"I'm leaving it up to them to decide for themselves."


Why do parents do this to their children when it comes to religion? My best girlfriend’s mom did not have her baptised, and told her she was leaving it up to her to decide for herself when she grew up. The same friend’s boyfriend was baptised, but because his father was an athiest, his Catholic mother agreed that she would leave all the rest of the sacraments up to him when he grew up (even though they divorced when the child was two, and she went so far as to send him to a Catholic prep school). Neither one of my friends have any intention of joining any church, and ridicule the church when given the opportunity (although they are kind to me personally).

Do these parents feel they’re doing their children some sort of favor in this? Now that I have a son of my own, and I fully understand what a gift I was given when I was growing up, I just can’t understand what these other parents (mothers in particular because I am one) had in mind by “leaving it up to them.”

Granted, both the mothers of my two friends are apostate Catholics, but so was I for many years until my husband and I decided to have children. It was at that moment that I came back to the church, because children must be raised with religious formation, or else you’re just leaving them to the wolves. What goes through a parent’s mind to believe leaving their children without any knowledge of God is in their child’s best interest?:mad:


why do parents do this to their kids?
I am convinced it is because they care nothing whatever about religion, their duty to God and to their children, and their faith is of no importance to them. They are also products of a culture that makes a virtue of failure to commit and failure to keep promises in the name of “freedom”.

I am not going to force my child to adopt any religion, but let him make that decision when he gets older. What a bonehead statement.

I am not going to force my child to adopt any specific diet, I will let him decide for himself what to eat.

I will not try to teach my child that their are rules and laws of nature, and that breaking those rules has consequences. I will let him learn for himself the law of gravity, the properties of combustion, and other laws of physics.


Before my husband and I converted (from a vague sort of Presbyterianism to Catholicism) we “baptized” our firstborn child by ourselves in a lake. I am embarassed to admit it (thankfully, we didn’t use the valid, Trinitarian formula, so it wasn’t a legitimate baptism), but at the time, I thought I was giving her the “gift” of a future free of the hypocricy and contridiction of organized religion. That we had somehow “freed” God from the shackles of dogma and human hatred. :shrug:

Once we found our way home to Rome, we realized what an assinine stance that was. Looking back on it now, it was a reaction to the problems we have with Protestantism, but it manifested itself as an arrogant, stupid way.

I think that people who “leave it up to the kids” aren’t fully informed about their faith. These are parents who wouldn’t leave the choice to shoot heroin, murder their fellow man, or drive drunk up to their children, yet are willing to leave their immortal souls exposed to danger.

Nature abhors a vacuum. If parents don’t fill the need for God’s Truth in their children’s souls, the Enemy will rush in and stuff it full of atheism, moral relativism, and spiritual indifference.

And yes, our daughter was finally baptized in a proper, valid, way. :thumbsup:



I never thought about it this way, but I think you are right. The children WILL grow up with a religion. If their parents don’t provide it, they will get it from their teachers, other kids, TV and movies, magazines, and pop stars.



Of the faith, of the importance of having a set of values/morals to guide you, and of raising children. We all know that “because I said so” is never satisfying to a child. I look forward to being able to show my daughter why hubby and I believe what we do and why it’s important for her to learn to love and serve the Lord.

As for the parents who choose to leave the decision up to the child(ren), some of them do have their heart in the right place. They look at one’s religion as a major life decision. Just as a child would not like it if their parents chose their future spouse, career, or home, they feel that their child should have the “freedom” to make their own important decisions.

They look at faith as an “end” instead of a foundation to achieve true happiness.



I know it does no good.

I have a relative who is now reaping the effects of “no religion, and you pick what you likehen you grow up”. Same child was not forced to do anything in life. Said child is now 16, and looks out for #1, has no concept of morality, and could be a poster child for relativism. Yet, same child seeks out a family where the younger sibs are in Christian school, where there are rules, and where the family attends church at least twice a week. And the relative is jealous that the child has made this decision.


Basically this is exactly the problem…
I think it stems from the “I want to be my childs best friend attitude” or the “I didn’t like it when my parents had rules” syndrome. OK… none of us liked rules when we were growing up. What do you mean I have to eat my peas? Why can’t I go out on a school night? It’s not fair that I got punished because I failed History class… So what?.. we leave the kid in charge thinking that this will make them our friend? Phooey!!! Rules are for safety and well being and especially because kids don’t have the responsibility or experience to make all the right choices. Deep down every kid wants rules and guidance, even if they won’t admit it!

When God blesses us with a child we have the responsibility to raise the child right. We are the ones who answer before God for how our children are raised! No kid is perfect and they are all going to make mistakes, but parents are supposed to be there to guide them. I can’t believe so many parents don’t take their responsibilities seriously.


Something I have noticed about parents who want to be their child(ren)'s best friend, is that they often seek validation from their children. If they’re child is happy with them, they are happy. If they’re child is angry/upset with them, they are hurt and will do anything to get back to the happy, happy state as quickly as possible. They don’t understand that their children are going to love them and hate them and everything in between and that the emotions of their child have nothing to do with whether or not they are good parents.


