• Wed, Jan 16 2013

I’m Not Religious, But I’m Considering Faking It For My Daughter

religion and kidsMy daughter will be five years old next month. She has not been christened, confirmed, baptized, or any other religious ceremony we put children through. I think one of those doesn’t normally happen until the tween years but I can never keep them all straight.

My little girl has been to mass on holidays and sat through a few sermons at my grandmother’s small, rural church. She’s gone to religious pre-schools and she has memorized a prayer to say before eating dinner. This is the extent of her religious exposure. And I feel like it’s time to change that, to introduce her to the loving and supportive communities that church can provide. There’s just one small problem. My husband and I are not remotely religious. I don’t even think we count as spiritual.

When I was younger, my family went to a Presbyterian church. I guess it was the middle ground between my father’s Catholic upbringing and my mother’s Brethren roots. I can still remember the first time I refused to go, saying that the whole thing was bogus. I was in fifth grade and my grandfather had just died. We were racing to the hospital, three hours away in Michigan. I spent the entire trip praying that he would be okay. I never even got to see my grandfather to say goodbye. It was the first time that I said, “If there was really a God, he would never have let this happen.”

I realize that there are plenty of people who will argue with me about that. I know reconciling the tragedies of the world with faith and spirituality is a difficult road for many. As I got older, I started to accept that God can’t control every bad thing that happens, that he can’t grant every prayer. I bought into that whole, “He has a plan that only He knows,” thing.

But somehow, overtime, that doubt crept back in to my mind. I saw the ways that churches abused their power and protected the guilty instead of the innocent. I saw churches that preached the love of God, only to condemn some human beings for who they love. Even worse, more than any scandal or dispute over beliefs, I simply lost faith. I stopped believing in all those old Biblical stories I learned as a child.

I cannot speak for my husband’s experience, but he too became disillusioned with religion in general. After serving as an altar boy for years, he won’t even take Communion when we attend Christmas Eve mass with his mother. He won’t even mouth the words of the prayers, ones that he’s had memorized since childhood.

My husband and I are completely and totally separated from the Christian industrial complex. And yet, there’s something that draws me back to it.

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  • Jenn

    That’s a tough one. On one hand I would think that if she believes in Santa she can believe in church. But on the other hand – erasing the bad parts of what religions teach (discrimination, sexism, homophobia, elitism) can be extremely difficult.

    If she’s gone this far without structured religion, what is wrong with the status quo? If she wants to go to church, take her. If she doesn’t, then don’t.

    We went to church, Saturday school (CCD), received our communion and confirmation. And when I was 14 I realized it was all a sham and my parents were fine with my decision. They have always said that it’s my life to live and believe the way I want to. Neither pressured me.

    (P.S. Non-religious people do better in the sciences and arts)

  • ZSal

    Instead of faking it (your daughter will likely pick up on that) as you described, have you considered joining your daughter on her faith journey. For example most Catholic churches (I’m Catholic and you mentioned that your mother inlaw as Catholic) offer introductory classes on Catholicism and/or will allow people to attend RCIA classes so they can learn about the faith. You can use what you learn in those classes to share with your daughter.

  • lilacorchid

    Why just expose her to Christianity? There are lots of other religions out there. She may find something more suited to her liking.

    • LindsayCross

      That is a really good point and something I’ve considered as well. Christianity is what I know and it’s the religion that a lot of her extended family still practice. But as she gets older, I would like to expose her to lots of different viewpoints so that she can make the best decision for her.

    • Diana

      Sounds like a Unitarian Universalist church or maybe an ethical society would be a good choice for you in that case!

