Atheism, Child-Rearing, Hypocrisy & Me
First let me state the fact that I happen to be a complete atheist, second let me say that in hindsight that I wished that we chose to raise the children with a more religious background and third I freely admit that makes me a total hypocrite.
To clarify, I never have “come out” as an atheist to the two younger kids (8 & 11) the 18 year old knows but he’s never driven me nuts with behavioral problems either. I personally “served a term” of severe Catholic education that lasted from kindergarten through high school, and was grateful for the high quality of education, but had severe issues with the “indoctrination” which led to guilt complexes and various other issues that didn’t get worked out till my late 20’s.
When my kids asked religious based questions I would answer very diplomatically using both my surprisingly extensive knowledge of theology (when we got detention we had to copy large bible passages by hand and the fact that I made it a point to read all the other religious texts for the express purpose of busting balls in theology class—which inevitably resulted in more detentions) and noncommittal language so as not to sway them in any way, and would also give them the answers provided by a few different religions for perspective.
In my mind I was trying to save them from the severe guilt I felt as a child for never being a “believer” and much of the craziness I (and probably my poor parents) went through when I got out of high school and went nuts rebelling against what I was taught.
So why am I saying that I wished we raised the children in a more religious environment? Well, while I still feel that religion for the most part is a tool to control the ignorant with primitive minds (please no hate mail, I also firmly believe everyone has the rights to their religion and the comfort it gives them, as well as some degree of envy), I never had a couple of ignorant creatures with primitive minds running around that I needed to control. I checked with my mother (because for various reasons my childhood memories are sketchy at best) she assured me that I was always rather respectful and other than being a bit messy and lazy I never really gave her a hard time. Of course, my mom and dad had backup from nuns beating the concept of “honor your mother and father” being a commandment that must be followed or I risked damnation, as well as literal beatings—I still flinch when I see a metal yard stick…
I intended to spare my kids the significant mental anguish I suffered from my experiences with religious indoctrination, now I wish I could saddle them with the exact same grief in order to provide defense for what is left of my current sanity. Selfish and hypocritical of my own admission, mea culpa. At least I now understand why I was brought up the way I was, and why it’s worked s well for the past few thousand years. It’s too late now for me to try that ploy since I still can’t imagine walking into a church (unless it was part of an elaborate bank heist) and also I’ve honed their bullshit detectors too well for them not to guess my motivations. It is a pity that it seems almost impossible to train people the value of respect, understanding and selflessness without the framework of a strict mythology; sure the Buddhists do a decent job of that but I spend too much time eating meat & wanting stuff for me to pull that one off either.
In any case wish me luck & if you’re so inclined say a prayer, it can’t hurt.