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Teaching children about religion

One of the most daunting tasks I'm facing as a parent is teaching my children about religion. Being of Mexican descent, it should come as no surprise that I was raised Catholic and I can't remember a time when it wasn't a part of my youth. My grandmother holding a rosary and praying was a common sight. In fact, my mother's name is even Rosario.

As a child, I had faith in what I was told was the truth. If I were still Catholic, it would be simple: I'd just share my faith with my children the way my family's faith was shared with me and they would absorb it.

However, it's not that simple because I'm no longer Catholic, nor am I a religious person in general. That's not to say I'm not spiritual, though. I'm not an atheist; I leave room for the possibility that God exists, I just don't profess to know. My spirituality takes the form of feelings rather than faith. I feel that we're all one, that we are all in this together. I feel the universality of our existence. I want to be good and moral because it's the right thing to do—because it's what's best for all of us.

So why not just teach my children to be good and moral without teaching them about religion? Why not just let them absorb my spirituality? Because it's not good enough for me. The truth is that religion is a huge part of our culture, history, art and politics. I would be doing my children a disservice to pretend that religion can be ignored in our culture. It can't.

Even though I'm no longer religious, I know that I'm a better person because of religion.

Being exposed to Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and other beliefs has made me a tolerant person with the understanding that not everyone believes the same thing, and that that's OK. I want my children to be open-minded and educated. I want them to be curious and respectful of the beliefs of others.

I don't pretend to be an expert on how to teach children about religion, especially since this is uncharted territory for me, but my plan is to be as fair and objective as possible, to treat their education in religion just as I would treat their education in history because religion is a part of our history. I'll do my best to ensure that they know about as many religions as possible and not just the dominant ones of our culture.

Catholicism is a huge part of my Mexican family's culture, so I will take my daughters to mass because I never want them to feel like they don't understand where their relatives are coming from. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable in a church. I want them to be literate in our religious traditions and feel comfortable asking questions.

I'm hoping they develop friendships with people of varied cultures and religions, that they will be invited to and attend services of different faiths and that they develop critical thinking skills from the experience. I will teach my children about religion even though I am not religious because I think it's the right thing to do.

  • How are you teaching your children about religion? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments.
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