I’m not a dad. I probably won’t be a dad for a good number of years, seeing as the last “serious” relationship I was in was the latter end of high school. Even still, I find myself thinking about how I’m going to raise people who are 50% me, and one particular area is in imparting my personal beliefs.
Yes, I’m a Christian, and yes, I do believe that Christ is the son of God sent to die for our sins and that scripture is inerrant and so on and so forth, but regardless of how true all of that is for me I still struggle with how I ought to impart, at bare minimum, the knowledge of those beliefs to the kids I don’t have yet.
Santa, regardless of ethnicity, was never even a possibility when I was younger. My parents straight-up told me he didn’t exist. I did learn about other beareded guys who did great things, though, like create ships massive enough to house multiple zoos of fauna, and force the disobedient to drink gold and water. One myth switched out for another, some might say.
Ultimately, however, and in spite of the comments section in the article I’m about to pull from, parenting your children within a specific faith is by no means an indicator that this will stick, even in the short term. I’ve had a fair number of close friends who were raised within the church, and who currently no longer identify as being Christian. Personal beliefs are, strangely enough, a personal choice.
What struck me as particularly interesting was the issue of having gone to church and, after deciding it wasn’t for you, not teaching your children anything about the Judeo-Christian texts you became so familiar with. Christopher Shulgan, a divorced father who writes for my favourite non-Marvel publication The Grid, shared the following in a post that went online on my birthday:
What my church called “Sunday school” provided me with a remarkable education in Old and New Testament stories—stories that have informed Western art and literature and music for more than a millennium. Earlier this spring, I visited Westminster Abbey in London, and the Sunday-school sessions of my youth helped me to appreciate the west window of the abbey’s nave, a stained-glass artwork depicting Abraham and Isaac. Earlier this week, the family and I went to a store called the Toy Terminal, where a display featured a collection of animals gathered around an enormous wooden boat. Of course, I recognized a diorama of Noah’s Ark—but my kids had no idea. Years ago, when I turned my back on my religion, it never occurred to me that I would be depriving my kids of anything. Now I fear that, by raising them secularly, by not sending them to church or Sunday school, my kids are missing out on something—a valuable cultural heritage that connects us to the way my parents, their parents, and our ancestors all understood the world.
Here a two visual aids, one from a show I’ve never seen a full episode from and the other from a show I’ve only seen the first season of. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which.
Cue the cries of “______ did it first.” Now that that’s out of the way, let’s keep on track here. What responsibility, and I use that word with a healthy amount of trepidation, do we have to teaching our offspring about things that we don’t personally believe in?
To bring this all back to the Christmas theme I wanted this week to have, what about Santa? Like I said, I never believed that jolly ol’ Saint Nick is the guy who placed presents underneath our tree ever year, but I imagine if I had that my parents would one day break the news to me that he wasn’t the real deal.
To end the second paragraph in a row with a question, is that how we should also deal with religion, sharing about these dudes from the BC [or BCE, but really I think the extra letter is unnecessary], or can we tell them the stories and tell them upfront that they’re falsehoods? On that note, isn’t telling the kids that a particular faith isn’t true the same as telling them that it is?
If, like many people are saying, teaching a child that a specific religion is the only way damaging would that make the opposite just as bad, if only because that would be parents imposing their personal beliefs? Isn’t that sort of what parenting is all about, to a point? Children can make their own decisions, but all in good time; up to a point they’re just going to have to do things your way.
Again, I’m going to bring this back to Christmas one last time before closing up. I think that at least telling kids about Santa Claus is important, but in this North American culture we live in is that even necessary? Do I have the responsibility [again with that word] to also share with them about the Krampus as well?
I suppose that goes hand in hand with whether or not we feel the need to teach our young ‘uns about every religion out there. As far as Shulgan’s take at the very least Greek mythology would not be out of place seeing as to how prevalent it is in Western civilization and culture as a whole, but maybe Daoism can be skipped over?
I’m asking a lot of questions, and I am clearly not the person to provide the answers, one very important factor being that I have no youngsters of my own. I am thinking very deeply on it, though, and am hoping that you will as well and maybe get back to me on that. Until then, though, I want to wish all of you the happiest of holidays and ecstatic rest of the year. We’ll tune back in right before the ball drops. That has nothing to do with kids, I mean like Times Square. You know. Have a Merry Christmas.