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Jesus Freak: Your Religion Shouldn’t Trump Your Kid’s Health

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When I hear stories of parents who have believed in faith for their child’s healing, only to have a child die, it breaks my heart. The reason it does is because it scares me. I can understand where these parents are coming from, and I feel like I was “this close” to being that type of parent myself. I don’t think it is right to let your child die when medical treatment is available, but I can understand these parents’ mentality and how desperate and crushed they must feel after losing a child like that.

Yes, I know what the typical response to this will be. These parents are idiots. They are negligent. They should just take their child to the doctor. I’m not saying that I would follow in their footsteps; I’m just saying I understand. This type of faith culture is very familiar to me. I think it helps to put ourselves in other parents’ shoes before we are so quick to call them bad parents.

I personally believe in prayer and healing, but I always, always, always take my kids to the doctor at the first hint of any illness. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m not going to stop believing God. I also am not entirely sure how I plan to teach my kids about healing when they get older. To me, it is a beautiful belief system and a wonderful part of my relationship with God. Yet I don’t want to force any belief on them so that it becomes rote and empty.

When we see parents who refuse medical treatment because of their religious beliefs, I think we can all agree that is not the best parenting move. It is wonderful to have faith and even share this faith with your children, if you are so inclined. It is not acceptable to risk your child’s health or even life because of religious principles, when medical treatment is right around the corner.

We can all agree that this behavior is wrong, but I still am not so quick to judge. Every time one of these headlines comes up where a parent refuses medical treatment because of their faith, I cringe—partially because I feel for the child and partially because I understand the parent’s motivation. I do believe that many parents in these situations are good parents with the best intentions who so desperately want God to heal their children. But that doesn’t change the fact that no matter what you believe, your child’s health comes first.

(Image: manifeesto/Shutterstock)

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