Growing up without religion (Zeyna Mcllvain, March 16-22)

One of my favorite books of all time is “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume. This book is about a 12-year-old girl, Margaret, who has grown up without a religious affiliation because of her parent’s interfaith marriage. Her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. When she was born her parents decided not to raise her with either religion. They wanted her to find her God on her own.

Margaret’s maternal grandparents didn’t approve of this and cut off communication with their daughter (Margaret’s mother) unless Margaret converted to Christianity. Her paternal grandma did not care until Margaret went to a synagogue to see what the Jewish faith entails. After this, her paternal grandma pushes her to accept Judaism.

This is just a small portion of the book, but in my opinion it is the most important. The rest of the book is about Margret praying to God to help her transform into a woman and to help her know what religion she should be part of. In the end Margret start menstruating and thanks God with a prayer, officially accepting Christ into her life.

I was also raised with no religious affiliation in an interfaith household. I liked this because then there was no pressure to choose mom or dad’s religion. As a result of this though my sister and I never had a God to pray to or talk to so is it better for parents to choose a religion for their children so they have that? The theological issue is if parents should devote their children to Christianity (or any religion) from birth or if kids should have the freedom to choose.

This relates to the Gospel of Mark that we read from the bible. In class we read Mark and at one point Jesus told his disciples to spread the word that everyone must be baptized (including children) he said, “whoever believes and baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”. Parents of Christian faith are to do the ‘godly’ thing by raising their children Christian and baptize them.  “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Says proverbs 22:6.

Should parents raise their kids with no faith and let them decide when they are older whom they choose to follow? Should children grow up with more than one religion in the household?

37 thoughts on “Growing up without religion (Zeyna Mcllvain, March 16-22)”

  1. This book seems very interesting. From personal experience I know someone who is both Christian and Jewish and they practice both and they seem pretty happy with it. I grew up with my parents religion, Catholic, along with my siblings, and that is where I found God, but my brother doesn’t follow the faith anymore. My parents were very excepting of this, and when he joined the army and put Christian on his dog tags they were happy to see he still followed Jesus. My point is I think it’s fine for parents to raise their kids in a certain faith but they should be respectful if they decide they want to find God in another way. I also don’t see the problem growing up with two religions, as long as the kid doesn’t feel like they have to chose.

  2. I personally like the idea of not pushing a child into a faith, especially when the parents have different faiths themselves. When a child is young they don’t really know where their true religion lies. They may pray or participate in church when they are young, but don’t truly form their religious ideas until later. If parents want their children to join a church community (to get that experience), that is fine, but the choice to continue on with the faith should be their own. I personally like the idea of Baptists churches not baptizing children, only baptizing older folks when they want to join the church. And I believe that it is worthwhile for everyone to understand more than one faith, not being constricted to the one they are raised with; this can be experiencing different Christian branches or even others like Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism. It is important for a child (and really everyone) to respect all religions, and living in a multi-religion household is good way to encourage that respect.

  3. I read that book as a child as well, and I remember sympathizing with Margaret’s confusion. I think honesty is the best way for parents to address the issue. If they are of two different religions, education about and exposure to both would be the way I think they should go about it, without pressure to make a choice until they are older. Children can make a choice about the faith life they wish to pursue, if any, when they reach young adulthood. Even in households that do raise a child in a certain religion have no guarantee that when the child becomes an adult they will continue to practice that religion. By exposing and discussing the different choices that are available to them, parents will encourage their children to be open to different experiences and perspectives. I don’t think that is ever a bad thing.

    1. I really like what you are saying here. I agree that parents can show guidance in their children’s religion but leave it up to the kid to chose what they want to pursue.

      1. I also agree that children should be responsible for their own religion. If the child wants to learn about each religion and choose, the parents should accept whatever they choose (either way). I think pushing a certain religion on a child is healthy; it may lead to them hating that religion or pushing them away from the idea of it. The best solution is allowing the child (or children) to find their own way.

        1. I 100% agree, I have a friend who pushed Judaism on her and she has just ended up resenting the whole religion and her parents for doing it!

  4. I was raised Christian as both of my parents practice this religion. Because of this, and knowing what the Bible says, I think it is important to share with your child, the religion that you have chosen to practice for yourself. I don’t think that we need to even worry about confusing the child with 1 shared religion between the parents or 2 separate ones because I believe that God already has a plan for that child and their walk with religion (whether it be to have one or none) and they are going to find it one way or another. Even if they grew up learning 5 different religions, if it is the Will of God that they will find Him, we need not worry about how it happens, just as long as it does!

