July 17, 2012

Under The Influence

Be strong and courageous.
- Joshua 1:9

Earlier this month we sent the kids to vacation bible school. It was a perfect experience for them to see old friends and learn new things. About god, specifically.

During our first seven kid-raising years, we've spent a good chunk of time talking about god and all sorts of godly things. As with everything, we tell our kids the truth, explain to them what we know when the truth isn't always obvious or apparent, and, when asked, share our points of view and what we believe. You can't help being an influence on your kids. Parents are actually supposed to influence their children. But we don't want to make their decisions and their beliefs for them. What we're trying to say is here's what we know now make up your own minds. We're blessed with strong-willed, independent-minded, stubborn children. (Seriously, you cannot possibly underestimate the mental exhaustion achieved while discussing serious issues like heaven or the Big Bang Theory or evolution or who'd win in a fight between Batman and Darth Vader.) (Batman, right?)

At one point during the vacation bible school week, Mia came home with a necklace she'd made. On one side was a cross, on the other the verse above. I told her I liked it, that she was my strong and courageous girl, and that I respected her for it. She said thanks then told me she only wore the necklace with the cross facing her since she didn't believe in god. Her decision, I guess, but even the atheist that I am doesn't want her to rule anything out at this young age. Unless those things are drugs, dating, teen pregnancy, mean girls, and, possibly, cheerleading.

God is like meat in our house. Beth and I don't buy it but that doesn't mean it can't be consumed within these four walls.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to walk into his room one day and find Owen reading the bible and gnawing on a chicken wing.

Posted by Chris at July 17, 2012 7:15 AM

Umm, the Joker wasn't like Darth Vader AT ALL so no way Batman would be able to compete with the Dark Side. Vader by a LANDSLIDE.

As for the God thing, I applaud you for allowing your children to make up their mind. Too many people force their children to believe what they believe, but I have 1 question. Was it a cross or a crucifix? Because Jesus and God are two completely separate things...

Posted by: Darren at July 17, 2012 8:57 AM

My son decided to read the bible when he was 12ish. I'm not sure how far he got, but I'll never forget his comment. "Pretty damn violent for a religion based on peace."

Posted by: COD at July 17, 2012 9:11 AM

I really respect your parenting skills - you are doing an awesome job and I wish there were more folks out there like you. (And you can send Owen over to visit any time he wants a really juicy steak.)

Posted by: Heather at July 17, 2012 9:17 AM

I hope I'll have the same courage to expose my son to things I don't believe as well. He's already begun asking the "what happens when we die" questions and talking about a friend who goes to Sunday school. His dad is a former Catholic-now athiest and me? I told him some people believe you get to come back again and again and again with lots of lives...and that maybe next time, he could be a tree. Or a rock. Or an amazing boy. The "what is Easter?" discussion was a high point wherein I tied bunnies and blooming trees to a god who comes back from the dead ("like a zombie?"). Exhausting. I much prefer today's question: who owuld win between King Kong and Godzilla. Godzilla all the way. He breathes fire.

Posted by: rebecca at July 17, 2012 11:13 AM

LOL I can see Owen doing that too.

Posted by: oakley at July 17, 2012 11:13 AM

i so love your take on parenting. well done, sir.

i consider myself agnostic. i mean, who am i to say either way? but i plan to let my children decide for themselves. the other day, lola said "to learn how to be a good person, you have to go to church" and i pressed her to see if that's really the *only* place where she thinks you can learn to be a good person and she said yes.

Posted by: kati at July 17, 2012 4:52 PM

I feel like everything else, we have to let them be who they were meant to be. We are the same when it comes to religion. When our son was 5 or 7, peer pressure kicked in. He demanded a children's bible. The kids in school told him we were all going straight to hell because we weren't church goers and didn't go every Sunday. He was frantic to learn what religion was as they scared the crap out of him. He was all over that and a George W. Bush fan for quite awhile. The Bush fan bothered me more.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at July 17, 2012 9:33 PM