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Author Topic: Should parents influence the faith of their children?  (Read 2569 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 05, 2010, 10:37:36 AM »

http://www.fallibleblogma.com/index.php/should-parents-influence-the-faith-of-their-children/#more-3816
Quote
A lot of parents indicate that they don’t want to influence their kids too much as to which religion they choose. They want their kids to be able to choose their religion freely for themselves without any kind of bias.

I think that’s a really neat idea.

That is…if your religion is as arbitrary or as inconsequential as your favorite color.


Obviously a cut and paste from a blog, however, he raises a good point. There are too many who are either too politically correct or too unsure if there is an ultimate truth to care about their child's spiritual education. I think this is one of the bigger reasons why secularism is so prominent today.

Edited to be OK with the new board policy - mike.
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2010, 01:14:44 PM »

Just not so long ago, it seemed that our discussion on interfaith marriages ended simply because I gave the idea that it is necessary according to the Orthodox Church that one must raise their children in the Orthodox faith.  It is why interfaith marriages are prone to failure.  In my opinion, fathers and/or mothers (who already consider themselves faithful Orthodox) who do not have their children baptized and grow into the faith should not be received into the Church until a suitable time of repentance.
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2010, 03:34:32 PM »

Just not so long ago, it seemed that our discussion on interfaith marriages ended simply because I gave the idea that it is necessary according to the Orthodox Church that one must raise their children in the Orthodox faith.  It is why interfaith marriages are prone to failure.  In my opinion, fathers and/or mothers (who already consider themselves faithful Orthodox) who do not have their children baptized and grow into the faith should not be received into the Church until a suitable time of repentance.

You are correct.

The idea that we are to make disciples of all nations and yet nor raise our children in the Faith makes absolutely no sense.

Really neat idea? Do they have the same idea on their diet (vegetables vs. cake?), education (school or truancy? or is truancy an outmoded idea?), hygene (bathing vs. foregoing cleanliness?), etc?
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2010, 04:29:33 PM »

Really neat idea? Do they have the same idea on their diet (vegetables vs. cake?), education (school or truancy? or is truancy an outmoded idea?), hygene (bathing vs. foregoing cleanliness?), etc?

No, I don't.  Marriage is a sacrament in the Church.  Therefore, I gave my opinion that the Church as a whole should deal with this specific matter.  Other issues can be dealt with on a more private matter.
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2010, 08:09:58 PM »

Really neat idea? Do they have the same idea on their diet (vegetables vs. cake?), education (school or truancy? or is truancy an outmoded idea?), hygene (bathing vs. foregoing cleanliness?), etc?

No, I don't.  Marriage is a sacrament in the Church.  Therefore, I gave my opinion that the Church as a whole should deal with this specific matter.  Other issues can be dealt with on a more private matter.
Bringing up the other matters was purely to deal with those who don't think the Church should deal with this specific matter, although they would swiftly comdemn those left their children ill fed, uneducated and unkempt: do these people think they should let their children choose what language they will speak, and don't say anything to the kid until he decides?
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2010, 10:59:46 PM »

Really neat idea? Do they have the same idea on their diet (vegetables vs. cake?), education (school or truancy? or is truancy an outmoded idea?), hygene (bathing vs. foregoing cleanliness?), etc?

No, I don't.  Marriage is a sacrament in the Church.  Therefore, I gave my opinion that the Church as a whole should deal with this specific matter.  Other issues can be dealt with on a more private matter.
Bringing up the other matters was purely to deal with those who don't think the Church should deal with this specific matter, although they would swiftly comdemn those left their children ill fed, uneducated and unkempt: do these people think they should let their children choose what language they will speak, and don't say anything to the kid until he decides?

Maybe.  I don't know.  If any priest, just like any human being, found out that a child of any parent was ill fed or not treated well under the laws of the land, then it should be dealt with, regardless of Church or no Church.

Are you suggesting that the Church should feed, educate, and clean the children?  Or to teach and help parents and educate them in how to take care of them?  The latter I feel the Church, at least the one I go to, has been been very involved in.  The Coptic Church has been involved in educating parents, help find those who are jobless to get jobs, get active service for the poor, for the jailed, etc.  We have Sunday School, tutoring services, and social services.

So I don't see your point.  This has nothing to do with the OP.
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2010, 02:50:02 AM »

Not being a member of any Church, or a parent, I'm not sure anyone cares about my opinion on this matter - but I have time to waste so I'll share it anyways.  I personally believe that parents should not be overbearing with their religion.  That is, I believe that parents should not force their children (or at least their older children) to go to church and if their child should change religions, the parents should not shun them.  My reasoning for this is two-fold.  Number one, I believe people have a right to believe and think as they choose and people should not be shoving their opinions (no matter how strongly held) down someone's throat against their will (this would obviously not preclude conversations on religion or church even if you child has chosen to not believe).  Number two, I think you are very likely to drive someone forever away from your believe if you are trying to force them, against their will, to agree with you.