  • Rebecca

    My brother,sister,and I were raised Pentecostal, and I have to say it did my brother no good. In and out of jail/rehab until his mid 20′s. he’s very much straightened out now, but religion did him no good. My sister stopped going to church at 14 but started again with a Lutheran church when she was about 25 and got married. She goes through the motions and enjoys the women’s group, but really is not religious or spiritual. They just go because my brother is laws grandfather is a church founder and it’s expected of them. I stuck with church until I was about 19 went through a pretty rough “break up” with the youth pastor who was mentally unstable and have become atheist. While I do miss the sense of community church can give you I don’t believe you need religion to develop a moral compass or to be happy. I was taught my whole life that people without god were empty, hollow, sad people being tormented by satan. You couldn’t have friends that weren’t religious unless you were actively trying to bring them into the fold. Just a bunch of crazy stuff. My daughter is 5 now and my mom likes to tell her about baby Jesus and the bible and takes her to church and all that. She asks me questions like is baby Jesus real “in our world”. I just say grandma believes in Jesus or this or that story but mommy and daddy don’t. I ask her what she thinks and I tell her it’s ok the believe whatever she’s comfortable with and to ask questions, and that she can decide to believe whatever feels right to her and it’s ok to change her mind. I don’t mind her learning about religion, but I won’t indoctrinate her or follow the “this is just what we do” path.

    • Rebecca

      I should add-my MIL is catholic and takes her to mass once in awhile to. My daughters only gone to church a handful of times because we live a few hours away. So it’s not something that happens with any regularity.

  • meteor_echo

    D:
    Don’t do it. Let your kid get acquainted with different religions and pick one if she chooses to do so. But seriously, don’t fake it for her, it’ll do no good at all.

  • Sara

    You might consider Unitarian Universalism. I am a director of religious education for a UU church (full disclosure) and the UU theology speaks to a lot of what you wrote here. There are core principles that UUs are supposed to believe in and practice, but they have a lot to do with treating one another and the earth with respect, taking our own spiritual search for meaning seriously and respecting that of others, and doing service. There’s no central dogma, no “you must believe this or do that in order to be a UU”, so a lot of families with diverse religious traditions like this freedom. On the other hand, UUism sometimes gets a reputation for being a religion where “you can believe or do whatever you want”. That’s not true. You can’t hurt others, you can’t treat people with disrepect, you can’t discriminate unfairly. There is a central theology and common principles, so it gives the comfort of a religious community without the rigidity and dogma that a lot of our members had a problem with in other organized religions.

    DO NOT “fake” being religious for your daughter. That does no one any favors. Try to find a religious community where you and your daughter feel comfortable and you’re on board with what they’re teaching. Seriously, I would really encourage you to look into your local UU church.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      I was actually going to post that. I’m a Christian, and not a Unitarian, but the idea of pretending to believe something really bothers me. I think it’d be healthier (both spiritually and emotionally) to not profess something you don’t agree with.

    • Angela

      This. I recently began attending a UU congregation myself for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I’m an atheist but want my kids to be able to explore their own beliefs and miss the community aspect of church. I love that the sunday school curriculum for children emphasizes tolerance and respect and encourages them to develop their own beliefs and values in a thoughtful and personal way. I also love that I don’t need to fake anything (there are several atheist/agnostic UUs) and I don’t need to worry about my sons being indoctrinated with dogma that I find harmful/offensive.

      Also, my own mother tried “faking it” for my sake because even though she had serious doubts herself she thought that kids need religion to teach them morals. Even as a young child I saw through it and felt like I was being manipulated.

  • http://www.8bitdad.com Zach Rosenberg

    Ugh. Me too. My wife and I got married in a church because Jesus made a nice backdrop. I was an altar boy in my youth. My wife and I both went to 12 years of Catholic school. My dad’s a Jewish Rabbi. There’s a lot of religion in my family, but I find it more successful to just be faithful, and not so much religious. But I wonder what to do with my son. I guess I let him try it, just like we let him try broccoli.

    • Katia

      best comment! Lol

  • kelly

    Have you considered a Unitarian Universalist Church? There is no doctrine that you are required to believe, they believe in the worth and dignity of every human being, as well as your search for truth, whatever that mean for you. It’s a very open minded place.

