Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Father figures

This past summer, my wife had our first child. A beautiful (and really, she is, by almost any standard, and I'm not just saying that, you can see for yourself) baby girl. She's named Mikhaela, and she's a sweetie. She's a good baby: quiet and cheerful. She seems to be philosophical about things like the dog knocking her over, or getting up in the middle of the night, being flung around indiscriminately by her father. She's pretty damn cool.

She's also a Catholic.

How do I know? She was baptized. Apparently, this means that she's been marked by my wife's god. So there you go.

Now, I'm not a Catholic. I'm not a christian. I don't believe in that. So my wife and I have some pretty difficult conversations ahead of us. Santa? Puh-leez. No believing in Santa will be a cakewalk compared to Jesus. So what are we going to do?

I'm not going to church. Not regularly, at any rate. I see no problem going once or twice a year, just to keep Tasha happy. It's a small sacrifice for my marriage.

What will we say when Mickie asks why I don't go to church? Do I tell her that I think church sucks? Do I tell her that it's boring? Do I drop the a-bomb then?

Because we'll have to talk about it some day. And I don't know how to do it. I wish people read this, because I'm going to need some advice. How will I tell my little girl I don't believe in god? Because that's not the end of it. Kids ask, "Why?". And then what do I say.

I have no problem coming out to my kid. "Mickie, I just don't believe in god. You do, and your mom does, and that's okay (it's not, really, but I won't say that). But I don't.'

She's gonna ask why. And that's when I tear her down.

These beliefs are tightly held. By children, especially (or those who think like them). Mickie will be faced with several pieces of information at once:

1. Mom and the church are right.

1b. Dad is wrong.

1c. Dad is probably going to hell.

1b(2). Dad is lying.
2. Dad is right.

2b. Mom and the church are wrong.

2c. Mom and the church are lying.

2d. Mom and the other people at church are crazy.

She'll get all of this. Maybe not right away, but before too long. And it's going to mean some very awkward conversations. How can I tell her that I think her mom's wrong, or a little crazy, or both? How do I tell her that Jesus was either just some guy or never anybody at all? How do I tell her that the church is lying?

I'm afraid. This could really hurt her. It will really hurt me. And it will really hurt Tasha.

Any advice on how to avert the catastrophe?

1 comment:

Sober said...

Does having been Baptized means she believes in God?

Anyway, sorry I can't offer much more help, that wasn't what I came for. I saw your comment on FriendlyAtheist.com about the Halton board banning "The Golden Compass." You ran for the Green Party? Hitchikers Guide AND Guns, Germs, and Steel?

Yeah, I just had to touch base with you. I'm Tao Jones on FriendlyAtheist.com (email link can be found there if you want, I commented on the same article.)