Day 17: Are your children being brought up in an organized religion? If you have no children, think about what you’d do if you did.
I have no children. I feel quite good for the children I might have had; they are in a much happier place than they would have been with me. Even though, for years, I felt no self-worth, no satisfaction with either myself or my life, I remained very sure that neither I, nor any child I might bear, would be well-served by me as a mom.
Having said that, I must also say that I, myself, had ties to churches from the time I could sing in the kids’ choir. Always, from the very beginning, I loved the feeling of being in church; the colors, the songs, the symbols, the rituals. I would hate to deny any child of mine that opportunity. I guess I would try to find a truly ecumenical community in which to participate, in order for them not to miss out the on the valuable experiences of being in a faith community — friendship, a sense of responsibility for the world around them, a loyalty to love and joy in their own lives, and a similar celebration of gladness in the lives of others.
In fact, having a family may be the perfect reason for starting my own faith community — I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time, anyway, and teaching my own children about faith would be one way to guarantee that they were exposed to all kinds of thoughts. Still, the communal nature of a church, or synagogue, or any other gathering of people of faith, is an important lesson in life, coexistence, trust, and fellowship. I believe I would find a Unitarian- Universalist church, if I could find one not rooted only in Christianity. (I have attended services in two UU congregations here in Maine. One seemed, at least to me, to be a Christian service without direct reference to Christ. The other had a far more Universalist feel, and this is the type of congregation I would seek out for my children.)
Still, in spite of my own best intentions, I’d want to show respect to my kids as they began to make decisions about faith. Belief and faith would be regular subjects of conversation in my household. In this, I will be mirroring and expanding on an experience from my own teen-hood. I (think I) remember my mother telling us that she would take us to any church we wanted to attend, the first time we attended. (I say I think, because this memory is strong in my mind, but this is not a memory to others in my family — I have a feeling I may have, at least in part, created this.) I would offer this choice to my teenaged children, and respect their choices. After growing up in a household I ran, my children would be smart enough, and informed enough, to make this decision.
So that is the plan I would implement, if I were a mother. Nevertheless, for so many other reasons, especially the state of my health, I am happy that I will not have to follow through. Although, now that I think of it, I would like to believe that I would have made very different choices about my own life, if I had placed parts of it in the bodies of my kids.