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#26 IamtheMumma

Posted 10 September 2019 - 04:15 PM

Initially I did the some people believe thing when the kids were younger but as they've grown, I've said that there is no such thing as a deity as there's no evidence to support it. While I teach the kids tolerance for other people's beliefs (they can believe whatever they want), I tell them they won't get the same respect from some religious people. They've experienced that for themselves first hand unfortunately.

I also teach them they cannot function on the belief that because someone says they are religious, they are good by default. The same with not acting in a good way because they are religious. I've used the Stolen Generation, Manus & Nauru, the harassment of Julia Gillard and funding cuts to services as examples. I think this is an important message because we're seeing so many horrors yet are being fed a lie about compassion. Words of compassion do not match the actions of those in power.

#27 Jersey Caramel

Posted 10 September 2019 - 04:34 PM

I think the conversations will get more nuanced between the kids as they get older.  4 year olds are very black and white, and obviously haven't fully developed abstract thinking. We are a christian family,  but even I cringe at the stuff that comes out of my 5 year olds mouth after scripture classes sometimes! I am constantly saying,  that's what some people believe,  but not everybody does and that's ok. But it's the same with other subjects too - once he gets an idea,  it is fact. I know he will grow out of it, as our older kids did.

I actually find the God situation easier than Santa with this age group - kids telling other kids that Santa doesn't exist seems to create even more problems than telling them that God does/ doesn't exist! :lol:

#28 MayaTheGrinch

Posted 10 September 2019 - 04:41 PM

I just told them that some people believe in god and religion and that’s ok. Some don’t believe in god and that’s ok too. I also mentioned that just because someone says they are doing something because of their religion it doesn’t mean it is right and if it make them uncomfortable to tell an adult they trust.

When they ask if I believe in god, well I just said that I don’t follow a religion as these grew from people trying to work out how the world worked and grew into something people use to tell others how to act and be. But that i am agnostic which means I believe in some aspect of god, but my relationship with the divine is a private ongoing conversation and about how I choose to act, my innermost moral guidance. It’s not something I necessarily choose to share and something that’s taken me a long time to figure out. And that this faith brings me comfort. My oldest believes in god, but he also believes in science. I’m not sure what my youngest has decided yet. But we don’t say, god/the divine/whatever term you want to use, isn’t real. But that we can choose what we wish to believe.

Edited by mayahlb, 10 September 2019 - 04:43 PM.


#29 SkeptiHandsOnMum

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:32 PM

For most kids, even in religious schools, the fascination with the G O D story fades as other stories grab their attention. It is somewhat normal to be interested in the story, but unless it is being fanatically backed up by parents etc, it will soon fade to just something they do at school, a bit like maths.  

Soon it will be the story of Harry Potter, or Skulduggery Pleasant or some other shared interest.

If it does not move on, then just reply with the "Some people believe. Some people do not. As long as they are good people to us, we do not need to worry about whether they believe or not" line.

#30 Squeekums The Elf

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:42 PM

View Postgracie1978, on 10 September 2019 - 12:31 PM, said:

I'm thinking religion would actually make death conversations easier to deal with...

In my experience it didn't. It was a cop out and empty words.

My mum died at 12,my aunt used to try say she was with God our "father and creator" and safe, happy.
Me at 12 turned around to say well if this God is so great why did he give my mum cancer and kill her. My aunt had no response


I'm not so PC on how I deal with religion and dd. Why should I be, religion has never cared about offending, so why should I afford them the gift of respect?
She has heard me call it all made up b.s., use terms like sky fairy.
She has had the generic everyone believes different things too but even she knows that's the nice version of how I feel lol

#31 BadCat

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:52 PM

I did the "some people believe" thing.

And I followed that up with "I don't believe, and here's why."  I told them some of the beliefs and boom, they were instant atheists.

I have no qualms whatsoever about having steered my kids towards atheism.

#32 JBH

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:56 PM

I adopt the “some people believe” approach. From school age, I go a bit further and say that there is no absolute proof about who is right or wrong. I have decided that I think it is most likely that there is no God, but I need to remember that I can’t be so sure about it that there is no possibility I am wrong, and that is one of the reasons I respect other people’s beliefs, because we all have beliefs and not knowledge when it comes to religion, even if some people would have you believe that they are the only ones who know the truth.