    • Katia

      that sounds nice

    • Elyse

      Unitarian Universalist Churches also have wonderful youth and religious education programs – these programs emphasize helping others, respecting the worth of everyone around them, understanding that we’re all interconnected, etc. The programs also explore various religious and spiritual beliefs (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc) and as the children get older, children are encouraged to share their own beliefs with the congregation.

      The idea is that all of us are on a spiritual journey and it might not be the same spiritual journey as someone else – but that’s OK. It’s such an open minded, wonderful place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Helmsman-Of-Inepu/100002281476991 Helmsman Of-Inepu

      I was going to suggest a Unitarian Universalist church as well. You’d have the community without all the dogma.

  • ladybugG

    I’m with you on all this, sister, and I feel conflicted, too, about what to do with my children’s spiritual upbringing. I consider myself a “recovering Catholic” and will never expose my children to the suffocating, hypocritical, homophobic practices and teachings of that church. For a few months, I attended a UU (as someone else also suggested) with my son. I like the philosophy, teachings and tolerance of the UU religion, but I started to get turned off as it felt like every week there was so much discussion and emphasis on fundraising for the church. Maybe that’s just a necessary part of church life, as I know they run on a shoe-string budget, but I just felt less and less compelled to go after a while.

    Now that I have two children old enough to “understand” religion, maybe we will try the UU again. Or maybe, ultimately, I’ll find ways to bring the concept of God into our lives without it having to be in a church. I do so love the rituals and community of church, but it’s just not for everyone, and that’s OK.

    PS- I’m surprised you haven’t gotten a bunch of haters lecturing you for not baptizing your kid yet, etc. Religion is right up there with breastfeeding and giving kids medicine for ADD when it comes to bringing out the self-righteous/sanctimonious know it alls.

    • Sara

      There might be more than one UU church near you–if so, try out a couple until you find one that you fit with better. It’s just like any other religion–each individual congregation has its own culture. If you go to http://www.uua.org, there’s a congregation search where you can plug in your zip code and find all the UU churches near you.

    • ladybugG

      Thanks. We do have a few in our community and I am considering a different one if we should decide to try it again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Helmsman-Of-Inepu/100002281476991 Helmsman Of-Inepu

      As I understand it, individual congregations pick their own minister instead of having them sent out from the mothership. So individual congregations can have a different emphasis. Any church with a physical building is going to be looking for money to keep it going, though. It may have been that you visited during a pledge campaign.

  • Justme

    I’m no psychologist but I think that taking your daughter to church and faking it would be much more detrimental to her future spirituality than explaining to her your struggle to understand religion, God and everything else in that spectrum.

    Obviously at five, she can only comprehend so much of your spiritual journey but I think as a parent, it’s okay to sometimes say “I don’t know” or “I haven’t figured that out yet” rather than life. Parents don’t have to have all the answers.

    I grew up the daughter of a Catholic youth minister and I remember the time I accidentally walked in on the priest smoking a cigarette. It sounds insignificant but it really disillusioned me for whatever reason. I had that realization that ALL people are fallible and no one deserves to be placed on any sort of pedestal. My mother also came home every night upset with the priest because of particular policies he instigated or the way he treated people at the church. I just couldn’t understand how he was supposed to be a man of God, but yet God allowed a man such as this to be the head of His temple, so to speak. I was sixteen and very sheltered.

    As I’ve grown, I realize the difference between spirituality and religion. My mother retired from the church and she has modeled for me the importance of prayer and meditation – not just showing up on a Sunday. To me, a strong faith and true belief in God is so much BIGGER than attending church services.

    I don’t really have any advice except to say that developing a child’s belief system is tedious work. There will be many people in her life that don’t live up to Christian (or any other religion) standards. There will be people that let her down and disillusion her belief in mankind and our place here on Earth. I just think that we owe it to our children to be honest, open and candid about what we believe and why we believe it (regardless of what it is).

