being a mom

It’s Not Christian To Only Let Your Kids Play With Other Christians

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shutterstock_108333338Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world was a simple, peaceful place where everyone was the same? If we all had the same beliefs and shared the same values, then everyone would always get along. No one would ever fight or get divorced or be exposed to any kind of evil that could possibly draw them to the dark side. Basically, just pretend like the bad things aren’t there, and they don’t exist.

I have to be honest with you. Even writing that paragraph gave me rage hives. I was raised in an environment where everything had to have the Christian brand on it, including friends, or else it was “bad.” I have talked before about what a distaste I have for labels like “bad” and “good” for many reasons. Most of all, if a kid grows up believing in a staunchly religious paradigm of “good” and “bad,” they will soon begin to hate themselves when they don’t live up to the holiest of expectations. If you think I am being overly dramatic, just ask almost anyone raised in a fundamentalist home.

I would like to emphasize that God is not bad. I also believe in Jesus and the Bible, but strict religion with strict rules places an unnecessary burden on kids. On top of that, if you want to segregate your life to only include Christianity, you are sheltering your child. You are not exposing them to the real world. You are not giving them the full picture—and that is your job as a parent.

Maybe people don’t act like this in your neck of the woods, but I could identify with this Reddit thread completely. In the thread, the parent describes church attendance as a prerequisite for letting kids play together:

I mean come on, I’m Christian and all, but we don’t belong to a church. We can be spiritual without it. Plus I haven’t found one in my area that I really connect with. I also don’t think my child can only play with other Christian kids. That seems ridiculous to me. “Little Billy, have you accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior?”

Come on. If I have one more mom ignore me after they find out I don’t belong to a church, I think I might scream. Surely in a sea of these self rituous mothers there’s one who doesn’t care how we practice our faith. I just want a mom group!!I

This parent’s account makes me sad and mad at the same time. I do call myself a Christian, but I do so loosely precisely because of the many judgmental Christians who give faith a bad name. It should be obvious to almost anyone who doesn’t have religious blinders on that it is not loving or humble or selfless (per the example of Jesus) to require church attendance in order to associate with people. I really don’t get how this misconception continues to spread in religious communities.

I want my kids to grow up to believe in God because I personally value my relationship with God so, so much, but I’m not going to force it. I’m also happy that I’ve stepped back from the strict church environment that is often marred by exclusivity, described in the post above. I am not saying that all church groups are like this; I know of many excellent churches and excellent Christians.

However, I think the one thing any parent can take away from this situation, regardless of their belief system, is that it is beneficial to expose your kids to as many types of people as you can. This is the only true way to teach acceptance and unconditional love.

(Images: Jiri Hera/Shutterstock)