon 15-May-17 22:27:25

OP is it really so bad that a child who has faith says to your child "Even though you do not believe I will pray that God looks after you"
That sounds a nice thing for a friend to say to another to me. The child was asking their Hid to look after their friend. I often pray for my aethiest brother who has a chronic illness.
Are you saying that religious people are only allowed to pray once the topic has been approved by an aethiest? Should there be no freedom of speech for religious people or no freedom religion for people to pray? Is it only aethiests who are allowed to say what they believe? Should atheists be able to dictate whether people pray? I know there are many countries where this is the case but I hope it doesn't happen here. A little tolerance goes a long way.

I response to another poster, most Christians believe the story of creation is just that - an allegory. It tells the story of evolution- first God created planets, then seas/land, then plants, then animals then man.
In my experience it is mainly aethiests who insist the Bible is the actual spoken word of God (rather than a collection of stories about people's own experiences with God/Jesus, written at a very different time and culture to now) and has to be taken literally. Most Christians look at the stories in the Bible and learn the lessons from them. We follow the teachings of Jesus.

BertrandRussell Mon 15-May-17 23:11:44

It is absolutely fine for a religious person to pray in any way that does not affect other people. And I suppose people might pray for me and I wouldn't know. But if I said that I did not want to be prayed for, then i would expect my wishes to be upheld.

OnlyaBitStressed Mon 15-May-17 23:20:33

Why don't you teach him about mythology (Greek and Roman ) then he can see where Christianity stole all its ideas from! Try letting him read Percy Jackson! 😀

Ragwort Tue 16-May-17 07:11:46

Westray - Happily my kids are now young adults and atheist.

How would you have felt if your children chose to follow a faith, genuine question, I am not being goady?

My own parents are atheist, yet I have chosen to follow the Christian faith and it means a lot to me; my parents respect my decision & will occasionally join me for Church events etc.

I hope my own DS has he strength of character to follow his own beliefs, not just believe what I believe.

Westray Tue 16-May-17 08:04:14

How would you have felt if your children chose to follow a faith, genuine question, I am not being goady?

I would love them unconditionally. Of course.

But I am glad they have low regard for religion.

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