Childrearing

I’m Not Religious, But I’m Considering Faking It For My Daughter

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Even though my daughter will never learn true spirituality from me, she is surrounded by faith. Both of her grandmothers are extremely involved in their religion. My mother-in-law attends mass everyday and volunteers at a Catholic charity center at least once a week. She taught at a Catholic school her whole life.

I look at the faith my mother and mother-in-law hold and it seems nice. When I hear them pray, I feel the emotion in their voice as they put their troubles and concerns in God’s hands. I think of the relief they must feel at the idea that there is someone up there who loves them and who wants to help them with their troubles. All of this seems so desirable, and yet I can’t bring myself to accept it.

But there is a guilt at the idea of denying my daughter the chance for that faith. I feel bad thinking that she won’t grow up with the community and the support of a church. Even though I chose not to follow that path as an adult, I want her to be able to make that choice on her own and when she’s ready.

For all that people might criticize religious institutions for, and I realize that there’s plenty, churches provide moral outlines and community structure for children. There are studies showing that children who attend church get better grades. Other research says kids who attend church are better behaved. Still more shows that religious teens are less likely to use drugs.

I lost my faith at some point in time, but I never really soured on the idea of religion all together. I still believe that religion is an important part of our society and one that can go a tremendous amount of good.

I would like my daughter to get the chance to see what religion and spirituality look like. And while I plan to explain my own beliefs to her when she’s older, I don’t think that a 5-year-old is ready to understand a position that I still have a hard time explaining to myself. I don’t think she’ll get that I can appreciate and respect church without necessarily believing all of Christianity’s tenants.

For a while at least, it would seem like I need to pretend some sort of religious belief if I really want to get my daughter involved in a church. I would need to go and sit and sing, all the while realizing that I don’t feel emotionally attached to the words that are coming out of my mouth. This might seem disingenuous and horrible to some, but it’s a choice that floats around in the back of my mind.

I’m not trying to tell anyone else that they should pretend to be religious for the sake of their kids. I’m not suggesting that every child needs to go to church. Every parent needs to make religious decisions for themselves. But even though my faith has dissipated, I still appreciate and enjoy the traditions and culture of the religion I learned as a child. I still want to introduce my daughter to spirituality and to church. Right now, I’m just trying to find a way to do that.

(Photo: Tony Bowler/Shutterstock)

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