Pearson and I are atheists. When we met (about 16 years ago) Pearson was already fond of calling himself an atheist. At that time I classified myself more as agnostic. After much research and self exploration, I was swayed. Anyway, we have always agreed that we would raise our children with not only the knowledge of our own beliefs, but of the beliefs of as many others as we could. We also agreed that we would not impose our own beliefs and ideas on our children....though, as with most people, we likely had hopes that the kids would one day come to the same conclusion as we had. Really, we just want them to think for themselves.
We both were raised in Baptist churches and have a pretty bitter taste in our mouths from the Christian experience we were given, so we decided it would be best for the kids to learn about Christianity from people who aren't so biased against it. So we sent them to a Lutheran Church preschool. At preschool they say a blessing, thanking God for their snack. They go to chapel from time to time, where they learn bible stories. They tell the kids that "God made the trees and the flowers..." and that sort of thing. We've always made it clear that while we don't believe that, there are many people who do and that it's fine for everyone to believe what sounds right to them.
Alex is now in kindergarten, in public school. So she's not having Christianity taught to her daily anymore, but we do explain religious holidays when they come around...Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Purim, etc. ***We've mostly stuck with Christianity and Judaism thus far*** But Sam is still in the preschool environment. From time to time we catch him "praying." It's really more like wishing on a star with his hands in the prayer position: "I wish I had a new Optimus Prime action figure and a blue jacket and the Ratatouille DVD..." Alex has never really said one way or the other what she believes, although 2 years ago, she was famous for saying that her teachers knew more than we did and they must be right about God. We don't push to know her beliefs because we aren't really concerned with beliefs as much as we are with her being a critical thinker, a freethinker.
The other day we were in the car, Alex, Sam and I. Sam was saying one of his "prayers" and the following conversation commenced...
Alex: Sam, you don't pray in the car. You pray at preschool.
Sam: No, you pray to God.
Alex: Well, I don't believe in God and neither do Mom and Dad. So neither should you.
Me: Alex, we never told you what you had to believe and you shouldn't do it to Sam either. He can pray if he wants to.
***Sam continues his wish-prayers***
Alex: I guess so, but I don't know why he'd want to ask for things from God. Even if there was a god, he wouldn't be magic. Unicorns would be magic.
Alex: Yes, unicorns. It just makes more sense.
Me: What makes more sense?
Alex: To believe in unicorns instead of God.
Me: Why does that make more sense?
Alex: Well, think about it. A unicorn is really just a horse with a horn on its head.
Me: Ok, I still don't get it.
Alex: God is some invisible guy in the sky that made everything and nobody can see him, but he watches what you do. How could he know everything and watch everything? That doesn't make sense.
Me: Ok, but what does that have to do with unicorns?
Alex: In all the stories about God in the bible, he has all these powers and stuff and you can't even see him. But in all the stories about unicorns, they're magical, but at least you can see them and know they're real.
Me: Right, but they're still just stories. Unicorns aren't real.
Alex: And neither is God. But if I had to pick one to believe in, I would much rather unicorns be real.
Me: Fair enough.
Freethinker, indeed. I love that kid! :)
~Mom on the Edge