My daughter is our only child and she’s only three, so we’re definitely learning as we go. In many ways, my daughter’s childhood is already very different from mine which makes me feel like I have even less direction. I spend a lot of nights worrying about what’s to come.
Reasonably Protected vs. Overly Sheltered
I’m very careful with my daughter when it comes to religion. I just don’t want her around it because I know religions prey on the young.
However, I also don’t want my daughter to grow up ignorant and afraid. I want her to at least know what religion is.
How do I balance between protecting her and adequately exposing her to the world around her?
I would like to think that young people are less religious than my generation and my parent’s generation, so maybe this won’t come up, but what if my daughter’s friends from school go to church and she wants to go with them? Peer pressure is a powerful thing. I want to say no but I also don’t want people to think I’m an asshole.
For the most part, I enthusiastically celebrate diversity, but I feel religious beliefs are one area of a person’s life that we can unapologetically judge. You can’t judge someone based on their skin color or sexual orientation because those are things you are born with. They are not a choice. However, religion is a choice and we criticize bad choices all the time.
However, I really do want my daughter to see and experience the world around her. I want her to have knowledge of different religions and cultures. I don’t want her to be afraid of those who are different from her.
When to Let Go
I suppose frank and open discussions with my daughter throughout her childhood are necessary to tackle this issue.
At what point do a child’s own skepticism and common sense kick in? When is it appropriate to let them explore on their own?
I would love to hear from other atheist parents. How much do you expose your child to religion?