Piss-Poor Job

December 13, 2008 · 13 comments

My mom told me the other day that I’m doing a piss-poor job of giving my sons a strong religious base. (A reflection of my parenting skills?)

She’s right.   To a point…

I grew up Lutheran. Church every Sunday, Sunday School, choir. Christmas Eve, Easter, etc.  When my mom married husband #3, she started experimenting, taking us to different churches.  My brother and I balked and were told that when we turned 18 we could choose our own church. Fair enough.

Now maybe if we would have continued going to the church we grew up in, or if we had stayed close by, things would have been different.  But save for a few stints here and there, my wedding, other weddings, baptisms, concerts, etc., I haven’t really been to a church service in years.

And I am ok with that.

See, because I have faith and belief; I have spirituality, but don’t feel like I need to sit in a church to prove that.  I pray, but on my own terms.  I don’t believe everything the bible says – I believe it’s all open to interpretation, and that the men who wrote it likely put some of themselves into it, changed things around a bit. I believe it was meant to be a guide, not a rule book.

My kids are baptized.  Matt knows the story of baby Jesus. My mom prays with them sometimes. We read Thank You God books.  I don’t hide religion from them, I just don’t actively promote it.

I guess if that equals a piss-poor job, then that’s what I’m doing.

I have nothing against religion, organized or not. I think people should believe what they believe, in whatever way works for them. In fact, I kind of admire those who have such strong faith. I’ve learned a lot from Casey about her religion and from Ali and Metalia about theirs.  I find it all very interesting.  The only thing that bothers me about religion is when people push it on others.  I appreciate their dedication, but have never understood (a) how the most “christian” people are the most judgmental (and how they justify their judgments by saying they are chrisitian) and (b) how the people who go door to door really really believe that doing so will really get people to jump on board. I can’t imagine someone coming to my door and me going “WOW, that sounds like a great concept, I’m in!”.  Either way, you believe what you believe and I respect that.  Apparently getting my mom to do the same is a lost cause.

On the other hand, perhaps I should be more actively teaching them about God and belief and faith.  The problem is that I don’t want to teach them how I learned, so instead, I do nothing.

I’m open for suggestions.  For those of you non-church goers, what, if anything, do you teach your children about faith and belief? I know you’re out there…in fact, I’ve found that many of my bloggy friends feel similar to the way I do. Are there books, stories, ideas that you share with your kids?  Feel free to chime in. But remember, if you comment just to tell me I’m going to hell because I don’t take my kids to church, I’ll delete it.  I’ve no time for such craziness.

Thanks friends.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily R December 13, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Well, then I’m going to hell, too. We go to a synagogue preschool, but our religious fervor leaves much to be desired.

Does hell have internet access?

Emily Rs last blog post..Part nine: No place like home


pgoodness December 13, 2008 at 1:45 pm

I’m not too worried about being alone there!! But there had better be wireless!! 🙂


Clara December 13, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I’m glad you wrote about this, I saw that you wrote this in twitter a while back, and I was going to comment, but got side tracked and forgot.

I agree with you, especially with young kids its hard to go to church. They certainly don’t want to sit there for an hour… and either do we as adults. I believe and hope one day to teach my kids to believe in God, but it’s just not easy to go to church, and our church has a nursery I can drop the kids off at, so what’s my excuse, other than getting them out the door on Sunday morning?

I feel ok with it also… I don’t think I’m harming them in any way and don’t feel like I’m going straight to hell. When they get older and can comprehend more then for sure I’ll teach them, I’ll get them in Sunday school probably. We have a great church, and it might be fun for them to be apart of a community.

Brief history… I grew up Catholic…. always had to go to church, was in catechism (that was fun just goof off time) and altar served. My hubby was Lutheran, they didn’t go as often. He became Catholic before we got married. Afterward… we had lots of issues with the Catholic church, so one of our friends started going to a Presbyterian church and we liked it, became Presbyterian and baptized the kids Presbyterian. I do like organized religion, I just don’t like tons of rules and people saying you are bad if you don’t do this and that. Do we go to church on Christmas… NOPE… while they are little… it’s all about Santa…

Do we go often, nope! Out of laziness mostly. I haven’t even discussed Jesus with my 3 year old. I don’t think she’d comprehend? There will plenty of time for that.

