The Guilt of a Newly-Minted None

The foundation of being a moral person has always been about believing in God and following the teachings of the church. If you don’t follow the path Jesus walked, you are likely a heathen or a pagan or the unworthy of Heaven. Or, if you don’t follow Jesus and the teachings of the Bible, you are just lost and possibly weird, on the fringes of society and destined to be an outcast.

Heaven has always been the goal that we strive for in life. Be a good person, doing things in the name of Jesus and you will achieve your rewards in Heaven. We are told in order to go to Heaven you must be a good person. In order to be a good person, you must follow Jesus.

What if you don’t believe Heaven is the ultimate goal any longer? Can you still be a good person? Can you teach your children to be good citizens of society without using Heaven as the end goal? Can people be moral and decent human beings without getting anything in return?

I believe you can be a good person without the foundation of religion. However, as a woman who has grown up with the church and the teachings of the Christian religion, it is something that is hard to rectify in my brain. It has been so ingrained in my heart and soul that you can only be a good person if you follow Jesus. If you do what Jesus and God decree as correct and proper.

I have spent the last 29 years of my life thinking that God was the only way. That Heaven was the end goal. The only other option is eternal damnation. If you aren’t following God, you aren’t a good person, so you can’t go to Heaven, and therefore, you will burn in Hell.

Hell certainly doesn’t sound like a nice place to end up. When you look at the descriptions of Heaven and Hell in the teachings of the church, who doesn’t want to say they believe in God and hope that they will get to go to Heaven. By taking the belief of Jesus and Christianity on faith alone, it is supposed to safeguard them from the eternal damnation of Hell. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Let’s not forget that Heaven is also a better alternative to ceasing to exist. When you die, you just are no more. I never really liked the idea of that happening either. So, what was the purpose of life? What was the goal? The end game? Ceasing to exist seems exponentially as harsh a fate as Hell.

So to alleviate either ‘negative’ outcomes at death, if we believe in God and the teachings of the church  or death will end much more pleasantly. I am sure I am not alone in this thought process. I am beginning to think this is how people get caught up in the beliefs and the church.

Looking back at this, the description of Heaven and Hell is more propaganda and fear tactics. If you don’t do what we tell you to do, you will be punished. If you do exactly what we tell you to do, you will be rewarded. Don’t question or you go to Hell. Don’t miss church or you go to Hell. Don’t forget to pray at supper or you might go to Hell. Don’t support gay people or you will go to Hell. Don’t be friends with Pagans or they will bring you straight to Hell with them.

A lot of fear goes into the foundation of religion. A lot of fear and ultimatums.  Fear and ultimatums lead to guilt. Guilt about doing things just right. Making sure you are following the faith perfectly. What if you slip up? You can be forgiven, but the people of the church may look down on you. You will be given a big heaping spoonful of guilt.

Like my previous post about Cults and Churches, the fear and the ultimatums and ultimately the guilt is what keeps a member of a church or a cult in line. It keeps the person feeling like they are a bad person if they don’t go along, if they don’t follow. The guilt can be enough to hold a person under the church or cult’s thumb for years and it is a form of brainwashing.

I came across this blog post recently and it made me think. The points are valid. How come our particular religion can be believed on faith, but someone else’s religion is clearly not correct. It’s not right and thus a fairy tale. All the creation tales in each different religion are similar yet, once you latch on to the one you like, it’s the only one. It’s the one that is supreme.

You can deny all others as false and ‘fairy tale’ but the one that you follow may sound similar, but it’s the only true one. You have reasons and rationale why. The brain has made connections on this that will allow you to believe that it is real. Why do you have all these answers? Because the fear and ultimatums and the guilt that goes with the teachings have given you all the answers you need to make sure you are properly educated in what to say and think. IE. Brainwashing.

Then comes a time when you doubt it. What if you doubt what you have always been told? What if you take a logical look at the things you have always believed and you put rational thought behind it? The guilt settles in.

What if I’m wrong? I am a terrible person for not believing. I should just have faith. God calls me to believe in the face of doubt. I cannot trust my own flawed judgment. I just need to put my faith in Him. Just follow the leaders of the church, they are the ones who have more knowledge than I do. I have to teach my child to believe as I have; otherwise she will go to Hell. Hell is a bad place. What if Hell does in fact exist? If you don’t teach your child about God, they will never be saved and you have condemned your child to a fate worse than death. If you don’t get your kid baptized, they will be eternally lost in the pits of Hell.

