I want my children to be religious, even though I'm not.

I’ve always been wary of raising my children with religion. My family has a religious foundation and some of us practice it more than others. However as I reached my teenage years I quickly figured out that there were some less than ideal beliefs my particular brand of religion was pushing, and it just didn’t sit comfortably with me. So I started to drift away and explore others. Now I’d describe myself as ‘liberal’ in my religious practices and beliefs.

Which makes it a bit awkward as my children attend a Catholic school

I have a lot of issues with modern Catholicism, despite Pope Francis’ attempts to bridge the big gaps between the religion and real life. He has a Twitter account which is pretty interesting to read. However my fundamental problem is the list of things that are ‘wrong’ according to the traditional Catholic belief system.

I'd always been wary of raising my children religiously.

As a human being with even the slightest amount of brain function, I quickly realised that there were quite a few unhelpful messages being sent my way. I had issues with what I'd been taught, lots of issues. Being gay is wrong. Divorce is wrong. Buying mood rings is wrong. Not going to church every week is wrong. Being jealous is wrong. Abortion is wrong. We're sorry about pedophile priests but we'll handle it (relocate them). It was the judgement that was attached to religion that I had a problem with as well as the hypocrisy and the many many things that just didn't make sense.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I decided to send my kids to the local Catholic school for their education. It was what I knew, what I was comfortable with. While I'd always planned to raise my children with a much wider and more realistic version of the world than they would learn in church, I still wanted them to at least experience religion.

They could make a decision about what they wanted to do with it, or not do with it, later.

Could it be that the real reason I like raising my children with religion is because it gives me an easy way to explain some of life's difficulties?

However I soon had second thoughts when my son started explaining to me some of the things he was picking up in school, mostly from his friends who had been taught certain beliefs and ideals from their parents. Apparently the gay couple in Modern Family are roommates, apparently lying is a sin that needs to be constantly confessed, apparently homosexuality is a sin, and lots of other interesting tidbits that had me sighing, sitting him down and explaining a more loving and realistic version of the world.


I spoke to a trusted friend who is also a therapist. She isn't particularly religious and was sympathising with my efforts at a more liberal version of Catholicism, if such a thing can exist (according to many it can't, you're either all in, or you're all out). She explained to me that raising children with religion, any religion, is good for them because it such a comfort to them. It makes the world less scary.

Any religion is good for children because it such a comfort to them. It makes the world less scary.

She said it doesn't matter what religion it was, as long as it was some sort of belief system tied into a higher power. 'The world can be a scary place for kids', she explained, adding that religion really came in handy when friends, relatives and even pets die.

Fluffy is in heaven...

You'll see Aunty Jean in heaven...

Let's pray for Grandma to get better...

At least Pope Francis is cool. He's progressive - not enough yet, granted - but more progressive than we've seen in a long, long time. Post continues after video.

Looking at studies into it, it's very tit for tat. For every research paper or article that explains why raising children with religion is a good idea, there's one that says those raised without religion do better.

Could it be that the real reason I like raising my children with religion is because it gives me an easy way to explain some of life's difficulties? Instead of having to tell my children that someone has died and then meeting all their subsequent questions with a series of I-don't-knows, I can wrap it up in a pretty package of some far away fantasy place called heaven that we all float to after dying.

I've always found religion so comforting. Knowing that there is a higher power than I, knowing I can pray in times of trouble, being able to light a candle in church for deceased loved ones, feeling as though there is a reason we are here, good deeds to do and lessons to learn. I think, mostly, I want my kids to have that comfort if they ever need it.

Do you think raising children with religion is comforting to them? Or damaging?