I’m going to start out this post by saying that it isn’t intended to judge or denounce anyone’s personal choices in relation to their children, nor am I trying to say that any one school of faith is better than another. Hey, I’m a man of pretty deep faith myself. But in today’s charged climate of becoming offended at absolutely anything and everything, I feel it’s important to point out that the content of this post is my opinion only. Although I’m always open to other people’s comments and/or questions, please keep them respectful, should you happen NOT to agree with my perspective here. As the last and most controversial post in my KID trilogy, religion continues to play a pretty dominant role in some households.
While faith can be a good thing, forcing one’s kids into it can have negative and even detrimental effects. When I was a child, I had Catholicism forced down my throat. My mother had gone to the seminary during an earlier chapter of her life. I had aunts who were missionary nuns and my Grandmother was about as close to the term “Bible thumper” as you can get without becoming offensive. One of the bigger problems is the fact that an hour-long sermon can be pretty damned boring to a small child, especially when they don’t understand what’s going on. It’s even worse when it’s forced upon you.
My Father worked shift work and I’ve never seen him set foot in a church for anything but a wedding or a funeral. But even on days when my brother was sick and my mother had to stay at home, I was still expected (forced, actually) to jump on my bike and go sit through church on my own. My mother would even go as far as asking me what the topic of the day’s sermon was, ensuring that I paid attention and stayed awake. Kids don’t like having things imposed on them at the best of times. Is it any wonder that I stepped away from organized religion as soon as my mother allowed me the choice?
The irony is, I have a deep love for the Holy Bible. I own two copies. Have you ever read that thing? There’s a reason why it’s one of the all-time most popular books in the world. If I had been permitted to explore the aspects of Catholicism on my own, there’s no telling what level of interest I would have developed during my formative years. Instead, I turned away and renounced any association with organized religion, much to my family’s dismay.
I found Buddhism almost by accident as a byproduct of my martial art’s training. What drew me to it was the peace of mind, body and soul. Also, the acceptance of everyone else’s faith-based perspective is a winning aspect as well. My wife’s family is of a different faith, but it’s not something that ever caused a problem between the two of us. And the important thing is that neither faith will be imposed on our children. Not everyone will necessarily agree with that perspective, and that’s okay. But I believe it’s important for someone to FIND their faith and understand what it is they’re getting into. I’ve seen too many young ones who are introduced into a school of faith without properly learning the basics concepts of birth, life and death.
I feel that religion falls under the same category as martial arts; you shouldn’t force your children into it. Rather, be the example, guide them in the right direction and teach them right from wrong. No matter what your religion, if you let them choose and show them the way you’ll be surprised at how easily their curiosity will lead them to come to you. We’ve grown and evolved to the extent that although faith is still an important aspect of modern society, the right to choose is just as important. As I bring this trilogy post to a close, I feel it’s important for me to repeat what I mentioned in the opening paragraph. This post isn’t intended as a judgement against people’s choices or how they deal with the topic of religion with their children or within their household.
Rather, it’s simply meant get one’s wheels turning in relation to all three of the main topics that my blog is based on: martial arts, Diabetes and Buddhism. My son has seen me meditating on numerous occasions and has occasionally asked what I’m doing and why. Sometimes he imitates me, sometimes he just sits there and watches. Perhaps eventually he’ll get curious enough to ask deeper questions. Until then, as with all things related to our children, patience is key. ☯