These are the thoughts that I still grapple with. I am beginning to realize that I am in fact an Atheist. I have tried to cling to the label of the lesser evil in society of Agnostic, that of someone who is spiritual and who is not sure what they believe. But, I do know what I believe. In my heart of hearts, I know that there is no such thing – there is no validity to the stories I have grown up with. I know in my rational mind that I don’t want to be putting my kid through the same fear and guilt that I am currently trying to dig myself out of.

I hold tight to the lesser label, a label that doesn’t really bring me peace of mind either, because it is less harsh than the reality. The finality of the whole concept. It lessens my guilt. It lessens the doubt in my doubt and the uncertainty. I am coming to terms with the fact that I was in fact brainwashed and I was conditioned with fear tactics and guilt to believe in something that can’t possibly be real.

It makes no sense to me now. I am trying to figure out why the concept of God and Jesus made sense to me before. A flowery story about a man who died for me and forgives me of all my sins. A story of redemption and of love and kindness. It made sense because it was about the good in people. It was about the rewards for being a good person. It was about being a part of something.

How come we can’t teach our kids to forgive our fellow human beings for their misgivings and their shortcomings. Can’t we teach our kids to be kind and loving to all those they come in contact with? Why does the basis of morals and the difference between right and wrong have to be set in the foundation of a religion?

Instead of guilt, I hope to give the facts. I hope to give the theories and the stories. As I learn more of the different stories and the different culture theories of how the world came to be, I hope I can pass on the questioning nature I have grown to possess and leave the guilt out of my daughter’s heart.

Sneak Peek of Some Decor of Peyton’s Birthday!

I finally got on the ball and started putting things together. I got her invitations made and will be mailing them out. We did hand deliver most of them today, so I feel like we can share what they look like now! I am so freaking proud of the design of these.

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I also have lots of awesome ideas for food, but that will have to be posted when we actually take pictures of the party. I do have  her first birthday poster, I need to get a frame for it.

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We also have made these for party favors. I am going to be making my own bag topper for them, but this is what they looked like on Pintrest. Bumpy Jelly Beans are in season for Easter and they make great Dr. Seuss-like seeds for the trees.

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I have this book for people to sign and write messages to Punky in. I will still need to make the poster to go with it to make sure to instruct people what the book is for.

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I have gathered the materials for the dress that she will have for her first birthday photo shoot and/or for her party, I haven’t decided if she will wear it for her party. Probably not, because it’s really not practical for her to play in and be comfortable!

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What’s left to make?

  1. Pictures Banner and/or Collage (I can’t decide!)
  2. Sign for Birthday Messages Book
  3. Bag Topper for Truffula Tree Seeds
  4. Truffula Trees
  5. Labels for the food
  6. Dr. Seuss Wonky Sign for the door

What’s left to do?

  1. Mail out invitations
  2. Pay for the club house space
  3. Get count for cake pops
  4. Get her first birthday pictures done

 

Wish me luck, we have a ton left to do and 2 weeks to go!

Cults and the Christian Church – Research and Comparision

How to spot a cult: It says through the literature that if the organization says they aren’t a cult, they probably are a cult. If they teach that all other religions or organizations are wrong if they don’t believe what their organization believes it is probably a cult. If they say their belief is the only right belief, they may be a cult. If they say you have to be in their organization only, they are probably a cult. Cults recruit with hyped up meetings. They use unrelenting pressure and call all the time. If they ask you for money, they might be a cult. If they control what you can do and who you can be around, it might be a cult.

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I have a longstanding fascination with all things cult related. I love to read about them, I love to watch documentaries about them, I have even ventured to write about a fiction version of one. I am not sure where the fascination comes from, but I am drawn in. I am interested to see how these people, involved in cults were manipulated. I am fascinated by how easy it was to manipulate the members.

When I watch documentaries about it, I have to wonder, how did these people believe something like this was actually real? I ask myself how did this leader come to be this way? Sinister motives, mental illness, good intentions? I always have to sit and ponder what and why and how.

