‘He’s Catholic, I’m atheist. How do we raise our kids?’


Sydney Opera House on St Patricks’ Day in green light.  The Muslim Times is the Mecca for interfaith tolerance

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

By Georgina Fuller

As I sat in church looking at my eldest son Charlie standing before the gold altar, clutching a candle at his Holy Communion, I let the priest’s words wash over me. “Nothing,” he said, “will ever be more important than going to church.”

I glanced at my husband Dominic, who was beaming at the priest and Charlie. Could he not see that it was ridiculous? At eight years old, Charlie’s life should be carefree and revolve around sport, sleepovers, friends and fun … not heavyweight pledges about religion. But I buttoned my lip – it wasn’t the first time Dominic and I had had this debate.

Catholic icons

The idea that a celibate priest should advise us on marriage seemed laughable.
Photo: Stocksy

I don’t remember when Dominic first told me that he was Catholic. When we met, in our early 20s, he rarely went to church, though his mother was a devout Irish Catholic. It was only when we got engaged and the words “mixed-faith marriage course” were mentioned that I had a sense of alarm.

I’d had a churchy upbringing, too (I’d been christened and confirmed), but by my 20s I identified as an atheist, and the idea that a celibate priest should advise us on marriage seemed laughable. Still, I agreed to complete the six-week course because it made Dominic happy, and while I baulked at the pledge we had to make to raise our unborn children as Catholics, I was so caught up in booking marquees that I went along with it.

Religion only reared its head again when we had our three children – now aged eight, five and three – which threw up all sorts of debates. First, should we christen them? (We did.) And, more recently, what about church every Sunday?

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2 replies

  1. My best advise is that as long as both of you as the parents of the kids —love, care and respect each other what you belief is cool— teach your Kids with excellent behavior—universal behavior—namyly love all people do justice for all— help each other for good deeds. The best behavior is we can leave a good legacy fir humanity when we die—

    After your Kids become young adult- 18 years old, let Kids decide their lifestyle or religion.

    The main goal religion is to create prople be better behaviour and recognize the Creator.

    Recognizing our Creator mean we love all people, respect differences and justice for all. Fear to do evil things—Your Kids will be fine.

    All love ❤️

  2. When I was growing up in a Catholic household, my mother was a strict Roman Catholic and my Dad only went to church for weddings and funerals. Church attendance was expected every Sunday by my mother.

    I was the youngest of seven children and I was the one who questioned EVERYTHING! 🙂 I rejected religion at an early age, it just didn’t seem credible to me.

    You are in an interesting dilemma especially since it sounds that you already agreed to your husbands terms. Here is my story and perhaps there is something in my story that will help you.

    When my son was born, we talked about baptism but life was really busy. Right around my son’s first birthday my mother died. Even though I was an atheist, (wife was a non-practicing Catholic), I thought about having the baptism at my mothers funeral mass.. but my sister didn’t think it was a good idea… it gave me a chance to think how I want to raise my son.

    I was forced into religion as a child and I did not want my son to face the same fate. I wanted him to be able to make his own choices about religion. At first, he had no exposure to religion but in Middle School, he was exposed to Christianity by classmates. It was at this point, I wanted to give him different scenarios on different religions. What the Christian believes, what the atheist thinks..etc. I tried to give him a non-biased view of everything.

    I purchased a “world religion” book so he could read about world religions and even as an atheist, I was learning (and continue to learn) about religions. I took him to a UUA (Universalist Unitarian Church) as they offered a religious education class and it covered world religions. I basically told him that he is free to follow a religion or not to but basically told him that he shouldn’t feel forced into any religion. In fact, I told him that it is something he should wait until he’s 18 to really consider.

    The UU church really didn’t focus on any one religion, it had people of various religions and non-religions. I also took him to a Catholic mass, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple, Dharma talks and various other services so he could get a basic understanding.

    As of now, he really isn’t interested in religion and I don’t want to interfere with the choices he makes in life as I think he should be free to find his way in life, I want him to figure out his path on his own. He will be on his own in 2 or 3 years!

    You have to balance things. What do you want? What does your husband want? What do your kids want? Try to find a middle ground.

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