Author Topic: Religious presents for athiests' children  (Read 10001 times)

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CakeEater

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2011, 12:44:29 AM »
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious.

That's pretty much it. It's International Giving day in our house. We have a tree (admittedly a wall sitcker one so it is cat and toddler proof) but nothing else and we don't follow any religious aspects of Christmas. Even amoungst the religious people I know, Christmas has very little to do with religion

With a complete lack of snark, what do you mean by the bolded?


My BIL and SIL are athiests, as far as I know. They had their daughters baptised, partly to appease a grandmother, and partly to get a step up in enrolling them into a private religious school. DH and I were godparents to the eldest. We promised to help her parents teach her the tenets of the religion.

I have no qualms at all buying her, especially, religious gifts.

Oops, edited to say that I wouldn't buy religious things for avowed athiests, whose stance I knew on the matter. However, things like Noah's Ark are so ubiquitous now as a decorating theme, that I might get something like that without even making the connection. Hey, look - cute animals!

The religious people I know (those who got married in a church, go to church sometimes, christen their children etc) don't go to church at Christmas and it is all about the presents and Santa and the whole Jesus being born bit gets left out. I think with small kids around they get lost in the excitment of it all and forget about the fact it is based on a religious holiday.

The whole no religious presents for DD thing is more DH than me. He is very anti religion and views even the cutest of arks as an evil plot by the church to brain wash innocent children so if I can head off the issue before anyone gives DD something that will serioudly offend him I will. I was just upset about being called a meanie for doing it  :( The person on the forum has written a huge rant at me about it since I first posted this thread and has said some pretty nasty things about not letting DD have an ark or nativity set.

Ahh, I see. I wouldn't class people who get married in a church and baptise their kids religious. Religious people I know (ie, those who attend church on a regular basis) very much see Christmas as a religious celebration. In fact, I think they sometimes go a bit overboard in finding religious meanings for all the secular symbols of Christmas.

Goodness, if it's mean to not allow your child to have playthings that go against your personal beliefs, there are a heck of a lot of mean parents out there.

Grape

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2011, 01:33:01 AM »
On the religious aspect of Christmas... many of the traditions (tree, gift giving, etc.) were adapted from pagan celebrations. The Christian parts were added later. In any event, the holiday definitely has both secular and religious observers.

Ceallach

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2011, 01:38:37 AM »
She asked, you answered.  That was perfectly acceptable.  It was considerate of her to ask, as it avoided a situation of you feeling awkward at an undesirable gift.    So that was nice of them to respect your wishes and check with you.   

If you threw a major tantrum about people exposing your child to religion or accused them of trying to convert her, then I'd say you were a SS.  But you weren't, you were having a mature dialogue with your family who are nice enough to consult you on these things.  No etiquette breach here.
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jassou

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2011, 02:47:01 AM »
I agree all the above, but would like to add I kind of see where the poster on the other board is coming from. I don't agee you're a meanie, and I don't see the Thomas the tank engine- trainspotting link, but I don't think that exposing your children to religious stories (from a cultural upbringing perspective) is necessarily a bad thing. We tell our children all kinds of stories that are part of our culture (from brothers grimm, hans christian anderson, pixar even) and I think bible stories are part of that. Not because of religous value teaching, but in order to teach our children different cultural stories. It's our cultural baggage. I'm an atheist, but I think it important that my son knows of the ark of Noah when he grows up to be able to understand cultural references later in life.

But as a parent you are perfectly within your right to decide what are appropriate toys/stories for your children. :)

Bexx27

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2011, 12:24:19 PM »
First, there is no way you were rude. Your sister asked an honest question and got an honest answer. (Non)problem solved.

Second, forum bully is crazy. Some people just hate atheism and will jump on any chance to be offended by something an atheist does. If you had accepted the nativity scene, she would have been offended because your heathen child wouldn't have the proper religious reverence while playing with it or something.

Third, Christmas as it is currently celebrated by the majority of the US population is primarily about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving, and other non-religious cultural traditions. The actual birth of Jesus is not exactly at the forefront, at least in our popular culture. (I understand it's unlikely Jesus was even  born during the winter and Dec. 25 was mainly chosen to integrate pagan winter solstice celebrations.) I find it rude to say that non-Christians shouldn't celebrate the non-religious/non-Christian aspects of the holiday.

Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

Betelnut

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2011, 12:44:57 PM »
Atheist parent here--I think you were fine.  You simply offered a preference and were respectful at the same time. 