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Hey, she’ll probably appreciate having the perspective when she’s older – and even if she doesn’t join a particular faith, she will learn respect for the adherents. No big deal.

  • LiteBrite

    Well, my advice on your “faking it” depends on the definition you’re attaching to the phrase. If by “faking it” you mean taking her to church and pretending to a belief system you absolutely do not subscribe to – in essence, saying one thing but doing another – then no, I would say “faking it” is not the best course of action.

    But if by “faking it” you mean joining her on her spiritual journey, taking her to church (and exploring other religions if that’s what you’d like to do) while at the same time not subscribing to an absolute value system then I think “faking it” is just fine because in that case you wouldn’t really be “faking it” at all. Hopefully I’m making sense here. (In my head I know what I want to say. I just can’t think of the right words to say it.)

    While I consider myself more Agnostic than anything else, I am not opposed to exposing our son to Christianity (or any other religion). Currently he attends church on once-a-month basis with my husband. (They’re Presbyterian.) I like the church, I like people, and I especially like the pastor. As a result, I have no problem with my son attending church there and will even do so myself once in awhile. But as I told my husband, while I don’t mind attending church on occasion and have no problem with our son doing so, I absolutely will not attend out of some desire to put up a front; i.e. I’m not going to go in order to make people – including our son – believe that we’re some pious, religious family.

    Before I close, I do have a question: do you have a friend or family member who can serve as a sponsor-like spiritual mentor for your daughter? That might be another way to introduce her to church without having to sacrifice your own belief system.

  • Eileen

    I was raised as an atheist, and to be perfectly honest, I grew to resent my parents for it. My boyfriend was raised Catholic and now resents his parents for it. You’re not going to win on this subject, no matter what you do. Assuming I marry a Catholic person (overwhelmingly likely, given where I live and who my friends are) I intend to baptise my baby or babies as Catholic (if for no other reason than that then my best friends can be godmothers) and take them to different types of religious services occasionally. So much scholasticism (including, well, Scholasticism), art, and literature has come out of different religious institutions that I’d like to take care not to bias my potential children against intellectually and personally fulfilling experiences. Although I will definitely point out that if you’re going to be a Biblical literalist, you’re going to have to learn Hebrew and Greek at the very minimum. This will probably result in my children’s becoming Baptists.

  • Ap

    I think one of the problems with religion is that people seem to assume that religion is binary. Either you’re a Committed Believer, or you aren’t. But from most people I know, that’s not true. The spectrum of adherence labeling Jewish congregations- Reform, Conservative, Orthodox- seems to apply fairly evenly to Christianity, too. Some people have aspects of the religion they like and follow, and some they disagree with. And those aspects are different for everyone. I guarantee you, if you walk into a Catholic church and ask people for their opinions on key Catholic tenets, for example, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, you will get a similar array of responses as you would if you asked people walking through a public park.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t throw out the Baby Jesus with the baptismal bathwater. If a religion or church is something you generally agree with, then it’s fine to raise your daughter there, and, when the situation arises, let her know that she is not obligated to agree with everything she hears at church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shannon.krisko Shannon Krisko

    My husband and I feel the same way. My biggest complaint was the “pick a team” feeling of religion. We recently starting going to a Unitarian Universalist church because of the open mindedness and community.

  • bumbler

    My sister is trying to fake it for her kids, and it’s not going well. Her kids are 6, 8 and 10. It becomes tiresome to keep up the charade, and many kids pick up on that kind of thing very quickly. Religion has also brought many uncomfortable questions into the home regarding their lifestyle vs the teachings of the church. It’s also a huge nuisance to the rest of the family, who are not religious, because the kids are frequently popping up at us saying “the bible says -insert wildly inaccurate idea-” or “I’m sad because I think God won’t let you come to heaven with me” and it’s on us to constantly correct them. It would be different if we were also committed to the religion and to raising them with faith, but since we’re all science-minded it’s pretty annoying, hahaha.

