Thursday, February 08, 2007

The age of curiosity and religion

Tweens are very curious. I hate calling them tweens, because it implies fashion, selfishness, drama, and a sense of ditziness. The truth is, tweens are nowhere near teenagers, really, they only pretend it. They are still kids, big kids, but still kids, in the sense that they are curious about everything. This is the age when schools should have kids do experiments, rather than tell them about experiments. The age when schools should be introducing kids to cause and effect, and have them actually make the connections, rather than, oh I don't know, teach them how to take a multiple choice test.

Anyhow, religion is one of those things children get curious about.

Now, I have been woeful in this educational aspect with my daughter. It's not that I don't have any thoughts on the subject, I do. A whole lot of them. Some of them not completely formed, others pretty solid. I grew up Catholic, and tend toward that belief because it's part of my history, my heritage whatever I have left of it) and part of who I am. It's also one I know, and can navigate. We (meaning I) did take her to church before we moved, but haven't been since.

My problem with religion isn't God, or belief or faith. It's what religion does to God, belief and faith. I am more inclined to the spirtual side of it. My problem with religion is its institutionalization. I intend for my daughter to gain an understanding of religion. She has a bible and she's read numerous stories out of it. I've answered questions, I've explained some things about what we believe, but I failed to do with her what my mother did with me, which is regale me with lots of stories and tales, which happened to be religious. In light of this past week, I realize this is something I need to tend to.

My daughter has a new friend who's religious conviction I tolerate, in the sense that it's fine for her to have it, but I do not condone it in my daughter. The religion in question is Jehovas Witness. She had another friend who was of one of the evangelical Christian churches, and the same thing happened. These are not our religions, by far, and my personal belief is that you can try to convert an adult all you like, but trying to convert your children's friend is a definite no.

My daughter came home with a bible study guide. Now, you understand, that Bible study guide isn't going to make it to Colorado. Because I read it, and it's part Bible, part Jehovas Witness teaching. The thing of it is, she should never have been given that book, because I don't condone that religion. That drives me batty, anyhow, I'm not so insecure I can't deal with it. By throwing it in the trash. I mean, she does have her own children's Bible, and I've decided to do what my Aunt did with my cousin, and just read her a story from it each night. Except the ones that preach total obediance of a wife to a man. That, I swear, has been pulled out of context in the Bible, and out of context, has been used to preach that women should just do what they are told for countless years, and I won't be having any of that for my daughter... anyhow again, moving on...

The thing of it is, I believe my daughter should be allowed to question everything, and faith should be sincere, but she should question it, because the only way to get answers is to ask questions. And I always intended to teach her my belief, to ensure she questioned everything, partly to alleviate fears of her blindly falling prey to a cult or worse, that even more insidious and ever-present real threat, 'friend think.' So asking questions in life, religion, education is good. I will argue with anyone who tells my daughter to believe something without questioning it.

The problem of it is the religion. For the longest time, I wondered how I could teach her my faith and beliefs, and how I merge that in with the stricter doctrine of Catholicism (which, interestingly enough, I happen to disagree with some of it). I've avoided it simply becaue I haven't worked a way around it.

I think I need to just make a start of it though. Somehow. Because I'd rather teach her my beliefs than have her pick up a hodge-podge mixture of beliefs from the playground and other kids' parents...


Ideas anyone?


MommasWorld said...

I have a woman’s devotional Bible which has great stories, activities, thought for the day, or things to do list through out the Bible. The pages start with the first day of the year in the first book of the Bible.

I completely agree that no one should try to sway a child to their way of thinking regarding religion, family or even politics. We know what we want for our children. The sneaky way they went through your daughter ranks up there with asking a child if they want to do something before asking the parents. That is just wrong.

The first time I became worried about my children being swayed by friend was when my son was 8 years old. Some how the subject came up that one of his friends was an athiest. My eyes were as big as frying pans! He assured me it was not something he believed in but respects his friend enough not to presure them into his religion either. He assured me his faith was full in tact.

Lahdeedah said...

You know, a friend once gave me one but I've lost it. I wonder if I could find something like that again for her. I remember having tons and tons of 'workbooks' heh from my education.

I guess it's just such a hard field to navigate. My husband is agnostic, but mainly because he didn't grow up with religion. I don't want my kids to have that sort of ambivalence because of me.

Heh if they develop it on their own, it's all them ha ha ha.

Pageant Mom said...

I got saved at an old-time back woods revival when I was eight. Had such a good time, I tried to do it again the next year....

Obviously, it's easy even for a younger child to get caught up in the emotional aspect of religion, or any cohesive group - whether it's church, or goths, or cults or whatever - it's the sense of security in "belonging"....

That said, I think you have the right idea in leading, and guiding her through this very complicated subject. But in my mind, faith and religion are completely distinct. Religion keeps you focused - Faith keeps you going.

Sorry to be so deep this morning, I still have a wee hangover from our quarterly LNO (ladies nite out) meeting last nite - things got really deep so I'm still in that mode!! (oohh the fodder for the next blog...)

p.s. I have worked closely with two JWs and they tend to be really sweet, but some of their ideas can make certain situations (esp birthdays and holidays) seem somewhat "awkward"