I agree with prior posters about the need to educate the kiddos about religion but, in my mind, I will do that at my own pace and with my own style.  Plus, my daughter is going to Unitarian "Sunday school" and they cover religions diversity there.

As an aside, I am much more uncomfortable with the "cute" story of Noah's Ark than the Christian Christmas story which is mostly about poor people and a child's birth.  Noah's Ark involves the mass destruction of (almost) all life on Earth--not really a nice story!  Please don't give my child anything that promotes that story!

For other atheist parents on this forum, check out "Parenting Beyond Belief."  http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/parents/
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Larrabee

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2011, 12:55:45 PM »


Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.

I am atheist but not a parent and I heartily agree with this.

I think some of the stories associated with various religions are wonderful, you don't need to be religious to enjoy them as a child.  One of my favourite toys was a felt and velcro Noah's Ark thing, I loved it because I loved anything to do with animals, nothing to do with God!

I also read the Greek and Norse myths and had a lovely illustrated book of creation myths from all different cultures, I went to the local Jewish Museum, I had Eid feasts with Muslim friends, received gifts of money in red envelopes from Chinese neighbours at new year.  We even had a nativity scene in the house at Christmas and I remained atheist despite all these exposures.

I actually think it does children a disservice to pretend religion doesn't exist and to try to 'shield' them from it as it were.  Its been a massive influence on humanity almost from day one.

Bluenomi

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2011, 05:03:12 PM »
I was speaking to my SDM last night and she said she partly asked about the nativity set to tease me since she knows DH and I's opinion about it so she certainly wasn't upset about it all which is good  :)

I'm planning, when DD is older, to explain the whole religion thing to DD and she's free to make her own choices but at the moment I think she's a bit young. I want her to be tollerant of religion and understand how important it is to some people but also want her to understand that she doesn't have to have a religion just because it is the 'done thing' if she doesn't want too. PPs are right, she does need to have some understanding of religion since it is such a part of her culture but I want her to make up her own mind, not just believe in something because someone told her too.

Sharnita

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2011, 05:20:54 PM »
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.  I certanly think it is absolutely acceptable for OP and her DH to decline the gift.  If somebody offered a display or jewelry denoting another religion to Christian parents I would think they'd be within their rights to decline as well.

Larrabee

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2011, 05:24:19 PM »
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families. 



Sharnita

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2011, 05:24:57 PM »
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families.

I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to offer my perspective.

violinp

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2011, 05:28:52 PM »
OP, you were fine. You have a veto on the kinds of toys your children receive, and that especially includes things of a religious nature.
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lady_disdain

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2011, 05:29:24 PM »


Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.

I am atheist but not a parent and I heartily agree with this.

I think some of the stories associated with various religions are wonderful, you don't need to be religious to enjoy them as a child.  One of my favourite toys was a felt and velcro Noah's Ark thing, I loved it because I loved anything to do with animals, nothing to do with God!

I also read the Greek and Norse myths and had a lovely illustrated book of creation myths from all different cultures, I went to the local Jewish Museum, I had Eid feasts with Muslim friends, received gifts of money in red envelopes from Chinese neighbours at new year.  We even had a nativity scene in the house at Christmas and I remained atheist despite all these exposures.

I actually think it does children a disservice to pretend religion doesn't exist and to try to 'shield' them from it as it were.  Its been a massive influence on humanity almost from day one.


I think it is important to expose children to many religions, regardless of the faith (or lack of) that she is being brought up in. So many cultural elements come from religions and it also helps to develop tolerance.

Besides, if we were to remove all toys that originated from religious or legendary stories, the poor child wouldn't be able to play with unicorns, fairies, angels, ghosts, etc.

Larrabee

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2011, 05:42:17 PM »
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families.

I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to offer my perspective.

Oh ok, when you worded it as 'I'd rather people didn't' I thought you were implying that they shouldn't.

magicdomino

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2011, 06:02:10 PM »
It's no worse for parents to ask no religious items, than it is to ask people not to buy Barbie dolls or toy guns.  It doesn't guarantee that the givers will listen, any more than it guarantees that the child will never get a Barbie (But it's the Holiday Barbie!) or guns (But he pretends sticks are guns!). 

Now, I'm an atheist, yet would not be offended by someone giving my hypothetical child a cute Noah's Ark or Nativity set.  If nothing else, knowledge of those stories is useful cultural knowledge, much like knowing Greek mythology can be useful.  A Bible would be more problematic, although a simple childrens' version, much like the one I had while a child, might be okay.  But that is my call to make, and would hope givers would respect that.