Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I Make My Kids Go to Church

Why I Make My Kids Go To Church  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

If you visit a Mormon service on Sunday, the first thing you'll probably notice is the mid-level roar of all the child noise going on in the pews.

Children and families are a central part of our beliefs, which you can see (and especially hear) on Sundays at church. We don't have the kids leave for a separate "children's sermon" or spend the hour playing in a nursery. We all sit as families in church, together.

Some days I don't hear much of what's said or I join the unofficial "parents' club" in the foyer because my kids are being rowdy, but I'd never dream of not attending church as a family.

I take my kids to church because out of all the things I want them to know, this is the most important. It's okay if you disagree, but I think it has the greatest potential for lasting happiness of anything I could teach them.

More and more, studies are showing that young families are disappearing from American churches at large, and that children and teens aren't participating in religious life.

Most perplexing of all to me, I've heard parents say that they don't want to "make" their kids attend church or "force" their beliefs on them.

When I hear those arguments, I think, but isn't that part of my job as a parent?

I "force" beliefs on my kids all the time when I think something is truly important: you need to go to school, you need to wear a seat belt, you need to help out with household chores, you need to get immunizations, you need to brush your teeth.

If my kids were capable of always choosing what was best for them, it'd be one thing. But they're kids  especially when they're little, they choose what's fun and immediately rewarding.

Not necessarily what's best in the long run, and that's where Mom and Dad (the old killjoys) come in, making them eat their vegetables and do their homework and go to bed at a decent hour. And, in our house, get up and dressed for church on Sunday morning.

I understand not wanting to brainwash a child, but I worry that in the name of letting their kids choose, well-intentioned parents out there are really giving their kids no choice at all. 

Taking my daughter to a restaurant and saying, "You can order whatever you want" without giving her any clue as to what's on the menu, or even whether we're in a steakhouse or a Chinese buffet, isn't giving her very much of a choice.

Flying my family to Europe and saying to my son as the plane lands, "The choice is yours  what are we doing on this trip?" isn't going to work out. If he wants to choose what to see, he first needs to know what there is to see. And even then, he'll need a parent to help him work out all the logistics. He simply doesn't have the life experience to do what I'd be asking him to do.

If kids could hardly be expected to order dinner or plan a trip all on their own, how are they supposed to develop a worldview from scratch without parental guidance?

That's why I think parents have a moral obligation to teach their children whatever belief system they think is right. Of course kids can tweak the framework they're given as they get older according to their emerging values (I ended up in a different church than my parents,) but they need to start with something.

Years ago, I wrote an article called "Entertaining Young Children at Church" for an online magazine. I received a comment from one person who said that when a little kid doesn't like church, the parents shouldn't push him but just take turns staying home with him until he's older.

Well, aside from the fact that I'd much rather be at church than home watching Calliou every other Sunday, I thought that comment was pretty short-sighted.

Sure, I could do that.

I could also let my kids who dislike brushing their teeth wait until they're older, but it's not like the habit will get easier to establish later on, and I think it's too important to wait, anyway. So I'll enforce it now, even on days when they don't particularly want to do it.

Maybe my younger kids would rather stay home playing than attend church, but that doesn't mean they should. The benefit of church isn't in just the one church service, but in the entire pattern of gospel learning and living that it's a part of.

They won't see that until they're older, and I'm alright with that. While they're still young, part of my job is to supply them with the long-term vision they aren't quite mature enough to grasp yet. 

One day, they'll have the maturity and life experience they were lacking when I made so many of their daily decisions for them, including whether to go to church.

When that day comes, I hope they continue to choose the path I've set them on, but sure enough they'll choose for themselves. And I won't regret for one minute the years I spent "making" them come to church with me.


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101 comments:

  1. I agree completely with what you have said. My job as a parent is to provide the framework my children grow up in so they can make those decisions for themselves later on. Well said, my friend. :)
    MommyCrusader.com

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  2. I love the way you put this. It was definitely
    the choice I made as a mother. Butt I don't think I could have been as eloquent explaining why.

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  3. Yes....I'm glad we haven't had any battles with church attendance yet. You put this well. My uncle gave my cousins a choice. It didn't turn out very well for a couple of them. One is back thank goodness but the other still has no interest as far as I know. My kids have their agency when they leave my house for good. Until then they are my responsibility so they will do what is important. Hopefully with a smile on their faces because that's what I have on mine. :)

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    1. I asked my older children what they'd say if I told them they didn't have to go to church this week while I was writing this article The 10-year-old said, "Well, I'd still go because I like church." And the 8-year-old said, "I think I'd feel bad if I didn't go."

      Battles with church attendance may be coming later down the road or with one of the other kids, but right now our biggest problem is just showing up on time with every child wearing a pair of shoes!

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  4. Beautiful! I was just discussing with my husband how it was time to find a church family in our new hometown. Moving with a newborn got me all flustered. But it's TIME and I love love love your points here. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. That's awesome, best of luck to you in your search! If you think you can handle the noisy baby-friendliness, you could find the closest Mormon congregation and their meeting times at
      http://www.mormon.org/meetinghouse

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  5. My parents always made us go to church, we also loved it though! My husband and I are doing the same with our little one. :)

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  6. Agree! When I was growing up my Catholic friends said they went to church because their parents said if they didn't they would go to hell. Also a good reason :)

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    1. Well, they say different kids are motivated by different things...

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    2. I like what you said about providing a framework for their life. I think what you mean is it becomes such a pattern of our life that for them it is not even a question as to weather they will go. They don't know it is an option to opt out of the family tradition. And one point there are very bad consequences of not brushing your teeth ie cavities. I don't want my kids getting cavities in life real or figurative.

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    3. Anonymous, you wrote, "I think what you mean is it becomes such a pattern of our life that for them it is not even a question as to weather they will go. They don't know it is an option to opt out of the family tradition." I don't think that's what she meant at all. I think she meant that she teaches her children what she thinks is most important in life, and the love for Deity and system of moral values and conduct that she's found in her religion is of that importance. I grew up in an LDS home, but my parents didn't. They converted to the church when I was a baby. After fulfilling their parental responsibility to give us a solid moral foundation by requiring us go to church until we were of age, they have allowed me and each of my 7 younger siblings to figure out what we believe as adults who now have widely varied worldviews. Several of us left the church and returned after deciding there wasn't anything else that made as much sense to us nor gave us as much peace and joy. Others of us left and found something that works better for them. My parents love us all equally and feel that their main goal has been accomplished; we are all responsible, productive members of society with strong moral underpinnings for the choices we make. I really believe that this is what the author of this piece is hoping for for her own children, not that they will go to church as adults because they don't even know they can opt out of the family church tradition.