EDIT: That being said, I've always believed that the best way to lead is by example.  I believe that the strongest influence a parent can have on their child's religious faith is their example of living that faith.  Many people are driven off from Christianity because of seeing hypocrisy in self-professing Christians.  As an example, I have a cousin who is no longer a Christian because he saw in his parents a lot of hypocrisy that I won't get into right now.
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2010, 04:33:19 AM »

Not being a member of any Church, or a parent, I'm not sure anyone cares about my opinion on this matter - but I have time to waste so I'll share it anyways.  I personally believe that parents should not be overbearing with their religion.  That is, I believe that parents should not force their children (or at least their older children) to go to church and if their child should change religions, the parents should not shun them.  My reasoning for this is two-fold.  Number one, I believe people have a right to believe and think as they choose and people should not be shoving their opinions (no matter how strongly held) down someone's throat against their will (this would obviously not preclude conversations on religion or church even if you child has chosen to not believe).  Number two, I think you are very likely to drive someone forever away from your believe if you are trying to force them, against their will, to agree with you.

EDIT: That being said, I've always believed that the best way to lead is by example.  I believe that the strongest influence a parent can have on their child's religious faith is their example of living that faith.  Many people are driven off from Christianity because of seeing hypocrisy in self-professing Christians.  As an example, I have a cousin who is no longer a Christian because he saw in his parents a lot of hypocrisy that I won't get into right now.

Of course age is a factor, and depending on the child, perhaps at some point at an older age example would be better than force.  However, from infancy, Orthodox Christians are obligated to raise their children in the faith.  If you start from infancy, then you're shaping the child in the faith, not forcing them.  If parents make no effort from infancy, believing in having their child grow with no faith to choose later, then this is grounds, in my opinion, for a priest to refuse communion for the parent, who is supposed to be a spiritual guide for the child.  The Church does not require infant baptism for no reason.
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 05:15:50 AM »

I suppose I need to elaborate more.  I in no way meant to suggest that something like infant baptism should not take place.  After all - if the child grows up to believe in the Church, then they will be glad they were baptized.  If a child grows up to disbelieve in the Church, then they shouldn't care as all they could possibly believe it was was a public bath (a very quick one at that).  I also think that if a parent shows their faith, lives their faith, from the time their child is born (that is, being an example of Christianity for their child, from their child's birth), then there will be less chance of the child disbelieving later on.  Little children like to be like their parents.  If a parent goes to church every week, the child will want to.  If the parent allows their child to see them praying regularly, their child will want to pray regularly.  If the child grows up going to church because they want to, and praying because they want to, then they are much more likely to stay in the Church (or perhaps to stray for a few years and then come back). 

Ultimately, I think that force is simply going to push a child away from what you are forcing them towards - just as someone trying to force you to do something is likely to drive you further from it.
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2010, 06:31:31 AM »

Just not so long ago, it seemed that our discussion on interfaith marriages ended simply because I gave the idea that it is necessary according to the Orthodox Church that one must raise their children in the Orthodox faith.  It is why interfaith marriages are prone to failure.  In my opinion, fathers and/or mothers (who already consider themselves faithful Orthodox) who do not have their children baptized and grow into the faith should not be received into the Church until a suitable time of repentance.

I don't think it's the only significant point that can be made. Too often people think only of the poor effect that their choices will have on their children, and not on themselves. However, I think it should be clear that people who cannot share Holy Communion together cannot mystically have the same sort of relationship as those who do.
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2010, 06:31:31 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2010, 09:11:19 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.

Exactly. Methods change depending on your audience. However, if you hold a belief, then it's not you opinion, it's your belief. Therefore, you should want your children to hold those beliefs.
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2010, 10:38:26 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2010, 10:47:54 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

I agree. When a child is responsible enough to determine the destination of his or her eternal soul, then the parents can ease off. But before that, parents absolutely should do everything they can to indoctrinate their children. That includes teaching, saying daily prayers as a family, not treating church attendance as optional (including midweek feast days if possible—what kid doesn't like missing a morning of school?) and being a good example.

Most important is that parents should take the responsibility themselves, and not just dump them off at Sunday School or summer Church Camp and let other people do it for them.
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« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2010, 08:41:26 AM »

Well, I would agree that it is a failure of the parents if they don't educate and indoctrinate their child in the faith. However, in Orthodox baptism, there is a reason that one of the Godparents at least has to be Orthodox. Because the Godparents are charged with ensuring that the baptized child WILL STAY IN THE FAITH. That is, their job is to do everything in their power to ensure that their Godchild starts Orthodox and stays Orthodox.

That being said, I do believe that leading by example is the best way to accomplish this. My parents went to church every Sunday and eventually it came to a point where it felt weird NOT going to church on Sunday morning. I remember when I got a job at 16 working for the Chicgo Cubs and I had to miss church in order to get to the ballpark on time, I actually felt completely out of place for the whole day because I knew that it was Sunday and Sunday was the day when you go to church in the morning.

