trust the wisdom of children

I raised my children with the choice of any faith available, and provided them with the means to explore the options. My daughter and youngest son are atheists, my middle son is a Christian (he is a gentle, kind young man who would never hate or exclude anyone from anything, and he likes science).

In fact, on any issue, I always found my absolute best response to my children was “I trust your judgment”, rather than to lay down strict rules — it made them think about the consequences of their actions from a position of ownership of those actions — and it was remarkably effective.

Australian student Dylan O’Beirne is the sort of young man whose judgment is imminently trustworthy:

CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE

Dylan O’Beirne is open to finding out whether there is a god.

But the 16-year-old hasn’t yet seen strong evidence.

“If there was evidence to support a god, then I would believe in it,” he says.

“I choose not to believe, but I’m not going to dogmatically reject it.”

Dylan is in year 10 at Kingswood College in Box Hill.

He was never baptised and says his parents were happy to allow him to decide whether or not he believed.

“Mum and Dad raised me to know it was my choice,” he says.

Religious education classes in year 5 first prompted Dylan to question the matter.

He asked to be excluded because he found the classes boring.

But a Muslim student, also excluded, had him thinking.

“I thought, if she believes something else, why aren’t we taught about that?”

In year 8, Dylan’s mother presented him with the best-selling book, The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins.

“Everything came out with such clarity. But I didn’t just take his word for it; I started investigating what sceptics and atheists believe.”

Dylan says a visit to his school by the Jewish Christian Muslim Association revealed many of his peers are quite religious, but most rarely discuss it. He enjoyed the visit and has no intention of pressing his views on anyone.

He see Christmas as time for a family celebration.

“It’s not around messages about Jesus Christ, but more a time to get together and for Australian society to get together. Most of my family are somewhat religious.”

Teach your children to think and make informed choices, and trust their judgment, unless of course they demonstrate an inability to make good decisions — but if you start with love and trust, chances are, the decisions will be good ones.

7 thoughts on “trust the wisdom of children

  1. I admire your parenting style. If I ever have children I hope they grow up to have strong critical thinking skills regardless of whether they choose to follow a religion or not.

    1. Thanks. It's a bit nerve-wracking to go the trust / honesty route rather than the “you're living under my roof you'll do what I say” route, but when it works, it feels *so* much better than just winning a battle of wills.

      I must give some credit to my oldest, she was as stubborn as I was as a child, and so part of my “trust your judgment” philosophy came from not wanting to try and argue with her. I was quite delighted to find that it worked :)

      And now she's almost 27, married, a nurse, with two adorable little boys. So it really did work out for the best.

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  3. My Mother “did the right thing” and forced Catholicism down our throats.It was how she was raised and she was doing well by her children.

    3/3 are not attending Sunday Mass on a regular basis.
    We pray before meals that is all.

    I took YOUR approach as well.
    My 17 yr old son is collecting Bibles in several languages
    with his own money.
    Greek and Latin mostly. Ebay additcion. Fully aware.
    My Mother is active in our lives and is astounded by this
    because WE never would have spent our money this way.
    It goes to show.

    Let them go.
    They will find it and seek it and drink it and crave it.
    IT being.. whatever feels right to them.

    1. And they are better people for being trusted, respected, and given choices :) I know you're an awesome mom, you've raised strong, free-thinking children who are confident in their own decisions.

  4. My Mother “did the right thing” and forced Catholicism down our throats.It was how she was raised and she was doing well by her children.

    3/3 are not attending Sunday Mass on a regular basis.
    We pray before meals that is all.

    I took YOUR approach as well.
    My 17 yr old son is collecting Bibles in several languages
    with his own money.
    Greek and Latin mostly. Ebay additcion. Fully aware.
    My Mother is active in our lives and is astounded by this
    because WE never would have spent our money this way.
    It goes to show.

    Let them go.
    They will find it and seek it and drink it and crave it.
    IT being.. whatever feels right to them.

  5. And they are better people for being trusted, respected, and given choices :) I know you're an awesome mom, you've raised strong, free-thinking children who are confident in their own decisions.

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