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How Am I Going To Explain This To My Kids?

Whenever there is a sex scandal or just about anything at all having to do with sex or sexuality, Christians are often quick to complain, “How am I going to explain this to my kids?” I never really understood their complaint until somewhat recently. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t understand the complaint in relation to sexuality, but lately I have been asking the same question about a different subject matter… Churches!

With a church on practically every street corner and church bells sounding every day at noon, my two and a half year old often asks, “What’s that Dada?” How am I going to explain that to my son? It’s a building people go to listen to make-believe stories? He’s start thinking that churches are libraries when they are pretty much the opposite of libraries. People go to libraries to learn and churches prevent learning.

I know I have to explain religion to my son at some point, but I was thinking that when he was old enough to understand and think logically, I would take him on a tour of various religious houses of worship and have him talk to various religious leaders about their beliefs. That way he could ask reasonable questions right from the source and he could compare what they say with what other religious leaders say. My hope of course is that he would see them all as equally ridiculous.

The thing is that right now, he is not old enough to really understand what is being preached. He is too young and his brain hasn’t developed enough for such an exercise. So what do I tell him in the meantime without indoctrinating him in my own lack of belief? I want to educate him in an unbiased fashion, but because religion is so focused on indoctrination, it makes it nearly impossible for me to educate my son about religion without some form of indoctrination.

So when we see a church on the street corner or hear the church bells cause noise pollution at noon, how am I going to explain it to my kids?

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  • Sarah_jenkins2

    Don’t mention religion to him yet,he is too young and really,you do’t need to,just get him interested in science,start with simple things like blowing bubbles,things that float and sink,dry sand with wet sand,get active and explain why and how these things occur,make this the norm before the later discussions about religion.

  • http://thebrunettesblog.wordpress.com Ginny

    That’s a really good, hard question. At your son’s age, kids pretty much want and need true-or-false answers, not complicated questions to make up their own minds on. My advice is to give him the most simple, factual answers you can; his follow-up questions will tell you both what he needs to know to satisfy his curiosity, and what level of complexity he’s able to handle. I might start with “a church is a place where some people go to meet every week.” If he asks why they go there, you might follow up with “to see their friends and talk about things they think are important.” You might point out times when you do the same thing (meet with friends and talk about things you think are important.)

    It might be comforting to remember that kids can internalize a lot of really wrong ideas, and then readjust them fairly quickly as their brains develop. Our next-door neighbors were Jewish growing up, and we knew that being Jewish meant not being Christian, and that being Christian was good. So my brother and I, at about three and four, were unclear on whether the Holzapfels were good, trustworthy people: I vaguely remember being a little nervous around them, and I vividly remember my brother saying one day, “How can Jewish people have such pretty flowers?” That’s horrifying, of course: the good news is that our parents set us straight pretty quickly once they became aware of our attitude, and we had a very friendly neighborly relationship with them as we grew up. So if, despite your best efforts, your son gets a really confused, wrong idea about religion, or anything else, it’s not the end of the world, as long as you maintain open conversations with him.

  • Mrpeach

    I’d say the simple explanation is best – that some people never stop playing make believe and that’s where they go to pretend together.

  • skm9

    For now, I’d leave the religious stuff out and just tell him it’s a group meeting or club. Later, I think I’d explain it in the context of culture and sociability- which is all it is for most pew-warmers. They go because their parents and their neighbors do.

  • http://statusviatoris.wordpress.com/ Status Viatoris

    I think that keeping it simple is the best idea, although he is so very young that I’m not sure how much sense even a simple explanation would make to him. I would tell him that different people believe in different things, and that you personally believe in science. I’m not sure that belittling religions at this stage (or indeed at any stage unless engaged in rational argument with an intellectual equal) is appropriate and by making it a taboo subject you may pave the way for it to become a source of rebellion against you when the adolescent angst kicks in. Anyway, best of luck! I haven’t read many of your posts yet, but I assume you have a supportive partner/spouse who shares your views, and therein lies half the battle – I have still to find an atheist to father my offspring as I would rather eat them at birth than run the risk of them being indoctrinated into any organised religion!