So in short answer form, yes, parents should influence the faith of their children.

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« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2010, 01:41:15 PM »

The short answer is: parents cannot help but influence their children in everything including faith. To what degree they attempt to make their influence explicitly understood and to what degree they attempt to intentionally exert their influence are other questions.

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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2010, 12:05:25 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

It's been even proven teens have been shown to process information through their amygdala, whereas adults will use their frontal cortex.  In other words, teens are more likely to act irrationally, basing their decisions on emotions rather than rationality.
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2010, 04:50:10 AM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

The estimation of 13 was probably the most superficial part of my post. It could very well be 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 instead.
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« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2010, 04:50:10 AM »

I agree. When a child is responsible enough to determine the destination of his or her eternal soul, then the parents can ease off. But before that, parents absolutely should do everything they can to indoctrinate their children. That includes teaching, saying daily prayers as a family, not treating church attendance as optional (including midweek feast days if possible—what kid doesn't like missing a morning of school?) and being a good example.

That's precisely what I was saying.  Undecided
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« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2010, 02:22:30 PM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

The estimation of 13 was probably the most superficial part of my post. It could very well be 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 instead.
You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.
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« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2010, 02:34:21 PM »

You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

That sounds awfully optimistic.  Tongue  Rational thinking and anything over 5% of humanity would be pushing it.
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2010, 02:37:31 PM »

You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

That sounds awfully optimistic.  Tongue  Rational thinking and anything over 5% of humanity would be pushing it.
Ha! Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2010, 03:01:25 PM »

You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

You think that "suspending emotion", as if such a thing is possible, and being "rational" is the appropriate stance to engage in one's faith?
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2010, 03:01:54 PM »

You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

That sounds awfully optimistic.  Tongue  Rational thinking and anything over 5% of humanity would be pushing it.

God have mercy, I hope the number is lower.
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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2010, 01:33:12 PM »

Do they have the same idea on their diet (vegetables vs. cake?), education (school or truancy? or is truancy an outmoded idea?), hygene (bathing vs. foregoing cleanliness?), etc?

Exactly. I've never been able to understand why parents would "force" their children to go to the doctor or dentist, eat a healthy diet, go to school, etc. and then leave something as important as religious faith up to them? Isn't it a parent's responsibility to guide, nurture and care for a child in all aspects of life?
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« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2010, 03:24:11 PM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

The estimation of 13 was probably the most superficial part of my post. It could very well be 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 instead.
You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

Pesonally, having just recently been this age (I'm only 21), I think a lot of kids 16 and over have the rational capacity to choose their religion.
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2010, 06:11:58 PM »

I think I would tend to walk a middle way between the two parties that I see. If I had a child I would insist on them being raised in the Church throughout the majority of their childhood. When they begin to come to come into adult rationality (about 13 and on), I think I would start to become somewhat more sensitive to the possibility of them developing their own beliefs. Of course, I would try my best to influence them staying with the Faith. But if, for some reason, they happen to truly not be convinced of it, I do not think, like some, I would force them to continue to participate in the Church.
A 13 year old is nowhere near rational enough to be making decisions about dumping religion. Have you been around any 13 year olds lately?

The estimation of 13 was probably the most superficial part of my post. It could very well be 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 instead.
You obviously are not a high school teacher. I am. I think mabye 15% of high school students possess the ability to really think rationally and unemotionally about the world aroudn them, especially when it comes to complex issues such as religion.

Pesonally, having just recently been this age (I'm only 21), I think a lot of kids 16 and over have the rational capacity to choose their religion.
Well you have more faith in them than I do.
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« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2010, 07:00:46 PM »

If we were to say that parents could not train their children in a religious paradigm, then we might as well say that they are not allowed to believe it is true at all. Anyone that truly believes anything will not be able to segment it off to some private sector of their life, as this religious/secular dichotomy seeks to do. If freedom of belief means "freedom of ideas, as long as you don't share them with your impressionable children" then what that sounds like is about the worst world imaginable, a world of chaos and confusion, with no context at all.

Some others might want to descend into the void, but I'll pass.
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« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2010, 08:29:04 AM »

If we were to say that parents could not train their children in a religious paradigm, then we might as well say that they are not allowed to believe it is true at all. Anyone that truly believes anything will not be able to segment it off to some private sector of their life, as this religious/secular dichotomy seeks to do. If freedom of belief means "freedom of ideas, as long as you don't share them with your impressionable children" then what that sounds like is about the worst world imaginable, a world of chaos and confusion, with no context at all.

Some others might want to descend into the void, but I'll pass.

Seems like there was a country that didn't allow parents to teach their children any faith at all. Now there is a vacuum of faith slowly being returned, but largely occupied by an awkward atheist population. Oh yeah! Russia...
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2010, 07:34:07 PM »

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