How to raise a child between agnostic parent and believer relatives?
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You have voiced your opinion about disliking this thread more than once.
You have reported this thread.
Now repeating repeatedly your dislike about this thread, here, is only going to make
me think of you as a `pest`.
"I know" I haven't written anything offensive here, neither I have manipulated any
statements here. This is /General and I am free to post any non-Linux stuff I wish, as long as I stay under the rules.
As they say, get out of the kitchen if you can't stand the heat!
BTW, I'll be very glad to be in your ignore list.
Also, IMO the topic of this particular thread is VERY important for today's generation
and specially in India where talking against religion, openly, is frowned upon.
My mother tells me to pray to God and ask him to increase my
salary/happiness/safety etc. I can deal with my mother.
My in-laws ask me to pray to the God before embarking on a journey.
I do as they wish (to make them happy (not a big deal for me)).
Now, when my relatives tell my future child to pray to God for
the above mentioned reasons, how should I explain to him(child)
that this God didn't protect the gas chamber victims so there is
no reason that you should expect him to help you to get good
grades in exams, etc?
I think the child will ask - then why is the grand mother praying
I don't have an answer to this.
My brother and his wife have taught their child (2 years old) that
if you do bad things God will punish you.
I want my child to not to do bad things because the bad things are
bad, not because God is going to punish.
I want that when he grows up (about 15 years of age) then he
should decide for himself whether he wants to follow religion or not till then he should have a free mind. He should be dependent on
himself for his acts, not on God.
A friend of mine, his dad, is Hindi and told me something I'll never forget about. I myself am not religious at all but I can resonate very well with what he said. He said (in a non-accurate quote):
Different people pray to different Gods and even sometimes to the same God without realising it. What you must understand about this is peace of the heart. It is the nature of people to desire comfort and happiness. Some people are comforted by praying to God. Others are comfortable with a self realisation that there is no God. Whatever the case may be if it makes that person happy then is it wrong? If praying to God at the end of the day and throughout brings happiness into your life then do that. If it doesn't and you find happiness in other ways such as hobbies then do that. The end goal is to bring happiness and peace to your life and just understand that different people achieve inner peace in different ways.
End quote. That changed my whole perspective on religion and by far one of the wisest things I have ever read or heard. I hope that helps you figure out your dilemma.
I've made a report to the effect. Please don't be offended but I think this forum should not be used to ventilate your personal life issues. There are other forums or blogs where they provide advise for such situations.
This forum is a community. As a community we talk about many things. Sometimes personal life issues need advice from an independent third party and there's nothing wrong with asking that. I'd say if she were to post this anywhere on the LQ forum the Non-*NIX General forums would be the place to do it.
I knew you were having problems with belief, Anisha, but I'm sorry you've lost your faith. Personally, I'd say that the combination of philosophical arguments showing that a supreme being is likely and the experience of God(s) by millions of people is pretty convincing.
As for your potential children, are you not falling into intolerance here? If you isolate your child from religion, how can that give him a "free mind"? You are imposing your views as much as your parents would. Your child can be brought up as a believer or as an unbeliever, but they can't be brought up as a "nothing".
I agree that many people's religion is rather superstitious, including the views of your family, but that doesn't invalidate the concept. To quote from one of our ancient writers:
"The divine is without needs, and worship is paid for our benefit. The providence of the Gods reaches everywhere and only needs some congruity for its reception."
"It is impious to suppose that the divine is affected for good or ill by human beings. The truth simply is that when we are good we are joined to the Gods by our likeness ... and when we become evil ... our sins prevent the light of the Gods from shining upon us ... To say that God turns away from evil is like saying that the sun hides himself from the blind."
Last edited by DavidMcCann; 11-02-2012 at 02:36 PM.
One of the most sought after and cherished human rights is the right to force others to obey your religion.
An accurate read of history indicates the Pilgrims settled Massachusetts pursuing the right to force their religion upon their neighbors. They placed that goal above all others (safety, material prosperity, etc.). The popular American myth that they fled the religious intolerance of England looking for religious freedom is contradicted by everything they did and everything they wrote.
In the USA, we tend to believe in the right of parents to try to force their religion upon their children. But we at least pretend it stops there. We don't give much support for people forcing their religion on their grandchildren (they had their chance with their own children and if they blew that chance, it is too late). The many who strongly believe in the government's role of forcing Christianity on the people, need to find confused and convoluted arguments to hide the basic flaw of believing in the words "freedom of religion" without believing in the actual freedom those words imply.
Regardless of what a society does or doesn't pretend, people will still want to force their religion on their neighbors and even more so want to force their religion on their grandchildren. So Anisha, I wish you good luck dealing with your husband's parents on that topic, but there is no advice that will tell you a clean solution.
In my own case, I don't believe in God and my wife does believe in God. It was the source of some stress in raising children, but not insurmountable. We agreed early on that she was free to teach them God exists and I was limited to "no comment" on the topic. The kids of course understood, without being explicitly told, that I do not believe in God. That was the source of such stress as we had on the topic. Once she saw the effect of "no comment", My wife wanted me to lie to our children and pretend to believe in God. I participated in the ceremonies (not very well or enthusiastically), but never indicated I believed in any of it. Our sons made up their own minds, which is four for four not believing in God.
