Even for religious or spiritually inclined folks, religion can be a touchy subject that is difficult to share with your kids. When you aren’t religious, discussing religion with your children can be even more challenging. Whether you are having a hard time starting the conversation about religion because of a lack of experience with religion or you want to teach your child how to speak respectfully in religious spaces, we have tips below that can help you talk to your child about spirituality and religion with ease and confidence.
Avoid treating God like cultural characters, such as the Tooth Fairy
While it’s common to tell our children about mythical characters such as the Tooth Fairy or Santa to make them excited for certain milestones or holidays, giving God the same treatment can have harmful effects on your child. Unlike white lies that children outgrow over time, how a child is taught about God can change how they see the world around them. As a result, it’s best to treat your child’s views and ideas about God seriously.
Help your child understand that everyone has an opinion
Whether your child starts believing in God or shares your atheistic views, it is essential to teach your child that people are entitled to their own opinions. If you can model this by speaking about other religions with a healthy amount of respect, even if you disagree, your child will be able to follow your example. If your child struggles to understand why some people believe things that your family does not, this can be a helpful point to make.
Prepare answers to common questions beforehand
Common questions such as “What is God?” and “Do we have to believe in god to be good people?” can be tough to answer on the spot. If you research beforehand and decide how to handle these questions, you’ll set yourself and your child up for a fruitful conversation.
Respect your child’s beliefs while setting limits as a parent
If your child expresses a desire to practice a religion, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a personal religion or spirituality. In this situation, it is okay to respect your child’s beliefs while setting boundaries. If your child wants to attend church on Sundays but needs transportation, you can respect their exploration of new churches while setting limits on how much you can help with transportation. You can also set limits on how much you will spend in time, money, or energy on their belief system. For example, you can respect their love of a religion without dropping hundreds of dollars on idols or donations to a religious institution.
Relax and give your child space to explore
Although an atheist parent may feel confused or concerned about a child’s new beliefs, the truth is that beliefs can change over time. So relax, breathe, and continue supporting your child’s interests, religious or not.