Friday 9 December 2011

So, this is Christmas

Is it about him?
or him?
And what does it mean to you? How do you explain Christmas to your children?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. For my kids, Christmas means decorations, trees, songs, presents, Santa, yummy food, holidays and spending time with family. I suspect it means the same for many of us.

I'm not religious person. Hell, my kids think churches are Cinderella castles and don't try and tell them otherwise. I haven't tackled the religious talk with them yet, mainly as, to be honest, I'm not sure what my beliefs are.

We had the girls christened and D will be too. Skip felt strongly about it, for me it was a nice family tradition. Our girls were christened in the church their great-great grandparents were married in, their uncles were christened there too. They wore a gown that my grandmother and my mother wore for their christening. So there's history, being a part of something, tradition.

Recently, we were at a playdate and the other mum said to Lil-lil something along the lines of "that's just the way God made her" in answer to a question. I was a bit taken aback, I must say. Lil-lil had no idea what she was talking about. I didn't say anything, but it made me start thinking about how or if I should instruct some of religious education. I don't want to start telling my children that life and everything that happens is because of God's will or design because I don't believe that. I don't want them to be ignorant about religion though, either.

I'm not anti-religion, but I don't believe in it. I've been brought up in a Christian world that celebrates Christmas and Easter, so if I have to align myself with a religion it would be Christianity. If it came down to it, though, and I had to pick I would probably chose a different religion for values or a way of life. For the moment, religion is not part of my life.

I want my children to be knowledgeable about all religions and I believe religion is so much more than simply belief. It's culture, it's literature, it's music, it's history.

The question is when do you start the religious talk if you're not religious? Or if you don't know what you believe?

Another one of those curly parenting moments.

What do you do?


  1. Just dropped by via numerous links and found your post an interesting one, given the time of year.

    Believe what e'er you will. Faith is a gift.

    But never be afraid to talk about 'religion' (which BTW means 'binding back') to your children.
    Those that say they will never 'force' religion on their children are, I suspect, unknowingly afraid that their children may make a choice about their future life that their adults may not understand.
    (hmmm . . would that be fear and bigotry?)
    People who are not religious can be just as biased and small-minded as those who choose to be religious, thereby negating their proudly held belief that everyone should be fully informed, when in actual fact they only mean some subjects (sex, drugs, politics).
    "We wont force religion on them, we want them (not) to make their own decisions"
    Ahem, . . . based on what?
    Yes, I'm a practising princess who visits castles regularly with my prince charming. 3 royal offspring. One active in our castle, 2 nominal, but who tell me they love knowing what is behind the castle drawbridge.
    Tell them what you do or don't believe - not hide what you are fearful of.
    Have you ever thought to show them what the inside of a castle looks like?
    Mrs. C

  2. I'm in the same boat as you. Brought up Catholic but can't say I truly believe it. I'm certainly not practising. But where does that leave our soon-to-be-bub? And frustratingly, religion determines school choices in Sydney! That doesn't sit well with me at all, but might be something we just have to adhere to if we want him to go to a certain school. It's all very complicated.... Great post though. I seriously need to think about this more.... x

  3. Very interesting post Corinne. Like yourself, I was not brought up with any links to religion at all. My parents always told me we were church of England, but in all honesty, what does that even mean?? Other than weddings, christenings and funerals, we never attended church while we were growing up. I used to go along to the standard scripture lessons held at school, but never took part in anything outside of school to do with the church. It's not that I don't believe, I'm just not sure what I want to believe in. I definitely like the idea of faith, but I've always believe faith and religion are two totally different things anyway.
    It will be a tricky one when teaching our boys, as both Scott and I are not into the church as such. I guess if questions arise we'll attempt to answer them as best as possible, or offer to source the answers where unsure. Arrgghhh, what a curly one :o/ xo

  4. Very interesting post.

    We're Catholic, but I'm not a very good one (Mr P is much more religious) and I challenge a number of aspects about it.

    My Big Girl knows about God - she actually quite likes going to church with her dad. To her, God is this 'thing' in the sky that cares and looks after people down on earth. And hangs out with people who have died in heaven.

    The Litte Guy's current God is Murray from the Wiggles...

