MOMS TALK: How Important is Religious Education?
A weekly starting point for local parents to discuss hot parenting topics.
I knew I’d left something out, when my daughter, at age 4, referred to the cross on top of a church steeple as “a sword.”
I knew I’d gotten no better when years later, my 8-year-old son asked what the Holy Grail was, while he was playing the Lego version of Indiana Jones. His dad gave him a short synopsis, and when he mentioned Jesus, our son asked excitedly, “Is that the bad guy?”
I was raised Catholic, but I am lapsed now, to say the least. I am carelessly agnostic at best. My kids’ dad was raised a submarine Methodist, meaning he surfaced for services on Easter and Christmas.
As adults, neither of us noticed churches or gave a thought to religion, until our kids’ ignorance of the very institution made us question if we should have included some kind of foundation for religion in their lives.
Obviously, people of faith will raise their children in that faith. But what if you’re essentially faithless? Is it important to give your kids a religious education anyway, simply so they have a foundation upon which to make their own decisions?
I have a hard time putting my kids into Sunday school, or taking them to services, because I do not particularly believe in the tenets that are taught there. I don’t want them to learn things that I question the authenticity of in the first place as gospel truths.
But I question it because I am educated. I do have my childhood years of church services and Sunday school classes under my belt in order to have formulated the doubts, questions and conclusion that I did.
My kids, as of yet, do not have the benefit of this. I don’t want to squelch any budding spirituality, but I don’t want to brainwash them either.
The Church of the Nativity, a Catholic church on Ridgely Road, is offering a new program called “Hometown Nazareth,” which puts kids in a young Jesus’ small-sized sandals, inviting them to imagine the holy family as real, relevant people who were just like us.
Likewise, the Chizuk Amuno Congregation on Stevenson Road makes Torah and Hebrew study relevant to kids’ lives today by accommodating their secular interests and daily activities without losing sight of learning about their Jewish identity.
Is it a mistake not to avail my kids of the myriad offerings of Lutherville-Timonium’s religious institutions? How do you educate your own children, if your own faith is something less than rock-solid?