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Old 08-29-2005, 11:00 AM   #1
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Destea HB User
Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Hey everyone, it's been a while.

My BF and I are moving towards the point in our relationship of 2+ years into the serious consideration of our future together. We've been living together for roughly 6.

For a quick sum up - I've always been a fairly compromising, giving person. Thankfully, I've grown to a point with him and in our relationship where I can be honest with him about what I feel is fair rather than just giving in to everything all of the time. I feel much better about that! Ultimately it has lead me to some very serious thoughts regarding our future - namely if we were married what we would do with raising our children.

I am not particularly religious, and I truthly have no desire to be. He's a self-roclaimed "half-a** Christian". He belives to a degree, doesn't go to church, and doesn't practice per say. Ultimately he was raised in an extremely Christian home, his brother, sister, their families and his parents are all what I would consider 'over the top' religious. Their children are sweet and well behaved but a little creepy on the religion factor for me. Truthfully I feel in some way they have been brainwashed - I realize this sounds harsh but ... I feel like they don't have the understanding and are just going by what they are told. It bugs me - it's fine for them, but ... I don't want that for my children!

Basically, my point is, we're discussing these concerns. I don't want my children completely washed into Christianity, I want them to be able to explore and be openminded about whatever feels right in their hearts. No issues with them being exposed to it, but he wants to raise his children with a foundation entirely and only in Christianity. Though he has no plans to be as into it as his family - he feels he is to some degree a believer and would like to offer his children that.

I understand his thoughts, but I don't feel he understands mine. Fact is - because he was raised so religiously, he couldn't look at ANYTHING outside of the Christian box and be truely open to any ideals that may stray from his upbringing. (in regard to the specifics like God, Jesus, Heaven / Hell). And I'll be honest, that bothers me.

This is very confusing to me. I'm not sure where we could compromise. I know that I do not want my children told what to believe, I don't want their brains to only be set on one "right" thing that I dictate, I would hate to (in my view) oppress them that way.

I have no idea how couples with different 'beliefs' (or non-beliefs, I suppose) are able to compromise on the raising of their children.

Does anyone have any insight or thoughts? And please, I'm not here to be bashed regarding my religious views, and I have no intent on bashing Christianty - his family is wonderful, it just isn't what I feel in my heart.

Thank you in advance!

Last edited by Destea; 08-29-2005 at 11:04 AM.

 
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Old 08-29-2005, 11:24 AM   #2
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netle HB User
Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Hi,

I am agnostic. I have never been very religous. My family was raised Catholic but few of us are faithful. My father has become more of a devoted Catholic while my mother has become more interested in Buddhism.

Even though I am not a spiritual person, I do believe Religon is healthy for children and can give them direction. I definitely don't believe that raising your children Christian will result in them becoming as extreme as your in-laws. However, this doesn't mean you can't educate or introduce other religons and cultures into their lives.

Does your partner plan on going to church when you have children? If hasn't been interested enough in his own religon to practice it the right way now, do you think he'll bother to change afterwards? Also, it seems hypocritical of him to enforce a christian only rule if he himself does not practice properly. Growing kids will certainly catch onto this kind of thing and will wonder why daddy doesn't practice what he preaches.

Most children are curious and will ask questions that usually challenge rules and authority. Encourging this is what will seperate your children from your in-laws.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 11:55 AM   #3
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Destea:

You are in an interesting dilemma wanting to raise children in faith when you do not have any strong faith yourself, as if faith was an educational component or something.

It almost sounds like you are willing to let your children shop for faith as they would a box of cereal,

"just go down the isle, kids, and pick out what you want; Christianity, Islam, Budhism, Judaism - whatever, as long as you believe in something".

"OK, Mom, do you want some too?"

"No, not for me. I don't take that stuff anymore!"

"Oh, OK, how about Dad?"

"Get him something lite. He fattened up on faith as a kid, so we have to have him on a diet."

That seems like a curious approach to say the least.

Last edited by thghtsreal; 08-29-2005 at 11:57 AM.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thghtsreal
Destea:

You are in an interesting dilemma wanting to raise children in faith when you do not have any strong faith yourself, as if faith was an educational component or something.

It almost sounds like you are willing to let your children shop for faith as they would a box of cereal,

"just go down the isle, kids, and pick out what you want; Christianity, Islam, Budhism, Judaism - whatever, as long as you believe in something".

"OK, Mom, do you want some too?"

"No, not for me. I don't take that stuff anymore!"

"Oh, OK, how about Dad?"

"Get him something lite. He fattened up on faith as a kid, so we have to have him on a diet."

