I could not think of the best wording to fit everthing in the title.
Just a little background...
I am currently pregnant with my first child. The father and I are not married, and probably will not be getting married. I, myself, am an alternative religion. My family is not very religious as all. The father considers himself christian, but not extremely devout, and he does not attend church. His family, though, is very religious and conservative.
I have nothing against religion (I myself am religious, just an alternative religion). But I do not want to expose the baby to too much religion until it is older, better able to understand some things...and then I wanted to let it go to different types of services and learn about many different faiths. I do not want religion forced on it, and I want it to be able to decide what religious path is right for it when it is old enough.
My issue is, I am afraid the father's family may try to "force" religious aspects into stuff. I need to figure out a way to deal with this, without causing too much tension.
For example, they have already given a few things for the baby that have huge religious Christian over tones...like books, clothing, etc. How do I ask them politely not to give items like this? How do I handle other "religious" situations, if and when they arrive?
Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
(P.S. I will NOT even be exposing the kid to my religion until it is older. So I am not discriminating against just one religion. I want to go ALL religion free with it until it is a bit older).
How is my story sad? There is NOTHING wrong with being an alternative religion. You also do NOT have to be married to be good parents. There is no reason to feel sorry for me.
And why do I need to get well? I am not sick, and nowhere in my post did I say I was sick...I just wanted advice on dealing with a situation.
It is assumptions like yours that makes me want to put off exposing my child to ANY religion until they are old enough to understand and have the critical thinking skills to handle all the info.
And if you read further into my post...I am NOT targeting just one religion. I am having ALL religions left out until the kid is older...including my religion.
I am very strong in my faith and really wish to pass that on to my children. The exact religion is less important to me than my child's faith. To that end, I do not know how you would make a "no God" ban to your relative.
However, I do have two things to think about. 1. For many people their own faith is important, it sounds like your faith is important to you, as you do belong to a religious organization. It appears that most children who are not exposed to any religious beliefs at an early age grow up to be a person who does not choose any sort of religion and does not believe in any higher power.
2. Letting a child choose their religion when they are older (and not exposing them now) could be considered equivalent to letting your child choose when they want to go to bed (without ever teaching them the importance of sleep), or letting them choose whatever they want to eat (without ever teaching them about nutrition), etc.
My personal advice, if you would like your child to be able to think critically about, and be able to choose for himself his beliefs, I think you should expose him to a variety of religions at an early age, teach him that most people believe in a higher power of some sort, try out different rituals (meditation, fasting, etc). My 2 year old is already asking simple questions about why we do what we do (more of a "What's that" but still questioning and learning). Waiting until he is in his early teen years (when children are able to think more critically about abstract concepts) will have a high likelyhood of yielding a child who doesn't care and will choose to not learn about other religions. If you are fine with your child not having any faith, then you might want to take this risk.
Also, exposure now will give him an understanding of what friends are talking about - because as a teacher I have found that between the children, religion comes up a lot. And, religion is everywhere in our society/nation. He is going to get exposed at a young age, might be better for his first exposure to be under your guideance (to diverse views) rather than from media hype.
This is a lot to think about, I would hope you would embrace your family/in-laws views as much as everyone elses. Everyone has an opinion on everything, and only by being exposed to a variety of opinions can we begin to form our own - religious and otherwise.
State Certified Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
New Mom as of March 2009!
I have to agree with NewMom. I have found when they are younger they are better able to understand religion. Adults get too caught up in logistics and what seems right. Children accept things freely. Exposing your child to many different faiths will only enhance their understanding of spirituality.
I think just simply speaking with his family about your wishes regarding religion. I do not think you will be able to keep your child from any religious influence. If you are devout, your child will know. Its easy to say these things now before the baby gets here, but I promise you it all changes once they come out. LOL! I shot myself in the foot many times saying things I would do and not do. Being realistic is the best approach.
Hope we have helped with a decision.