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    4. Very well said. Thank you.

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  7. Great post and well said. You're right. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about church, brushing teeth, eating vegetables...... kids need direction, structure, and guidance so they can make good choices later in life. If you have children, it is your obligation. If you disagree, I'll I can say is.....good luck.

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  8. Wonderful post.

    Sometimes my children sit in the main service in church but usually they go to the children's ministry. I believe my children need to see my faith in all areas and especially in worship. They also need to see me praying and reading scripture.

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    xoxo

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  9. Great post! I agree. It is important for kids to see their parents worshiping the Lord!
    Thanks for sharing on my Friday Favorites linkup!

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  10. Very well written and thought out post, I can appreciate this point of view. Your children are not my children so who am I to say you're wrong... and if your faith is a huge part of your life it's certainly not going to hurt them to go to church :) I think people just need to focus on their own family unit and stop trying to put down the way others parent.

    With that being said I choose not to take my child to church for reasons I will not dive into because they are very personal... I choose to focus on kindness and lead by example, after all I think it is most important :)

    Thanks for sharing on the Saturday Spotlight

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    1. Thanks for adding your voice to the mix!

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  11. As a director of Christian Ed... this is spot on!! Thank you for sharing at the Sitsgirls link up!

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  12. This was a great post! We go to church as a family every Sunday too. Regarding the comment "when a little kid doesn't like church, the parents shouldn't push him but just take turns staying home with him until he's older".....ummmm who is running that household, the kid or the parents? So what happens when the family goes to the movies or out to eat and the kid doesnt like it, is the family supposed to take turns then? I see going to church no different. Visiting from Turn It Up Tuesday.

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    1. I didn't think of that before, but now that you mention it I can remember plenty of fun family outings where we had to drag along an unwilling child. Why anyone would cry about getting ice cream, I don't know, but it happens.

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  13. Very good article! I totally agree. Besides, In Deuteronomy 11, we are told this: 18 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors.

    Enjoyed the post!!

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    1. I never went to church and I still turned out just fine. My parents taught me morals without dragging me to church...I think it really should be up to the child if they want to go or not, they should NOT have church forced upon them just because it is good for them and the right thing to do! There are millions who don't go to church anmed are fine people, just like people people who go to church...

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    2. If you can say your parents taught you solid morals growing up then it sounds like they did give you some kind of a compass/worldview, and this article was about why I think it's important to do that. I think it's sad if parents completely abdicate that responsibility when their kids need guidance.

      I personally would have a hard time teaching morality if I couldn't justify it with an appeal to an absolute morality in the universe, which is one of the many reasons I like having my kids beside me in the pews.

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  14. Satan wanted to force people to go to church as well.

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    1. Actually, I don't think so.

      You seem to be referring to the LDS (Mormon) doctrine that Lucifer was cast out of heaven for wanting to destroy humankind's agency. However, he wanted to do that by saving men "in" their sins, rather than having them look to Christ to be saved "from" their sins - effectively forcing everyone to heaven, rather than letting them choose whether to be saved by accepting Christ.

      If you're interested in that particular point of Mormon doctrine, here's a thoughtful article
      from the BYU Religious Studies Center:
      http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-11-number-1-2010/war-heaven-and-satan-s-continuing-battle-power

      There's also a book on the topic called "Satan's War on Agency" by Greg Wright that is supposed to be pretty good as well, but I haven't read it.

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    2. Force involves anger fighting and contention she is talking about setting an example and a pattern that binds the family together.


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  15. I appreciate this thoughtful article, and your intentions are obviously constructive and loving. My experience with the LDS church and with equally loving parents, though, is that when a person's "agency" eventually conflicts with the authority and dogma of the church, it clamps down on the individual with the brainwashing, soul-destroying force of a cult. A lot of recovered, happy, well-adjusted ex-mormons I know insist that the only word to describe Mormonism is with this word: "cult." How willing are you to let your children challenge your values at some point as they mature and experience the world through their own eyes? They start with your values, which is fine and again, constructive, but can they define their own some day without being emotionally manipulated or ostracized?

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    1. I think that's a criticism of individual parenting style more than anything.

      I personally know a handful of Mormon parents who have adult children that decided not to be Mormon anymore - of course they're sad about that decision, but they still have good relationships with those kids and love them more than anything. I imagine I would feel the same if I were in their position.

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    2. I can see your reluctance to pin anything on Mormon teachings and traditions, and that's not surprising—this is part of the cult-like atmosphere the Mormon leaders foster, in which the faithful aren't allowed to openly criticize them. So the problem always boils down to individuals: the ones who "doubt," the oddballs, apostates, sinners, and the rest. In this case

      I don't think the problem here is with an "individual parenting style," as you suggest. Mormon parents all too often force their beliefs on their children (well past "childhood") as a result of ideology and groupthink, because the church indoctrinates parents into believing that there's only one route to being together as a family forever. There's also the significant factor of social standing, which is pretty powerful in Mormon culture, which causes true believers to be ashamed in their tightly-knit social circles if their children turn "apostate."

      I was raised in this "church," by the way, and many friends and family members are still in it. They're wonderful people in many ways—loving, kind, and giving. Yet they seem frightened when they catch a glimpse of the pluralism of the many belief systems in the world. I haven't yet met a single Mormon parent who freely allowed (or encouraged) his or her children to attend Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other Christian churches, as well as receive training in Buddhist meditation, all as steps along the way to making an informed choice about what to believe. Why is that? How certain are Mormons that their "truth" will hold up among all of the religions in the world? Why not allow each individual to find it himself? (Like a certain young man in upstate New York did in the early 1800s . . .)

