Sunday, April 6, 2014

Who Lives On Your Lawn?

Where I grew up, there were no Jesus lawn signs. There were no lawns, but Jesus lived right down the block. And another Jesus lived right around the corner. Moving to the suburbs has been quite an adjustment.

To Christin Taylor, who's embarrassed at the prospect of her daughter saying prayers when they have company over for dinner, and yet allows her to put up a “Jesus is Alive” sign in their lawn, your child's beliefs are valid and should be celebrated. However, you may want to consider teaching your child early that people have different beliefs that are equally valid and worthy of celebration.

Raising children in an atheist home, it has been always been very important to make sure our children understand that not everyone shares the same set of world beliefs. In our home we've often equated it the foods we eat. Some families eat foods we don't eat, and that's okay. We don't have to eat them, but we don't criticize them, regardless of whether we think they're healthy or not. Similarly, we don't push our set of beliefs on others.

Still, this has been touchy. Like when a 1st grade mom gets upset when her "child found out from our son that there's no Santa Claus." What I've come to realize is that there's an important distinction to be made between our child saying "there's no Santa Claus" or "Santa isn't real," and saying "I don't believe in Santa Claus," because the latter is just as acceptable as your child saying "I do believe in Santa Claus." And that's okay. But if you think it's acceptable for your child to go around saying "there is a Santa Claus" then be prepared for the former, because that is equally acceptable.

Imagine for a minute how it must feel as an atheist to have my child come home and ask how come we never told him about Santa Claus. Imagine them asking why we've been hiding this from him and depriving him, or that we're the ones who have been lying all along.

The same goes for other aspects of religion. If you're concerned about the prayers your child might say at your dinner table in front of guests, then you may want to have a talk with your child about those prayers. But if they support your beliefs, then you should never be ashamed. But prepare your child for the fact that, at a friend's house they may declare that they don't pray in their house. And go ahead and put up your "Jesus Is Alive" lawn sign. It is just as acceptable as your neighbor putting up a sign espousing the lack of god.

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