Our Parenting Philosophy is a Fine Balance of Religion and Science
By Jennifer Cox
Photo © ijeab/Twenty20
Apr 7, 2021
Being Catholic has always been important to me.
My father was raised Catholic and he took it upon himself to take us to church every week. We went to Sunday school, and received sacraments.
For me, it was something that provided guidelines for what’s right and wrong. Religion made me accountable, and I found comfort in it. And I knew, when I got married and had a family, I wanted it to be in a Catholic setting.
My husband, also baptized Catholic, rarely attended church growing up.
This mother grew up not wanting anything to do with religion. Now she wants her child to experience it, so he has the choice. Read that here.
It wasn’t really a part of his life.
When we decided to get married, I told him how important it was to me that we got married in a Catholic church by a priest.
This required attending a “Catholic wedding prep” class and meeting with our priest a few times before the big day.
My husband did it for me, but wasn’t all that thrilled about the class thing.
Our priest was a former professor of mine, but he was also extremely progressive and understood my husband’s reservations. This combination helped to ensure everything turned out wonderfully.
When our son was born, we had him baptized in a Catholic church (coincidentally, by the same priest who had baptized my husband as a baby), and I started bringing my son to church every Sunday.
Occasionally my hubby would join us, but I was the one who would typically get our son up early and convince him to put on his fancier clothes. Armed with a bag of Cheerios and a few quiet toys, we’d head to the church. I’d sign him up for the Christmas pageant every year to be a shepherd, and by three-years-old he could recite all of the words to “Our Father.”
I also answered most of his thoughtful questions about God, Jesus, hell and why we say we’re “eating the body of Christ.”
Then there is the other side of the coin.
Here's a list of books for non-believing parents who want to engage in conversations about religion with their kids. Check it out here.
I am also tasked with dealing with the complaints or whines about even having to go to church. Which, honestly, I understand — I can remember finding church boring sometimes as a kid, too.
And while my husband may not come to church often, we agreed that he would back me on bringing our son to church. So, he helped me explain to our son why church on Sundays is important: “God gives us so much in our week that we can give him on hour.”
It’s a good balance, given that my husband is a science guy who wants to see it to believe it.
When our son asks how the world got started, my hubby explains the big bang theory, and when he asks where the big bang came from, I usually pipe in that I think it’s the work of God.
We each use science and religion to answer a lot of our son’s questions. And one thing I’ve always told my son is that this is something I believe in, and not everyone does. There are many other religions that have different views and ideas behind these questions (such as, “what is heaven”) and I want him to be aware of that.
In fact, based on our discussions about different religions, my now eight-year-old has come up with his own version of the afterlife that combines Catholic and reincarnation ideals!
While I believe religion is important and comforting, my husband and I also agreed that after our son receives first communion next year, we will then leave it up to him to decide whether he continues working toward receiving future sacraments.
By his communion, I feel as though he’ll have a solid Catholic foundation and understand the basic principles of my religion, and from there he can decide if those ideals are something he believes in, too.
Some families are atheist. This father explains why he has chosen to raise his daughter in that tradition. Read it here.
I’ve found the religion that works for me, but I’ve always felt he can choose another religion down the road if he wants to — I’m fine with whatever he chooses.
I take him to church now because I want him to see how religion can play a part in someone’s life. Whatever that religion may be. If it gives him solace and comfort, then I’m all for it.
It isn’t always easy combining religion with science. It makes answering questions like “What happens when we die?” tricky to answer. But one thing we’ve realized is: kids are smart enough to come up with their own beliefs, especially when they have other views that are presented in such a way that they’re comprehensible.
Because my husband and I have different beliefs, we think we’ve created a critical thinker who will seek out all the possible answers to his many questions about life. And, in the end, that can be a very valuable life lesson.
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