That seems like a curious approach to say the least.
Haha--you cracked me up with that analogy! But I'm curious as to what you would suggest to Destea then: would it be the best to raise their future children without any faith at all? I find this subject very interesting, as I expect to have this dilemma myself one day, since I am not religious and don't go to any church, either. I guess it would depend on my future husband, but I would say if my husband had some stronger convictions than myself as far as a particular faith, I would probably let him take over with a religious education of the children. It would probably be too confusing for them to be introduced to all these faiths simultaneously, so maybe giving them some kind of a background in the religion of your husband while stressing that other religions are just as important and teach essentially the same things would be a good start.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:16 PM   #5
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Well, me and my boyfriend are planning to get married. Although not ANYTIME soon, we do want to get married and have children. So the religion issue has come up. I'm a slightly religious Christian, kinda like your boyfriend. I just believe that there is a God up there but I don't actively practice or anything. But my boyfriend doesn't believe in God. At all. No way. Whatsoever. It's not possible. Now I told him that if we were to get married, he's going to have to convert. There's no way around it. I want to get married in a church and you have to be Christian to do so. I also want him to seriously consider the Christian faith and that our children would have to have some sort of religious base. And he has agreed.

I think you just have to compromise. Talk to your boyfriend about how you want to raise your children. I think if you tell him that you want your own children to make up their own minds, that's fine. It wouldn't hurt to "start them off", so-to-speak, with the Christian faith then branch out to others.

Last edited by Divation; 08-29-2005 at 12:18 PM.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:41 PM   #6
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

I agree with what Greek is saying. He doesn't go now, but he wants them to be brought up as christians. So does this mean he wants his family to take them to church?

I lived in THAT scenario. My MIL thought she would take my heathen children to church!!! BTW, my boys are wonderful kids who are far from heathens, BUT in her eyes they didn't attend church because like you, I don't care for them to be brainwashed and scared by stories, into believing. I set my kids down and simply ASKED them, if they would like to attend church with her and they said no. End of story.

MIL threw a fit!! I told her that she could call every Sunday and the boys would decide. Once in a great while, they would go. But it ended soon, as they were not interested. My husband was pretty bent too for awhile, that is, until I suggested he set the example by attending church WITH his mom and his boys every Sunday! That shut him up too!

The other thing that I find sad about children raised in that christain box as you put it, is they miss out on fun. I have friends who will not let their kids read the books or watch the Harry Potter movies. It is FICTION!!! Yet, they are not allowed! But on the other hand, Lord of the Rings, is ok. (spare me the explanations, I have heard them.) They can't dress up for Halloween. They just miss out on kid things and I think it sucks!!

I hope you get these issues resolved before having kids. I think your hub-to-be needs to give just as much as you do and maybe a solution would be to agree that no religion be introduced until your kids reach certain age. Like 10ish, which is old enough to make a decision whether he/she would like to learn more or not.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 01:47 PM   #7
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Destea HB User
Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Dont'cha hate it when you have a long post typed out and the system deletes it with an error? Argh.

Anyway, I appreciate everyone's input...

I was definitely expecting to see some sarcasm from thghtsreal, so thanks for meeting that I suppose I could see how you may confuse my interest in giving my kids the option of reviewing and deciding for themselves what they believe or feel. And, actually, it's not my dilema wanting to raise children in faith - because I could honestly go without, I think even if you are someone who does not believe it's important to at least learn about it. Religion CAN be knowledge, and sometimes invaluable. Though, I don't know if your analogy was correct - I definitely don't compare picking cereal to be the same as being loaded with religious history and knowledge of what's out there, but hey - to each their own

Personally I would hate to raise them tied to one belief without ever giving them the options to back it up.

You guys have definitely given me something to consider discussing with him at this point - because you're right, if he doesn't follow to the T, how does he plan on raising children with only that foundation? Personally I think it's a little hypocritical to expect your children to do as you say but not as you do, especially with something as life altering and important as personal belief systems. I do feel like I am a spiritual person, with a different set of beliefs from my boyfriend, which is probably why I feel so strongly about them not being tied to one possible conclusion.

I do not have an issue with them being exposed to Christianity - to whatever degree they would like, but I would prefer that it not be their one and only (again, unless they decide it is for them, at which point - hey, what do you do?).

It's very hard to say, without children now, how hard or easy this may be. But I'd like to find a healthy balance of teaching openness, which could mean me having to give up my desire for them to be exposed to more than just Christianity - if they choose to go down that road I can't and won't hold them back...

AHH!!

PS - you make a good point, my bf's siblings kids can't touch Harry Potter either... and the eldest (8), when asked what the best part about Christmas was - stated in a very serious, scripted way - "The best part about Christmas is that it is the day that Jesus was born."

:S Honestly, that's great and all.. but not my kids...!!!!!

