Parenting: Not everyone prays

“Finn’s Mom! Finn’s Mom! Finn says he doesn’t pray every night!”

I think I was supposed to be upset. But when my son’s friend blurted this out to me on the school bus during a field trip, my calm response was, “Well, honey, not everyone does that. I know that Finn doesn’t pray. We don’t do that in our family.”

It’s a dilemma freethinking parents face as their kids grow older and they start talking about stuff like this. We are by far in the minority, though my son’s school is highly diverse, and many religions are practiced by the families who send their kids there. My guess is that the highest percentage of families are Muslim followed closely by Christian, and so on, and so on. It’s impossible to identify the freethinkers. When you spend more time with parents, you begin to have the tentative conversations that reveal non-religious people, and you realize you are not alone, but you know that you are going to have to give your child the comparative religion skills necessary to cope with kids’ questions and their ensuing shock.

“Finn says he doesn’t pray every night!”

We have conversations about his friends and their religion, many of whom are Muslim, and many of the girls wear the hijab. When we came back from the winter break, I talked with him about how to ask his friends about their time away. “You know how we celebrate around Christmas, but we don’t go to church, and, for us, it’s not about Jesus or God? Well, a lot of your friends don’t celebrate Christmas or any holiday at this time, so don’t ask them, ‘What did you get for Christmas?’ Ask them, ‘What did you do on your break?'” Not to mention the fact that he attends a high poverty school, and who knows what circumstances his friends’ families are dealing with at home.

The unfortunate thing is, as I embark on this journey of teaching my child about freethinking, world religions, and specifically religion in the United States, it doesn’t appear that many of the religious families are having similar conversations with their children.

P.S. I am always interested in resources for freethinking parents.


  1. Kreator says

    This reminded me of a joke. Two kids are talking in the way back from school:

    “In my house, we pray before every meal. Do you do the same in yours?”
    “Nope, it’s not necessary. My parents are very good cooks!”