Ok, I know I am opening this one up for massive debate but I stand firm. My children have not been christened and I have no plans for doing this in the future. I have found other peoples views on this to be quite diverse.
My Grandfather was horrified when I mentioned that there was to be no Christening; “Your children will go to hell if they are not” was his stunned reply. Meanwhile a friend of mine is busy with the guest list for her son’s ceremony, she has picked the hymns ‘Morning has broken’ and ‘All things bright & beautiful’ for the service as she thinks that nobody in her family will know any other hymns as they don’t attend church or believe in God. I asked why she chose to have him baptised to which she replied that it is just the ‘done’ thing! I got the distinct feeling that “an excuse for a party” may have been her top answer had I not been wearing my disapproving face already.
My children attend an excellent school which, like many of our local schools, has a morning service where children sing Christian Hymns and recite Christian prayers. I am happy for them to do this as I feel it is important for them to learn about the religion, just as I would like them to learn about all other religious movements. I believe that being a good parent is realising that my child is not an extension of me; they are their own person and therefore entitled to make the life defining choice of religious beliefs for themselves. Being a good parent means ensuring that they are taught about other religious cultures in an unbiased fashion in order that they may form their own views.
A few years ago my Hubby and I lived in Abergavenny. After a particularly good night out we found ourselves at around 2am on a high street bench munching on chips and gravy surrounded by a staggering pack of fellow nightclub evictees. A mini bus pulled up and 5 men & women got out and attempted to make conversation with those who were less cross-eyed, their subject of choice was Christianity. I remember enjoying the lady’s friendly banter until she made a comment which reeked of prejudice on her part. Her natural assumption was that Hubby and I never attend church, and how lucky it is for us that she was there to talk sense into us. I smiled politely and informed her that I do indeed attend church on most Sundays and its teachings strongly influence my life. She appeared relieved until I told her that I am a Spiritualist where upon she sharp shifted away from me on the bench. I then told her that my husband’s family is Mormon which perplexed her greatly She quickly said her goodbyes. I felt disappointed for her as she had so wanted to impress her beliefs onto us as she clearly believed that she could help save our souls but how sad that she was not open to hearing why I have chosen a different path or how my Husband and I can walk strong shoulder to shoulder despite treading different religious paths. The answer is respect and understanding, values which I truly believe which can only be gained through knowledge and experience.
I will be proud of my children no matter which religion they choose to follow, if any, provided that they are true to themselves and not hypocritical to their beliefs because of social or peer pressure. If I bring my children up to have a strong sense of self, morals and respect then I can trust them to make the decisions that are right for themselves. These days, with religion being used to fuel bitter battles between countries, regions and families, am I naive to hope that a good moral upbringing will assure my children become good moral adults or can only the word of God, in whatever form of religion he takes, be the only assurance parents have?