Monday, October 27, 2008

Teaching kids about religion

"Religion should never be forced on children", I have heard this quite a few times. I totally agree. Never force kids to accept your religion. Never force them to perform rituals or visit the place of worship etc. But does that mean you don't teach them about religion? I don't think so.

Children are like a piece of white paper. The first few strokes on that piece of paper are always drawn by the parents. They dictate to a large extent what the painting is going to eventually look like.

I believe that parents need to teach their kids about religion like they teach them so many other things. Parents don't say they're not going to force their kids to go to school, do they? They make sure they go. Similarly, parents should make sure their kids are exposed to the religion they're following.

This should be done till a point the child is big enough to decide on things for himself or herself. At this point, let the child make the call on religion too. But let the parents not make this call so early in the child's life that he or she does not even know about the option so that a decision can be made later in life. By teaching kids about religion, the child is given a choice on whether to follow it or not. It is too unrealistic to expect the child to discover religion without any such exposure.

Religion often offers a way of experiencing peace. However unscientific it may be, it gives a means to achieve 'closure' on many of life's problems. We don't have to prove or disprove anything as long as it gives us peace of mind. Spending time in a temple or with a 'sadhu' often gives us respite from the daily grind.

This opportunity should be given to a child. Parents should not snatch this away forever from a child's life. Teach them about religion. But don't force them once they're big enough. That, I believe should be the mantra.

3 comments:

Yogita said...

I disagree with you on this one :-). If the parents don't believe in religion, then why should they teach their kids about it. Isn't it hypocritical on their part to do so? When the kid grows up and is mature enough to have a discussion about religion, encourage that and let them research further. If they want to follow a religion there's no reason to stop them. But teaching them about religion while they are small children, when you don't believe in it, will only confuse them.

Kamal Shah said...

Oh yes, I agree with you here.

The only thing is the child loses out on an opportunity to make that decision for himself or herself.

That he or she might take it up later is very unlikely to happen.

So, the parents are, in effect, forcing that choice on the child. But there is no way out here, I guess.

mukulji said...

teaching or forcing religion and exposing them to your culture are two different things. Although it is difficult to separate them sometimes. We do get our value system from the environment which has a mix of both, therefore one should communicate this to the child in subtle ways and encourage them to understand it themselves and decide.Its therefore very important to leave it open with them being aware of it.