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    3. Hopefully, by the way, my tone isn't too harsh. I realize that the word "cult" is pretty charged, and my intention isn't to try to offend you or anyone else. The way I describe the church now is a result of being on the outside of it, and having completed questionnaires (such as http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm) that indicate I was a member of a cult without knowing it at the time. I respect that you're responding to the criticism your post has elicited.

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    4. According to the questionnaire you referenced, the only cult I've ever had first-hand experience with is when Phillip sold Cutco for a summer in college.

      Your experience in Mormonism may have been different, but I couldn't have checked all these boxes according to my experience in Mormonism.

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    5. Almost all of the criteria were applicable to my experience with the church. But perhaps there are incompatible perspectives at work here—not only with different backgrounds/experiences, but also the different perspectives that result from either being on the inside or the outside of this belief system. Things look very different on either side of this divide!

      To go back to part of my earlier question, have you ever met a fellow Mormon parent who has allowed or encouraged his or her children to explore other faiths in a serious way?

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    6. Hi Anon1: In answer to your question, I was raised Mormon and have several fond memories of attending Black Baptist churches, Latino evangelical churches, Lutheran services, Catholic Midnight Mass, etc. We also attended the LDS services regularly. As a kid I probably would have felt more comfortable sticking to what I knew, but my parents proactively gave me opportunities to worship with people from other faiths. I treasure that, and I also treasure my LDS upbringing. I think if I had wanted to more seriously explore one of those faiths at that time, they would have supported me in that.

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    7. Judging from snippets of overheard conversations, I think my kids are actually more educated about world religions than their peers.

      During summers I do a "trip around the world" homeschooley type thing with my kids to keep their brains from atrophying, and we check out half the 200 section learning about the dominant religion(s) of the countries we talk about.

      My 8-year-old's best friend is Jewish, and the whole family is going to the Purim spiel at the friend's synagogue in March. I've been active on the interfaith council in our town in the past (collaborating for service projects and a Christmas concert.) On Christmas Eve we went to a candlelit service at a Lutheran church and the kids liked it so much we'll probably make a tradition out of it. I'm not opposed to participating in other churches, especially if it doesn't conflict schedule-wise with attending my own.

      I'm not actively encouraging my kids to seek truth elsewhere because I think we've already found it, and that Mormonism is the right place for my family. But I don't think I would be completely inflexible or forbid them to explore other religions if they had a good reason to want to do so.

      We have open discussions about our faith all the time, so if they were wanting to participate in another church then I'm sure we'd have open discussions about that, too.

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    8. Just thought I'd also contribute by saying I was raised in the lds church and have always been interested in other religions. My parents encouraged me to attend other churches and I did. There were other youth in my congregation who did the same.I've lived in and attended church in 8 different states and attended numerous lds wards. I admit, I don't relate to your stereotypes. There is so much good in this world, I will encourage my children to explore other religions and cultures as well. If they're going to make covenants with God, I want them to on their own solid testimony, not mine. I choose to take my children to church every Sunday because I believe the gospel. It brings me happiness and teaches beautiful doctrine and values. To me, there is no harm in that. I'm sorry you feel you were part of a cult but don't assume that we all feel like mindless sheep who are unwilling or unable to express our doubts or question our faith.

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    9. My Mom joined the LDS church when I was a young child. She did not remain very active as I grew up, but I did as an early teen. I did go to church with my grandparents who were Baptist, with friends who were Lutheran, Community of Christ, Seventh Day Adventist, and other non denominational congregations as well. While my mother completely believed in the LDS doctrine even though she wasn't active all the time, she encouraged my brothers and I to seek the truth out for ourselves. I did. I read the Bible fully, read teachings from other churches, did research on my own, and always came back to the fact that I truly believe that the LDS church was the true church for me and my family. My brother goes back and forth between LDS and Christian Scientist or Baptist, wherever he feels comfortable. My Mom supports him in it. I believe your personal experience is clouding your view of others of the faith and using it as an opportunity to bring discourse to a post that was originally intended to share her beliefs, and not anyone elses.

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    10. In response to the comment by one of the anonymouses that Mormons get scared if they catch a glimpse of pluralism, I am a Mormon (convert) and regularly go to other churches (well, twice a year, on conference Sunday) but when I invite the people I meet there to attend church with me they are invariably aghast and horrified at the prospect, and always refuse.

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    11. I was always encouraged to seek personal experience with other faiths if I had a question about it. The only rule my folks had was come to church with us on Sunday or do 3 hours of community service. If we had selected another faith to be active in that would have counted as our Sunday church attendance. I also attended other faiths youth groups rather than my LDS one through most of my YW years (12-18). My parents were more concerned that I learned and sought goodness and learned to give something of myself back to my community than they were a specific religion. Granted, they were pleased when I chose to remain a member of the same faith community that they belonged to.

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    12. I was raised in the LDS church. My ancestors came across the plains as pioneers. I attended church with my friends when I was younger. I attended the Jehovah's Witness church, as well as a Catholic church. If that first anonymous person can answer all of those questions in the affirmative, then I'm going to have to say that there must have been some strange teachings in their home. That would most definitely be a parental issue. There are fanatics in every religion. The LDS church teaches the tithe, which is by definition 10%. After that, people can give fast offerings for the poor. Those are the only two required donations, and I don't find them much different than any of my friends of other religions. I have an "apostate" brother, and from what I notice, he is very bitter and full of hate, to the extent that he can barely come to Utah, which I find amusing. No one from our family even discusses religion with him, but it is all he can talk about. He assumes that we all spend our time sitting around talking about him and his family. I think to myself, "Dude, move on. If you are so happy, why do you have to try to make everyone else so miserable?" He told his gay son how we would all judge him and then was mad when we didn't turn against our niece that married her girlfriend. It must be sad to view and judge the whole world through the viewpoint of some people. If you don't believe Christ is the Savior, okay, and if you do, let Him do the judging.

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    13. The truth: When people want to sin, they have to kill God and undermine any opposition to their behavior. Any excuse they can find to discard the truth and embrace a more accommodating fiction will be exercised, as they will then be free to go out and commit their follies, having convinced themselves through their lies and rationalization that they are safe to do so, while simultaneously adopting a superior and self-righteous tone which acts to protect them from any reminder of what is right as they are desperately opposed to any voice that would stir up any guilt within themselves for they abhorrent choices they've made.

