Think Twice About Raising Your Kids In A Religious Fundamental Home

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shutterstock_152437568I was raised in a very strict Christian home, and unsurprisingly, I have mixed feelings about it. I am still a Christian today. I truly value my relationship with God, but I do not think it is a coincidence that my relationship with God has gotten stronger and I have started to love myself more now that I no longer go to church.

People tell you when you become a parent that you’ll suddenly understand why your parents made the choices that they did. You’ll have more compassion for your own parents now that you are a parent and you see firsthand how hard it is. I am having the completely opposite experience. There are many things my parents did, which my mom has openly apologized for, such as raising us strictly fundamental and religious, that I would never do to my kids.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching your kids about God or whatever you believe in. There is something wrong with teaching your kids that one way is the only way and that there is “bad” and “good” in the world. As much as you want your kids to be good and do good, and all parents do to a degree, they will feel bad about themselves and everyone around them when they don’t live up to expectations. Trust me on this one.

The unfortunate thing about fundamental religion, aside from God, is that there is no room for interpretation. This is the same view taken by extremists of any group, and it is dangerous. I wasn’t raised in a cult, but I was raised strictly Southern Baptist and then evangelical. My parents hopped through a handful of different denominations in Texas, but the message remained the same: Do what God tells you, or you are a sinner.

The reason that I am not bashing God and still love God so much is because I know that this is not God’s message. One thing that happened after I became a parent was that I understood a Father-like God. I’m not trying to push a religious agenda in this post, but I still do believe in the Bible for myself. Now I can completely understand how God can love unconditionally as I watch my kids grow. I would never tell them they are bad. I would never stop loving them because of something they did, especially a “major sin” like being gay. That is not even a blip on my radar.

I have so much to say on this topic, but here is the summation: It is wonderful to raise your kids up in your beliefs and give them your perspective on the world. Every parent does this. But please, parents, question what you believe if there is no room for other perspectives or if your belief system is based staunchly on “bad” and “good” or “right” and “wrong.” I know you are well-meaning and you just want your kids to go the right way and have a good life, but if your beliefs really are true, you don’t have to force them. If what you believe really is the best way and the right way, then your kids will naturally believe it on their own.

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