Warning: If you're religious, you may want to skip this post. I am pretty opinionated when it comes to religion.
I make it no secret that I am an atheist (raised Catholic). The hubby is Christian, and while he's not a church-going Christian, his faith is near and dear to him. Before we started dating, he was made well aware of my atheism and that I had no intentions to change my beliefs (or lack thereof). Before the hubby, I had had a couple of boyfriends who, although they knew I was an atheist, expected me to adopt their religious beliefs should we ever have gotten married. One was Jewish, and one was Catholic. The hubby, on the other hand, respects my atheism, as long as I don't cross the line and start insulting Christianity. You'd think that we don't discuss religion at all in our marriage, but we do. We both have the same opinion about organized religion, so we have great discussions on this topic, when it does come up.
I love that the hubby respects the fact that I'm an atheist. And I love that he didn't look at me funny or call me a heathen when I told him that I wanted a church wedding. He is Christian, after all. He totally respects my opinion and I respect his. We obviously don't see eye-to-eye in religious matters, but that's cool. I have a real hangup with married couples in which one half of the couple converts for the other as a pre-requisite to marriage. The fact that your partner expects you to convert is bad, because it shows a total lack of respect for the other person's religion. And if you're the half of the couple that converts, it shows that you have no convictions of your own.
Similarly, I find it weird when I talk to couples who were never church-going, and yet as soon as they have children, then suddenly decide to start attending church because "it's good for the kids". Excuse me, but how is that good for the kids? You didn't even like going before. Now you're forcing yourself to go. And you're dragging your kids too. So now nobody is having fun, and you've wasted an hour of your Sunday, which could've been spent sleeping in. Or not going to church. Are you tempted to throw darts at me yet?
Now on to my particular case. Me: atheist, hubby: Christian (Unitarian). Our child was baptized at 6 months in the Presbyterian Church, by the same minister who married us (his parent's minister). The baptism was totally my idea. The hubby was more than happy to go along with it, but didn't pressure me either way. And before you think I'm some crazy hypocrite, the baptism was, for me, more of a symbolic gesture, to honor my late grandmother's memory, since I know how much she wanted PK to be baptized. (As a fairly religious Catholic, just like my mom, she didn't quite understand my exit from the Church.)
It has been two years since PK's baptism. The hubby and I have touched upon religious upbringing here and there. Our strategy is as follows: the hubby is more than welcome to teach PK about God and Jesus and the Christian way. He may even take her to church if he wants to. I, on the other hand, will simply make her aware of my point of view - i.e. that I don't believe in god. If she asks why, I will tell her. If she asks if I ever believed in god, I will tell her about my upbringing and how I came to be an atheist.
Some may argue that such a mixed upbringing in the faith department may be confusing to a child. Especially when one side has no religion. But the way I look at it, we are giving PK the opportunity that so many children are not given - exposure to two different schools of thought. Children are so often expected to adopt the family religion because well, it's the family religion. They are not supposed to question it. They must simply accept it and follow it.
I am perfectly aware of the fact that PK *may* side with me, or she *may* side with the hubby. She may even choose another belief system. The point is that with this type of upbringing, she will get to explore her own faith, rather than have it spoon fed to her. Which is why we won't push one belief or another. We'll simply expose her to both.
I realize that this may very well be very idealistic. I also realize that the best-laid plans go to the pooper, but it's worth a shot. If there's any takeaway from this, it will be that PK will hopefully learn about tolerance of beliefs. And isn't that a great lesson to learn in this day and age?
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