Religion is an interesting topic. As a parent, it is important to be aware of your own beliefs and how you want your child to understand religion. It is an individual choice and based on cultural backgrounds. What you choose to share about religion, and in what way, will influence the way your child will form an opinion. Being honest about what you believe is essential. Before discussing religion with your child, think through some questions about your own beliefs: Do you believe in God? Do you believe in an afterlife? Are you satisfied with your beliefs?
It is also important to be open to the idea that your children might have different spiritual questions than you do.
Indoctrination will not result from simple honesty or exposure. Telling your child what you believe, or exposing them to what other believe, will not indoctrinate them. Rather, it will show your readiness to be open by showing them that there is no shame in sharing one’s beliefs with others or not. And it will show them that they are in a household that talks openly and respectfully about tough subjects – including religion.
Here are some questions and potential answers that might come up when talking about religion:
What is religion?
“Religion is a set of beliefs and views about how to behave. Some religions have a God or gods, and some don’t. Religion has been around for thousands for years. Some religions have slowly vanished, and others have continued.”
What is God?
“God is a word that people use to mean diverse things. Some people believe God is an unseen existence who made everything in the world. Some people believe God looks at them from the sky and provides guidance for them to be good.”
Why is religion important?
“Religion is something that matters to a lot of people. It is important to talk about it so you can form your own beliefs about what you believe, and because it is important to understand and appreciate all the different people you are going to meet in your life.”
Whether you are religious or not, it is important for you to reflect on your personal beliefs and values before talking about religion with your child. Religion has impacted our world and it will continue to do so in many ways. Preparing your child and educating them about appreciating all religions and beliefs will allow for open conversations at home and in public.