    I totally agree with other posters….it’s better to be a guide or companion on the kid’s journey into spirituality.

  • Andrea

    Pretend??? SERIOUSLY????? Pretending you believe in something so deeply
    and utterly meaningful to millions of people around the world just
    so..what?? Your daughter can get … what?? Exposure?? So she can fake
    it too???

    That is horrible. It is FINE if you don’t believe. It’s
    FINE if you are raising your daughter how you see fit. But it is NOT
    fine to pretend to believe in something that you DO NOT. It is insulting
    to those of us that DO try to lead our lives in a religious way. If you
    want your daughter to be exposed to Christianity, send her to church
    with her grandparents. Or enroll her in a Sunday School class. But, for
    pete’s sake, do not “pretend” to believe. It will serve NO PURPOSE. She
    will only come to the realization that the whole thing MUST be bullshit,
    otherwise mommy wouldn’t have had to “pretend”. It would be MUCH better
    if you explained to her later on what you believe in (or not) and have
    her come to her own conclusions.

    I don’t think I have ever been
    SO offended by a piece of writing. Perhaps it is because I expect more
    from your. Unlike other writers in this site who shall remain nameless
    (Eckler)

  • Lastango

    Starting to cover your postmodern butt already, eh?

  • Daisy

    My ex-boyfriend’s family is very non-religious, but his parents sent him to a Catholic high school because they wanted him to be open-minded and explore his own options. (The only 2 real choices in my province are Catholic–which officially teaches Catholic teachings but is pretty open and tolerant toward religious discussion of all sorts, at least by the standards of the Catholic school stereotype–and public–where no religion is ever supposed to have anything to do with the classroom.) He ended up being super closed-minded against all sorts of religion.
    My best friend, on the other hand, comes from a Buddhist family, but when they moved to Canada, she went to Catholic school as well. Although she is still personally Buddhist, she is very open-minded about all religions, has taken many university courses on a variety of religions, and is really interested in learning about different faiths.
    As for me, I was born and raised Catholic, and I still am. I know about all the bad stuff that is associated with the Catholic Church and especially the Vatican, but honestly, I don’t see any of that in my parish. The two priests we’ve had since the church was built are both kind, non-judgmental, community-minded, friendly guys, and it really is a home for all different sorts of families who genuinely care about each other and come together as a community.
    3 different people who all took similar paths through school, but ended up very differently. I guess the moral is that there is no guarantee for how a kid’s experiences will shape their beliefs as an adult, and the best you can do is teach them to be open-minded about all their options.

  • Erica

    Why fake it? Just tell her the truth. A lot of people believe different things; there are many religions out there. My husband and I plan to teach our daughters about many different religions and eventually take them to various churches. I’ve come to believe that religion and spirituality are very person decisions and no one should be born into a religion (as I was). It is something that needs to be chosen when a person reaches adulthood. It took me until after college that I finally make peace within myself and ‘settled’ into my spiritual beliefs.

    • Harriet Meadow

      I’m going to try to tell the truth (rather than faking) to my child, as well. My husband is Catholic, but I’m not religious at all, and I told him he can take our son to church and instruct him in his faith, as long as he’s okay with the fact that, when our son is old enough to wonder why I don’t go to church, I’m going to tell him the truth. I don’t know how this is going to work out, but I’ll let you all know ten years down the line…=)

  • Byron

    So…we have women faking it for their husbands, now faking it for their daughters too? The humanity!

  • K.

    Well, I think that you need to realize that as a parent, you can help expose your daughter to religion, but ultimately, faith and spirituality have to be engendered and nurtured by the individual, or your daughter herself. You can’t provide that for her.