If nothing else, prayer makes you feel better, and maybe a little religion gives you some morals. Just my opinion. One of these days I’ll figure it all out then I can explain it all to my kids, hahaha. And when they are old enough, they can do as they please, but hopefully I set up some spiritual foundation.

I think you are doing fine… don’t listen to your mother! Do what you feel is right for you and your family.


Amy December 13, 2008 at 4:22 pm

It is annoying when other people push your beliefs on you; especially your parents. My parents had a fit when I stopped going to the Catholic church and for years we didn’t go at all. I finally told them to butt out and they have. We do have a church home now at a Lutheran church, but we do not attend all of the time. I believe my girls have a good base in their faith, they do attend sunday school and they really enjoy it, something that I never enjoyed growing up. If my girls didn’t have fun, I wouldn’t force them but they actually beg me to go. I do not feel that I have to attend church every Sunday to attend worship services. we actually take a lot of the summer off because we are gone or out of town. I encourage my girls to pray before bed each night but it is up to them, and not forced. I talk to them that Jesus wants you to be a good person and that he died to forgive their sins so all they have to do is ask for forgiveness and mean it and they are forgiven. I think educating your children in the basics is enough and encouragement to be a good person can go a long way. I am sure your boys are just fine. I try to encourage my girls not to judge other people and their religions because it is not their job to judge them and God loves them all the same. You are the best judge what is right for your family!


J.J. December 13, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Great post, Dawn. I found that I feel VERY much the same way you do. We do not attend church, and we are fine with that. We didn’t baptize the girls until last year (although there were really “weird” reasons for that…nothing to do with religion). I was raised Catholic (Mom was Catholic…Dad was Methodist; neither hardcore followers), and when I was old enough, my parents supported me NOT following along with it, as I decided to not follow through with my confirmation. I did not want to be confirmed into a religion that I had so many issues with.
The only one that may have issues with our lack of church involvement may be Todd’s dad (since he IS your mom’s brother), but nothing has ever been said to us. I don’t expect to be either.
Regardless, I have found lots of ways to teach the morals and values that people get from religion classes and church sermons. For example, I have a whole series of Disney Princess books that teach these lessons, and Mackenzie really gets it.
This Christmas, I read her the story of Baby Jesus, and I explained to her the religious side of the holiday. Of course, she now calls all of her baby dolls “Baby Jesus,” but at least she understands that the day is to celebrate the birth of someone very special. As she gets older, she will grasp the concepts more.
I have not found that attending church or not attending church has made any sort of impact on who I am as a person, parent, friend, daughter or citizen. My parents’ influence was my guide.
If Mackenzie or Delaney should become interested in learning more about religion as they get older, I will honor that. However, it is not a priority of mine. If people find comfort in their faith, great. I have my own set of beliefs (that you reflected quite a bit in your blog), and questions. I wasn’t very popular in my religion classes when I was younger, as I found the theory of evolution to have a lot of merit.
I believe it is very harsh to have stated that anything you have done as a parent is “piss poor.” I think you are a wonderful parent, and ultimately it is YOU and your hubby that make the decisions that mold your children. If you were okay with the way you were doing things BEFORE your mom’s comment, and I think you were, then don’t let your mom’s comment get under your skin too much. We all want our parents to support what we do, but sometimes it is the child’s perrogative to do things a little different.


flutter December 13, 2008 at 10:47 pm

you are going to hell for not taking your kids to church.


I grew up southern baptist and had to go to church every sunday. I do not as an adult. I think it’s more important to let your kids choose for themselves when they are able

flutters last blog post..We’re all crazy


slouching mom December 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm

like flutter, i want my kids to choose for themselves. so even though my husband and i are agnostic bordering on atheist, when Six told us that he believes in God, we didn’t hit the ceiling… I hope he tries out many different ways of believing before coming to a conclusion one way or the other.

slouching moms last blog post..Calling All Readers of Slouching Past 40


Lori December 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Well, my kid thinks that Christmas is the time to celebrate Baby Chesses birth, so I’m pretty sure that I’m a lot worse than you!

