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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Religion, Faith & Belief and the 13 year old

I have discussed my belief system on this blog before, but I rarely speak about my relationship with my children and ex regarding religion. My ex-husband has had an interesting religious journey as well. We were married in a Methodist Church that he had attended with his family. He was no longer very religious at that point, and we were married by a friend of ours in a non-religious ceremony. In fact, at that point, I am pretty sure we were both identified pagans.
Time passes and we both grow. He starts attending a new church. It surprised me at first, because he was so anti-religion when we were together. He also starts taking the boys to church with him. I am supportive and happy the boys were enjoying the community the church gave them. I took them to my church once in a while, and tried to encourage them. I recognized the fact they were growing up Christian, and when I did things like talk to them about sex, I would remind them that they have to evaluate their beliefs as Christians as well as looking at the practical things.
I eventually met the pastor and another church member and were impressed by their openness, and finally gave it an unambiguous thumbs up. I still had some doubts up until then about what kind of church it was, but they made me feel comfortable and happy to have good people as part of my children's village.

But now, we are in new territory. I think this started a few weeks ago. The children asked me about what I believe and I told them. I did not put it in terms of what they should believe, or anything of that nature, but the inevitable happened. In the car, the kids told me they didn't want to be Christians. I had a long talk with them about religion, choice, and the value of keeping relationships. I encouraged them to stay with their church now and learn all the can.

Konal got stuck on the idea that church is a waste of time and he wasn't going anymore. Never mind that he cares about the people there and loves working with the little ones in the nursery. He doesn't want any religion.

This came out on Sunday, the 9th. I got a phone call from Konal asking me to pick him up because he and his dad were fighting over whether or not he should go to church. This apparently hurt his dad a lot and caused a lot of family drama on that side of the world. There were multiple phone calls and dramatic moments.

I feel a bit responsible for this, but at the same time do not want to lie to my children. I also noticed it was hard remaining the neutral party. I really did not feel it was as big a deal as they made it, and that the best thing was to make it a non-issue. Even without the other challenges, Konal is at a normal age to start questioning things and to crave independence.

I also felt that you can not force someone to believe in something. Fighting over it and forcing the issue is going to have the exact opposite effect and drive him away.

I don't know if they went to church today, but I hope so. I told Konal that he needs to learn about the spiritual side of life, and no matter what he believes, learn to appreciate belief and faith. I also told him that if he wasn't going to his father's church, I would pick him up and take him to mine.

This is a thorny issue to navigate, and I can only go from the heart. I hope I am doing the right thing.