What you need to know:
- Taking it a notch higher, what if you are now not religious yet your initial upbringing was one rooted in religion?
- This dilemma leads us to feel morally obligated to somehow introduce our children to a religion for the sole purpose of inoculating them with faith.
- Faith which in turn breeds ethics and morality. But, does it always?
It’s a peaceful Sunday morning and you are finally getting some of that much needed extra shut-eye after a week that seemed as long as a month. Suddenly, the silence is broken by the neighbour’s children who are miserably protesting as their parents usher them off to church. They don’t want to go; they would rather spend one day a week in bed. But their parents, it seems, believe they’re acting out of moral necessity. Introducing them to religion ensures they are brought up as ‘good children’ not to mention remaining relevant in the societal structures we all seem to identify with and belong to in today’s world.
Gets one thing
This gets one thinking. The association of religion with upbringing is derivative of an automatic assumption that behavioural ethics of a human being from childhood to adulthood is crafted majorly within the walls of our Churches, Mosques, or Temples. However, we are beginning to witness a growing number of people whose affiliation with particular religious associations are slowly diminishing. Of course, this in no way compares to those that are invested tooth and nail but, we ought to admit and recognize that those taking a step back are gradually increasing.
What if the parent is not religious?
What happens then if you as parents are not religious or even more complex where one of you is religious while the other is not? Taking it a notch higher, what if you are now not religious yet your initial upbringing was one rooted in religion? This dilemma leads us to feel morally obligated to somehow introduce our children to a religion for the sole purpose of inoculating them with faith. Faith which in turn breeds ethics and morality. But, does it always? To understand this, we need to first identify the benefits of religiousness areas we try to pass them along to our children. It may include less inclination towards immorality such as drugs and substance abuse while at the same time allowing our children to have a steady stream of hopefulness and courage in their lives. It may also foster inclusivity within society by building relationships that could provide anchorage and support throughout one’s existence. It also acts as a cautionary behavioural attitude of treating others with kindness and respect lest deviation from it results in undesirable consequences from a higher being. Furthermore, religion helps induce a sense of belonging not just within the community but at the family level too. It breeds advocacy of loving and healthy relationships between parents and their children as well as to extended families.
However, when religion becomes a contentious issue within a familial structure, this can severely hamper any, or all, of the aforementioned benefits significantly. This is especially true for cases where the religious discord has to do with family members practising or believing differently than others. Consequently, it may be the case where parents associate greater value to religion than their children do thus resulting in trying to push children against their will. This could include non-negotiable instructions to pray in a certain way, avoid certain types of food, conform to a modelled form of dressing among others. Many times, such military tactics lead to irreconcilable differences between parents and their children which in turn diminish a child’s evolving thought process.
Understanding what is best suited for our children is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. What we consider as best for our child may not be what another parent deems appropriate. Similarly, what we presume is best for our children may simply be driving them towards rebelliousness causing constant tension and friction. In an otherwise simple and ‘normal’ setting, families can easily adapt and cope with religious affiliation with children generally continuing in their parent’s footsteps having been indoctrinated at an early age into what is considered a morally astute mode of living. After all, our main aim is to raise ‘good kids’ who can grow up into morally sound members of society who have a general sense of decency, respect and inclusivity as part of their upbringing. This is the goal.
So the next time you are dragging a protesting child off to your chosen religious establishment, take a step back to understand the implications of your parenting actions and permit room for understanding the repercussions of your moral obligations and whether they will yield the intended desired future outcome you are expecting.