If You Are Raising Your Kids With Religion, Do It For The Right Reasons
When you are born into a religion, it can be difficult to abandon those beliefs later in life. I was born to a Catholic family. I made all of my sacraments, including being married in a Catholic church. My children are both baptized Catholic and our daughter attended a religious education class during the last school year. I admit that most of this was done to please my family and my husband’s. That notion no longer sits right with us- religion is an intensely personal thing and should not be done for anyone’s sake but your own. It took me a long time to realize that but now that I am firm in my belief (or lack thereof), I am done trying to appease anyone else. Raising your kids with religion is a personal choice that should be made for the right reasons.
My questioning of the Catholic faith began a long time ago. I did not want to be confirmed in high school and fought my parents tooth and nail. I was fifteen and apparently, my arguments fell flat because I did it in the end. It wasn’t that I did not believe in God, I just wasn’t sure, frankly, how I felt about organized religion as a whole. There were things specifically about the Catholic church that bothered me but my questioning was not limited to Catholicism. The idea of having my own beliefs that did not necessarily adhere to any particular church doctrine appealed to me. I did not like the thought of being limited to only what the Catholic church believed and wanted to explore on my own.
That said, I have spent the last 10 years only attending church when I had to- weddings, major holidays, remembrance masses, etc. I have never really felt much of anything at Catholic mass other than boredom. It has never “spoke” to me and when I leave the church, I feel no differently than when I came in. Besides my own belief that certain aspects of Catholicism leave much to be desired, I also felt silly attending when I was basically just going through the motions. If I felt nothing, why bother? It seemed pointless to me. When I talked to my husband about it, he admitted that he too only did these things out of habit and guilt. He also believes in God but feels no urge to attend Catholic mass. It helps that we are on the same page.
Now that our daughter is at the age where she would be making her First Communion, we had to take a firm stance once and for all. Going through the motions myself was one thing but encouraging my child to participate in a religion that I was, at best, only tolerating seemed disingenuous. Yes, family- come to her Communion and the party after- throw our kid $50 even though we have no intention of reinforcing any of this at home or continuing to go to church. It just seemed like a big lie and I could not take part in it any longer. We had made the argument once that we would let the kids make their sacraments and allow them to make the choice down the line but if we aren’t into it ourselves, why bother? We made the decision to stop altogether- no more religious education classes, no Communion.
Telling my parents was difficult- frankly, I was dreading it. I may be nearly 33 years old but I still don’t like disappointing them. My mother was surprisingly supportive and understood our reasoning. My father was not thrilled about it but didn’t give me a hard time. I know he doesn’t like it but he also respects me as a parent and acknowledges that it is our choice to make. I was thankful for their reactions as it made it easier for us to move forward.
One thing I had to let go of in order to make this decision in good conscience is the belief ingrained in me over my lifetime that church and religion are the only ways to instill good morals into our children.Â Part of the reason I was able to let go is realizing that despite the lack of religion in our lives, we are definitely raising good and moral children who know right from wrong. Also, God is accepted in our home and we do occasionally read Bible stories to our children- we are just doing it all on our own terms. If another religion, or even another Christian church spoke to us, we would give it a try. We are not closed to religion entirely, we just know the religion we were raised in is not for us anymore. It feels good to finally be able to say that out loud and to raise our children according to what we believe.