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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kids and God

I am what you would call a lapsed Catholic. My family went to church every Sunday. We sometimes prayed before meals. I was baptized, received communion, and became confirmed. We all went to CCD every week for years. I was part of the youth group, part of the choir. I knew the priests, deacons and ushers by name.

At age 18, I went to a Catholic College on basically a full-ride scholarship. Through no fault of the school, or the church, or anything that people would normally blame for such a thing, I woke up one morning and God was gone. I looked at the chapel on campus, and I just didn't feel him there anymore.

My security blanket had disappeared, and it wasn't coming back. I left the school and paid to go to a state university instead.

As my children grow, I find myself pondering what I am going to do with them in terms of religion. Both my husband and I come from Catholic families. The babies are baptized, more to keep the peace than anything, although, I figure if there's any truth to the baptized being saved, better to have it done than not. I'd like to save my kids in any way that I can. I'm not trying to be lighthearted about this, it's just that I truly don't know, and since that may possibly be a way to save them from Hell if there is such a place, there's no reason not to do it. Other than, of course, we're not following through on our promises to the church, as of right now.

But should we have to pay a price to a human church to gain the favor of God?

Don't get me wrong, I think the church does a lot of good. I also know (I worked for them recently) that they are a human organization with facets that are completely wrapped up in human desires, like money and status.

I want my children to be good people. I want them to follow the ten commandments, not because they were handed down by God to Moses, but because they're a good set of moral rules in my opinion.

I want my children to be able to make informed choices about their beliefs and ideas. I want them to have ideas. I know that being religious does not prevent that, especially as an adult, and I know that religious adults who fully understand their belief and the role it plays in their lives are capable of showing their children how to use that religion to further their own growth.

That's not me, though. I don't understand where I stand, so how can I properly inform my kids there? I wouldn't have the answers to their questions. Many of my answers would be: because the man in the white robe says so. That's a disservice to both the church and my children.

On the other hand, I'm disillusioned with the church I grew up in, while at the same time still fiercely loyal to it, so that I couldn't imagine changing religions, finding new things to like and dislike about a new belief system. I'm halfway through the journey in Catholicism, should I choose to go back. I don't think I have the stamina to start from the beginning in some new faith. I don't think I could bear the new disappointments sure to meet me when I find those religions also fail in many human ways.

So, where does that leave my kids? How can I prepare them for this complex other-worldly part of life that I don't understand myself? Why is God a fear in my life as my kids develop and grow, and no longer the comfort He was in my own childhood? Do I really want them to wake up one morning as an adult and feel the marked pain of betrayal as the man in the sky vanishes before their eyes? Is it my right to project my experience onto them like that? Is it my right to push them into a religion or away from it? Where is the line?

Religion is a comfort to many people. On some level, it remains so for me. But mostly, it is a terrifying ordeal I'm going to have to straighten out in my own head before my children start asking questions.

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  1. Very thoughtful post! Great questions, to which I have 0 answers.

    I am a very religious person. I believe in God, but have gone through several periods in my life where I felt like he just wasn't there. It's like you said, the security blanket was gone. My difference is I've always been able to find him again.

    I look at my church differntly than some. I look at it to fill my need for community (I can get religion on TV or the itnernet now). When my husband and I were seeking a church home here, not only did we look for one that had the same religious thoughts that we have, but also one that had a community we would fit into. I'm so thankful that we've found one, warts and all. I'm so happy that it's not up to just me to teach my girls about God -- of course, she does come home from Sunday School with some interesting takes on the Bible stories she's learning.

  2. Good post...I think at some point in time we all have these questions. Religion is so massive, it leaves the mind boggled. However, not only do I believe in God. I believe he has the answers. My family comes from a Catholic background but we have abandoned it all together. We believe in salvation and the Bible. God tells us that there is one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus.

    1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

    We go to church to join together with those that believe the Bible but it is so much more than church for us. We don't teach our son that the way to Christ is through the church...ANY church. But through salvation from Jesus Christ.

  3. Awesome post... very thoughful and thought-provoking. I grew up with no organized religion, my mom was raised Catholic and I am not currently in a church or other organized religious/spiritual group. My husband is the son of a preacher and he is also not currently attending a church or participating in an organized religion or spiritual group. We both feel we are deeply spiritual people. Hard to put in a little comment box how it all works for us, but it does. We feel deep connections to other people and the world, etc. LOL... the way I am putting it sounds so trivial... but it isn't! So I'll just stop with saying, again.... really great post!

  4. LOL @ your comment on my blog! If I had twins there is NO WAY I'd have taken them ice skating for their 2nd birthday! And if I had seen a post like mine, I'd be waiting until my kid was at least 4 or 5, too!

  5. This is a really great post...I read it yesterday and have been thinking about it ever since. I'm not Catholic, but I am Christian. The thing is, I think I would really struggle as a parent without my faith. I know it just feels right when I tell my daughter that her grandpa is with Jesus. When we were waiting for her brother to be born she said that he was with Jesus and Grandpa. It just feels right when I tell her she is a child of God and that her friends/acquaintances are also and that that is a good reason to practice being nice. Anyways, I have lots of examples where I feel like I am learning to be a better parent from the scriptures. I am also convinced that God supports and strengthens parents, even when we don't always realize it. ;)

    I also think it's important that every person choose for themselves...of course, I hope that my children will choose to believe in God and trust Him, but I think that if they don't make a deliberate choice (whether at 12 or 20) it won't really mean anything to them. I know the world they are growing up in will expose them to life without God. I've worked, I've taught school, I've seen TV and internet, and I know what's out there. I feel like, if they are going to be able to make a choice then I have to give them an option with God. Then, at least they will be able to choose between the two.

    I have a lot of other opinions about some of the issues you raised, but I think they really boil down to the idea that I feel like I am a better parent for having religion. That religion affects so many facets of life that I am particularly grateful for, and (while I would love for my children to choose the same path as me) I think it is important for them to choose. (I hope you were expecting lots of novel-length comments on this one! lol)


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