    I think it’s fine to expose her to different religions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to attend services or “fake it” yourself. I’m not religious myself, but my husband converted to Buddhism and my best friend to Islam and all of us came to our spiritual beliefs through travel and history–as in, we learned about the world’s religions simply by visiting the Vatican or the Dome of the Rock. We read religious texts as literature in high school which peaked our curiosity. Obviously, hitting all the major religious sites in the world is not something you can do in a year (unless you have a lot of time and money!); my point is that religion is not necessarily something that one has to find via indoctrination or even in childhood. And while I also agree that it’s moving to watch people pray (I love, love, love hearing the call to prayer when I visit my bff who now lives in Istanbul!), it sounds like your interest in that has to do with alleviating your daughter’s anxieties–ie, you want her to feel the same comfort and security. This is natural as a parent, but I think that your daughter can find that in places other than religion (in addition to within religion!) AND that that kind of fulfillment is really only true if it’s a deeply personal faith, which, to my first point, is not something that you can ‘give.’ All you can do is present opportunities; she’s the one who will decide.

    And by the way, if the grandmas are church-going, why not allow them to escort your daughter if she wants to go? That would be one way of doing it and it’d be bonding time as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessakris Jessica Parham Ellis

    Others have said this, but I wanted to throw it out there as well. I am a Unitarian Universalist, and based on what you have said here, I really think it would be a good thing for you to check out. UU is based in liberal Christianity, but has grown beyond that to embrace the idea that there is a lot to learn from most religions and faiths, and that no one has a monopoly on the truth. We support one another in our individual search for truth and meaning. We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We believe in loving and being inclusive of all people. We believe in service.

    I have been a part of my church for almost 6 years now. I missed the fellowship and sense of belonging of being part of a church, and I missed having a spiritual life, but I did not believe in the brand of evangelical Christianity I had been involved in in the past, and that is prevalent where I live. I also, like you, wanted a place where my future kids could be nurtured, have other positive adult role models, be educated and encouraged to explore her own spirituality.

    Anyway, I won’t go on and on (more than I have already). We’re not a proselytizing bunch, but I just seriously can’t say enough about how much it has done for me, and I think it could solve your problem. :)

  • http://twitter.com/DecaturFlora Flora

    Lindsay, I think you’re on the right track to be thinking about this the way you are. My father was never religious, and my mom was a burned recovering Southern Baptist. When I was a kid, I went to a Baptist pre-school (where I now work, in spite of being completely a-religious) and we went to services at several different churches in the area and my parents taught me a lot about different religions at home. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sending her to church with grandparents, and as she gets older involving her in children’s and youth ministry activities. That way, you can take the time to figure out how comfortable you are with Religion and gives her some exposure in a fun and friendly way. (There’s a big push to bring people in to the church via friends, so most churches should be prepared for new kids who don’t have a lot of experience with the church!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgen.charnes Georgen Charnes

    Two words: Unitarian Universalists. I am a UU Atheist. My 7 year old has collected food for the food pantry, learned about the world’s religions, and talked about what makes a home. The children say at the beginning of each meeting : “We are Unitarian Universalists and we believe in Open Minds, Helpful Hands, and Loving Hearts.” Isn’t the rest just details?

  • RevBex

    Hi, I’m a family ministry pastor in a small church, and I have to say that I often meet parents who have your same struggles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m not really into God but I want this community for my kids.” Just by going to church and supporting your daughter, you’re not “faking it”; you are exposing her to what you believe is a good opportunity for her development. When I talk to my daughters about their interest in science, even though I have no real interest in dinosaurs and do not have any plans to learn astrophysics , I am not faking my enthusiasm for what they are learning or my delight in hearing them talk about what they love; and I am thrilled that they are learning something easily that comes to me with difficulty. I would assume that your experience with church would be the same. Many churches believe in partnering with parents in their child’s faith development, at whatever stage they happen to be in. If your desire is that she grow socially in a church community, and begin her own journey of faith, I can’t think of any church program that would have a problem with that.

  • lou

    Religion should be opt-in, not opt-out. She can join a church as an adult, if she wants to. Don’t put her through the stress of believing in hell and brimstone if you don’t. That’s not fair. If you want her to grow up in a community atmosphere, sign up for a community group or volunteer with her for a charity. Churches don’t have a monopoly on community caring – in fact, many megachurches aren’t very community-oriented at all.