Actually, I’m so conflicted with where I personally stand religiously that I don’t think I can lead my children one way or the other. While I like the concept of church and the morals and values, etc that can come from it, I don’t know that I believe all of it. And I feel like a hypocrite every time we do go to church. We occassionally go to a church that I feel semi-comfortable in, but it’s hard with the kids and they don’t have a nursery. I don’t really think they get much out of it at this point and don’t know that it’s terribly important to force them to. My oldest is 14 and I’d like to find a good youth group for her bc I really enjoyed mine as a teenager, but I don’t know.

Loris last blog post..A Giveaway! Chocolate!


Shine December 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

My family and hubby’s family are half catholic, half lutheran and neither of our families pushed the religion issue. I did grow up going to church on occasion with my grandma and also on Christmas Eve where mass would be done in Polish and English- how boring is that for a kid??

As a result, I’m pretty much Agnostic, bordering on Atheist (like slouching mom above) and totally believe in evolution. Does this mean I have no morals, no values, that I’m going to hell?? NO.

I am a good person, I try to do good by others, I try to treat others as I would like to be treated, and I am teaching my kids all of this. In my eyes, religion is another subject to learn about, like math, literature or art. I explain to them when it comes up and they ask questions, but I am not actively teaching them. Quite frankly, I think they would be better off learning Spanish than learning more about religion at this point- NO OFFENSE TO BELIEVERS! But I really think that it’s a personal decision, and one that should be made when they’re older. I would never prohibit them from pursuing an interest in ANY religion and would take them to church if they wanted to go. They have some exposure a few times a year, so I am not shielding them from it.

Do I think religion is a bad thing? NO. For many people it serves as a sense of community, comfort and family. So many churches help the needy too, in physical and emotional ways. I think church and religion can be a good thing for many people trying to find their way.

So after all of that, do I think you’re doing a Piss Poor Job? HELL NO! You are teaching your kids morals and values and giving them all the love and care they need to grow up to be good people. Just because your mom thinks they need a formal religious education, doesn’t mean you have to. If she said you were doing a piss poor job of teaching them to tie their shoes, would you care? Would you go out and get them a tutor to teach them to tie their shoes? How much can kids 5 and under really grasp about God anyway?

If YOU feel your kids would BENEFIT substantially by going to church and learning about religion- more than you can provide for them on your own, then go for it. If you feel like it would be something good to do as a family, then do it. But don’t for one moment believe that you’re not giving your kids what they need.

We don’t do things the way our parents did. I’m sure your mom went through what many of our parents did- parochial school, catechism, confirmation, blah blah blah, but even if you don’t do all that, it doesn’t mean your a bad mother, you’re just not doing things her way- and I think that’s the way you like it! So do what your heart tells you, and not out of guilt- YOU ARE AN AWESOME MOTHER and I will always believe that!


WaltzInExile December 16, 2008 at 1:34 am

I grew up Lutheran, as well. Hubby grew up Southern Baptist. Neither of us has been to church regularly since we were…12? As adults, we are very put off by organized religion. However, we are also under a lot of pressure from hubby’s family to “get them kids some churchin’.” Thankfully, we can pretty much ignore them, since we live nowhere near them. However, we both realize that we came to where we are now because we spent a LOT of time learning about different religions and studying and attending. And we don’t think it’s fair of us to “default” our kids into non-believing just because we’re not inclined (any more than it would be fair to push them into a denomination by default/indoctrination.) So we have opted for private religious school (where we see the lesson plans and know exactly what is being taught, and can have conversations with them about it and encourage them to think for themselves) and the Unitarian Universalist church for a “community.”
Yeah, I’m probably going to hell for doing a piss-poor job, too.

WaltzInExiles last blog post..Anthropomorphism


Julia December 16, 2008 at 3:09 am

I think my dad was placed in the same situation. My father’s parents were extremely Catholic. He was always in church for one reason or another as a child. Now, he attends every once in awhile. He taught my siblings and me a few psalms when we were children, but doesn’t require that we attend church on a regular basis. My family never really talks about religion yet we’re all very spiritual people. I’m glad that my parents never forced it upon me. I believe in God, but I also believe that a person’s religion is between that person and God. You don’t necessarily have to go to church to prove that you’re religious.

Julias last blog post..About a Boy (or Two), Pt. 1


T December 17, 2008 at 8:27 am

I was raised in a Unitarian Universalist church and I often feel like I’m depriving my children of the experiences and lessons I learned growing up – studying all the religions and their beliefs, figuring out how we all fit into society, respecting each other as individuals for all reasons, etc.

