Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daughter #1 and God

Aaaah....religion. My favorite topic to talk about. Hubby & I were both raised Roman Catholic back home in NY. We went to church on Sundays and CCD (catechism classes) on Saturday mornings in elementary school, Wednesday nights in middle school, hardly anyone went to youth group in high school. We made our sacraments and are raising our daughters Catholic. As I've discussed many, many times on this blog, probably 90% of our friends were Catholic but we also had a lot of friends of other faiths (Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Russian Orthodox, Episcopalian, I think we even knew a couple of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses). Everyone did their own thing and it really wasn't a big deal. You didn't think any less of someone just because they had a different belief system than you.

Chris & I are probably what you would call "lapsed" Catholics. Chris is actually much better about going to church and getting the girls to Sunday school than I am. We've also been very open-minded when it comes to religion and basically, I'm of the belief that religion is about being kind to others, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal and don't kill. To me, it doesn't matter what deity you praise (God, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, or that elephant with all those extra arms) or how you classify yourself (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Vulcan, etc.). As long as you're a good person, who's to say one religion is "right" and another is "wrong?" I've known people who claim to be good Christians who never miss Sunday services or Bible study but have cheated on their spouses (usually with other members of their congregation). I've known people who have never stepped foot in a church and are some of the most gentle spirits on the planet. I had an experience this summer with someone who claims to be a great Catholic yet she threw me under the bus the first chance she got and lied about it.

So over the years T has become friendly with children from different religious backgrounds and has always happily participated (and I hope respectfully!) in any church activities she was invited to (this does not apply to daughter #2 at all, almost everyone of her "close" friends are Catholic...I don't think she's ever stepped foot in anything other than our own Catholic church). If she slept over Kelsey's house on a Saturday night she often went to their Baptist church services on Sunday mornings. She often attended Vacation Bible School in the summer there and also attended GIA (I think it stands for Girls in Action, kind of like the equivalent of Girl Scouts). Many a time she attended services w/ ME at their Methodist church and went to several youth group outings. No big deal. The last year or so T has become very, very close with a Jewish girl from one of her lacrosse teams and has asked alot of questions about Judaism. Having grown up in NY and having two quasi-Jewish sister-in-laws, I've answered her questions as best as I could but have also encouraged her to talk to her friend. I want both of my girls to be educated about other cultures and other religions. I think you are such a better person when you have an open mind and a healthy respect for the differences in all of us.

The other night T met a boy at a party. They got into a deep discussion about religion and he told her right up front that he was a Christian. He told T about his personal experiences that made him become a follower and why his faith was so important to him. It has left quite an impression on my daughter. We talked about it alot the morning after the party and T said that one of the things that impressed her so much was that here was a kid her own age who made this decision on his own. A lot of kids her age don't know WHY they go to church, they just know they have to go every Wednesday night and every Sunday. A lot of kids are also jumping on the "God Squad" bandwagon. There is a girl in T's Catholic Sunday school class that also regularly attends services and youth group at another church of a different denomination. Someone asked her about it and she said, "it's fun and EVERYONE goes." Is that really that right reason?? Isn't that a little bit of peer pressure? A little bit of "mob mentality?" If you DON'T go to a certain church or youth group, are you labelled "uncool?" While I'm happy that this kid is not being judgemental about other religions, I have to wonder if she's only attending because it's fun and all the cute boys go there, too.

Yesterday when I was in T's room putting a few things away, I noticed she had a bible on her nightstand and it had a book marker in it so I know she's been reading. Last night we talked about faith, God, Jesus, and our core beliefs a little bit more. I've happily and unexpectedly come to the conclusion that, as a parent, all I want is for my children to be good people and to be kind to others. I'm not such a control freak that my kids HAVE to be Catholic and only date/marry another Catholic. My own brother did not marry a Catholic and my niece and nephew are not being raised Catholic. As I mentioned earlier, Chris's two older brothers married women who were half-Jewish (one brother has since divorced, the other brother and his wife have found God). My mother's three brothers did not marry Catholics either. I think out of my parents and their siblings, only my parents and my dad's younger brother and his wife are practicing Catholics.

So, in a nutshell, I guess what I'm saying is I'm glad now that T is older she's asking important questions on her own. Not just because we're forcing her to attend Church each week. I'm also glad she's not blindly following because it's the "cool" thing to do; she's making her own choices. Up next, politics!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog and love it! As a cradle Catholic, marrying a non-Catholic (who is currently going through RCIA classes), this is somewhat eye-opening to me. I always felt it important that when the time comes, I raise my children Catholic. Not that I think Catholicism is the "right" way or the "only" way, but mostly because of tradition in my family (a LONG line of loud, Italian, Catholics). But the more I think about it, as long as my children are good people, what does it really matter!? Great post to get people thinking!

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