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Don’t Know What You Did Boy, But You Had It


My nuclear family and I, unorthodox as we are, are really unorthodox when it comes to religion. We are not a religious family.

I was raised by hippie scientists, and The Daver, well, was not. His family was Very Religious, something that has always echoed in the chasm between our childhoods’ and relationships with the in-laws (his or mine, really).

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means Anti-Religion in any way shape or form, well, unless it takes on the form of discrimination against my way of life. Then, you can kiss my pasty white ass. Don’t hate on me, and I won’t hate on you.

Sometimes it does bother me that I have to strike the ‘None’ box whenever I am questioned about my religious upbringing. As a (almost) fully functional adult (stop laughing. Fuckers), I feel like maybe I should have a clue what I am to do as far as saving my soul is concerned. Luckily, I am typically able to squash that confusion down and focus on life, liberty and the pursuit of cheese-flavored crackers.

Having kids has only amplified the feeling in me that I should do something or another, or do nothing and be at peace with it. And the fact that last weekend, my in-laws gifted my children with a Read And Learn Bible has sent me into a moral tizzy.

I mean, what do I do with it? I can’t suitably answer all of the questions that would likely spring up, and even if he has no questions whatsoever about it, Ben’s propensity toward Know-It-All-Ism would likely make most of the things that I do “wrong” according to his Bible thrown into my face at every.bloody.opportunity.

I think that I have reached a solution today, after mulling it over with my own family, who had many great suggestions (Ben emulated a preacher reading us his Bible this morning over brunch).

I am going to go shopping (thank you Internet, for for a Kids Torah, a Koran for Children, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead (children’s version, preferably English. The only language that I know well is Latin, which will likely not help me much.). Then, at least, if the only child in my home who can read wants to read the Bible (which I have no problems with), he can read what other religions think about the world, too.

So I sit here and ask myself, What Would The Internet Do (I should get a W.W.I.D? bracelet to consult every time I’m faced with a burning question, right?) if they were in my shoes? Even if you don’t have kids (yet) or want kids (ever), how would you handle this? Or, if you have kids, how DO you handle it?

Inquiring minds want to know!

18 Comments to

“Don’t Know What You Did Boy, But You Had It”

  1. On March 22nd, 2008 at 8:35 pm b Says:

    This reminds me of a lunch conversation I had with my son a few years ago. It was right before Easter. My partner and I were discussing maybe going to church..(i’m religious, she is not)..and we were talking about what Easter was all about. My son looked at me with pity in his eyes, and said..”seriously mama, he rose from the dead..he pushed back that huge freaking stone all by himself?” Give the boy some choices..he’ll find his own path. Along the way, he’ll learn respect for religion..his (or lack thereof) and others.

  2. On March 22nd, 2008 at 9:06 pm LAS Says:

    Oh, interesting question. I like your approach. We were not raised with any religion – I suppose we had some very limited exposure or knowledge. Truthfully, today, I wish I was more knowledgeable, just for knowledge sake. When I was about 8, we (me and the neighborhood kids) decided we wanted to take a Bible study class (yeah, not sure where we got that idea) and so we all took one in the summer together and then when it was over I decided it wasn’t for me. Then shortly thereafter I decided to go to church with a friend and went with her and her family for a while, and then again decided it wasn’t for me and I never went back. My beliefs have just developed and changed over time. Now of course I consider myself spiritual as opposed to religious and that spirituality is mostly based in AA. I’ve always liked the idea of giving choices in this area and I always appreciated this about my upbringing (I didn’t appreciate much else).

  3. On March 22nd, 2008 at 9:45 pm Heather Says:

    I agree with the above in that there is a *huge* difference between spirituality and religion; unfortunately, I’m smack in the middle of the bible belt and there is only ONE religion in these parts so I take a quiet backseat and pull my subversive strings in the comfort and quiet of my own home. My inlaws (well, everyone to be honest, but them specifically) are crazy religious and I’m pretty sure they see me as The Corruptor of All That Is Good, but whatever.

    Good plan on the books; he’ll probably really get into it and the inlaws will want to stone you ;).

  4. On March 22nd, 2008 at 10:05 pm KT Says:

    You are singing my song! My inlaws got my oldest a christening gown when I was pregnant with her! Seriously. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It still hangs un-used in the closet. I was raised sans religion. My husband – big Catholic, but no longer. Honestly I was considering getting a book on Evolution as well. Seems like a good idea.

  5. On March 23rd, 2008 at 7:44 am Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I think you’re doing the right thing. Though I used to go to this Unitarian Church and they had the most wonderful Sunday School program – they learned about all world religions and pagan traditions. I grew up without any religious influence, we just sort of celebrated Christian holidays because my parents went to Sunday School as small children. I’m not comfortable with bigotry and intolerance – of any religion or lifestyle decision that doesn’t harm others – which is why I really like the Unitarians. But I think what you’re doing sounds great.

  6. On March 23rd, 2008 at 8:36 am Tracy Says:

    Your idea sounds perfect, really.

    I think we feel so much pressure to have a religion when we have kids because there is the implication that we have no way to teach them morals or values or ethics without one. I don’t think you have to be religious to have those things, but I do think that knowing a lot about religion can only be helpful because it influences so much of the world around us.

  7. On March 23rd, 2008 at 9:33 am Kyddryn Says:

    I was born to a lapsed-indifferent-almost-atheist mother, an agnostic father, and a deeply Catholic grandmother. I am now Pagan. Whee! My husband is indifferent Christian.