Last edited by Destea; 08-29-2005 at 02:00 PM.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:28 PM   #8
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Just an interesting observation. Statistics show that 90% of people believe in God (and I do too). However, on this message board and another relationship board, a relatively high number of people do not. I wonder why.

Another thing I've been wondering is what is the difference between an agnostic and an atheist?

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:31 PM   #9
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Destea HB User
Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Agnostic means you believe there is SOMETHING out there - but don't know what it is... (in basic terms) or are skeptical and unsure about religion.

Atheism is ultimately a belief in nothing spiritual - and a definite 'no' in the belief of God or gods... It's all coincedence etc.

Last edited by Destea; 08-29-2005 at 02:37 PM.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:33 PM   #10
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Oh, OK. I don't want to debate this, but to me it would be hard to believe there ISN'T a higher power.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:35 PM   #11
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Destea HB User
Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Haha, that's basically why I consider myself angostic, I have a hard time believing there isn't something out there at all.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:35 PM   #12
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Well, actually, the agnostic person says "I don't know if there is a god or if there isn't." They neither believe in god nor absolutely deny god's existence.

 
Old 08-29-2005, 02:38 PM   #13
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

I guess I consider that the same as being unsure - which would equate to saying I have a hard time believing there isn't anything at all... because I'm not sure! That's probably a better explaination though.. thanks Sophia.

 
Old 08-30-2005, 07:09 AM   #14
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Destea ~ I think that the main question here is whether you are going to be married in the church....is your marriage going to be recognized by God or just by the justice of the peace??? When married in the church you proclaim to raise your children with some sort of faith. I too got a kick out of the analogy of it being equated to choosing a breakfast cereal.....

The truth is that you cannot share a faith of any sort without practicing it yourself. As far as the little boy saying that the best part of Christmas is that it is the day that Jesus was born speaks volumes about how society has taken Christ out of Christmas. That little boy possesses the faith to know that there is a different gift in Christmas that has been celebrated since that first Christmas in a stable over 2 centuries ago. That belief comes with faith that has been shared with a child that is not considered to be a "brainwashing" but something that is celebrated with a community of faith. If not celebrated he would not see Christmas in such a way. In our household our children sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus each Christmas Day with a cake.....not a brainwashing but a celebration of something that happened in history that changed our world. Not everybody's but of a Christian's world.

With no offense intended, Destea, it seems that you would not be the one to share any particular faith with your children. You are not capable of doing so because you do not practice any particular faith. I beleive that a child basically learns what he/she lives.....if exposed to faith he/she will choose whether or not to have it. There is alot of knowledge to be gotten in faith and that we can teach our children but not without possessing that knowledge ourselves.

You are at a crossroad in your life.....you do not practice a particular faith nor does your BF (although he is Christian). To offer your children something you lack knowledge in yourself whether it be religion, education, sports, karate, dance, politics, sex....you would be at a disadvantage of having somebody else equipped with that knowlegedge teaching them. But it becomes even more valuable having that knowledge firsthand so that your children may benefit the most from it. Perhaps it is time for you & your BF to decide together what religion you will practice together if any in order to hand that knowledge to your children. For in interfaith marriages it is usually the parent who practices a particular religion and has the knowledge to share that determines the religion in which the children would be raised. Just offering some food for thought here. Hope it helps you out in coming to a compromise with your BF. ~ Goody

Last edited by goody2shuz; 08-30-2005 at 07:12 AM.

 
Old 08-30-2005, 07:26 AM   #15
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Re: Raising children, religion, and compromise... opinions?

Oh you're certainly right, I have no intention of personally teaching my children Christianity. Because of my extensive studies, I personally would have no interest in teaching them what I feel are strong contradictions - the problem here is perhaps my husband would like to teach them these things. I'd rather they know the history of religion(s). The beliefs before Christ, the things altered after the age of Christ from other religions, where the holidays were adapted from truthfully as opposed to popular organized beliefs.

I think my message isn't coming across clearly. I don't want to teach my children a specific faith. My boyfriend would want to each his children a specific faith. I'd prefer they learn and then believe when they choose to or are ready for it, whenever that may be.

Granted, I hope to have another 4 or 5 years prior to my first child, and I still have a lot to study and learn myself. I certainly feel spiritual, but what I believe isn't found in any text or religious book. And I'm okay with that for me.

But you are correct Goody, I am certainly not the person who would teach my children of Christianity, or Catholocism, or any structured system.

I get the impression it's believed their cannot be a compromise in belief between two parents when it comes to the children, but I've heard of Jewish and Christian parents practicing both and somehow making it work. I just wonder how this could tie over to Christianity vs. Spirituality.

Oy. I do appreciate the feedback.. but I definitely still feel conflicted.

 
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