One day I was at a friend's house and I was relating my experiences with her about how I have seen more and more Christians or put more broadly, believers in God become atheists or have heard them just seriously question whether there was the existence of God. It was one of our many mornings spent together conversing about a myriad of subjects that were important to us while her children were about us playing. The words atheist and doubting God strung off my tongue once again in our drawn out conversation and I was abruptly shushed by my friend while she glared at her children in the room. She obviously didn't want her children hearing those words even in their proper context of our conversation. I was conveying my words with sadness that people had been wasted by their religion or whatever belief system that had been crudely or wrongfully or disdainfully thrust upon them, so I wondered why I was being quieted.
The word atheist has a meaning, maybe more than one. All words have meaning and some of them have hidden or subliminal meanings depending on the teller of those words. I use to be horrified by my kids hearing any cuss words at all by anyone. My kids were perfectly self-righteous in their ability to see weakness or differences in others and rant about them to me in public and private as if we were some sort of morality inducing gestapo. I had not in my mothering past taught them how to hear and observe logically or sympathetically or without condescension, but rather I served up regular, paranoid, schizophrenic style labeling, parenting and teaching all backed by the dishes of belief that were served up to me as a child and young adult. The trickle down effect can be devastating, stifling and growth stunting.
And I understand shielding little children from overall exposure to strong, unsavory people, scenarios and words, of course, as parents we should do that, but if they happen to encounter things that fly in the face of what you adhere to in everyday life, they must eventually be able to hear, see or experience anything under the microscope of thinking, critical thinking on every level. And to critically think is to critically understand and to critically understand is to critically know and to critically know is to critically and honestly and fully live. Yes, can you imagine a whole life fraught with critical living and doing and being? And therefore leading to a life that critically thrives and fully loves.
Kids will never be able to understand things that they are not allowed to hear or talk about. Kids will never fully derive their own honest and heart felt belief system or way of living on this earth without talking about everything and being allowed to ask all their questions, being unafraid to pose words in any order to parents whatever they may be. To let the children hammer it out with the help from those that love them. To go through the motion of understanding and belief hand and hand with them. Hearing the words atheist and doubting God will not magically go into a child's head and forever shape their belief system for good. It is an option, though, isn't it? Being an atheist. It's not one I would encourage my children to take, but it is something to talk about, isn't it? One of many, many, many things we need to talk about with our children. And talking with our kids takes time and the more you have the more time it takes to let each one go through the hearing, observing and thinking process out loud, raw in its original form and real, just really real. And when this process occurs again and again and again at home just think of how well your children will be equipped to freethink and honestly convey their own thoughts when confronted with this world and all of its ideas and life and things, beautiful and unsavory.
Let's stop shushing our friends, hey, they are our friends for a reason, and more importantly let's forever cease the shushing of our children.