  5. I was raised as a Catholic child and have been influenced every day from my parents to be Catholic. I believe that parents should have some influence in their child’s religion, but to an extent. The child should be influenced for their early years, but as they start to grow older and start making decisions this should be one that they start making.

    1. Ryan, I agree with you that parents should have some influence on their children during their early years of development. But once they are older and have the ability of truly understanding their religion and other religions, then they should be able to make the choice on their own on which faith they want to follow, or not follow at all. I also believe it is a great idea for interfaith couples with children to have their children grow up learning about both religions with no bias, and be able to make the choice for themselves when they are older. At the end of the day if it comes down to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, they are all worshipping the SAME God anyways.

  6. I believe that parents should allow their child to choose their own religion. Personally, I grew up in a very religious household. But in saying this, my parents did not force Christianity upon my siblings and I. Religion was simply explained to us in a way that we could comprehend and relate to our personal lives. Furthermore, I do not believe children should grow up with more than one religions in a household, because it can be confusing to a young child.

    1. I was raised similarly in the way that it was a Christian household, and while my parents took me to church and prayed with me and things of that nature when I was young, they never forced it upon me, so in a way they were allowing me to choose my own religion but I believe they did the right thing in exposing me to their religion because that is what the Bible says to do.

  7. This was a very interesting article. I honestly think that the parent’s religion forms the foundation on the religion of their children, so it forms the structure for their religion. Whether children continue to practice the same religion as their parents, I think that parents should raise their kids with their faith, teaching them not only about the religion, but how to maintain and practice one. Faith of parents can set up a great role model for kids to follow. The children will understand as they grow up whether they wanna change their faith or not.

    1. Francesca, I agree with you on how parents should help form the foundation of religion to their children and later on let the children decide for themselves whenever they want to continue to practice the religion or not, but what age do you think the parents should stop influencing them and let the child decide for himself?

      1. Ryan, I believe that parents should stop influencing their child and allow them to decide their own religious path around the age of thirteen. I believe at this age an individual has a clear understanding of religion and can began to make their own decision pertaining their religious beliefs.

      2. I don’t think there’s a specific age in which parents should stop influencing their children. I think that the parent’s main job is to be parents and continually support and influence his or her children even if they’re grown and older. I think that once a child has fully understood that they have the option to seek different religions, and fully understand what it means to follow a religion or to have faith, then the child can decide of him or herself.

      3. Ryan, I like how you worded it on how parents help form the foundation of religion, and then later on let the children decide for themselves what ever they want. I don’t believe there should be a certain age, because every child’s developmental level and wisdom is different. For example, at 13 some kids are very wise and mature for their age, while others are not. Most kids at that age are going through puberty and have many other concerns going on in their life that may impact their view on religion. My mother formed the foundation for our religion, and at 13 my decisions on my religion and religion in general were horrible and I regret them. I feel like I didn’t really understand where I stand with religion till about 9 years later.

  8. I believe parents should teach their children about their individual religion giving them the option of exploring other religions and letting them choose what religion they want to be part of. I personally grew up in a household with two different religion and after learning both my fathers and mothers religion and the aspect of it I realized which one I believe is the best fit for me and choose it from there.

    1. I totally agree with you on everything when you explained that parents should teach their children about their individual religions but then allow them to make a choice as they get older. I also agree with you when you said that you chose which religion you decided to follow when you got older because that’s how it should be. In the end, it’s your decision.

  9. I believe that parents should grow their child up on their religion and then allow them to change if they want to when they’re older. My parents grew me up on being a Baptist and I enjoy that religion because I believe in the same things that my parents believe in. However, if a child would want to change their religion when they grow older, I feel that that is their choice. I feel that children should follow whatever religion their parents or family follow. If their parents follow more than one religion then the children should do the same. As I stated before, the child should later choose which religion they want to stick with or follow because in the end, it’s their decision and nobody else’s.

    1. I strongly agree with you. Parents should grow their child up on their religion and then later in the future, the child can choose what religion they want.

  10. Sounds like a great book! I do think if parents are very serious about what religion their child should be, they should raise them to follow their own beliefs. Although, if they don’t care as much and they want their child to pick for themselves, they should not. I really do think it depends on the parents. I grew up with the Catholic religion in my household so it is all I know. I couldn’t imagine growing up and choosing for myself, but I honestly would have wanted it any other way. I sort of like how it was basically chosen for me so I would not have to disappoint my parents if I were to have a choice.