    I don't think Christmas needs to be religious - that's the beauty of growing up in Oz. But I DO feel sad that Christmas is largely about Santa and presents (that ol' chestnut!). Even if it's not about religious traditions, I'm a firm believer that you need your own traditions based on giving and helping others (that's the biggest aspect of Catholicism that appeals to me too).

    In the past Mr P and I have chosen 4 charities to make donations to. This year, I want to involve Miss 4.5. So far we've gone to K-Mart and chosen 2 gifts for other children as a part of their Wishing Tree. We're also going to do a grocery shop for some Christmas food and donate it to our local soup kitchen. I hope that can become part of my kids' traditions at this time of year.


  5. Oops, I didn't answer your question at all, did I?

  6. Why are people offended about the religious aspect of any particular private church school?
    The main point of the institution is to look at the wholisitic education of the individual, not just the academic one.
    Each faith has the right to educate in a manner that they believe is in line with their creed and it would appear the government is more than happy to support this.
    So many people do NOT examine the policy and charter of a 'church' school or take the time to understand the basis of it, rather choosing to believe that it is there only in the interest of the academic advancement of their child and become offended when faced with things that are only done in line with the school protocol.
    This is where the ignorance and intolerance of non religious people always amazes me.
    People - Understand what you do or don't believe or make up something you can adhere to but don't expect things to be watered down because you don't 'like it'.
    Mrs. C

  7. MrsC - While I think you've misunderstood the point I was trying to make, I do agree with some of what you've said.

    I'm not trying hide religion from my kids nor am I trying to avoid forcing religion upon them. I want them to learn about religion. All types of religion. They have been to churches. I'd like them also to visit mosques, synagogues and temples. I want them to read to the Bible when they're older so they get an understanding of Christianity and also, from an academic point of view, gain a deeper understanding of a lot of literature, art and music.

    For me, it's when to start to introduce the idea of religion, from a point of view that our family is not religious. My girls are quite young (5 & 3) so I don't want to bombard them with a lot of different ideas I don't feel they need to tackle yet.

    At Christmas time I'm thinking of it more as I'm sure they will ask what songs like Silent Night mean and I would rather be prepared with how I tackle it than fob them off.

    P23 - I agree and I liked your comment. I do encourage the girls to think of others and take part in some kind of charity, all year round, but especially at Christmas.

  8. I'm sorry Corinne, I realised you were only asking a question and I'm sorry I got a bit 'soap-boxy'. It's promising that you are not afraid to give them information and its really very simple.
    From a purely christian perspective, children are the most valuable asset we have.
    (Christ teaches that we must start with a child-like faith and leave our misconceptions behind.)
    For us, naturally, we started teaching at their baptism and our congregation celebrates every milestone and anniversary with them. Yes, they ask curly questions but they will do that about anything. If you don't know, say you don't know. Kids always know when your b*s*ing.
    There are numerous resources about religion and any church would be able to offer you information. Many of them have webpages.

    I don't doubt your sincerity in the least and I hope you do find your answers and perhaps even a truth that will give you meaning.
    Have a blessed Christmas.
    Mrs. C

  9. Okay - my favourite word ever again - balance!!
    My Hubby and I are Catholic - in so much we were raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools & churches with our parents.
    We will bring Magoo up in the Catholic church.
    We don't pretend to be devout.
    We don't make it to Church every weekend.
    Hubby's church is the beach.
    I take Magoo when it fits our schedules.
    We pray at times. He knows that God made him and stuff.
    He thinks he is the Baby Jesus - but that's a whole nother story!!

    I started teaching in a Uniting Chruch school 6 or 7 years ago.
    All of a sudden, faith became a real thing for me - not a religion full of traditions, old school thinking and a fair amount of hypocrites ( no offense fellow Catholics?!!!)

    The people I work alonngside and the families I've met personify faith and Christianity.
    They walk the walk - sometimes without any of the talk at all.
    They inspire me and make me feel like a complete arsehole at times!!!

    Do what feels right for your family, Corinne.
    As you say religion transends 'church'.
    We (as parents) are all about raising good people, fair citizens, educated minds, kind neighbours.
    :-) x


Thank you so much for your comments! I'm always thrilled to hear from you.

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