Atheist Parents - Do You Borrow Religious Concepts to Explain Things To Your Kids?

Altanzitarron

Tamer Of The LOLzilla
#1
I'm speaking specifically about the departure of loved ones. Have any of you non believing parents used the Heaven concept to ease the grief of an upset child? I've been thinking about this quite a bit this morning. Despite not being religious I could understand why an atheist parent may comfort their child by saying that their loved one has moved onto a better place. I'm not trying to trivialise anyones belief but as an atheist parent do you see the Heaven idea along the same lines as Santa or the Tooth Fairy? By that I mean that even though you don't believe in such things, you can appreciate the benefit they may have for a child.

Or do you feel that you should just be honest and explain that they are gone but it is important to remember them? To borrow an old yet relevant cliche "No one is gone as long as we remember them, they live on in us".

If you aren't a parent, do you think you would? Try to imagine how hard it must be to look a crying child in the eye and explain death to them.

I honestly can't decide. I think I'd go the honesty route but I suppose a lot of it would depend on my partner too.

Side question: Do religous parents have a problem with atheist parents adopting their beliefs falsely? Do you see it as a hypocrisy?
 
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#2
I think I can answer this from both sides. Up until very recently, I thought I was raising my kids in a grand household by allowing them to grow and decide for themselves what they wanted to believe as far as religions go. (how nice to realize I was allowing them to choose hell if that's what they wanted)
Did I tell them their uncle was in Heaven with God after he passed away? I did. But, what did they know about it? I was using these words in order to take the easy path. I hadn't delved into my non-belief enough to really give them an adequate explanation that would give them comfort, so I chose to tell them something that I didn't believe at the time, just because it was an easy answer.
Now, as a Christian, I wish I could step back in time and give them that same answer with the knowledge I now have to back up my words. Was I being a hypocrite? Yes. I mocked those who believed in God, yet chose Him to comfort my girls when I had no other answers.
 

ExpectantlyIronic

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#3
Altanzitarron said:
If you aren't a parent, do you think you would?
No. I'd say [insert dead person here] has returned to nature. I know I find the truth more comforting, and if any kids I have are as skeptical as I was, that's a much better thing to say. The heaven thing always seemed pretty questionable.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
#4
I honestly have no clue how I'd react.

EI's response seems like a good, generic one (everyone should be able to agree it's true, no matter what they're beliefs are). But I wonder if kids might reach an age where they realize they don't understand what you mean when you say that - and they might also reach an age where they think of bodies rotting and being eaten by worms and maggots when you say that.
 

Spooky

Registered Member
#5
If you aren't a parent, do you think you would? Try to imagine how hard it must be to look a crying child in the eye and explain death to them.
Must almost be as hard as explaining if they don't follow rules (which by the way basically no one follows them all), that they will burn in hell for all eternity.
 

Altanzitarron

Tamer Of The LOLzilla
#6
Must almost be as hard as explaining if they don't follow rules (which by the way basically no one follows them all), that they will burn in hell for all eternity.
This is a good point. An atheist parent would probabaly pick and chose what parts of the faith they wanted. They may use Heaven in a situation of grief but would omit other parts about Hell as such. :lol: Comforting someone is such a balancing act.
 

Spooky

Registered Member
#7
This is a good point. An atheist parent would probabaly pick and chose what parts of the faith they wanted. They may use Heaven in a situation of grief but would omit other parts about Hell as such. :lol: Comforting someone is such a balancing act.

Yeah I can't say I've had experience with it (as I'm just 19 and have no kids? lol) but I think there's a downside to providing a "heaven" answer to death, because children wouldn't value and make the most of their life because they believe once they die they will be with their loved ones in happiness for all eternity.

I myself believe death is a completely natural part of life, that you should make the most of life while you're living it.. And that I'm yet to be convinced that there's anything after we die (thought I'd love to be wrong about that!), and you shouldn't live you're life around the belief you're going on to bigger and better once you die. But I think I could be getting a bit off topic xD

Basically I think I'd just tell them what I know, but would have the sense to be delicate about it.. the part where you said "No one is gone as long as we remember them, they live on in us" is a really good example of that :p
 

Diederick

Registered Member
#8
If I were to resort to lying to my children, does it matter what fairytale I make up? They will find out I was lying eventually, preferably I'd not lie at all and try to explain the truth subtly.
 

monstertoad101

Registered Member
#9
I don't have any children, but I hope that I'd maintain in telling them the truth. I don't believe in God because of circumstances that have happened to me, and, I don't think my children should believe in something, that I don't feel exists. I know that my children may one day decide that they believe, and I will love them if this is their decision, but, I won't promote the religion, or teach them to believe.

If a family member were to die, I'd explain to them that they've gone to their (the childs) heart, and that they'd stay there, until the child didn't need them anymore, which will also allow the child to understand, when they are older, the death of the relative, won't be as much of a big importance to them.

This is just what I personally would do.