Choosing Their Religion: I'm Raising My Kids to Think for Themselves

heather reese family

Even from before our babies are born, we swear up and down that we want our unique little snowflakes to be different than other kids and that we will teach them to think for themselves. We want them to be leaders, not followers. We have big hopes and dreams that they might change the world and make it a better place. We want to teach them the skills they need to make responsible decisions on their own. But there's one decision that a lot of parents make for their kids that could leave them feeling very lost and confused later in life.


Somewhere around 400 AD, Augustine came up with the idea of "original sin," stating that everyone is descendants of Adam and Eve and has inherited Adam's sin from birth. Parents basically started freaking out, thinking that their kids would never make it into Heaven (should they die before they were older) if they didn't have some way to show that their babies, who couldn't make decisions for themselves yet, had some showing of dedication to God. So the idea of baptism, in terms of infants, did not come from the Bible. It came from people. The Bible actually says that a child is safe until they are of the age to make the decision on their own.

So why is it that one of the first rites of passage that an infant goes through is baptism? Why do people teach their children to think for themselves, and to listen to their hearts, but then take this one very important life-altering decision away from them?

I was baptized as an infant, in a Catholic church. Growing up, we didn't attend church a whole lot but went to the occasional church function or midnight mass. I believed in God until after I graduated high school. Certain events took place in my life that led me to question why it was that I ever believed, and what it was that I really believed in, and what made sense to me. It was a very long process for me to come to the realization that it was okay if I didn't believe in God, and that I was free to believe in what I wanted. And it was all because I grew up in a house that was inherently religious, simply because it had been for generations and just passed down like a tradition. But I never felt comfortable with it. Something just didn't sit right with me about it, and I never could figure out why until I realized that believing was a choice I could make. 

I'm an atheist. So is my husband, Arick. We aren't any different than you because of it. We strive to live good lives, and do good, but we do it just to feel happy with ourselves. Not for a promise of getting into heaven or the fear of ending up in hell. We didn't baptize any of our kids. Dylan is 10 and leans toward atheism. Piper is 9 and isn't sure yet. The younger kids don't know any different either way. We've always told them that they are free to believe what they want. If they want to go to church and check it out, we will take them. If they choose not to believe, that's okay too. I raise my kids to think for themselves, and I'm certainly not about to counteract that with having them take part in a man-created tradition that will set them up for a life of following rather than leading because they feel like they have to believe what everyone else does.

I don't want them growing up believing something just because it's what generations of people before me believed. I don't want them being confused later in life if they start questioning things, which is exactly what they SHOULD do. Nothing in this world will ever change if nobody questions things, and everyone just goes along with what they were told. Great leaders aren't born by following other people. 

So why do people make this important decision for their kids before they are able to decide for themselves?

Do you think kids should make up their own minds about religion?


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