This is exactly why I wasn’t baptized until I was in my 30’s. My father is Catholic, but my mom is not Christian, not sure what she really is. They divorced when I was 10, and I’m still very close to both of them.

My mom was always very adamant that I was able to make the choice for myself as an adult. So I wandered aimlessly with no spiritual formation whatsoever for decades. I did have a Catholic influence from my paternal grandfather, and I thank God for this. While I was never baptized, if asked, I would always say I was raised Catholic (sorta), but never baptized.

So - at some point in my early 30’s I was called to start attending mass on a regular basis, knowing I could not participate in Eucharist. I then went through RCIA and was fully received into the Faith in 1994.

I had a conversation with my mom about this last year, and she was so proud of me that I was able to make an informed decision. I told her that I felt totally cheated by not having Faith in my life, or the stability of that aspect in my life as a child. She didn’t get it - I didn’t expect her to.

I’m just grateful that I was able to break away from the world and get my butt back in Church and where I need to be. The Holy Spirit is quite amazing in taking over where our own poor choices fail.

And you can bet that if we ever have children of our own, they will NOT be left to flounder and figure things out on their own. What a horrible and uncaring thing to do for your children.



I definitely think parents should have a hand in their children’s religion. But, not too much. I say that because I grew up the daughter of United Methodist minister and always felt I was pushed into that church, i felt like I was forced to make a “profession of faith” and get re-baptized (I was baptized as a baby, and then again in 1996), and I always felt like I was forced to be Methodist, i think that’s why i fell away completely for a time and was involoved in the New Age movement.

But my mom & dad always told me that as long as I was in a Christian religion they would never say anything. I’m so happy I finally discovered the Catholic Church! So now I’m becoming Catholic and my dad is ok with it (my mom passed away 7 yrs ago).


When we had our first child, my DH (isn’t Catholic or any religion at all) didn’t want me to have her baptized. He said we should leave it up to her when she’s older. We argued about it quite a bit before she was born. I finally won when I pointed out that we were married in the Catholic Church and that by marrying in the Catholic Church, he made a promise to raise his kids Catholic.

He still gave me grief about it and said the kids should be able to choose their own religion. So I said “Fine, they can be whatever religion they want to be. They can switch when they turn 18!” :thumbsup:


But what would be “too much”? Particularly when dealing with something as important as one’s immortal soul. Is it too much to say a family rosary every night? Is it too much to attend daily Mass? What’s the “right amount” of religion a parent should expose her children to? Perhaps it’s not the AMOUNT of religion experienced, but the MANNER in which it’s presented.

Pushing an expected display of religious devotion on a person isn’t the answer, either, as your post sounds like you experienced. That’s the difference, I think between a cult and a religion. My parents (who are not religious) think that my 4 year old and I saying a decade of the Rosary together every night is akin to being a rabid fanatic. Maybe it is. There are nights when she clearly doesn’t want to say it. Do I force her into it? No. I finish up in front of her, so she gets an example she can follow when she’s willing again. Does she want to say it most nights? Absolutely. That’s the difference between amount and*** manner***.

God respects our free will, and I think he wants us as parents to do the same with our children. But “free will” doesn’t mean “a moral and spiritual vacuum”. God has provided us with a path to follow, and over and over again he shows how much he wants us to take that path. If we don’t, we’re not forced into it- but instructions and models are provided for us. This is where many “leave it to the kid”- type parents mess up. They allow the child free will, but don’t provide an example the children can follow if they choose. And like I said in my previous post, if the parents don’t provide an example, trust me, the Enemy will.



Wow, Amen to all of that!
My biological mother, who raised my brother had this “leave it up to them” attitude. How I turned out to be as I am can only be explained by divine intervention.
My brother that was raised by biological mother has a criminal record, no sense of a moral high ground, and is a drug abuser, all because he had no one to act as a moral compass. This same mother also let him do drugs in her house because she “would rather him do it at home than on the streets.” The ‘leave it up to them’ is a cop out for bad parenting.

My grandmother, a fundamentalist protestant, and my biological mother and adoptive father thinks I, too, am a fanatic for my family’s devotion and participation in Holy Mother Church. They don’t understand. That is the difference between belonging to a church and belonging to The Church; for us (Catholics), Catholicism is not merely a denomination or just the religious part of our lives, but our lives indeed and our way of life. It is irresponsible and small-minded to teach children the Truth is subjective.


I was raised to be Baptist but religion was never a major part of my life so it pretty much was left up to me what to believe although it was expected that I would believe in god and all the stuff that goes with him. I went to AWANA as a child, my sister was a leader, and those weekly visits were about all the religious schooling that I recieved other than the 5-6 times a year we went to church. I was never baptized, by the time I was old enough I had privately decided that how I really felt was okay, it didn’t make me a bad person.

