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Should I ....

My partner and I are not of any religion, but are both baptized as Christians. His family and mine are fighting with us about having our 5 month daughter baptized as a Christian. My partner and I don't believe that it's our choice to make, we think that she should be able to make the choice when she grows up. I was brought up in a Muslim house hold, I have Buddist grandparents on my Dad's side, my step-mom is very Catholic and is not impressed with me. My partner's parents are also firm believers in God and the Christian faith. My partner and I don't practice any of the religions mentioned and we both feel we should just bring our daughter up to be well read in all religions so she can choose the best the suits her ideas and morals. Is it wrong for us to let that happen? Should we force our ideas and religions upon her?

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:15 PM on Jan. 27, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Answers (16)
  • No! You are in the right. I agree that you are doing the right thing by exposing her to all religions and letting her choose when she is older. My in-laws (Catholics) have pushed us to baptize our daughter, but we refuse. The last time they mentioned it, about 6 months ago, my husband just said, "Dad, it's our decision. We're raising her to be a good person and we don't believe we need religion to do that." His dad has finally let it rest. Good luck!

    Answer by StarLee at 7:22 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • The denomination is not as important as the child's experience of religion with her parents. A family time together to go to a service can be a magical time. I was raised Catholic and I sat with my parents during the church service (rather than being shuttled off to a Sunday school). I remember really loving playing quietly in the pew beside them and seeing the colors of the cloths & beautiful windows/paintings/objects; hearing the music, the singing, the priest's voice and the congregation answering all together. That cozy time of togetherness in a contemplative setting gave me, I think, an Inner-ness which most child activities do not foster. A child relates to religion by what she sees and hears, in the service and in the bearing of the people. As a teenager, sure ... (cont'd)

    Answer by waldorfmom at 7:23 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • cont'd) ... she can study the ideas and be inspired to choose one denomination or another. Your selection as parents will not hamper that. (My husband was raised without religion and became very dedicated at 17. So intellectually he was deeply Christian. But he didn't want to attend church very much and this made our children see going to church as a quirky chore forced on everybody by Mom. It pretty well sabotaged religion for them, and I'm still dealing with many negative repercussions from it.) So, I think you should select based on what will best help you and your husband both to attend church. Raising a child "without"religion is in truth raising her with atheism. Religion is not a club you join, it is the understanding you have for the big questions in life. It is important for a child to get an answer to where grandma goes ...

    Answer by waldorfmom at 7:35 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • ... when she dies, to how the world works, to what is good or right. These answers are religion, and if your answers are only scientific ones, then that is her religion. If you answer her truthfully with what you understand, then you won't be hampering her in her free-thinking later in life: you'll be giving her the framework for thinking about any of this at all. (Most atheists avoid thinking - they say it's pointless, since we don't know.) If we don't discuss things, our message is that it's not worth thinking about.

    Answer by waldorfmom at 7:35 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • I think if you believe strongly in your faith and you believe it is good and right, it is your responsibility as a parent to share that with your children. I felt compelled to bring my children up in my faith. It doesn't mean they must practice it all their lives. They are free to choose and have been encouraged to learn about other belief systems, including unbelief. If you do not feel strongly about a particular faith, I think you are on the right track. Rather than baptize your child, do you feel comfortable asking your step mom to teach your child as she grows? Your step mom is probably worried about the consequence of not baptizing her, according to her religion's teaching. Still, as a parent, you are the decision maker. She must learn how to deal with whatever you decide.

    Answer by happi-ladi at 7:47 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • "Most atheists avoid thinking..." ??? What an offensive statement. I'm an atheist and I have multiple degrees, a very intellectual household where we THINK and discuss everything, and love learning. My other atheist friends happen to be the same way. I'm sorry for you that you are so short-sighted.

    Answer by StarLee at 7:48 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • By the way...I was "raised in atheism" and I give loads of money to charity, volunteer my time, have an understanding of what happens when grandma dies, how the world works, and "what is good and right." So to the OP, you CAN raise a child without religion and have her grow to be a strong, independent, kind person with a deep understanding of the world around her--a woman who won't condemn other people because they are atheists who supposedly don't think. Best wishes to you as you raise your little one!

    Answer by StarLee at 7:53 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • I'm answering to those who's writen :
    I was brought up with so many religions, I have a HUGE respect for them all.
    I guess I could as well be concidered Athiest, but I follow what I believe in from all the religions I was brought up with. I like how in the Muslim religion you don't drink, because it clouds your mind. I like how the Buddists have respect to all living things, I like how Christians have a solid foundation to their beliefs. So many good things come out of each and every religion, I'm just having a hard time deciding which religion should take a primary role in my daughter's life.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:58 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • You obviously have thought about this a lot. Does she have to have a PRIMARY religion? What if you raise her with beliefs from many...the religion you practice doesn't have to have a name, does it? Sounds like you were raised with many religions in your life...why not pick and choose what you like from each one, as you've expressed? You could even draw up a family mission statement if you like, outlining your beliefs. Just a thought.

    Answer by StarLee at 8:07 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

  • I can't tell you what to do...I can tell you what I would do. In a situation like this where the families don't even have the same religion I would tell the families that in all fairness to the family members on both sides then to be baptized will wait until DD is old enough to decide for herself which faith (you don't have to say "if any") she will choose. In the mean time, she will have plenty of opportunity to learn every ones beliefs as she grows.

    Answer by indigostone at 8:38 PM on Jan. 27, 2009

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