Church for me was always about family since I have a fairly small group of blood-relatives. No wonder I’ve never found another church since leaving home 10+ years ago – it just doesn’t seem right when the people I’ve known all my life are 700 miles away and really, I don’t need church for my religious well-being. I pray, I make the best choices I can morally and ethically, I teach my children the difference between right and wrong and that even if they choose incorrectly that they can atone for those mistakes and do better next time.

You are doing what you believe to be right. You are teaching your boys that they alone are responsible for their spirituality and faith. How can that possibly be piss-poor?

Ts last blog post..Love notes and socks


Patty H January 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

I just got around to reading this and it was like dejavu! My hubby and his mom just had a huge discussion (argument) about this over the holidays. We don’t go to a church on a regular basis. My MIL belongs to a Presby church and it’s nice enough but not much of a youth program. My daughter can sing fairly well so the choir directors like for her to join in and she has been a part of their adult choir for Easter and a couple other things. We’ve gone the few times she participated and enjoyed seeing her in the loft singing. This year they asked her (again) to be an angel in the kids nativity service and I talked her into it because MIL wanted it. My mom (from Thailand) was coming to visit and was scheduled to leave a week before Christmas but then they were delayed and she ended up being here the week of and left the day after Christmas. I really wanted to spend time with her and had I had more notice of her delay, I would’ve asked the lady to get someone else to be daughter’s angel. My MIL was upset that we weren’t going to the Christmas Eve service to support my daughter. That was the day we were having Christmas with my mom and stepdad and my brother and his family. I wasn’t leaving for 2 1/2 hours when I had such limited time with my mom. MIL was upset and my hubby told her that daughter didn’t even want to do it but was for her sake. Furthermore, he told MIL she was upset because we weren’t supporting her and going to her church. He was raised Catholic and at some point during there early teen years, his mom got mad at the church and they stopped going. He said she hasn’t gone for 30 years and how can she preach to us about not going faithfully. She said that was different and that if we would go then so would our daughter. My hubby quickly pointed out that she can’t say it was okay for her not to go because she was mad at the church but it’s not okay for us because we haven’t found a church home that fits our family. MIL wants us to go to her church so we can cart her there every Sunday and be her companions. She has no one in her life and I think she is rather lonely. But she’s set in her ways and she left her hubby after the kids had graduated high school because she wanted to be her own woman. He’s been remarried for years and she had a boyfriend for 10 yrs that cheated on her. I think I’d be looking to Jesus for some love at this point, too. I feel bad for her but I also believe you have to (here’s the country coming out in me) pull yourself up by your boot straps and keep on going.

I went to a Baptist church when I was young until about age 8. I went because there was nothing else to do out in the country and at least I would meet kids and get to do things. We were poor and that was the only social interaction I got. I can’t remember squat about Sunday school teachings or any of the services. I only remember going one night to see this special movie and it was about people who had some kind of disease (Lupus or something) and I think they were outcasts. That’s all I really remember. Oh yeah, I made a pencil jar with masking tape and shoe polish that looked kinda like leather!

We moved to a bigger town and my dad was single and worked 7 days a week. There was no time for church and it was hard to make friends when I was too poor to go do anything. Church wasn’t something my dad did and since no one went, neither did I. I feel like I would learn a lot more now than I ever would have at my daughter’s age. I would love to have somewhere to go where there is a support system and people who aren’t judging you but are there for each other. That’s hard to find because a lot of people are there for the gossip. I have a support system for gossip! 😆 I don’t need to go so they can talk about me!!

My mom is Buddhist and she practices periodically but she doesn’t go to the temple every week like others do. But she looks out for her family and she takes care of the deceased in her family. She told me she doesn’t have to go all the time to know what she believes.

I have my beliefs and I think if you are a good person and you try to do good by other people, then what more can anyone ask of you. Why do I have to follow what someone else tells me? I can read for myself and what if I don’t agree with what the pastor says? Can I get over that? I think I’ll take my chances and see what happens as my daughter gets older. I’d like to introduce her to different churches and let her make a decision – based on her thoughts and not mine or anyone elses.

Glad there are others out there who I can relate to!!!


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