So essentially it was up to me to decide. I’m completely satisfied with my choice although I’m not 100% set in stone on what I believe, if it changes someday thats fine but for now I’m 110% atheist. Religion is now a much larger part of my life than it was before I openly took this stance because the majority of my friends are religious and I’m constantly learning about various aspects of religion. Right now I’m focusing mainly on Catholicism, hence my being here. I’m constantly learning and re-evaluating my stance on religion…I keep coming to the same conclusion.

If I ever have children, I find the idea unlikely to say the least, I will let them choose what they want to believe because I know not everyone is cut out to be an atheist. It takes a certain confidence and strength that religious people often don’t have. Confidence and strength really aren’t the best words but I can’t think of anything better…I’m not saying religious people aren’t confident and strong…its just different for those of us who don’t believe. It also takes a very thick skin and the ability to shake things off without getting too riled.

Its very hard sometimes and I don’t want whatever kid my future self might have to struggle and face blatent discrimination as I did and often still do. I would expose them various religions but generally keep my opinions out of it. Most people feel a need for religion, just because I don’t doesn’t mean my kids wouldn’t either. You don’t need religion to have a strong moral compass, you just need a good teacher but for most people that is their religion.


I’m so glad that my parents insisted that we go to Church.

Actually, they didn’t so much insist on it, as assume it, as a given. From the earliest I can remember, on Sunday mornings, we go to Church, and that’s just that.

I remember my brother saying one time, “I’m not going to Church on Sunday; I want to sleep in.” And my mother said, “What are you talking about? Of course you’re going to Church on Sunday morning. Sleeping in is for Saturdays and long weekend Mondays.”

When he started to argue with her, she said, “Maybe you need an earlier bed time, if you think you need to sleep in so much,” and that was the end of that. :thumbsup:


I agree with the OP’s that indicate this attitude is a cop out (sp?) so you don’t have to take the time and energy to teach your children about God. I would venture that it is not only prevelant in Christianity but other religions as well.

I have a friend who is Lutheran, her husband is Catholic they attend Lutheran & Catholic churches, and their children go to Catholic school. When she tells me she will let her children decide when they get older, I have more respect because she is laying a foundation and the kids are learning both perspectives.

You can’t decide for yourself if you don’t know the facts!!


I must say that I am very surprised by your post, nichjake. It can be very difficult to be a person of faith, to attempt to live a holy life and be a witness to others. We are often met with resistence as well as outright attacks. I don’t know of anyone who has not faced some sort of discrimination at some point in their lives.

The consolation that we have as Christians is that Jesus was also scorned and ridiculed in this life, and we can offer our sufferings up for Him.

Your view of religion is very different from mine. I do not have faith in God because it’s easy, far from it. I have faith in God because I know and love Jesus and the Truth He has shown to the world. I would never deny my children such knowledge nor a relationship with their Creator.


Your response to Nichjake is way more charitable than mine would have been. I was going to settle for a :rolleyes: and a snarky, “Yeah, it’s so easy to be religious. It’s so easy to follow a Divinely outlined moral code. It must be really hard to deny your Creator in this this day and age, which is so religiously minded, with its heart set on God.” :wink:

But that must be because you, ElizabethAnne, have a thick skin, and I clearly don’t. :slight_smile:


I was just saying that the discrimination and difficulties are different. Before I came out as an atheist I never had problems with people, ever. I never once faced discrimination or was attacked for my supposed beliefs. Maybe I had it easy, but thats my experience. Having faith in something you can’t see or otherwise have tangible proof of is difficult, I know. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum.

As an atheist things are a lot harder. I see people wearing christian symbolisms (crucifix necklaces, t-shirts about religion and so on) all the time. I wouldn’t dare wear anything that announced my religious beliefs because frankly I know I wouldn’t make it through the day without being attacked in some way…and I live in a very liberal area. I’ve been denied a job solely because I was an atheist, thats not supposed to happen in this country and it hasn’t happened to any of the religious people that I know. If you believe in god, any god, its generally okay…but, forgive the unintended pun I just couldn’t think of a different phrase, god forbid that you don’t believe in god

Its funny how people convieniently ignored the “I’m not saying religious people aren’t confident and strong” in my previous post. Perhaps I didn’t make my point obvious enough, I’ll make sure to spell it out in big bold letter next time :rolleyes:


I believe that the majority of us do have something that I call a “God sense” that enables us to pray and to be aware of God.

I’ve had moments when my “God sense” was gone - when I’ve been extremely ill, for example. It would have been really easy to stop believing in God at those times.

I’ve often wondered if maybe atheists go through their whole lives like that - without any sense of the presence of God? Maybe atheism is a kind of disability, like blindness or deafness - except that we don’t even know what it is that makes us aware of God, and when we are aware of God, it’s incredibly difficult to imagine not being aware of God - just as it is difficult for a sighted person to imagine being blind.

On that subject, I remember a story one time of a blind man who was fed up answering questions about what he “saw” in his mind, being blind.

He responded, “Well, I imagine that what I see out my eyes is exactly the same thing as you see out your elbow, or your big toe.”

It’s almost impossible for a sighted person to imagine being blind, and I think, unless one experiences it, it’s almost impossible to imagine not knowing that there is a God - and I’m thinking it’s probably for the same reasons.

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