Monday, May 17, 2010

A parenting philosophy...

It's funny to me how much time we spend, as parents, worrying about how we raise our children. I've heard lots of parents talking about raising their children to be Catholic, or Jewish, or Christian.

Even our decision to raise our children without religion.

I'm not steering my children away from relgion, per se...I'm just not steering them toward it.

I'm starting to see, that I could steer my children right into a brick wall, and they still wouldn't hit it. We don't talk about God or Jesus a lot in our household. If the subject comes up, we will talk about it, but, truthfully, it just doesn't come up a whole lot.

Sunday afternoon, over lunch, the subject came up...

In between bites of BBQ, Jack said, "Dad, if you're not a Christian, you're going to hell."

I could hear Jake's pulse quicken with the quasi-question, and after only a brief pause, I spoke up, to offer a milder response than I assumed Jake would deliver.

"Well, that's what Christians believe, Buddy. Not everyone is a Christian, and not everyone believes in heaven and hell. Not everyone believes in God. I don't believe in heaven and hell."

Jake, keeping his more staunch stances to himself, said, "I don't believe in it either. I have to see things to believe them. I think heaven and hell are make believe. What do you think, Jack?"

Without thinking and without hesitation, Jack simply said, "Well, Dad...if you don't believe in heaven, then you aren't going to heaven. So, I believe."

While I appreciated the innocence and simplicity of Jack's response to his Dad's question, I couldn't help but think...Why do we even bother, as parents, to steer our children down any certain path, or in any specific direction?

It's pretty obvious, to me, that I could say an anti-prayer, to the devil himself, every single evening with my children, but, that won't ensure that they will grow up to be minions of Satan.

We have never once told Jack that if he wants to go to heaven, he needs to believe in the God of the Bible. Yet, here he was, preaching to his father, on a Sunday, as a matter of fact, about that very thing. He learned it on his own, through his own experience.

While I'm sure some parents would rather their children become who they raise them to be...I like the idea of my kids becoming someone very different from me. Yeah...just like the Gumpism, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

Who knows, in the future, I may hear my son preach to his Southern Baptist congregation, visit my daughter in a convent, or, attend the bris of my Jewish grandson.

I would be happy with any of that, I suppose!

Ahhh...deep parenting thoughts...

And to think...this train of thought started, likely because Jack wanted an excuse to curse, and say the word, "hell," without getting in trouble!!!

7 comments:

S.I.F. said...

That Jack is a smart one!

Not because he condemned his own father to hell (not cool little buddy) but because I used to seek out excuses to curse too! :)

Holly Renee said...

It's cool that your son felt comfortable saying that. You are right about this on a few levels though. You can tell your kids what you think and share your opinions, but you have to be careful. There's a fine line between sharing/educating and forcing what you want on your children. I would never want my child to think back and wonder if I made an important decision for them when they were capable of doing it. I love this post! It's so honest and thought provoking. Sound like your family is honest and thought provoking in general. Kudos!

Tina said...

Jack is very smart...

Nikki...you are doing a great job as a parent. Jack is proof of that...

Hugs

This Daddy said...

Nikki, man I am going to have trouble when my kids get older, thank god for Tracy. I have a hard enough time explaining Buzz and Woody to my kids and why the toys dont actually talk and move.

MX3 said...

Where the heck do kids learn this stuff??? I completely dread the day any of my daughters come home and condemn me to hell...

Lolidots said...

I love how open y'all are with the kids. I think having that open dialogue is wonderful for nurturing their desire to seek out answers for themselves. Love it!

I have an award for you on my blog. I know what you're thinking. "Another one?" Eh, you're a rockstar.

Candi said...

As a Christian, I hate to hear the simplified version that children tell each other. When I talk to my children about other people's beliefs, I try not to go straight to condemnation (unless the other kid is really mean & hateful, j/k)! I tell them that everyone doesn't believe in our God and that that's ok. That our God teaches us to love everyone and that's the most important thing to do, no matter what they believe. You rock no matter what your belief is, keep on being you, I love your blog!!