Maybe you could try to show your future child both sides of the coin and let him/her know your view on religion, so he/she can have a broad point of view about religion and life in general.
In my case, my parents are atheists and the rest of my family are catholics, but most of people here don't have strong religious beliefs, so it wasn't an issue for me or my parents when I was a kid. My relatives accept our atheism and we accept their beliefs (and we rarely speak about religion since it's not a common conversation topic here, even among people who share the same religion and beliefs).
Anisha: There is no easy answer to this. And my country sets no example, as religious struggles have invaded the political arena.
Here in the States, we have many "interfaith" couples. In some cases, "interfaith" may even mean agnostic and believer.
I think this is true: you cannot insulate children from exposure to religion and religious people. It will be all around them. Trying to do that will be both futile and exhausting.
I think the best option is, when children question you about it, to explain that there are many different beliefs in India and in the world. Different persons pray to different gods, but most persons are striving to find a way to live a good life (as sag47 said, to find peace). Perhaps adding something to the effect that you are unsure of which way is the correct way, but that living with integrity, kindness, and respect for others what every person of good will wants, and that's what you want in your house.
Teach them that it's okay for other persons to believe differently, so long as they try to be good persons and treat others with kindness and respect and integrity.
And be prepared for opposition from the in-laws. A mark of believers is that they are certain without evidence. That is what faith is--certainty without evidence (or "the evidence of things unseen" as the Christian St. Paul put it).
Your example will be more important and powerful than your words. If children in India are like children in America, they learn to stop listening to their parents along about puberty . . . .
Maybe you need to change your culture or forget the family. You need to raise your child as best you can. If your culture forbids you from raising your child then do your best to broaden your child's knowledge. They may one day be quite religious or have a strong believe. You wouldn't want to deny them that either.
I would not pray to get material goods. I might pray that others be helped or healed or such but never would I ask for my own other than for mental or spiritual guidance.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy/Jessie/Sid, Linux Mint DE
There have been more people killed because of religion than anything else. So I suspect a worse relationship with your husband or the in-laws is just trivial and could happen by just thinking about this problem.
My wife is very Christian too. One of those happy churches with singing and clapping hands and "God is Love" and "Once you love Christ all your problems are solved". That kind.
Obviously our son (the one called Grep, regular visitors of this forum know him by now ) was heavily influenced by the bible terror from since he could talk. My comments were mostly neutral, a bit agnostic biased though. I never made a big deal out of it.
When he turned 7 or so he refused to go to church, Sunday school, readin the bible, etc. That is two years ago now. To me he is admitting he doesn't believe, but to his mom he is mostly neutral.
As it seems, when there are two different attitudes in the children's parents, he or she will hear both, and make a choice at some moment. Remember, you can't insist on a child choosing your side. Only on choosing the right side.
Distribution: Debian Wheezy, Jessie, Sid/Experimental, playing with LFS.
Just my opinion but if you need to ask how to raise a child then there is something horribly wrong. Religion or no religion if the child is yours you should be able to raise it and nothing family says, unless of course it is a safetly/welfare issue, should deter you from raising your child how you see fit. Another thing that springs to mind is it is funny how people who have had the opportunity to decide for themselves if they believe or don't believe think that children should not be afforded that same choice. If your family are having a religious celebration at their place then so be it they are free to do so and you are free to stop your child from going to it. It will be your child so it is you who has to make the choices and it is you who has to stand by those choices not your family and not some people on some forum.
Distribution: UBUNTU 5.10 since Jul-18,2006 on Intel 820 DC
Go with the tide anisha. Dont buck it.
Obviously dont tell your in laws or EVEN YOUR PARENTS. But think of moving out to a different place. Remember you cant choose your relatives and in India that includes inlaws. You can however choose your work spot and friends circle. If you all now live near your work spot, consider changing your job to a place far away and get your husband's support. What does he say? Is he also for being agnostic? (I think you mean casual towards religious ceremonies, mumbo jumbo etc).
Many Indian families conduct hawan etc. In itself it means nothing. Wherever you go, you will find some religion. Weekly church on Sunday or mosque on JUMAwar. But in your case it's your in laws who in India can be judge, jury and executioner. What if it's havan today and forced visit to temples tomorrow? Or worse if you have a girl and they blame you for not producing a male child? You have to ponder these and other issues that you have to face in the future.
There is an alternate value system that does not call for being overly (and overtly) religious. Its called having a secular life style.
All the best in your efforts to provide a sane and rational life for your child.
If you ever migrate to Chennai call me and we will have a cup of coffee and bat the breeze. Most south indians aren't religious nuts or orthodox.
Just my opinion but if you need to ask how to raise a child then there is something horribly wrong.
I must say that this statement troubles me.
Anisha's question is not about raising a child.
It's about dealing with in-laws who are likely to disagree with how one is raising a child.
Advice columns in American newspapers (the only papers I know well) are full of questions about how to deal with in-laws who are demanding, unreasonable, domineering, meddling, and dictatorial. It is a common source of stress in families and apparently also a cross-cultural one.
To be fair, advice columns are also full of questions from in-laws who see their married children throwing away their lives in bad matches, addiction, adultery, and so on and so on.