DO PARENTS OWE THEIR CHILDREN RELIGION?
The following is an exchange that occurred because of a short story posted on Wattpad, and a corresponding circumstance in Pride’s Children (though it may be years before you understand that last statement).
It is my own personal opinion, based on my observations of my family and the families of friends, meant as a conversation starter; usual commenting rules apply.
Where are the obstacles, by definition?
When a Muslim marries a Hindu, or a Christian a Jew, or even an atheist a religious person, it is often seen as the great triumph of tolerance over prejudice, and there are rainbows and falling stars.
When children come, this tolerance can take three nasty turns (not always, of course, but they are BUILT IN to the situation):
1) ‘allowing the other parent to choose the child’s religion’ suddenly becomes ‘bringing up MY child opposite to MY beliefs,’ or
2) bringing the children up as both (an impossibility), or
3) bringing up the children, of parents who were brought up with something, to be brought up with nothing.
Having one parent keep his or her hands off the religious education of the children, and ‘support’ the other’s efforts, doesn’t fool anyone: the kids know Daddy doesn’t believe what Mommy believes – kids are not stupid.
The final option – NOT having children – is a partial solution which must be strongly enforced for the whole duration of life by BOTH partners – a big leap when you’re 20 or 30.
Consequences of attraction.
giving the kids a vague idea of each parents’ beliefs and ‘letting them choose when they grow up,’
is the most common result, accompanied by the next generation not really having much of anything.
Love does NOT conquer all, not very long.
The situation often comes about because opposites are very attractive among people in the marriage marketplace, for a while. People fall in love before they think about the consequences, and the farthest thing from their mind may be adding small expensive bundles of work to a free-spirited relationship.
But the drive to procreate in your own image is powerful, or people wouldn’t spend time and money trying to conceive when Nature hasn’t made them co-fertile.
Think before you get married.
Spend a lot of time with your intended’s family – get to know each other’s actual beliefs – as distinct from the ones you are trying out in college or work.
Talk about these things – once you have that baby, it’s too late.
Have the guts not to go into a marriage hoping ‘things will all work out.’
Respect, love, and tolerance for other people’s beliefs is important in a society such as ours where many religions – and non-religious people – coexist, mostly peacefully.
The disappearance of religious beliefs and practices developed over thousands of years, which help us understand our place in the universe, and cope with the inevitable blows of life, shouldn’t happen by accident.
If you don’t believe – fine. Your choice. And religion has done plenty of damage when applied autocratically.
I just think we owe our children more than Oops!