I have zero religion. I am what you’d call a “non-believer”. I’m not oblivious to religion – I have had a lot of exposure to it throughout my lifetime. Many times in my life, I have honestly wished that I could believe in something… anything! I see how it helps those when they are having difficulties, to know in their heart this is all for some bigger plan and that the suffering will one day lead to better things. My mind just doesn’t work that way though and I just can’t. I did however, marry a man who majored in religious studies. He’s definitely a religious encyclopedia and I have learned so much about the history and basis of many religions from him, a topic I do find very interesting. He is also Catholic.
Very early on, we had the talk. Would his religious beliefs (and my lack thereof) interfere with our relationship? What about if we were to get married and have kids one day?
We decided the best thing to do was simply accept each other as is and know that we will have many discussions ahead of us.
And that we have.
This year we made the decision (together) to move our kids to catholic school. Our public school was just not the right dynamic for our son and it was becoming more clear to even me that a little “fear of God” might do him some good. Within the first month, we knew that changing schools was the right decision. Religion or not, he’s thriving and although we aren’t 100% there, the match has been made and is good.
However, something I didn’t think of was how much I would learn! I am a true catholic school newbie. So are my kids but they are like little sponges, taking everything in as fast as it comes at them.
I find it very cute and am very proud of my kids when they come home, having obviously learned something that made them happy and satisfied. I help them with their religious studies as much as I can (until I have to say “go ask your dad”) and am learning a lot of the different prayers and teachings along with them.
The moment it really made me smile was when my parents dog passed away about a month ago. My family had bought her when I was about 16 or so and my kids grew up knowing her. She even lived with us for about a year. A few days after she passed, my kids were sitting at the table and I overheard them discussing her death. My 4 year old daughter was asking her 7 year old brother what happened to the dog. He explained that she had died and gone to heaven. That she was now running and playing with her sister (another family dog that passed just over a year ago) and they were both waiting for their brother (a 3rd family dog who is still alive and well) to come up so they can all be together again.
It was incredibly sweet and brought a tear to my eye. My daughter seemed very happy with this answer and they both went on with what they were doing. I envied them, to have this belief in something greater.
There are a few challenges that have come up though. One of the decisions we made was to NOT baptize our kids. Over the years, my husbands dedication to the catholic church has diminished and it was actually his decision to not baptize them. He has several reasons for this which I won’t discuss now (it’s an entire topic in itself). Because of this, our son will not be taking part in the Holy Eucharist this year with his classmates. I know he is not the first non-baptized child at his school so it isn’t a shock to the administrators or his teacher by any means. However, a very uncomfortable conversation with someone at the church did lead me to feel almost guilty for not baptizing them. Guilty because they will automatically be in the minority at their school and it’s our fault.
As I thought more and more about it though, I began to like the idea. What better way to teach my kids tolerance and acceptance than to have them in this exact situation?
Every parent is entitled to make these decisions for their children. It comes with the job. All I can do is go with my heart, my head & my gut and hope (pray?) that it I did it right.
I’d love to know if anyone else is a non-catholic with kids in the catholic school system? Any challenges you have met with this?