      This is a formula demonstrated without variation across every case of atheism.

      Regardless of what anyone says - the truth is the truth, and lies, misinformation, rationalization and spin cannot tarnish truth.

      One day you confront the consequences of your choices and deep down, a part of you knows you'll have to admit that you knew your lies wouldn't stand up to closer scrutiny - they were a vehicle that took you where you wanted to go and did a lot of damage to others in the process.

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  16. Totally agree with ^^

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  17. When is a child, not a child? At what age do you think a persons free agency kicks in entirely? Will you force a 16 year old child to attend church if they refuse to? What about a 14 year old? A 12 year old?

    What is the age cut off?

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    1. I think this comes down to knowing the child and there own struggles. If my son came to me at eleven and said he didn't want to go to church, we would have a long discussion about why he felt that way. There may be some unresolved social problems or questions he has about his faith. I would talk with him, and challenge him to pray and find his own answers as to what he should do. If he returned from that challenge and said that staying home would be the best for him, then I would be saddened, but I would not force him to come. His family would go to church without him, and hopefully our example and love for him and the respect of his choice would be enough. The reason I say eleven if that is youngest age I would feel comfortable leaving a child home alone.

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  18. I have a question about this part of your article, "If he wants to choose what to see, he first needs to know what there is to see. And even then, he'll need a parent to help him work out all the logistics." You say he needs experience to know what to choose, but if he is shown only one experience, how is that any more of a choice? If you fully believe that statement, then you need to be teaching your children about different religious perspectives such as mainstream Christianity, islam, hinduism, buddhism, atheism, agnosticism, the list goes on. If you are truly into giving your child a choice, you need to consider actually giving them options.

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    1. It may not have been completely clear, but I said that referring to parents who don't pass on any religion to their children in the name of letting them choose. I think it's best for parents to transmit their own belief systems to their kids, but if not, I think the next most responsible thing is to do exactly what you said and show them all the different choices out there. (Ironically, that would also be parent-driven, because little kids would only know to ask about things their parents had taught them.)

      As for me, that's not what I'm doing because my primary objective at this point isn't letting my young children choose, it's teaching them what I believe to be right and then letting them make an informed decision when they have the maturity to do it.

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    2. Ok, but at what age do you think a child is mature enough to make a commitment or choose a church? Do you really think 8 is when a child has the full capacity to understand the depth of the decision they're making? I would think that whatever age you let them make that choice would also be the age you would expect them to be able to experience other belief systems and make that decision, but it seems that, instead, there's a double standard at work ("you're capable of deciding that what I tell you is true is correct, but not making that decision based on your own experience").

      And, again, how are you fostering their ability to make an informed decision when it seems you're actively pushing them towards only one type of experience? I don't think most people, when actually trying to be balanced, strongly push only one perspective, and give a mild effort -- at best -- to presenting other perspectives.

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    3. My brother was not sure if he wanted to be baptized at eight. He told my parents so. My mom was totally cool about it. She said getting baptized was his choice. He said he wanted to make sure it was the right thing for him. She asked if he would like to take lessons from the missionaries. He said he did. The missionaries came over and taught my brother the gospel, encouraging him to pray and find his own answers. It took him a few months to fully decide, but eventually he came to my mom and said that he did want to be baptized. My mom didn't force anything. She ASKED what he wanted, and gave suggestions when she could, but my brother will; not be forced into anything-- that's just how his personality is. So yes, 8 year olds, when they are given the opportunity, are very capable of knowing their own minds. I plan to prepare my own kids for the choice of baptism by explaining what it means and allowing them to choose for themselves.

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    4. While we could go on all day exchanging stories of how people were prodded towards baptism and how countless others experience the exact opposite situation, I'm sure you can appreciate the fact that your brother (and your mother's reaction for that matter) are both in the minority when it comes to this topic. Further, your example illustrates what almost all mormon parents do, to some extent or another. While your mom took a seemingly "hands-off" approach, even she did not foster your brother's ability to make an informed decision, furthering my original point. How many other church's "missionaries" did you mother also have teach your brother during this time? How many services other than mormon did she let him attend so he can also see how others worship? How many discussions regarding various faiths and the merits of their belief system took place? Surely you can see that when you prod a child, however softly, towards one decision, the options for them increasingly become either make that choice or go against what your parents and their friends are encouraging you to do. In that hindsight, what choice do you really think your brother even had? While I applaud your brother's ability to question at a young age, your mother clearly knew that you don't have to be heavy-handed to stifle dissent.

      All that said, children younger than 8 are capable of "knowing their own minds." I can ask a 4 year old (half that age) if they want a banana or an apple. That doesn't mean they understand why they should pick one over the other. Similarly, them being able to make simple decisions doesn't mean they are capable of understanding the nuances of religion, the level of commitment that will be required of them, the rites they must partake of and their meaning, why others believe differently, and so on. And they're certainly going to have little capacity to understand the merits of various belief systems. I would argue a much better approach would be not to encourage them to commit so early, but at a time when they're not only ready, but capable. If they can give detailed and sound reasoning as to why they prefer one religion over others, then that would signal they're capable. It seems simple, right? Instead all we hear is double-talk that we'll "let our children make informed choices" but do little to nothing to actually give them a foundation for doing that.

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  19. I was one of those children who was forced to go to Church every Sunday. My parents had a very similar stance. But when I was 13 and started to doubt my faith, instead of allowing me to "choose what to see" I was forced to continue going against my well. When my parents discovered me studying different religions, I was yelled at and told "No we are Mormon. Nothing else." So while I respect your opinion, I dont agree. And I think you are misinformed about parents who want their children to be able to choose. My sister who decided to raise her children that way has taken her children to Lds services, Catholic services, they've celebrated Chanukah as well as Christmas. She's even taught them about Buddhism. So yes, she has opened their eyes to a world of beliefs and religions. Her husband is even atheist and has no problem with this. Because although the Lds church claims they believe in free agency, they don't. As a woman who was told by her bishop, struggling at the age of 15 to figure out who she was, that if I didn't follow the covenants I made when I was only 8, I was going to go to hell, i support not forcing your children to go to church.

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    1. I find that hard to believe as Mormons don't believe in a hell, as the rest of the world does.