  11. Great post and great questions. I personally believe that yes parents should raise up their children in their faith. I am not overly familiar with all religions and what their “holy books” or traditions say about raising their children; but as far as Christianity is concerned parents are suppose to raise up and tell their children about God and show them the way to live a holy life. A life acceptable to God. Although they are to teach and show them, both in speech and in action, I do not believe anyone should be forced into any religion, by their parents or anyone else. God doesn’t “force” anyone into one religion He let’s us decide. I do not know if children should grow up with more then one religion, I guess that is not really up to the child but to the parents. I am sure that adds pressure and anxiety to any child if they have to choose one or the other.

    1. Anthony,
      I agree that it definitely could put pressure or anxiety on a child if they felt they had to choose one or the other. It would be like trying to pick your favorite parent! I think that for two religion households the most important factor for it to be successful would be both parents treating each religion with respect and thoughtfulness. By teaching the children about both, and also assuring them that whatever they decide will be right with God, when they are ready to decide, I think that it might be a beneficial experience for the children. I almost believe that for a child to make that decision as they get older would lead to a deeper relationship with God. For so many of us our faith was simply always there, we just did what our parents did. But to make a conscious choice seems more significant.

  12. As a child who grew up in a household of religion I believe it is important to teach children about all religions. I think that a child needs to understand how many different ways there are to view God. Then after a time then can choose to worship him or not and their choice is their own rather than a parents influence. It is important however that a child learn about religion in order to understand other people’s perspective and be a more understanding person.

  13. Personally, I think that Parents should let their kids know about their faith. They shouldn’t have to pressure them to follow their faith, but they should expose them to it. If your beliefs are strong why not share them? Although, I would prefer to marry someone who has the same religion. I think it would make the household easier.

    1. On my last comment I mentioned that I would prefer for parents to have the same religion. I think it depends on the family, but I just think it’ll create problems for the child. I know that I want my children to be Christians.

  14. The book sounds great! I think it is important to teach a child about religion and still have faith, on the other hand as they grow up and learn about different religions they should be allowed to have the space to explore different things.

  15. it’s a great blog and I agree with most of the points. it is duty of parents to teach their kids and also its the kids right to follow whatever religion that they agree with after they grow up. they can also stay without no religion if they don’t believe in anything.

  16. I do not believe parents should raise their kids with no faith because then the kid will no nothing about religion. I think it is best that parents raise their kid with a religion, and when the kid gets older, they choose for themselves whether or not they want to believe the religion they grew up with or if they want to be a different religion.

    I am not really sure what to say to the second question of “Should children grow up with more than one religion in the household?” because I have friends who have grown up in a house with different religions. I think that having different religions in the household gives the kid the opportunity to learn about both the religions, which will help the kid to decide whether or not he/she wants to believe in one or neither.

  17. I think since the religion is very sensitive, parents should raise their children with their own religion, because when everyone in the family is believing in different religion, there would be a lot of disagreement on things, also children can live in less struggle in life and can have normal relationship with every family member.

  18. Personally, I was raised in a family that we all share the same religion. We won’t have argument on religious problems. We always have religious activities together and have peaceful conversation with each other.

  19. I believe that parents should show their children their individual religion but let them be exposed to other religions as well so they are open to options. Once they are older they should be able choose and decide their own religion. For instance I was raised and was always influenced by Catholicism. My family is very catholic and I also went to a Catholic school. It wasn’t until high school where I was open to many different types of religions.

  20. Like many of my peers, I also believe that parents should let their child(ren) decided their own faith when they feel as if they are ready. Faith and religion should not be forced upon someone and I think it is important for the child to explore that important aspect of their life through their own experiences. In all honesty, I am not sure if children should grow up with more than one religion in the household. I feel like children who do grow up with different religions allows them to be more open-minded and accepting of other people’s faith. It could also help them eventually choose one or keep up with either religion when they are older.

  21. I was very fortunate to grow up in a household that did not force religion on me. I think forcing a child into religion is a violation of religious freedom, there is no law saying that children have to follow in their parents footsteps

  22. I think if a child lives and believes in more than one religion it may be a little confusing and hard in terms of how they feel they should live out their life. On the other hand, exposure to religions that may complement each other in ways may allow the individual to make more righteous decisions. Considering different religions that advocate goodness and truth, I believe, will only maximize the potential for an individual to become a good person.

  23. I think that parents can raise their children to under about religions but don’t push them as they grow let them have the choice of what religion what they want to believe in and follow. I know there are people who because of what the parents believe they went along with it and never really have their own choice and for that they don’t truly believe.

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