Friday, March 11, 2011

Morals and Values and then Religion, or the lack there of. A Secular Upbringing.

This is a subject I felt compelled to write about after a conversation with my sister. Having strong morals and values and raising your children to have strong morals and values, does not have to mean you or your children have to have Christian values (or any other religion for that matter). They do not have to go hand in hand.

Not being Christian or religious people has been a thing that has often gotten my husband and I looked at in a negative way. We have had a range of different judgments from comments to silent but obvious disapproval. We are not religious but we respect those who are. We always appreciate when we get that respect in return. It's very unfair and even a bit hurtful when people assume that we can't possibly be raising our children to be genuinely good, moral, well rounded people with great values, if we aren't instilling Christian or religious values into them. That is a very judgmental and close-minded thought as well as being flat out wrong.

My husband and I have very strong morals and values. We do not have them because we fear God's judgment or because we believe that this is what the bible says, so we will follow it. We are the people that we are, because we expect it of ourselves. We take our marriage seriously, not because we were married under god, but because our marriage is a contract and promise we made to each other to remain faithful and to be there for each other through good and bad, thick and thin. We treat other well, we try to be kind and we try to do good deeds. All of this we do because it is what we feel is right. We don't have to be religious to be good people.

When it comes to raising our children, we do not have to teach them all of the things that are right and wrong from a religious standpoint. We do not have to teach them how to behave, how to treat people or how to act from a religious angle. They don't have to believe that we are supposed to be good people because that is what God expects from us. They can believe that it's just the right thing to do. As they get older, we can teach them how to have good judgement, to try wait for marriage to have sex, not to do drugs, not to drink etc. without having to do so with religion.

We do not think it's wrong to be religious and this is not by any means an attack on religion! We do not think it's wrong to raise your children that way. It is just not what we personally believe in for our family and we do not believe our children will be any less moral, any less respectful or any more likely to do wrong than those who are raised with a strong Christian/religious background. Religion does not equal Morals and Values. There are seemingly religious people who do terrible things and Atheists who are amazing people. Making rash judgments based on religion or lack of religion alone is unfair to everyone. We may not be cookie cutter homeschooling parents or the cookie cutter parents of "lots" of children that many people envision, but we have children who are smart, obedient, respectful, kind and genuinely caring toward everyone. It's not about the Christian or religious base to the upbringing of a child, it's about what the parents instill in them as a whole, Christian and Secular alike.

With all of that being said, I do not discourage my children from learning about Christianity if they choose. My oldest son has asked questions and we've given him a Children's Bible as well as more in depth background on the Christian religion and beliefs. We will do this with any religion they want to know about. They are free to choose their own path and discover their own belief's or non-belief, if that's the case. We even purchase our homeschool curriculum from a Christian company (Timberdoodle) that incorporates some Christian material in their curriculum. We just adapt it to a more secular teaching and choose alternatives for the very strong creation based materials, like Science. We are not against Christianity, we just don't set out to teach it as fact, when it's something that we don't necessarily believe to be.

I'm sure much of this blog entry mildly pains my religious father lol. Sorry Dad!

9 comments:

Aspie Super Mom! said...

This is an epic winning post! Thank you for saying the things I want to, but never seem to be able to put into words! *bows before your epicness!* :)

*hugs*

Sarah said...

Thank You! hehe
I'm glad I'm coming from somewhere that others understand!

Ellen said...

Sarah
Raising children with morals and values goes way beyond religion. It's humanity. Religion can be part of a parents teaching, but the fundamental morals and values can be absent of religion. Non-religious people possess morals and have values.
I think that if people have enought time on their hands to worry about your religion or lack of religion, they probably need to start looking more into theirs.

Your religions believes/non-beliefs nobodys business. Religion is a personal thing and nobody has the right to tell another what they need to believe in.

Raise your children how you see fit. Don't listen to negativity....but remember that others have the right to raise their children how they see fit as well.

Ellen

Sarah said...

I agree with you Ellen. You're last statement, I said exactly that in my blog post :).

Aaron said...

Why did you twitter your blog was a failure this time? My family and i are very religious. I have strong opinions about my beliefs. That being true I am not shy to say I respect your morals you have developed because you chose to. Though I know incredibly little about you (I know about your family from the work your husband donates to the Android community, and the comments you state in twitter) I know enough that even though you might not fear God, you seem to view society as worth contributing and improving. So therefore your neighbor are lucky, because many of us are sorrounded by a flood of adult sized "brats" who even the fear or love of God can't seem to convince them that Morals come by choice and everyone benefits if we all help each other instead of carefully watching for the moment to screw someone. Anyway, religion doesn't bring morales, morales come from within. Religion can explain love of your fellow man and hate of fellow man in the same sentence. But a morale person, may come to see eye to eye with religous belief, bevause it makes sense, and then teach what he or she knew was correct in their heart before they found a religious connection. It would only take a generation or two before the moraluty and integrity, virtue, etc were then assumed to be equal the finding God, instead of personality traits we all can benefit from persuing...

Sarah said...

Aaron, I had received some private messages on FB from people who were a little angry and misunderstood what I was saying. It was also thought this was me not being confident in our beliefs/non-belief. This wasn't an attack on those who have those beliefs or a defense of how we're raising our children, it was me giving the perspective from the other side of the subject because of some reading that was very one sided from a religious perspective that my sister had to read for her child psych class. I really appreciate your response and understanding of what I was saying. Thank you :).

autolysis said...

I personally think it IS unethical to raise kids as pawns of your personal mythical ideology... aka religiously. As an aspie I realize this is somewhat a black and white way of thinking, but nonetheless there's value to separating useless components from valuable core. MORALITY is for very important reason completely separate from any concept that is unique to religion. I subscribe to what can be termed Evolutionary Morality.. what we animals have learned over the span of our collective existence is that how well one can do depends on how well their neighbors do. I am very glad to see there's at least one other family out there who is thinking clearly and not raising brainwashed kids, instead teaching real ethics & actual human love. Keep it up.

Sarah said...

I just saw your comment. I really appreciate your view, thank you!

tboehrer said...

Husband and father of 4 here. We raise our kids in a completely secular household. We have never taken our kids to church. But I couldn't agree with you more about morals. We are just as, if not more, moral than any given religious type.

It's a constant issue though, and because if where we live (deep in the Bible belt) we face numerous and unfair treatment on occasion. I think the kids have it harder. Kids can be cruel... especially when it comes to religious bias.

I considered joining some "secular parents" group... but not much of a group kind of guy. Not like that anyway