Edit having read BadCat’s response - the older they get the more I share with them the reasons why I don’t believe in God, so it is true that I am steering them in a direction. But I didn’t do that until I thought they were old enough to know how to navigate sensitively conversations with people of faith.

Edited by JBH, 10 September 2019 - 05:58 PM.


#33 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 10 September 2019 - 06:05 PM

View PostJBH, on 10 September 2019 - 05:56 PM, said:

...until I thought they were old enough to know how to navigate sensitively conversations with people of faith.

a courtesy rarely extended to atheists from people of faith but yes - as you say - they need to learn “time and a place” and all that. pick your battles. but it’s totally fine to be an atheist and to say “i simply don’t believe that happened.” no need to preface it with “no offence” or “well you’re entitled to believe that” - they know they’re entitled....

#34 .Jerry.

Posted 10 September 2019 - 06:29 PM

I am strongly atheist.
Whilst I did tell my child the "some people believe" approach, I tell her the reasons I believe it is all fake.  I may even (these days) use disparaging terminology to describe some religious beliefs and practices.  ;)

I have no qualms about steering my child to be an atheist.

I am respectful to people, to religious people.  I am not necessarily respectful when speaking about religion, even with my teen.

She's been to church (catholic).  She has many quite religious relatives.  She deals with it just fine.

And I believe death is easier to explain and deal with when you are an atheist.
Don't need to say things like "She's with Jesus now" or "God wanted him to be an angel".  Just can say "their life ended" and "They are gone forever", "their heart stopped beating".  Don't need to be scared of death if you aren't going to some new place (i.e. heaven).  I tell DD that it's just like before you were born(conceived).  You weren't scared then, and you won't be scared when you are dead".

Edited by .Jerry., 10 September 2019 - 06:31 PM.


#35 Murderino

Posted 10 September 2019 - 07:48 PM

View Postgracie1978, on 10 September 2019 - 12:31 PM, said:

I'm thinking religion would actually make death conversations easier to deal with...

How so? My mum died when my kids were four and two and I am an anti religion atheist. I just told them she had died and we wouldn’t see her anymore but we could talk about her and remember her whenever we chose. They accepted that.

Then my 4yo told me that my then MIL had told her that Nana was in heaven. I said no she isn’t, there is no such place, she is in our hearts and memories.

My then MIL is lucky I was still grieving or I’d have hit the roof at her.

#36 JoanJett

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:10 PM

I'm probably more agnostic than atheist - I guess because I find absolutism in any direction difficult.  I've always found it intriguing that the "Father of Physics", Isaac Newton, was profoundly religious.

With my kids, I've always framed discussions about religion as the common thread in the history of humanity - every civilisation has looked at the wonders of the world and tried to explain them with stories.  From the Dreamtime to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the monotheistic religions to the others, like Buddhism and Bahai.  I also talk about the "messaging" in religions, and how some of those messages were applicable to the time and context and were allegories for issues of the time or unanswered questions, and some are universal and timeless messages about virtues/morals - love thy neighbour is a pretty good message.  

We have a kids' bible, and we have a book explaining the "Religions of the World".  They both enjoy both books and they're quite savvy about how they interpret them.

I also talk about the negatives of religion - how many wars and conflicts have resulted from the simple differences in belief being weaponised politically, and how some messages are contrary (universal love and condemnation of gay people), as just two examples.

I also talk about faith and religion being two different things.  Meaning, it's okay to believe in a god, but you don't have to agree with every aspect of a religion.  One is about a personal belief system, and the other is about a construct of control.

Both my kids have expressed atheism/agnosticism, and both have very solid arguments for their points of view.

#37 gracie1978

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:25 PM

View PostMurderino, on 10 September 2019 - 07:48 PM, said:



How so? My mum died when my kids were four and two and I am an anti religion atheist. I just told them she had died and we wouldn’t see her anymore but we could talk about her and remember her whenever we chose. They accepted that.

Then my 4yo told me that my then MIL had told her that Nana was in heaven. I said no she isn’t, there is no such place, she is in our hearts and memories.

My then MIL is lucky I was still grieving or I’d have hit the roof at her.
I'm sorry about your Mum.

