My youngest daughter Kiley, who is 11, asks me about God all the time. Do I believe? If I do, how do I know? I try to be as honest as I can with my kids. My wife really pushes honesty with them; she parents in a very open style. I am a little more “hide until we know the whole story” type, but my wife wants them to be a part of beginning, middle and end of everything because she thinks that is how kids learn. I really do like this approach because it makes me think quick on my feet. I will get questions I was not ready for, which makes me incredible honest with them. I don’t have the time for a good lie.
My family was super Catholic growing up. Church every Sunday. My Grandfather was a Pro-Life extremely devout Catholic Doctor. My Uncle is a Priest. Lots of my uncles went to BC High, then on to Boston College. Big huge Catholic Family.
I assume lots of people are like me, I stopped really going to church once I was able to make my own schedule. At first I was a high school, no time for church unless there was a special occasion, then College, same thing.
Then we had our first daughter and we tried. We started back at church because we thought that is what you do as a parent. But, it never really spoke to me; it was a waste of an hour. I was going because my family said I should. I wasn’t thinking on my own.
My wife was sort of the same way, was going to church because we were supposed to. Everyone else around us did. Then one day, she was done with church. We stopped taking the kids because it wasn’t something we believed in. We didn’t want to force something on them just because that is how it was always done. My parents would take them; my Mother in law would take them, because that is what they believed in. They are always looking out for what is best for my kids.
But, for us, we want our kids to make up their own minds on this. Religion is a tricky subject to some. We just want them to not be forced to believe something unless they BELIEVE in it.
For me, I think I started questioning things back when my cousin was killed in a drunk driving accident. I have written about his impact on my life before, because even now, so many years have passed and I still talk to him. Anyway, he was not Catholic, and at his services the Priest or Bishop or whatever the person leading the services was, just let it be all about my cousin. There was no real “God” messaging. It was just people who knew my cousin getting up and speaking. It was really beautiful. For such a tragic event to be turned into a real celebration was really eye opening to me.
I have also been to a few other religious ceremonies. One was for a wedding for my real good Kenyan friend at work. There was singing and dancing and just a really incredibly strong positive spirit in the air. I was one of like 10 white people in the church. It was so cool to be a part of that.
These other religious events had me questioning my own religion, which I think is really good. I think questioning things makes you stronger in your beliefs. Not just looking for conspiracies or inaccuracies, but more to sure up your opinion on something. I tell the kids all the time that it is great they have opinions on stuff, but they should be able to back their opinion up when questioned. Kids being kids will say something like “Billy is so annoying” so I question them with “Why” “what’s he do that’s annoying” and when they come back with things like “well, Jenny said he did this” Or “he does this or that and it annoys me”. I know they are kids, and kids say dumb things ALL THE TIME. Kids have thoughts and opinions based on whatever the popular kids say or do. I just want them to be able to back up their thoughts.
The wife and I both believe in something. I talk to my cousin and he guides me through whatever is happening in my life and my wife and kids talk to their Nene (wife’s Grandmother). She helps them find something they lost. So, the kids do see that we lean on something. That we trust in something bigger.
In the car the other day, Kiley says to me “I believe in the Big Bang Theory, but I do believe God lived here, just that she didn’t create everything”. I was blown away, what a great thought from an 11 year old. I questioned her though, “SHE?” and Kiley looked at me like I was crazy. She said “yeah, Dad, I think god was a SHE. Do you have any proof God was a HE? What makes you sure God was/is a man?” I didn’t, I just said that it was what I was taught to believe.
Boom, and just like the student became the teacher. She had me speechless…