You and your spouse have decided that you would want your child to have secular notions. This could mean that you want your child to exhibit tolerance for all religions or that you have consciously decided that you would want them to be an atheist.
The decision is personal and here is why it is not a bad idea:
- Research shows that children who have a secular upbringing are less worried about “fitting in” with their peers. They are fairly their own person.
- They tend to grow up to be more accepting of thoughts and ideas in contrast to their own.
Having spent most of your life under the organized guidance of a religion, you might find it a challenge to proceed in that direction. However do keep some things in mind-
- Religion need not always be the moral compass for your child. An ethical and open-minded child is a result of a fair and loving upbringing.
- Cultivate empathy and humility in your child. This makes them accept other people’s opinions. They tend to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. They are open to others views and will give them a fair hearing.
- Give your child the courage to be different. Tell them it is okay to have views different from others while being patient and fair to them. They do not have to conform to be accepted.
- Teach them to respect. Themselves and others. What we do not believe in is not necessarily wrong. They should not belittle or look down upon it.
- Read them stories from religious texts from around the world. Point out the similarities and the differences in them. Make sure you explain the symbolism in the context. Talk about the different societies of the world and how they have all attempted to answer questions like the beginning of life on earth.
- Take them to visit all places of worship. Let them get exposed to the various ways people offer prayer and worship.
- In case you and your spouse belong to different religions, talk to them about the customs and traditions of both the religions. If not, then get some friends and acquaintances to talk to them about their religions different from yours.
- Talk to them about the religion you follow. Let them question you and challenge you. They will build critical- thinking skills and they will learn not to blindly follow authority.
- Explain the deeper meaning of religion to them. Tell them when used in the right context it preaches values that make us better human beings and focuses on a better living environment for all of us.
In the end, all you are trying to do is to raise a child who is compassionate and tolerant. If you can get a sense of wonder and a love of learning into them as well, the better!