This morning I woke up when I heard my son, Buddy, playing the the living room. I left my room to greet him, and as I was helping him get dressed and ready with breakfast, my daughter, Sissy, came into the room. Once she was dressed and eating, and I heard my husband getting dressed in the bedroom, I asked them, “Do you want to go to the UU, a park, or church?”
I’m a Secular Humanist, my husband is Catholic. Occasionally I’ll take my kids to a local Unitarian church, and my husband will sometimes take them to a Catholic church for Mass. While my husband goes to church weekly, I was never someone who attended church, and even when I go to the UU, I only take part in the adult forum and let my kids play in Sunday school. I don’t bother with the worship services. And I really only go to the UU for the kids and for them to socialize with other kids in a non-dogmatic atmosphere. So in my mind if the kids feel like they are benefiting and want to go, great, but if not, I’d much rather go hiking because I feel that’s a great way to start your morning.
Buddy wanted to go to a park, Sissy wanted to go to church. So Buddy and I got out our hiking shoes and sprayed ourselves with bug spray and set off for the park while Sissy went to church with Andy. Buddy and I had a fun time walking on a beautiful morning before things got too hot, and once we got to the creek, Buddy jumped in it, and later we found a small waterfall and he spent a good hour playing there before he was ready to go home.
When we got home, Buddy asked to play with my cell phone and I let him do that while I went to shower. When Andy got home with Sissy we each spent a bit of time with the child we didn’t spend the morning with, and then Andy went to drop something off at work while I put on the Doctor Who episode, Blink, and we watched it while we had lunch.
And that, basically, is it. Giving our kids choices and respecting the choices that they make and showing them that we love them regardless of what they decide. Not giving ultimatums or forcing them into religious activities that they don’t want to do. And letting them find their own ways to nurture themselves, either be it through time with a community or time in nature. Most important, though, I feel we are demonstrating tolerance and practicing it. And tolerance is something this world needs greatly right now.