Parents Provide the Foundation When It Comes to Beliefs About God & Religion

family praying at tableAt some point in any family, the topic of religion will come up: what is it, what do you believe, and why do you believe it. Goldie Hawn recently spoke on Oprah's Master Class about a conversation she had with her daughter Kate, then 4 years old, who asked, "Mommy, is God my cousin?" It's a cute story that, as you can imagine, has brought up some interesting questions in the comment section.


If you write about something like God, sex, or pancakes, the Internet is going to have strong opinions about it. In the comment section of the Oprah article, people are debating whether or not religion is brainwashing and if you should always leave your child space to disagree with you on your religious views.

Here are a few examples:

You cannot force your views on anybody. You can express your views but not force [sic]...I would make it illegal to brainwash small children.

I wish it was illegal to teach kids religion until they reached the age of reason. I think we'd have a much saner world.

You're right, we can't force our views on anybody but God sent His Son to die for our sins whether you believe it or not..He's not just a feeling.

Religious indoctrination of children who have not yet developed an ability to think critically is child abuse and should be prosecuted as a felony.

Let's assume that most people that go to church or temple are in the mode of goodness, and on the flip-side, most convicted prisoners are in the mode of ignorance... please meditate on how their (prisoners) chosen lifestyles led them to become convicted prisoners, e.g. drugs, killed innocent beings, robbery, stealing, DUIs, etc. 

Whoa, Nelly.

More from The Stir: Atheist Mom Talks Losing Her Religion While Raising 7 Kids

A whole lot of people seem to think that one's religious practice should be monitored by our legal system, which I'm pretty sure would be a terrible, terrible idea no matter which side you're on.

I'm an atheist. My kids and I have only talked about the idea of God a few times, and that has been when a classmate has said something to them about it. I tell them what I believe, and what other people believe, and leave it at that. They are free to make their own decisions about it. Other parents may tell their children that their belief is the right belief, but I can't really blame them for that. 

Think about all the things we tell our children that we state as fact but are really just our opinion: eating meat is wrong, school is important, the Seahawks are the best team in football, olives are disgusting, etc. If you are deeply religious and believe that your path is the one that leads to happiness and heaven, I can see why you would teach that to your kids as fact. Because for you, it is.

More from The Stir: Choosing Their Religion: I'm Raising My Kids to Think For Themselves

Ideally, we would make allowances for other points of view when it comes to religion. But eventually, all kids are going to question the things they learned growing up, anyway, and will at some point make a choice about what they want to continue to believe. Parents provide the foundation, but kids will build off of that foundation on their own.

The idea that we can raise our children without passing on our personal values is nonsensical. No child is raised in a vacuum, left completely on their own to form opinions about the world. As parents, our job is to guide them toward what we think is the right way to live; in that sense, isn't all parenting brainwashing of a sort? 

More from The Stir: Dear Grandma, Stop Taking My Child to Church

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make sure my kids' Seahawks jerseys are clean in time for the game tomorrow.


Image via P Deliss/Corbis Images

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