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  20. Teaching them to brush their teeth and wear seat belts is completely different from forcing your religion upon them, one side directly benefits their health and the other teaches them a lifestyle that will determine the outcome of most things that happen in their life whether that be good or bad. That doesn't mean it's bad to take them to church and teach them about it but it is definitely bad if you don't teach them about other religions and beliefs without looking down on them. Growing up in the church I definitely learned that most people don't give children a choice other than being mormon because that's all they teach them and if you think you're right by teaching them and making them the person you think is right then you're just trying to mold them into the person you want and that's only okay as long as you're teaching them good morals and values but once you make the church a part of it it's wrong. I can guarantee that the fact you take them to church every Sunday makes it seem like a normal thing in life so when they are able to think for themselves (which definitely isn't 8, if you think a child can discern between right and wrong at 8 other than on a basic level you need to rethink some things) they feel like they'll be an outcast or looked down on for not following that lifestyle you forced them into from a very young age and have told them it is the only true thing and blah blah blah. All I ask is that at the very least please make your children aware that it is okay to not believe in the church and decide to leave it if they ever do, don't look down on people that aren't in the church like you pity them for not having the "one true gospel" because that will make them feel bad and not want to tell you if they ever decide to leave it. If you want them to be honest and open about it then you need to not force such strong beliefs that are again nowhere similar to brushing your teeth. So again I just ask that you please don't decide that something like the LDS church is best for them when you have no idea, definitely teach them all you want about it and instill in them good morals but also teach them about other beliefs with just as much earnest and above all make them feel comfortable not believing in the church because if you aren't telling them that more than the amount of times you force them to do church related activities you are only making their very easily influenced minds think that it's wrong to not be a part of the church.

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    1. My comment above 2/22 at 11:45 address some of this.

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    2. But not all of it... like the easily influenced minds part? And the ramifications of feeling like an outcast? Still, I'm not here to tell you how to raise your children. Raise your children how you want, because they are yours. However, you should continue learning and practice opening your own mind, because eventually they will be the ones teaching you...and maybe what you believe now might change in the future, even though your present self couldn't fathom it.

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    3. Brenda, perhaps I can best explain how brushing teeth is likened to the gospel: I have a two year old son, and my wife and I have to brush his teeth every night; because he cannot fully brush on his own, we must do it for him. The teeth represent his soul, the plaque represent sin/Satan, the brush represents the Holly Ghost, and the toothpaste represents the gospel. We must brush away sin, but it can only be effective with the toothpaste (the gospel). Sure mouthwash is great (Catholicism), but I'm going to keep the bottle of Scope hidden under the sink, because my two year old son should not be subjected to such dangers.

      Would you like me to explain to you how forcing my beliefs onto my child is like wearing a seatbelt? I can do this all day.

      I would like to note to the author, that a better example of forcing your kids to believe everything you do, would be football! By forcing your kid to like a certain team (make sure they're real young and look up to you, as to more easily ensure that they only like your team), It more accurately reflects an opinion that can't be backed by science and data.

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  21. Great post that exactly reflects my own feelings. My wife has argued more for letting them choose and I would not say we have been forcing my kids by any means. Unfortunately, it has become all too easy for our 16 year old and 18 year old to stay home from church. The consistent structure, I would say from our experience is imperative.

    Regarding your comments about many youth falling away from religion, I found these blogs discussing moralistic therapeutic deism very interesting: http://bencrowder.net/blog/2015/01/moralistic-therapeutic-deism/

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    1. Thanks for the link - I'm putting the Soul Searching book on hold at the library right now. I think I remember hearing one of the quotes in the car on NPR around the time the book came out and thinking "I should read that." Then we probably missed our turn and the baby spit up on his sister's book and she started freaking out, and I promptly forgot all about it.

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    2. 18 is a legal adult, where I'm from. Whatever belief system you might have, that 18 year old has every right to question where his beliefs might lie. If your kid has grown into a person who is compassionate, well-adjusted and able to think critically about the world around them, I think you should be proud of them, not sad.

      Encourage them to see the good in what religion has to offer, but don't be sad for them because they don't feel the same way that you do. I have seen too many youths become bitter and unhappy with their families because all they're ever told is about how sad it is that they don't go to church, or how unhappy that their lack of faith makes their families. That's not fair to them. They don't deserve to have every interaction with you be about pity and sadness, and you don't deserve that unhappiness either.

      If the strength of a family is something you value, then respect their ability to think for themselves. If you raised them right, they'll respect yours, too.

      Keep this in mind as your 16 year old gets older. Being a teenager has a lot to do with finding out who you are and who you want to be.

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  22. I agree! Thanks for the blog post!

    Side note, where is that picture taken? My husband and I were thinking it looks like inside the Paris Tabernacle in Paris, Idaho.

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    1. I got the image from the LDS Media Library. It's probably the best-kept secret on LDS.org. There are tons of high-quality images on all different gospel topics that are free to use. Unfortunately it doesn't say where this one was taken, so I'm not really sure.

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    2. Cool. I'll definitely look into that resource!

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    3. It looks like the Fourth & Tenth Wards Historic Building, located at 420 South 800 East in Salt Lake. Or maybe it's just a common chapel layout for older buildings.

      Great article, btw.

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  23. For anonymous
    You say these parents are not giving their children a choice, but I pose the same question to you. What will you do if your child comes to you and wants to join the LDS faith. Will you support their choice, or force your own views and opinions on them and not let them join? Will you tell them they are to young to choose, will you criticize their choice? As you claim these parents are doing.
    I grew up in an LDS home where my parents accepted and supported friends from other religions. I was encouraged to attend other churches with friends and support them in their church activities. It is something I still do, and it has made my testimony stronger. I am where I want to be and believe as I want to. I am a happy non doubting member of the LDS faith, and I have family members who are not. Thankfully we can all be around each other and support each others choices for we all know that our family relationship is most important.

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    1. On behalf of anonymous, honestly, non-affiliated/agnostics/atheists don't care if someone participates in a religion. The support will come in the form of no resistance, but probably not a cheerleader on the sidelines. But it's also less likely for children who grow up secular to pick up on a religion. Organized religions are having a hell of a time with PR right now, so I think that's why the none movement is growing faster than any religion is today.

