Embracing Religion 'For the Sake of the Kids'

Christian childrenI was at a birthday party last weekend when a fellow mom, who knows about my work, pulled me aside and told me her daughters will soon be starting CCD — AKA Catechism. Her husband was raised Catholic, she explained, but neither of them are religious now at all. She said she'd let me know it goes. This business of giving children a religious education — or a religious "base," as many people call it — is so fascinating to me. And, whenever it comes up, it reminds me of what a powerful structure religion can be.

In so many families, religion is presented as intrinsic to all things. It's what allows humans to think and love and breath. It offers a clear perspective on the world and the world’s creation. It acts as a conduit for doing good. It clarifies the line between right and wrong. It provides the social outlet so many desire and the hope so many crave.

It's no wonder that sometimes, long after people have left their parents' religions behind, they find that their faith is still there, deep inside them, clinging to their subconscious like a tenacious child. And that’s a fitting metaphor, given that it’s the arrival of their own children that causes some parents to revisit their own childhood beliefs — and debate the merits of embracing religion for, as they say, "the sake of the kids.”

I wonder, if you're reading this, whether you've ever had to address this issue, or you know anyone who has. If so, what was the upshot? Were the children grateful or confused by the sudden religious infusion into their everyday lives? Were the parents glad to have done it — or did they regret the decision?

And do kids from secular homes ever come out of catechism/Hebrew Academy/Islamic madrasa/etc. as staunch believers?