Frank Shaeffer over at Patheos is writing a great series at the moment on parenting. Short, pithy little bites on how to not suck at raising your kids, which, I’m ashamed to admit, I found really useful this week (ashamed because I was being a terrible mother, not because I’m ashamed to take his advice, yes?).
Today’s post is titled ‘God and All That For Your Kids’ and in it he discusses the question of passing on your faith, or lack of it, to your children.
So don’t wait for certainty before you do anything about faith for your kids. Don’t rob your children of comfort just because of your doubts.
It’s a big question for those of us who are, shall we say, ‘unsure’ of our own position. How much uncertainty and questioning is appropriate for a small child, given that 1- children will believe what their parents believe (at least for a while) and 2- I don’t want to convince my child to believe something when I don’t know how I’ll feel about it myself a year from now.
In my post ‘Why I’m glad that I was raised as a Godless heathen’ , I decided that the freedom to choose, without the constraints of expectation and dogma, had been really important in my spiritual formation. Of course, I could be totally wrong about that. Maybe if I’d been given some gentle nudging I’d be more settled and nestled in my own faith now.
So, in regards to my boys, I think that ‘gentle nudging’ is the way to go. They know that I believe that God is ‘probably’ real, although we won’t know absolutely for certain until we die. They know that their Daddy, and in fact most of their relatives, don’t believe in God at all, and that that’s OK. They also know, however, that Mummy has spent MUCH MUCH more time thinking about these issues and so therefore her opinion should probably carry more weight.
They also know that they can come to church with me at anytime, an offer that I’m sure one of them might even take me up on. Eventually…