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Advice anyone? December 15, 2007

Posted by sel4592 in atheism, belief, religion.
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Ok, a little background.  I have an 11 year old son.  I am divorced and he spends the school year with is mom in Iowa (I live in Georgia).  I also see him for a couple of weeks over the christmas holidays.   Now, the meat of the issue.  His mother is an avid born again fundy…scary, I know.  I, of course, am a militant athiest-something neither he nor his mom know (although, I think his mom probably does know, but refuses to accept.).  I am beginning to think that he is of an age when he would probably understand my stance, but he has also been brought up by his mother to believe the same crap she believes.  We do have conversations now and then about evolution, dinosaurs, science, space, etc. so he does know my views on these things, but I have never flat out told him-I don’t believe in god.  I often view things this way-his mom programs him, I de-program him.  But the god thing has never really come up-yet, but I know it will eventually.  I guess my question is, to those who want to answer.  Is it time that I just come out and start talking to him about what I think religion is, what god is (is not) and what my feelings are?  I want to tell him (and I actually do, but I don’t know if he listens) to keep an open mind and not to be afraid to question things.  Not to just accept things as he is told by the other side of his family (his mom’s mom is an even more virulent christian wacko (bring on the rapture!!!)).  My side of the family is full of educated people most of whom are either atheist or agnostic or just plain don’t care. What do you think? 

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1. lpkalal - December 15, 2007

Hi. I am a well educated believer (yes, there are intellects out there who buy into this “crap!”) and I’ll tell you how I approach this for my children. My husband and I know we cannot force our faith on our children. It is their choice. If they feel they had no choice, they will one day walk away out from Christianity of curiosity anyway (have seen this happen alot). When I tell my older daughter about some particular Christian belief, I often let her know as well that not everyone believes this way. That there are other views out there. As much as I want her to become a Christian (because I believe it is true), I also know this is her choice and if she senses I have railroaded her, that would be quite injurious. And it cuts both ways. People can be as dogmatic in other arenas, and it is important, I think, to give kids the tools to make up their own minds, not to say “this is right and that is wrong,” but to teach them how to process intellectually to come up to their own conclusions. (I admit, this is easier said than done!). Therefore, I think you definitely should share who you are and what you believe (or not) with your son. That is being real and honest. But you need to also tell him what you believe is your opinion and he has to make up his own mind. The minute he senses in any way that you are categorizing his mother’s beliefs as wrong or ignorant, you will have put him in a corner, having to choose betwen you two. That is not fair to anyone. Just my opinion for what it’s worth.

2. sel4592 - December 15, 2007

Thanks, Ipkalal. I do agree with you and I never denigrate his mom’s beliefs, but I do often tell him, not everyone believes the same thing. I have just never really told him what I believe (or don’t).

3. lpkalal - December 15, 2007

I think an 11 year old can handle it.

4. lpkalal - December 15, 2007

Would be curious to hear how it goes. By the way, where did you get that funky picture? Is that you with the long sideburns?

5. sel4592 - December 17, 2007

No, its actually Michael Palin from an old monty python skit!

6. lpkalal - December 17, 2007

another thot has come to me since my first post. I don’t know, but maybe it would be a good idea to let his mother know that you are going to share your position with your son before you do it, as a courtesy (and so she isn’t surprised). You can assure her then it’s not an attempt to “turn him away from God,” but to share who you really are. If she is grounded in her faith, she won’t worry anyway, but it might be a nice gesture. Just a thot. Well, I’ve seen a little monty python here and there, but not familiar with that guy, but sure does remind me of old pix of my husband…

7. baptizedbyice - December 19, 2007

As far as telling the mom, in the ideal situation I would say that you should because it would avoid potentially explosive problems. But then I also know that with divorces, a lot of other issues arise and I do not know her, so you’ll have to judge the best answer I guess, but she may make it harder for you trying to educate your son if you tell her.

As far as general advice, I would say that you should tell your son what you believe and also give him information on other viewpoints, but when discussing yours and others ideas I wouldn’t mention Chrisitanity by saying “your mom believes, etc” and you seem like someone who won’t do that. After you begin to tell him though, it might be a good tell his mom what you have said and that your intentions are to educate him, not convert him. Good luck, it seems like your son is a lucky guy.

8. lpkalal - December 19, 2007

baptized — you have no link to your blog. I didn’t at first and can show you how. Stop by my blog and leave your email.

9. sel4592 - December 20, 2007

Baptizedbyice, thanks for your views. I will say that part of me says, that since I was never consulted and am still not consulted by her concerning the moral/philosphical upbringing of my son in her household, that she doesn’t get to have me ask for her “permission” to tell my son what I think. The other part of me, that dratted nice part, says that I should keep her in the loop. He will be here (we are both spending the holidays with my family in Colorado) tomorrow, so we will see what will happen over next couple of weeks as we talk.

10. lpkalal - December 20, 2007

Don’t you hate that “dratted nice part?”


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