Parenting: Breaking the Cycle on Religion.

As humans we tend to think that how we parent our children is the best and most correct way. True and untrue when you really put it into perspective. We know our children best, who could raise them better? But the reasoning on why we think we are truly doing it better than our parents is plain bullshit.

There are cycles we should definitely break as the generations continue and change (not necessarily improve always). Slapping and choosing your switch isn’t done anymore as that is known as child abuse. But our grandparents would swear by it. Other parents knock using the time out system, but in some cases with my parenting–it works.

I had a run in with my mother the other day about religion and it really got to me that she just could not see my point. Then I had a very pensive attitude about the entire conversation on repeat in my head on the way to New York a few days ago and came to one of those “ah-ha” moments.

Let me step back into the story a bit and go over this with you, so you can gain a clearer picture of the events that occurred just last weekend.

Mom: I think you’re straying away from Christianity. (meanwhile she has no idea I am a practicing Buddhist–I’ve tried to steer clear from this conversation because I am attempting to create more healthy boundaries with my mother)

Me: No, I found myself.

Mom: I don’t understand what I did wrong. You don’t love God anymore.

Me: I don’t understand what that means. How so?

Mom: You don’t attend church. It’s so important for you to raise your son with God. I was a teacher for 38 years. Children who were religious were such good students. Children who had no religion had no conscience and were terrible.

Me: Don’t you think that has everything to do with bad parenting, not with the fact of whether or not they were raised in church?

Mom: (silent)

Me: Just because I don’t attend church every Sunday doesn’t make me less of a good person. Take this for example, many Christians I know attend church every Sunday and have miserable lives where all they do is judge everyone who doesn’t share their same ideas. To me, that’s not “Christ-like” whatsoever. It’s small-mindedness. I don’t need to prove my love for God by stepping into a sanctuary and paying tithes every month. I’m quite content knowing that what I am doing in my heart and loving the way I should love makes me a good person.

Dad: So let me ask you this.. If your son died, where would you want him to go? Can you answer that? (becoming more defensive)

Me: Are you saying that I should say Heaven?

Dad: It’s just a question. If you don’t believe in our religion anymore, where is your son going to go if he dies?

Me: So basically what you’re saying is that you want me to raise my son in your religion so that YOU can feel better about yourself in the long run? So that believing that there is a heaven we all go to after we die will make you sleep better at night? Are you trying to manipulate me?

Mom: Raising your son in church is the best thing you can do. I don’t know where I went wrong. You used to preach when you were a little girl. You loved God.

Me: And I still do. But God is different to me. He is not some man in the sky anymore who I will fear. He doesn’t judge me. To me, my Higher Power is the universe. Everyone has God inside of them. God is in all of the energy we have. It’s humility. I know I’m not the biggest thing out there. But I also need logic. A man in the sky who waves a wand around and created everything is not faith. That’s just a replacement for our human answers unable to give us a solution. So in turn we rely on faith-based organized religion. And in the long run, it destroys our society in so many ways. It also creates biases. It creates judgements. It creates wars. It creates hate. It creates hypocrisy. It creates ignorance. We are using religion as a means to allow us to live blindly without investigation. That’s not what I want to do with my time. I hated walking into a church every Sunday being forced to listen to some man who was just as fallible as me telling me how to live my life according to a book created by people who wanted to use church to control society at that time.

Mom: Every verse in the Bible means something. It’s there for a reason. God wrote it.

Me: Men wrote it. Men just as imperfect as us.

Mom: God wrote it. How can you say that?

Me: Because it’s the truth. You can’t even argue with that. Yes, it was inspired by God. Jesus wasn’t Christian. Buddha wasn’t Buddhist. Religion is created by followers, not leaders, who need something to rely on. Instead of being religious, Mom. I’m spiritual. I go by my own journey, not the stories of others. Theirs are inspiring, but not mine.

Mom: So you think all of the stories are false?

Me: I think the meanings behind the stories are what makes the Bible good and those meanings get lost because people are so wrapped up in over-analyzing it. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. There most likely wasn’t a piece of fruit, it was probably greed or sex.. it was symbolic. Evolution created men over time, not seven exact days.

Dad: What do you think the Bible is then?

Me: The message of Jesus was love. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. You will suffer. When Jesus was on earth the Pharisees condemned him, people disliked him, he was crucified. That is a sign of what humans constantly do. They praise, they destroy, they forget, and continue the cycle. I can’t do that. Jesus’ life is very important to me. Do I think he was the son of God? In a way, we all are. But he taught so much to us. He maintained relationships with people who were outcasts and asked many questions. He was inquisitive. He spoke his mind. His actions were his message. Everything he did was also culturally relevant to his time period. I will not follow his actions and words verbatim, but I understand the message he was trying to send. Similar to Buddha’s message. And I seek enlightenment. I seek a shift in my inner soul and inner being. I’m not worried about what everyone else is doing. For you, it works to attend church every Sunday. But for me, most of those people think that my sister/your daughter’s being homosexual will condemn her to eternal damnation. That’s ignorance! I refuse to associate myself with that sort of thinking. I wasn’t put on earth to judge. I’m just living my life. As freely as possible. I pray all of the time. I absolutely love my life so much more now with a clearer mind. I know I’m not alone. I will not raise my son in that environment, one on the surface that seems peaceful and loving but really is full of judgment and cruelty. I will break that cycle and I hope you can respect that.

Was I wrong? Most likely, the fact that I am open about my forward-thinking probably crushes my mother. And I understand that. But I have suffered enough in my life to belong to something where I don’t have to. I am old enough to choose which beliefs I would like to continue to have. I will not allow a religion to control who I am. It was freeing to say those things because once I said it, I knew I had forever made up my mind. And damn, it felt good.

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