At 4 my son really obsessed over his best friends Nana's death.
Heaven is a more palatable idea then never seeing everyone again.

#38 purplekitty

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:25 PM

View PostJoanJett, on 10 September 2019 - 08:10 PM, said:

I've always found it intriguing that the "Father of Physics", Isaac Newton, was profoundly religious.

I don't find that a problem.

#39 tenar

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:34 PM

I bought the kids this book, as part of our discussions about why people believe in things and why all the ancient cultures had their own religions:

https://www.dymocks....e-9781790576180

DD1 in particular was very interested.

#40 TheirMum2

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:36 PM

We are Catholic and my daughters attend a government school. After one of them went to her first scripture lesson she asked me whether I realised that some people were not Catholic?

It was a great opportunity to discuss with her the idea that people have many different beliefs - some are Christian, some are Buddhist, some are Hindu, some Shinto etc, some don't believe in any god/God or have any religious belief, but this does not mean they don't have their own beliefs on life and what it all means. It opened the discussion that religion is not what makes a person a good person, rather qualities like kindness, respect, tolerance, a sense of justice and loving and caring for your friends is what makes people great people. She often asks about other beliefs/religions and we talk about them openly - I don't want my children thinking the only way is our way.

She has embraced this discussion and now realises that the belief we have is not the only belief we think people should have. Only one or two of her friends at school are Catholic and she knows that not everyone is Catholic and that this is also okay. I want my children to love and care for people because of who they are and what they like about each other, not because of a belief that they might or might not have. I also want them to grow up respecting other people for who they are, not because they do or don't follow a certain God. By being open and non-judgemental I hope to help her to do this.

Edited to add: we have experienced several deaths recently in our family and I did find that it was easier for my daughters to think that their loved ones had gone on to another place where they were happy and safe, even though they very firmly know they will not ever see them again in this life.

Edited by TheirMum2, 10 September 2019 - 08:38 PM.


#41 Expelliarmus

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:44 PM

I definitely found that many people assumed I felt differently/more positively about my parent's deaths because I am a religious person.

I don't know if that is the case, because I have always been a religious person and don't know what it is like to experience the death of a loved one without belief in an afterlife.

I have a feeling that your relationship with the deceased has a more significant impact. I feel differently about the passing of my father vs my mother's passing.

#42 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:45 PM

my niece goes to a catholic girls high school near north sydney....she’s in year 9 - went to a catholic primary too - one of those “Our Lady of the something something “ schools - RE has been compulsory for her since kindy i would say. they’re not religious - they don’t go to mass...but still, we were chatting the other day at a lunch and something happened and i said “like Eve with the apple” - she asked “who’s Eve?” .


#43 BadCat

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:27 PM

View Postgracie1978, on 10 September 2019 - 08:25 PM, said:

Heaven is a more palatable idea then never seeing everyone again.

Not to me.

I find the notion of eternal life quite horrendous actually.


View PostJoanJett, on 10 September 2019 - 08:10 PM, said:

I've always found it intriguing that the "Father of Physics", Isaac Newton, was profoundly religious.



Religion is generally  taught to children.  If you do a good enough job of indoctrinating the child, no amount of other learning is going to shake that faith if they don't want to question it.

Some of the smartest people I know go through all sorts of convolutions to reconcile evolution with creationism so they can somehow believe in both.

#44 IamtheMumma

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:33 PM

View PostExpelliarmus, on 10 September 2019 - 08:44 PM, said:

I definitely found that many people assumed I felt differently/more positively about my parent's deaths because I am a religious person.

I don't know if that is the case, because I have always been a religious person and don't know what it is like to experience the death of a loved one without belief in an afterlife.

I have a feeling that your relationship with the deceased has a more significant impact. I feel differently about the passing of my father vs my mother's passing.

It could stem from the belief that in heaven, the loved one's life continues but in a non-corporeal state of bliss and health. It sounds pretty great. Someone once told me that god needed my family member more in heaven than on earth. I think there have may have been angels mentioned as in my family member was now one of them. I've also been told that said family member's work on earth was done so they had to go home. Anyway, that wasn't helpful. If anything, it made me very angry that someone I loved could be snatched out of existing because god needed him/her more. I was a devout believer when all this happened.

