Posted by: Jason | January 31, 2010

Sleepovers and Sunday Mornings

What is considered good manners if your kid is sleeping over a friends house on a Saturday night and they invite him or her along to church in the morning?  I suppose there are several ways to go about this, but most of the time I let my kids decide.

If you happen to be a Baptist or a Catholic or an Atheist or any other -ic, -ist, or -ism, you may feel worried that your child may be “exposed” to some poisonous untruth that will either fill them with the fear of Hell or send them there.   I don’t.

First of all, if my kid is sleeping over somewhere, I already know the parents well enough to assess whether or not they are generally responsible adults around children, and I have a pretty good idea if they are fundamentalist in their beliefs.  I know enough about the different christian denominations to have a decent idea of what they will see or hear.

So for me, I think it is a good way to allow my kids to see a different part of their friends lives, and to provide talking moments after.  My hope for my children is that when they are older, they have enough information to make a sound decision, based on evidence and critical thinking, not indoctrination (by me or anyone else).

I also think it is important to understand that I have had my whole life to come to the conclusions I have made, but my 8 year old hasn’t.  For me to tell him that my way is right because I said so is no better than the fundamentalist preacher that thinks shouting makes it true.

By the way, my son did sleep over a friends house and was invited to church and happily explained that he doesn’t like church so no thank you, so I came and got him early Sunday morning.

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Responses

  1. Thank you! It seems a surprising number of atheists fear their kids being exposed to religion. The goal should be a child who can think for himself, and how can he do that if he doesn’t have all the information??

  2. Fantastic. Perfect.

  3. I went to church a couple times with friends in a similar set of circumstances. I was genuinely curious about what they did, and never had a negative experience. I am glad that I was able to experience that, because it was never a forbidden mystery. It brings the whole faith issue into context as just some thing some people do. I also did not have any kind of mystical religious experience, no surprise there.

    What’s more mystifying to me, is the number of friends I have, previously of the “don’t care” denomination that have started toting their tots to service every week. As if their child might catch fire if they’re not inoculated by Jesus.

  4. My parents are devoutly christian. When they very occasionally ask to take my daughter to church (they only occasionally go themselves), I say yes. She sees it as a place where they sing songs and she gets cookies and punch afterward.

    Then again, they’re taking her to an American Baptist church, the denomination I was raised in, and I have plenty of familiarity with their beliefs and practices. My childhood church was liberal enough to have a gay organist and a lesbian sunday-school teacher, so I feel like the American Baptists in general probably aren’t too fundamentalist.

    It makes for a nice Sunday morning of sleeping in when they take her, too, since my parents know better than to ask if I’d like to come.


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