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  24. I love live love this article! I feel as though some of the comments have gotten off subject or out of perspecrive. I don't feel this article was in any way promoting or opposing the Mormon religion. I was raised LDS and church as a family wasn't an option and I have absolutely no bad feelings and only fond memories of my time in church with my family. I am no longer active in the church but I have no I'll feelings towards it what so ever nor did I ever once feel like I was in a "cult" I agree 100% that my job as a soon to be parent is to instill values and set up a good foundation for my children and that will include going to church, whatever church that may be.

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    1. Thanks, Courtney - it's a good reminder that the topic of this article is taking your kids to church (any church,) so comments debating the content of any particular religion will be deleted as off-topic. I don't like to use the word hijacking, but... it's not cool.

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    2. I totally agree! If only the world could learn to work together and create a kinder world for our children to inherit...church is so so important in not only reaching about our God but also just good values and morals to live in this world :)

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  25. As a lifelong Mormon, I was "forced" to go to church as a teenager, and I resented not having the choice; however, even though I did not want to be forced to attend church, I knew that the doctrine was true. After I left home and got married, I took a couple of years off of attending church. My life was not better for it. I have six children, and my husband and I have been very careful not to make our children go to church, and yet they do. We teach by example. There are weeks when they "cough, cough" don't want to attend after they have been up late, but they are right back in the saddle the next week. We are down to one child left under the age of 18. All of my children are temple attending and take their families to church. No drugs, no teenage pregnancies, and happy marriages and families. We taught them correct principles and let them govern themselves, just as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught. I am so grateful to my parents for providing me the teachings I needed to have a happy life and a happy marriage. We have lots of love and laughter in our home.

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  26. Jenny- I just saw this posted on my friend's wall on facebook. She's a friend from Houston and would have no way of knowing you, and in reading the comments, it looks like you've struck a chord! Thanks for sharing your honest and thoughtful insights. I've been enjoying reading what you've been posting here and will be sharing this post.

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    1. Thanks for the share! I had no idea how many people would be passing this on via FB. I've been drooling on my keyboard a little over my blog analytics the past few days.

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  27. Good for you for standing your ground while answering criticism and hate speech with kindness. Everyone has a right to raise their children the way they choose and a stranger should certainly no critique you for the way your raise yours. No matter what your religion, good for you for trying to instill values and morals that will help your children rather than letting them go blindly through life. In the end, they will choose the path that they know is right for them and in the end, we love them anyway! Wonderful post, Jenny.

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  28. This post is not directed to anyone in particular; however, it seems appropriate to mention that in the Book of Mormon, in Moroni 10:4-5, we are told, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
    We always felt that God expects individuals to become informed and then ask Him. He will liberally tell us.
    We are blessed with 10 children (30 grandchildren to this date, another on the way). We have always taught our children that they do go to church (never forced...never any issue there). They were taught to be sure to read and know for themselves, because at some point, they could not borrow our testimonies any longer and must have their own personal assurance either way. Some took longer than others, but we knew that was the nature of each child's own personality. We provided a faithful framework and our children (6 girls, 4 boys) needed the comfort of direction until they thoughtfully came to their own decision. We just happily went together as a family, but never force (either physical or emotional).

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    1. By teaching them to go to church, and read your scriptures, you're not giving them the choice to choose no religious affiliation or other religions because of the strong promotion of your own. Why is it that people consider "none" a non-option? This is the case by teaching them that they "do" go to church... as a routine of life, I presume.

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  29. I tried posting earlier, but my comment was erased when I had to sign in, thanks to my browser, so I apologize for a double post if that happens.

    Children raised to be secular, without religion, are more tolerant, less judgemental, more empathetic/sympathetic, and have a better grasp on reality in comparison to their indoctrinated counterparts. Raising them in an environment without religion, but teaching good practices of staying healthy and being kind to others and following the laws generally set them on the right track. They're less likely to choose a religion if parents don't make it a point to participate in one; this may be the point you were trying to make with not showing the menu in a restaurant. But that's not a bad thing.

    However, maybe what you're doing "in the restaurant" by forcing them to go to church is you're only offering them the option to eat one item on the menu, and by omitting the rest you're denying them choice all the same.

    Essentially, I disagree, and believe you've not fully understood what people are talking about when it comes to what they mean by forcing beliefs on a child. You're not giving them life experiences to choose from. Instead you're leaving them ill-equipped to understand the world by limiting them to your beliefs...
    So if your child is gay, he/she will feel insecure by the beliefs you're promoting, feel unworthy of love.
    If you have a daughter, she will feel her only roll in life is to become a mother and a career is secondary (as I was taught in LDS Sunday school), and possibly miss out on some amazing potential participating in and improving the world.

    There is a HUGE difference between teaching a child proper hygiene and nutrition versus teaching them about your religion of choice. And sometimes it's best to not FORCE your belief system on them. Young people aren't falling away from church because of lack of family togetherness. It's because young people today are demanding values that churches do not promote to those they label as "outsiders:" tolerance, acceptance, empathy/sympathy, EQUALITY.

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  30. I feel as thought the negative criticism on this post is directed toward teaching our children a religion period. I was baptized LDS but was not taken to church unless I found someone other than my family to take me. I did not have the support of my family to keep me strong in the gospel and when I found it again in my early 20s it has been nothing but amazing and wonderful in my life and I am saddened by the fact that my mom didn't "force" me to attend church. The negative experiences of those who have posted to this article seem to be because they have come against judgmental people in the church...but that is not the whole of our organization, that's just human nature and as we are all human in the church you will meet those people, and unfortunately they tend to be the more vocal of the human race regardless of personal belief...we are taught tolerance and because we are human we do not always express it to others satisfaction. I truly believe in the doctrine of the church, and honestly I do not experience tolerance from OTHERS outside of it because of those beliefs. I am considered a horrible person because I believe in the sanctity of marriage, or strange because I wont drink coffee, tea or alcohol. The word FORCE is a strong word, but this is a powerful article and, correct me if I am wrong, but you are simply using the terminology of the world to describe why you take your children to church, and will continue to do so. My house, my rules! Right? I have a high tolerance for others beliefs and actions, but I do not have to teach my children that just because Grandpa drinks alcohol and doesn't go to church it is what they should do as well. But also teach them at the same time to not judge Grandpa and love him even though we don't do the same things he does. And we need to share and understand the beliefs of others so our children can be tolerant, but again, we do not need to agree to live harmoniously in this world. We shouldn't use absolutes to describe a community, especially the LDS community.