  • Meredith

    My mother is an athiest and I still have no idea what my dad is, probably agnostic. My mother decided to take my brother and I to church every Sunday so that we’d grow up around good people and good morals. We didn’t practice it at home or do anything that I would consider a lie or a fraud. We were never devout and mainly prayed around the grandparents or our family who are very religious. It was more out of respect for them, no reason to raise a fuss. She just brought us to church and we engaged in Sunday School and youth group, if we wanted to. I think it was middle school when I started asking questions like “Well if it was seven days, how does that work with the dinosaurs” and she answered that the seven days is more like a metaphor. I still think that’s a great answer, but I know many would not. Eventually I decided that faith wasn’t for me, and I consider myself agnostic and my brother is still Presbyterian. After a while I actually asked my mom about it and she said she was agnostic and explained why she took us to church.

  • toshtoshbobosh

    I didn’t lose faith, I have just always been agnostic. Then I married a Hindu, and I saw that they tend to be far less judgmental and insecure than the Christian people I have known. However, I have known some really wonderful Christians. But here is something I want you to analyze: When your child is older, you cannot say “do as I say”, and expect it to work. You have to say “do as I do”. And what I think you are lacking is a firm moral center, a belief system, that you feel comfortable offering your daughter. I can relate to that a bit, and it comes down to your confidence in who you are. Putting that responsibility outside yourself can have very serious pitfalls, especially if done dishonestly. Instead, try to find the value or comfort in your spiritual ambiguity, and I can assure you that if you don’t find them, you will have found a much more clearly marked path, one you just might prefer your daughter follows anyways. My mom has never lied to me and it is one of the only great things she ever did as a mother. Do not use dishonesty to teach your child; you can still encourage her to learn outside the home without compromising your integrity as her mother. You don’t have to have all the answers; I am sure you have plenty about other topics. By allowing her to make a few decisions of her own you might just build a lot of trust and she will need somebody she can trust one day.

    • toshtoshbobosh

      I also wanted to note that I have a two year old son and our local unitarian universalist church is made up of dying atheists and homosexuals with no small children to be found out of hundreds of members. I find it comical. Of course this is Florida. Those are my peeps tho.

  • OleannaJ

    I am struggling with this too. My parents are Catholic but I do not practice any religion and don’t really have strong religious beliefs but when my child is born I do want her raised Catholic which has me torn, do I fake it for her or no? It’s a hard one.

  • Raquel S

    Happy I stumbled upon this post. My daughter is also five, my husband was raised Catholic and I had bad experiences growing up for very similar reasons to yours. Our parents are also religious. We both believe in God and I ‘talk to God’ often but we do not attend or believe in organized religion for many of the reasons you noted. We went to church last year on Christmas Eve and this week, my daughter attended vacation bible school with for the very first time — this is her only exposure to religion so far. She loved VBS so much she cried on the last day. It’s with trepidation that I am now shopping for a beginners bible and am planning to attend church, so she can attend Sunday School with a friend. She is very interested and as with anything, I believe it is my job as her mom to support her in this quest for knowledge. But it’s also my job to oversee the who and what of the teaching, to discuss openly and honestly, and to guide her through the information so that she can make her own decisions. I’ve kept my own opinions to myself but not faked it either. This week we talked about what she thought about the material taught at VBS. She also told me how two of the older girls/adults were talking about another girl/adult who had a hole in her pants but they weren’t going to tell her. I took this as an opportunity to teach her that there is a better way to handle this situation and we acted it out. Faith is about what we believe in our hearts and not necessarily about the people because we are all fallible. This is such a huge topic and I am very much in your situation, I could go on but not my forum. Kudos to you for writing this post and for trying to figure this out for yourself and your daughter. Sounds like you are a good Mom. Good luck!!