Posted by: nimbu | February 25, 2007

How to “grow” atheist children

Should I treat God like I treat Santa? Is it OK to let kids believe in God, just through the early years and then tell them later that He’s not real. If kids can get over the shock of “no Santa”, would they get over God as easily? I won’t be building up God to be this “be all”, “be everywhere” sort of being; I simply won’t take a militant stance against God. Although I would love to.

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Responses

  1. Hi nimbu,
    I come from a very religious family. No one has ever been an atheist in my family and probably no one will ever be. I was born and brought up a religious person. Even today my parent are religious. I became an atheist after some amount of self-introspection. Hence I would strongly suggest that children be brought up in a religious way without references to atheistic principles. When they are old enough, they will learn about these things themselves and make a choice of their own.

    If your kid is going to say there is no Santa or even no God, he is sure to have problems with other kids. Think about it this way too.

  2. I think the best is to let them figure it out for themselves. That really means you don’t have to bring up religion until they ask. Then, you can explain to them about religion and also about non-religion, and let them figure it out for themselves. There’s no need to take a militant stance towards God. It’s much easier to just ignore God until the topic comes up naturally.

  3. I am a practicing Buddhist (Buddhism does not recognise God/god)
    and here is what I have to say
    maybe you can god to the qualities that you want your child to imbibe like fearlessness, questioning mind, compassion etc and i mean such qualities and not virtues/morality issues to god. I mean giving more attention to ‘you should be brave’ than to god loves you or doesn’t love.
    Because as a kid going to school with children belonging to other faith,living in a country that celebreates Eid/Christmas or whatever with gusto it might aliniate kids if they don’t have something to hold on to.
    Also in your case maybe aethiesm is borne out of self reflection, study etc why impose it on children who might develop a chip on shoulder or try to make statemebnts wherever and whenever…
    ummm is my comment very inarticulate?
    Hope you get what I am saying…
    besides you can always make your own god, in the sense my god would be this nice regular guy who lets me argue and doesn’t give up on me…
    too idealistic? do let us know what you think of it…

  4. Ultimately your children will take their accumulated knowledge and experience from your guidance and their environment and make up their own minds. More than ‘forcing’ a dogmatic ideology (whether religious or not) upon them I believe children should be taught options and thus learn tolerance.

    It is the one noun most sorely lacking in the world today.

  5. I have the same question as Nimbu. It is not so simple as to leave it and wait for them to ask. My 5yr old have been introduced to god etc by teachers who are not suppose to taught/preach christianity at school. He gets told god/jesus stories almost everyday by them. Things like thank god for your lunch? If you are good boy god will love you. I have not spoken to him about religion as I though he was to young, Now what do i do?

  6. Thank you all for your advice. I guess my approach is going to be an evolving one. I think it’s best to tackle the subject of God when it is initiated by the child.

    I agree with you that children will be exposed to God/gods in school by other kids. I think it’s easier to deal with that than it is to “create” a culture of God at home. My children look up to me, as their father. When they hear something from me, they believe it. When they hear something from a friend, it doesn’t carry as much weight.

    So I will discuss with my child, when they encounter God at school from other kids. My approach is going to be open minded: Many people believe that God created everything. Some believe in Jesus, some Muhammad, etc. And I will tell them what part of the world we came from and what Muslims believe.

    When challenged with what I believe, I think it’s fair to appear agnostic. It leaves open the idea of God without picking one particular faith to follow. By saying “I don’t know”, hopefully I will keep my children’s minds wide open.

    Thanks again.

  7. I can not believe that any of these assholes told you to lie to your children!

    Never lie to your children!

  8. How abt teaching them abt every religion and letting them make their own minds up? discuss every aspect of religion including the possibility of god not existing…like the wat i was raised


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