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    1. Correction in the last 2 sentences: ..."we do not need to agree with each other in order to live harmoniously in this world." Poorly worded :)

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    2. Most parents who require their kids go to church aren't "forcing" them. Many kids like church. Some kids put up a fuss because they'd rather sleep in or stay home to play, but overriding objections like that isn't forcing. What parent hasn't done that for school at least once or twice?

      That said, serious concerns like "I'm being bullied at church" or "I'm having issues with what's taught at church" would require talking and problem-solving rather than force.

      Some people won't see a major distinction between these 2 scenarios, but I do.

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    3. I agree completely! There is a level at which we must balance when we require our children to attend church. No matter what our opinion, there will always be those who take offense to it, or disagree, and often when they do so forcefully or rudely, it is because they really don't understand the meaning of what we are saying. Nor do they care for the explanation if we choose to give one. We are well rounded, intelligently thinking individuals, who believe in a very powerful, very controversial religion/gospel. It has brought our greatest joys, so we want that for our children. It is just as simple as "forcing" our children to eat their veggies, or "forcing" them to go to school, or any other moment we have to "force" our children to do something we believe is best for them. The gospel allowed me to find my husband, and as a result we have the beginning of what I hope is a large gaggle of children in our 4 month old daughter. I want her to have the joy I do, so I will most definitely be "forcing" her to go to church as long as she is still my responsibility.

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    4. And to assume that I wouldn't support my children if they choose to go a different way than what I have done, is wrong, and again, judgmental of an institution that promotes self discovery (with a hope that it will lead down the same path).

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  31. I understand that we open ourselves up to criticism when we post our beliefs publicly, but I also feel that while many are telling us as a whole to be less judgmental, they are making the judgement that we are that way. I hope I never come across that way to others, but no matter what we do, everything we could ever possibly say will at some level offend someone out there. Thanks for making your thoughts public and expressing yourself so well!

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  32. A true equivalence for promoting informed choices regarding church and religion would have a diligent and respectful parent taking their child to a synagogue one day a month, or a Madrasa, or a Hindu temple, Unitarian church or the most ungodly of things, a Sunday morning tucked up in bed followed by a relaxed breakfast lunch and a general potter about in the summer sun.

    Sorry to be that guy, but enforcing your religious beliefs do not hold equivalence to brushing your teeth, or choosing anything from a menu, or choosing a holiday destination; rather, it limits the world view and development of a child, and fosters blind conformance. Wouldn't it be so much better, more holy and more inspiring if a child had a free choice on religion and then chose to believe in the LDS church's teachings independently in adulthood? As a relaxed quaker, this is my approach to parenthood, as I wouldn't dare shackle my child to my particular world view through indoctrination for most likely their entire life!

    All the best, Pete

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  33. I agree with pete. I can came from a childhood of enforcement if you didn't go to church than no TV no phone no nothing. When I was 8 and ready to be babies (so I was told). I truly wasn't ready I just knew it was the right thing to do because " I was taught it was." This was going through my head at 8... "am I truly ready for this?" "Don't people have to sin before getting babtized, I'm only 8 what sins have I made?" "Shouldn't I wait till I'm older?" But what adult can I turn to if I went to my parents or leaders they would just say it's the right thing to do. I had no one to go to with those questions. Yes I know my savior but I that age I would of wanted an adult to explain it better to me like a missionary. Because of how I was forced with everyday life and church life. I chose to make mistakes in my life just to get away for just a moment. I could finally do what I wanted to do. I rebelled against my parents and young women leaders because it was I felt free and I could make my own choice for once. My point is if you force religion on them when they are teens they well rebel. Let them decide if they want to go or not if they don't you have options to doing church activities in your own home while they are young I'm sure they wouldn't mind watching a church movie once in awhile at home just let them choose it. Play pretend sacrament in your home. TEACH THEM! DON'T FORCE THEM! two differences here if you don't understand the difference than I feel quite bad for you. And good luck when they are teens. And you may ask me if I am still active in the LDS faith and my answer is this yes I am and, I am getting sealed to my awesome tattooed husband this year. :)And in September we will have our little one coming into this world and yes he of she well be blessed in the church but when they are eight will have a choice to get babtized or wait.

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  34. The nature of LDS belief structure requires support from parents to reinforce what at first are presented as choices, but later in life (after the temple recommend issues) become requirements. There are exceptions, but for the most part children who are not required to attend will not continue. We taught our children that they were free to join us at church in their teen years, but we never compelled attendance. We did teach them to make studied thoughtful decisions about worship. They returned our investment in their agency with our greatest gift, choosing in every instance devoted lives of public service and self-development outside of the LDS faith. This showed us the path out of the LDS church, in my instance back to Catholicism. It has been a wonderful transformation back to peace and understanding of God's purpose for us. Thank God for free agency and wise souls in young hearts!

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  35. I agree when we are talking about little kids, but as kids get to their late teens, they need to have a chance to practice making their own choices (and facing consequences)or once they get out in the 'Cold and Dreary World', they will get eaten alive with their new found freedom suddenly thrust upon them. Just sayin'....

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  36. We go to the Vatican II Catholic church, my kids go to a traditional Catholic church school, and they attend Bible school at my mom's Lutheran church every year. I want them to be exposed to other faiths and I tell them that as an adult they are free to make their own choices about religion, but as parents, we will make their choices for them until that time comes.
    I will take it a step further and by continuing the tooth brushing analogy. My children argue that tooth-brushing does not prevent cavities because somehow the worst tooth brusher at our house has never had a cavity and a few of the others have. I believe brushing teeth prevents cavities just as I believe in God. I am not letting my children explore the possibility that not brushing will keep cavities away, just as I am not letting them explore the possibility that there is not God.

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  37. Some of the excuses and reasons people don't take children to church are so ridiculous they are laughable. I wrote this post awhile ago you might like!http://www.momonthemove35.com/teaching-reading-vs-teaching-worship/

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. Make them? or let them?

