Separation between Church and Kids

Toronto Diocese Choir School for Girls
ca. 1985, I'm hidden by my sister

(I attended Anglican/Episcopal choir camp
for 5 summers and LOVED it!)

We don't attend church. We're not even C&Es (Christmas and Easter attendees). Both T and I are both baptized and confirmed and we married in the church. Both of the kids are baptized. But the only time I remember them being in church (other than the occasional wedding) is when they have attended with friends. T doesn't believe in God and thinks organized religion is the basis for most of the world's wars (I agree with him on that point), so we haven't gone. When we met and married I went regularly. Now I haven't stepped a foot in a church since my friend's wedding nearly 2 years ago. I just don't know what I believe.

My cousin, whom I have turned to for parenting advise for more than a decade, only told me a story on how they ended up attending church. Her daughter K came home one day and said "Mommy, have you accepted Jesus into your heart?" That was enough for her. She decided that the kids in the neighborhood couldn't be responsible for their kids' religious training. They joined their local Episcopal church.

Last night I was remembering this story that she told me 8 years ago. Cecilie had 2 friends sleeping over. NR is Catholic, KH is "Christian" - from what I understood it is a non-denominational, somewhat evangelistic place. And the two girls took it upon themselves to give C a crash course in God, Jesus and the Saints.

C is older and asking questions. N (my son) has been asking too. What is the right answer? C said she doesn't want to go with me to church - she wants to go with "Mrs. R"!!! She's been to church and temple a number of times with friends. I know it is my responsibility to teach her what her "childhood belief" should be.

It's just so hard when my own adult beliefs are confused. One of my friends from college is now and Episcopal minister. She had quite a rough time at college, losing her sister to an asthma attack in her junior year and her mom died of cancer just after her senior year. She talked a lot about incomplete faith. I guess that is my category. I want to believe and I just sometimes can't, so it feels hypocritical to send my kids.

When we first moved to BW I was at a ladies' night with several Moms. I felt attacked by two of the Moms who more or less accused me of that ultimate sin, bad mothering. "How can you teach your kids right from wrong without church school?" My holier-than-thou friend said. "Well, through service in Girl Scouts, by example and by talking about right and wrong on a regular basis in the home". You don't need 10 commandments to make sure your kids know that they aren't allowed to kill someone or covet they neighbor's wife. (Being jealous of their clothes?) They stared at me and continued to try to say that Church is an important place to learn these things and that I should reconsider.

But church or no church, I still believe you can be a good family, good people with a good life without organized religion and I take offense that someone would think otherwise. As long as I can have some control over what the kids are taught to believe or not believe I still think my kids aren't worse or better than kids with religious education. I had a lot of religious education, and I certainly am no more or less moral (and I have done my fair share of immorality during my time!) than anyone else I know. All my religous training has not kept me from cheating, stealing, lying, vanity and a host of other sins. And without God/Church as part of my life, I have been forced to try to forgive myself. It was easier when I could say a general confession "I have not loved my neighbor as myself" and Poof! I'd be "forgiven and absolved".

This is a long blog today and the discussion is not over. But like most of the blogs I publish it is filled with implicit questions that have no right or wrong answers. Until I figure it out, allow me to ask "What the Hell do I do now?" when the girl friends are teaching C the Lord's Prayer in two different versions!


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