My own atheist views are the physical body breaks down. That is it. There's no rising from the earth.  The bit of us that is more than the sum of our parts, I think, is returned to the collective energy of the universe. Energy is neither created or destroyed, only transformed. Into what, I have no idea.

#45 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:43 PM

i’m not sure that christian dogma (not sure about other religions) necessarily assures you that you *will* see your loved ones in heaven.....it tells you you will be reunited with christ ....i always thought it was a bit blurry on the other point. it’s a nice thing to believe , sure. i’d love to see my mum again (although, given we’re both atheists if we’re wrong, we’ll be united in the slightly warmer place) - but, the idea of heaven doesn’t give religious people *that* much comfort - i’ve seen them grieve - very much so. there’s that seed of doubt, and that’s why they cry (like the rest of us). we would all much prefer that they’re here with us now - here on earth.


#46 Ellie bean

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:45 PM

I tried to discuss comparative religion with my 6yo but he drew the unfortunate (and presently unshakeable) conclusion that the genie from Aladdin is God. I’ve given up, I’ll try again in 6 months...

#47 aace

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:14 PM

I also do the some people believe talk and then follow it up why don't I believe.. I also tell my lot that you have to respect other people's beliefs and they should respect yours. They go to an Anglican school so have some minor exposure. It is pretty multicultural so the school is Christian Lite. My 8 year old did come home once and said "XYZ told me I was going to hell because I didn't believe in G OD"
I replied "Oh that isn't very nice"
DD said "Oh don't worry mum I just told him he was brainwashed" ;)

#48 Murderino

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:20 PM

View Postgracie1978, on 10 September 2019 - 08:25 PM, said:

I'm sorry about your Mum.

At 4 my son really obsessed over his best friends Nana's death.
Heaven is a more palatable idea then never seeing everyone again.

Thanks it was a long time ago now. My children were never particularly upset about not seeing her again despite the fact that they loved her fiercely and even the then two year old talks about her at least once a week several years later. My then four year old sat on my lap and cried (howled) through the entire funeral as that seemed to be the point it really hit home but that was it. They’d also seen her declining health as she had a terminal illness.

Perhaps it was also eased by the fact that by the time my mum died they’d been to a lot of funerals as XH’s uncles and aunts are elderly and they’re a close family so we’d attended several funerals by the time.

They’re also farm kids so see animal deaths on a frequent enough basis - they are very dispassionate about a dead lamb or ewe in lambing season.

#49 seayork2002

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:48 PM

View PostJoanJett, on 10 September 2019 - 08:10 PM, said:

I'm probably more agnostic than atheist - I guess because I find absolutism in any direction difficult.  I've always found it intriguing that the "Father of Physics", Isaac Newton, was profoundly religious.

With my kids, I've always framed discussions about religion as the common thread in the history of humanity - every civilisation has looked at the wonders of the world and tried to explain them with stories.  From the Dreamtime to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to the monotheistic religions to the others, like Buddhism and Bahai.  I also talk about the "messaging" in religions, and how some of those messages were applicable to the time and context and were allegories for issues of the time or unanswered questions, and some are universal and timeless messages about virtues/morals - love thy neighbour is a pretty good message.  

We have a kids' bible, and we have a book explaining the "Religions of the World".  They both enjoy both books and they're quite savvy about how they interpret them.

I also talk about the negatives of religion - how many wars and conflicts have resulted from the simple differences in belief being weaponised politically, and how some messages are contrary (universal love and condemnation of gay people), as just two examples.

I also talk about faith and religion being two different things.  Meaning, it's okay to believe in a god, but you don't have to agree with every aspect of a religion.  One is about a personal belief system, and the other is about a construct of control.

Both my kids have expressed atheism/agnosticism, and both have very solid arguments for their points of view.

Yes even with science things I find I say 'well scientists beleive  x dinosaur is 2 million years old because their tests say it is' I beleive this more than God creating them and we have been discussing how natural selection makes more sense than God creating all the animals himself.

But I try and let DS reach conclusions rather than he has to believe anything really

#50 Emm27

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:49 PM

I’m a staunch atheist and while I do my best to let my kids decide for themselves, I have to admit I’d be disappointed if they got involved with any organised religion. I’ve stuck with the “Some believe...however I believe...”

Same way we deal with Liberal voter conversations... ;)









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