    I teach my son multiple religions, answer any questions he may have on the subject, and raise him Pagan. My MIL wanted him baptized, and I said no. I am not dedicating my child to a God he didn’t choose for himself, not even to make her feel better about his immortal soul. She was concerned that he’d never learn about Christianity and have a skewed (read “wrong) vision of the religion so she extracted a promise from her son that HE would raise the boy Christian. Fine – that frees me from having to get up early one day a week and go sit where I am most emphatically not welcome. To date, my husband hasn’t even attempted a spiritual conversation with the lad (although, granted, the kid’s only five) and the Evil Genius has not yet set foot in a church.

    I am all for teaching kids that the world is large and varied, be it in dress, language, food, or spirit. As long as they have some consistent behavioral/moral guidelines to function under, they’ll be fine.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  8. On March 23rd, 2008 at 10:33 am Tony Says:

    Angela and I have the unfortunate situation where in *both* my mother and her mother seem to have simultaneously and mysteriously rediscovered faith. Perhaps, now, its better we dont have children?

    Its a tough one, but I dont think its something you can half ass either way. Either you teach your kids belief or you dont. My parents spent half their time bitching about the evil of religeon, and the other half telling me I needed to do as god says (very very very conflicted) which is definitely NOT the way to go. Thats about the best advice I have.

  9. On March 23rd, 2008 at 11:18 am kalakly Says:

    Neither I nor the husband believe in cults, oops I mean organized religion. I was brainwashed, I mean raised C@tholic but gave it up at the ripe ole age of 8 when I was told by my CCD teacher/Nun that my dead pet, (who had just died and I was heartbroken so I asked for prayers for her at the end of class), didn’t have a soul and I wouldn’t be seeing her in Heaven. Bitch.

    With the whole C@tholic priests running a cover for N.@.M.B.L.A scandal I was so disgusted, it just sealed the deal…I want to raise my wee ones with an open mind so I try to talk about different cultures and why some of our friends go to church and we do not, but it’s hard when my H keeps referring to them as Kool Aid drinkers….hmmm, I’m not much help am I??? Cocktail anyone?

  10. On March 23rd, 2008 at 1:53 pm KC Says:

    I think that as long as you don’t push the kids in any way, you are doing the right thing. Religion isn’t a bad thing. I just think it’s a choice – good for you for giving Ben the choice. Just be prepared to support further exploration if he wants to learn more. Watch out temple – here comes Becky!

  11. On March 23rd, 2008 at 3:08 pm Angela Says:

    No easy answers here. I’m more for spirituality than religion, even though I am Catholic. If it weren’t for my husband, I’d probably never go to church, actually.

    I think you can give a child a sense of spiritual roots without going down the whole religion road, if that’s what you choose.

  12. On March 23rd, 2008 at 3:59 pm Meg Says:

    I think what you’ve done is great, letting them see there’s different ways to believe. I imagine I’ll tackle it in a similar way. I guess it’s good in a sick way that your ILs have given you a chance to discuss some of that stuff.

  13. On March 23rd, 2008 at 6:46 pm Jenn Says:

    Yet another similarity between the two of us. I was pretty much brought up thinking, “Hey – believe whatever but I don’t buy it.” My husband was brought up Catholic. Very, VERY Catholic. As in ‘though shalt not breathe without thanking God for every single precious breath’ Catholic. My in-laws hated me lots when we first met (maybe they still do). I was “ruining” their son because we lived together and I *gasp* got pregnant without being married.

    Anyway, I think your solution is pretty PERFECT and I’m glad you thought of it. Because now when that comes up for us (and I’m sure it will soon because my FIL has made a habit of assuring me that my kids will go to HELL unless they are properly baptised) I know what to do. 🙂

  14. On March 24th, 2008 at 11:41 am Ames Says:

    I think this is a wonderful approach. I wasn’t brought up with any specific religion either. My husband was brought up catholic but no longer practices. Since having Gracie we started going to a non-denominational church that embraces all religions and beliefs, this way she will be well rounded and will be able to make her own religious beliefs/decisions. My in-laws were not very excited about our decision at first, but it is starting to grow on them now. I may have to steal this idea from you when G. is old enough to understand these sorts of things…

  15. On March 24th, 2008 at 11:55 am magpie Says:

    I like your idea. But, with luck, I won’t have to face it, since I’ve got no religious folk on either side of the kid’s family.

  16. On March 24th, 2008 at 12:29 pm theramblinghousewife Says:

    Yikes this is a tough one. We do affiliate with a religion and I think it is more about our culture and family traditions. So I send my kid to a school two days a week to learn about it. 🙂

    We do go to church, though have been slacking lately, and talk about it at home.

    I do want my kids to be open minded about religion though.

    I think your approach is a great one!

  17. On March 24th, 2008 at 5:24 pm Amy Says:

    Personally, that is how we were raised. If you want to learn about religon read a book. When you get older decide whta you what in your life. My sister chose the Episcipalian way, I chose the I believe in God, but will not go to church (it’s too early for me to get up) way. However, when carrying William, I had thought long and hard and decided when he was born that I would find a church to attend holiday and some Sunday services. To say the least God, or whom ever effed that one up! I would still like to find a church to gain back my faith but I think having a little miracle (child) here on earth makes some want it more than others.

    So, to summarize, yes, I think what you have done is a good thing…let them read, let them learn, let them choose what they want for their lives!

  18. On March 25th, 2008 at 3:41 pm becky Says:

    I’d have handled it exactly like you did. I think that’s a great idea. Make all the options available to him and let him be a little know-it-all about everything!

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