Our Discussions

Raising Children With or Without Religion?
1 ( a pedar)

The new ruling of the supreme court on the separation of church and state (rejecting prayers of some students before a football game), a conversation my wife recently had with one of the members of Madar-Pedar, and inviting people to participate in the discussions by some of the parents are some of the reasons behind my sending this message.

Let me throw a few questions with the hope that some thoughtful responses will benefit us all.

Should we TRY to separate ourselves from religion or should we actively discuss our religious believes/doubts/disbelieves or rather should we at least practice the freedom of choice and religion? Depending on ones stand and where they fall in this wide range of spectrum, should one reject people of religious background and avoid any topics that may be linked to religion or should they welcome and appreciate diversity not out of respect but out of wisdom or rather should one at least have not made non religious discussions a prerequisite?

2 ( a madar)


I think our recent discussion about "Working Mom or Stay-at-home Mom" make one point clear: there are not many "should"s or "should not"s in parenting, but we have choices and preferences. Also, knowing that we all know this makes it easier for us to express our opinions without the fear of guiding or misguiding other parents. So, I share with you MY view of raising children with respect to religion in response to Pedar#1. I hope that the responses of other parents help me improve my view, too.

Religion is a part of culture in every civilization and you see religious characters in literature, etc. I wish I knew more about the Greek gods and Christianity and sure I would have enjoyed more of my reading the western literature. Also, I think that religion plays the role of social conscience. That is, the common denominator of all religions is moral aesthetics and they all share the essential values of good and bad as all communities share. I don't see any problem with it. However, when a specific religion is to be practiced and/or preached fanatically, that may cause a problem. So, while I am not for teaching the details of practicing a specific religion, I think my children should learn about what religion is about and that different religions exist and they share common values and they should respect other peoples beliefs and as they grow I think they should learn that religious beliefs could be abused and divide people. I don't actively discuss religion with my children, but if it comes up I do present my views to them as much as they can absorb and I believe this little by little absorbing is better than listening to once-in-a-while parently lectures.

BTW, my mom actively teaches religion to my children whenever she gets a chance and I have no problem with it. I think it is a good chance for them to learn what religion is about and I am sure at some point of life they will want to experience it. so why not now when we have the chance to answer their questions and help them understand the concept better.

I think the issue of peer pressure on children to define their religious identity (as if it is granted to be a part of one's identity) is worth to be a discussion topic by itself and hope we get into that because I don't feel prepared enough. but I am glad that law prohibits this pressure in schools.

in a talk about the influence of culture, a scholar at UC Berkeley said that the idea of "bad eye" (cheshm-e bad) has been with Iranians (Arians) since 5000 years ago! and it still exists fresh! this is an example and you can find more that show the cultural elements of religion are there within us without us knowing it. So, why not talk about it and become aware of it. Whether you want it or not, they will learn about it, so why not from you? (didn't I learn this phrase from a book about children and sexuality?:)

3 ( a web visitor)

Sallam Aleikom,

Personally I think that children should be raised with a religious foundation,however...they must be given the opportunity to learn about other cultures and religions as well. I grew up in the USA since I was 1 years old. I did not really have a religious backround because my parents did not practice the religion they were born in. They respected it...but did not practice. I went on my own and studied all the world religions...starting from American Indian Animism to Zulu Religions. An A-Z if you will. and after studying for 25 years...I became a firm believer in Islam. I do not belong to a sect or religious school of thought. But I am very active in the Mosque here and I actively promote Islam to all people. For most of my friends and myself this is a shock...because I used to go out with girls and party etc. However...I noticed the emtiness in the hearts of the many Iranian guys and girls here...because they do not have faith/love for anything except money and power. It is a sad fact but Iranian girls are no longer the "perfect girl" that us Iranian guys dream of. They have become worse than the American counterparts. I have found more American girls here that have much better morals than Iranian girls living in the United States. Regardless...I wanted to find a good girl ...at first I tried to find an American Muslim girl...but I thought that i also want to have somebody fill the void of non-Iranian culture in my life. I grew up with mostly American friends...until after Highschool. Which I made alot of Persian friends in College. However the Persians in college here...both boys and girls are very morally corrup (ie. Drinking Alcohol, Sex, Drugs). Regardless...by chance I met an Iranian girl living in Iran by accident while befriending an Iranian guy from Tehran. He introduced me to his cousin. A perfect example of the "perfect Iranian girl". Needless to say ...what we have in common is our Islamic heritage and our Persian culture. So everything is going well now Inshallah. The most interesting note on the Islamic aspect is that i learned everything by the way of the Sunni school of thought with a little Sufi influence...while my wife is full on Shi'a...but not the fake Shi'a that is practiced in Iran which worships men rather than God. To find out about real Shi'a go to www.shariati.com & www.al-islam.org (Sunni's and Shi'as can get along ;) Another thing to note is that my understanding of Islam and my conversion to it...has made me be able to respect other religions as well. Here is my davat (daw'wah) website I made in order to help other brothers and sisters in the world. Take care and may God help all the Iranians and other people of this earth.

"We are thousands, we are one" - Jalaluddin Al-Rumi

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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