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    -Kahlil Gibran

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  40. Now if the Utah mormon can act the way they pretend to act in church all throughout the week they might be able to set a better example to their children on how to treat other kids in their neighborhoods and schools. If you have ever spent any time in a Mormon church out side of the bubble you will know exactly what I'm speaking about!

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    1. That goes for every religion, not just Mormons. Please be careful not to generalize.

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  41. One thing I love about the Unitarian Universalists is that they actively teach their children about many different faith traditions and explicitly declare respect for each individual's spiritual path. If a parent wants to help their children make a well-informed decision, the UU church is a great option.

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  42. Ultimately the problem I see with "Forcing your beliefs" on your child is that it still doesn't qualify your beliefs as right. Whether or not you can establish your beliefs as correct is a discussion for another day, but this same logic of wanting your children to believe what you do could be extended to belief systems that are not only false, but also harmful. Many people grow up to be terrorists because their parents thought they were teaching the right set of beliefs on them when they made them go to the mosque and pray five times a day. People in America used to think it was "right" to burn witches. I'm sure we're all glad that at some point along the line kids decided not to believe when their parents taught them that. In India you can be killed for eating beef. Why does this belief stick around? Because parents keep teaching it to their kids while they are too young to think for themselves so it's propagated throughout generations. There are countless examples I could name where damage is done to both the child and society because an arrogant parent thought their child should grow up to believe exactly what they do, and then taught it to them wile they were too young to think for themselves. Ultimately there's nothing wrong with teaching your kids good practices but with topics such as religion and politics maybe we should give our kids space to explore whats out there and think things out for themselves. If a certain set of beliefs it true then there shouldn't be anything to worry about, as rational adults they will eventually come back to it on their own. But if a certain set of beliefs is false then wouldn't the child be better off exploring other options?

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    1. Exactly! I would have been so much better off if my parents hadn't forced me into Mormonism when I was young. Ultimately I got out, but I wasted 25 years of my life in which I would have been making better decisions that weren't based on lies. If parent's couldn't teach religion to their kids till they were adults then no religion (let alone Mormonism) would last more than a couple generations. Why? Because they are obviously wrong when you look at them with an outside perspective.

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  43. If a restaurant menu has only one item, cheeseburgers, can I really say I'm giving my kids choices? I'm sure there are many good reasons for making church a mandatory part of a child's life, but don't pretend you are giving them choices, if they only have access to one religion. I can let my kids select the color of their toothbrush, but they don't have much choice as to whether or not they brush their teeth. As they get older, I will monitor their oral hygiene less and they can become more responsible for those choices, and the consequences thereof.

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  44. I sense that the replies have degenerated into a "cry session" about having been "forced" to go to church. All of life is about choices. As a child my parents made choices for me that I liked , disliked, and was indifferent to, both church related and otherwise. It happened every day!!! Sometimes I felt "forced". As I grew older, and for the sake of this discussion, I'll say 18, I decided that I will chose what "I" believe, what I want to eat, when I will get up, where, if any place , I will go to church, etc., and so on. It would be easy to "hang" my parents with why they did or didn't do certain things for me, did or didn't let me choose certain things, and on and on. What I did learn from them was "we are not perfect, we do the best we can with the knowledge we have. You have to put on the big boy pants and be accountable for what you choose, as you get older in spite of us falling short." I believe the same is true here. I think the author of this article is trying to explain her side why she "makes her kids go to church". We may not like all of her supporting analogies or that she makes them go, but in the end, she is trying to "do the best she can with the knowledge she has". I respect that. Am I wrong for "Forcing" my kids to to manual labor outside as they grew up? Maybe, but I don't believe so. They cried and cried when we 1st started, and because we lived on such a small lot, we had to be creative. Instead of a weed eater, they got hand shears. They also got volunteered to help the neighbors constantly. Teaching kids to work covers a multitude of gaps in parenting, things you can't imagine until you go through it. Same is true with God - I'd never apologize for trying to teach what I believe. They have been taught how to think, if they don't believe how I do, I'd be be sad and would love them just the same. Giving them a moral compass is the most loving thing a parent can do, and yes most religions do that.

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  45. Your article makes no sense. The restaurant analogy is a non sequitur. You claim expanding world views, but I would posit that that would require taking them to many different religious sects and not just narrow mindedly taking them to the same church every week. Also, comparing essential healthy habits to an optional activity such as church attendance is a weak argument to anyone except for those who believe that church attendance is mandatory. if you really want to expand your world view along with your children you should try out all the different types of religions the world has to offer and compare and discuss your findings. i would say your kids have more choices available to them at a restaurant then they do at church. At least they can choose from the menu what they would like to eat. saying it isn't much of a choice makes absolutely no sense.

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    1. I see where you're coming from and maybe it wasn't completely clear from the way I worded things, but the point I was trying to make is that if you're not giving a child a worldview because of a desire to let them choose, that is akin to taking them to a restaurant and asking them what they want without giving them a menu. The nature of young children is that they only have the menu their parents give them, and not giving any kind of menu at all (large or small) is not helpful in allowing kids to choose for themselves.

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  46. AMEN!!! I can't imagine not having taken our children to church every week. It's what I did as a child as well, and I honor my parents for setting that foundation for me and taking us to church, even when we were on vacation. It was never a question whether we would go to church, and it wasn't with my own children, either. It's probably the single most important part of my life. Why should it not be for my kids? I also think that parents who do not teach their children religious observance are doing them a great disservice. Life is not about always doing what you WANT to do. It is about doing what you should do and what is right for you. Only then do the joys come.

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    1. Which is why it never would have entered into my head not to bring them to church with me from the beginning. As with all other big parts of my life, it would feel weird not to naturally include my family in it.

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  47. Great article, minus the immunizations part. 😣

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  48. My kids always loved church--the talks, the music, the testimonies, the doctrine, etc. What turned them off is when someone there is mean each time they go. Now, that's being unChristlike, but it happens. My sister, who's not a Mormon but who once was an active church attender became upset because in her church, a very faithful and active youth leader married a divorced man, and the entire congregation snubbed her for it. This sister could quote scripture like you wouldn't believe. She loved church and it was a very important part of her life. But it's the other things that bugged her.

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