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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curly... curlycues

So if you are a Christian/buddist/etc.that automatically negates one being a leader? Seems very biased to me. To really be free to choose that means you both would have to not show any negativity to people of faith and have respect for them. Your article shows none of that. Calling them followers and other negatives shows you believe you are correct. Nothing wrong with that, I believe in free choice but let's not package that as fair and equal. We all believe we are right generally, but what makes your right any less important than another person's right? I'm not peeved just showing how perhaps you aren't as open as you say you are.

early... earlybird11

CURLYCUES - of course its biased, this is THESTIR ;)
if we let children pick their dinners - they would eat ice cream, pancakes and chocolate milk eveery night; no need to let them make the big decisions likew religion when they should not have to. they will feel pressured or they will go rouge... have fun when your kid decides to become a wiccan ;)

nonmember avatar Okay

If your children decided to become Christian, you probably would disown them.

Ashleigh Munson

Your family sounds a lot like mine. Husband is a former Mormon, I grew up baptised Catholic but not raised in the religion at all. He's an atheist, I consider myself more agnostic and no, we're not introducing religion to our kids. If they want to explore when they're older and take a faith, more power to them.

bossy... bossyjossy

I am not sure the post is saying you are a follower for being a certain religion, but you are if you just do what your parents tell you without making your own decison on the matter....I can't imagine making my childs choice of religion. It is personal and important, people should make that choice on their own.

nonmember avatar angelina

its so nice to see an article like this. I am raising my children the same. I want them to question and see how alot of them are the same and how christianity took alot of things from pagans, so they can actually see the truth without being blinded by pressure and friends to believe. thankyou for the wonderful article!

Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder

Faith in God is a true gift. Religion is how we choose to connect with others in a faith community. There is no religion without faith. Ms. Reece sorely confuses faith and religion in her piece and talks about religion like it’s a NFL team you choosing to cheer on to the playoffs. "We strive to live good lives, and do good, but we do it just to feel happy with ourselves.” is pure narcissism.

And, by the way, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (“He saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him”, Matthew 13) – a precursor to Jesus’ baptizing the faithful with the Holy Spirit. Baptism’s not something that came “from people” and is not a method of “safety.” Ms. Reece may want to take a good Bible course.

Passing on this faith to your child is the greatest gift you can in turn give in return for the gift given you. And providing children a venue for actively living, solidifying and promoting that faith to others is to continue the mission of Christ. Yes, religions like Catholicism are steeped in tradition . . . But tradition is what binds the generations together. It’s why we celebrate Independence Day and Thanksgiving. They connect our past, present and future. I suppose Ms. Reece doesn’t have her kids take part in “man-made traditions” she claims to detest like watching fireworks or eating turkey either?

AliPa... AliParker

Most of my family (mom, grandma, etc.) believe in god. I don't believe in such things. I think it's nice to see an article that actually allows for their kids to be themselves with something that is so controversial. If my kids ever want to know more about religions I will let them. And I answer things as honestly as I can.

nonmember avatar Karen

Let your kids choose a religion is fine. I was raised like that and so was my fiancé.

Ann-Marie: just because someone doesn't have faith or religion doesn't make them not celebrate a holiday. Some people don't, but not all. Oh and for the record this mother this mother is not promoting narcissism. If you want to be happy for you... That's not a sin in any damn faith.

By the way thanksgiving was a massacre of the natives. Easter is ostra and is about fertility before it was turned into 'god day'. Holloween is Sowen and also Pagan like Easter. Christmas is just a edit of Yule and winter.

Christians stole everything and said "god" did it but in reality it was the humans. The crazy fan boys and girls of god that this mother doesn't want her kids to be I think.

Gamer... Gamer_mom1

Early bird so what if her kid becomes Wiccan? Your Christian arrogance and bigotry is showing

Bottom line people are shitless. They've been threatened with eternal torture by the creators of their religion if they don't do everything te creaters, errr, deity, says

So they try to force their cults on their kids. When one religion becomes a majority they tend to think they are the best and most important

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