Religion vs no religion
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 26-Feb-2009
Should you give your child a religion of your choice from the time they are born? Or should you wait until the child is old enough to decide for themselves?
Nadia (not her real name) prefers to leave it up to her children, aged 7 and 3, to decide when they are old enough.
My husband and I were raised with a religion but I disagree with certain things in that religion. I can't teach my kids to believe in something which I don't believe in.
We don't fastidiously practice the religion when it comes to certain conventions. To me these are just rituals.
We are very free at home. My son is too small to understand but my daughter asks me about religion. We just talk about it. Her cousins are quite religious and they teach her how to pray. And when she comes home she always discusses it with me. Usually I tell her that if she feels like praying it's okay, she can go ahead. I don't stop her and at the same time I give her freedom.
When my mother-in-law passed away, we went for the funeral. I told my daughter that her grandmother died and I explained to her that certain people believe that everyone has a 'spirit' and that the spirit goes to heaven and certain people believe in reincarnation. So far she has not asked me what I believe in.
She has asked me why I don't pray the way her cousins pray, why sometimes we join in the prayers and certain times we don't. So I explain to her that prayer is between you and God and if you want to talk to God. I don't believe it has to be at certain times and at the same time I don't believe that we have to do it every day, if we don't want to. This is how I feel. I always stress that this is my opinion and if you feel like it you can just pray at any time. Not giving her a religion and exposing her to all religions involves a lot of explanations.
My daughter knows about God. She believes in God. But I don't associate God with punishment in raising my children and disciplining them. Instead I tell my daughter what are the consequences of her doing certain things. But sometimes she decides to do it anyway. Then she has to bear the consequences for it. That's what I tell her.
My kids are exposed to other religions, too. So my daughter understands that Muslims pray in the mosque, Hindus pray in the temple and Christians pray in a church.
I teach her that people are different so they behave differently and there is no right or wrong. I hope she will understand.
Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia
Rev Dr Hermen Shastri
A child growing up would need a moral formation and values. Religion helps to give life a certain direction and perspective. If you don't give a child a religion from small then the child grows up with values inculcated from experiences in the context in which he lives.
If the child is still under the care of the parents and the parents belong to one religion then you cannot expect the parents to expose the child to other religions because the parents have a vested interest in the upbringing of the child.
I think the most important thing is the initial upbringing. If a child is inculcated with godly virtues connected to a certain religious belief system then that child will have that in mind. He will always have it in the background and perhaps dwell on it and perhaps then choose to practise that religion in a more fervent way.
I think it is important today to have that belief and connect it to life and the things around. Belief can come in many forms. Of course if it's the religious system that the family practices it brings the family closer together, helps bring meaning to important occasions like religious festivals, the birth of a brother or sister, maybe the death of a grandparent. The religious system helps the child cope with that and find its connection within the family.
When you're talking about a child you're not talking about doctrines and all that because a child won't be able to understand that but a child will be able to understand why Christians are Christians and why Hindus are Hindus and be able to see that kind of conviction lived out in the family. And then the child will appreciate and pay attention and it will never leave the child for the rest of his life.
A lot of children (if their parents do follow a certain religion) are taught that religion from young, trained to think it is the right path and they should follow it as their parents do. This is somewhat helpful, in that it supplies the child with a code of ethics and values to hold on to through their formative years when they are so young and impressionable. But I believe that as they grow up, they should be allowed to learn ABOUT other religions as well. The reason for this is so that the differences and similarities of all these religions can fortify their belief in their own faith - or, contrarily, make them question what they have followed blindly all through their childhood - as they independently make sense of what they learn. Religion is quite a personal matter, if you ask me. It is the right of every man or woman to have a say in something that involves his or her spirit and soul, the very inner being of a human, no?
We may give our kids a religion from small but does it mean anything?
Yes, some of them keep the religion and follow it fastidiously to their old age.
But some just forget everything they are taught when they start working.
There is no way to know if a child will retain the knowledge and info and put it to good use.
Also, you can still bring up a child with good virtues and morals without the pressures of guilt and rituals from any one religion.
I know adults who are atheists and are great human beings. Similarly, I know people who embraced religion at age 40 and are more committed and knowledgeable about it than those who were taught it from small.
Who is to say what is right?
Religion to my understanding is a way to discipline our self.
Nobody should be taught to criticize any religion.
Every children should be given a time to be taught and understand other religion too
Teacher whom teach children should not teach one religion above another.
Every religion is the same but the method of teaching to prayer is different
Is religion really matters in the education society ?
All religion teaches their disciple to be good and we should not discriminate each other.
So, when the children are young (below 18) maybe they should follow the religion embraced by their parents. But once, they reach 18 years old, they should be given the right to choose on their own. Remember, we are now parents and try to recall how our parents brought us up when we were young.
Be fair and knwo our footage with our children and that's how we gain their trust and respect.
For those who believe in giving their children a religion only when their child grow up than they might as well let them dicide whither they want to go to school or not when they grow up. All religion teachers good moral and value which is a good guide to thier early life. They can change to other religion when they grow up. Parents are their first educator.
Every child should be educated with religion of the parents when they are born though they may not understand about it but it is the value that will shape their character in the future. The freedom of embracing any religion of their choice should be given to them when they grow up tomorrow. We should not force religion to them. Religion is just a statement and ultimately, the relationship with God is what that's matter.