I recently read this blog about The Dying and while it made me think of my own views on death and dying, it also made me realize that most religions could be considered a cult. Had I been part of a cult? Is the indoctrination of the church just another form of mind control?

I know that when people leave a cult, they have a difficult time leaving the beliefs of the cult behind. It still plagues them. I am dealing with something similar. I feel as though I want to change my way of thinking and I know that what I thought before was not correct. However, every time I think something different, I feel this nagging guilt and a sense of urgency to back peddle to my old beliefs.

Now, I am pondering different things. Not an outsider looking in. I am looking inside myself.

How to spot a Christian Church: The Christian Church is not a cult. They say so when teaching of suspected cults. All other teachings of Christianity that differ from the Christian Church is wrong and not as enlightened. The Christian Church is the only true word of God and the only right way to believe. If you don’t believe in their teachings you will not be saved and you will not get to Heaven. If you are not baptized in the Christian faith you will not be saved and you will go to Hell, you must belong to their church only. With bands and music and fun revival meetings, Christian churches can get new members easily. They ask for your name, phone number, and address when you visit their church. You will then receive literature and phone prayers, especially if you do not come back. 10% tithe to the church, it’s in the name of God, he is asking this of you. You should only read the Bible and listen to music that glorifies God, watch tv that only glorifies God, watch movies that only glorifies God.

**

So, comparing how to spot a cult and how to spot a Christian Church, I am beginning to think that I was part of a cult. That statement is not to offend my christian friends and family. It’s simply what I feel like right now. I feel like, now that I have made the decision to move away from Christianity, away from the church. I feel guilt and I feel this inner battle with myself between what I have always known, for the last 30 years and what I know now that I am a mother of an impressionable tiny human.

Components of a Cult Compared to My Experiences with Christian Church: (As explained by Cultwatch)

Deception: “We love everyone as God loves us. Jesus died for all our sins. We give generously to all those in need. No one can judge but God.” Unless, you aren’t of the same mind as the leaders of the church. Unless you don’t own a Bible and read it daily. Unless you are a homosexual trying to get married. Unless you are not baptized. Unless you are a waitress that doesn’t give me a tax deduction on my generosity. Unless you are pro-choice and you want to murder babies. Unless you try to teach my kid yoga in PE class.

Exclusivity: You will only be saved if you are a follower of our church, of our beliefs. You can only go to Heaven if you take Jesus into your heart. You will go to Hell if you don’t follow the Bible, no other teachings will do. You will be condemned to Hell if you allow your gay daughter into your home (personal experience with my father).

Guilt:  If you give to God you will be rewarded. If you don’t give to God you will not receive blessings. Maybe if you tithed more often, you might start to reap what you sow financially. If you would baptize your child, he might not be so unruly. If you just give your faith to God, he will make your life happy and healthy. You should have given it to God, he would have handled it for you.

Love Bombing and Relationship Control: Joining the church will afford you many new friends. You will be surrounded by love and compassion. We advise you to steer clear of non-believers because they will only tempt you away from the proper path with God. If you leave the church or the faith, we will not be able to employ you at the church any longer or call you. We will pray for you though, from a far.

Information Control: You only need the Bible and faith. All secular forms of entertainment or information is not necessary. Speak with God in prayers and he will give you the answers in your heart that you need.

Reporting Structure: Watch out for your brothers and sisters who are struggling with their faith. If they are in need of prayers, make sure to let us know. We will pray for all who need it, we just need to know about their transgressions and make sure they are properly taught.


The comparisons are staggering. Comparisons between the church and cult definitions are some that I had not noticed before. What this research did for me was to affirm that I do not want to put my daughter through the same questions and guilt that I am going through now.

What this research told me is that I respect others who wish to be involved in the lifestyle of Christianity. If you find comfort in it and it helps your life, then I will not sit here and say you are in the wrong. I will simply say that given my history with the Christian church and the teachings, I know it’s no longer right for me. Or for my child, until she’s old enough to make her own choices about what she feels and believes.

What it does for me is say, I was right in my decision not to subject my daughter to the world of contradictions, guilt and oppression that I lived most of my life. I will, instead, teach her to think for herself. To learn lessons on her own. To make her own decisions as I am doing now, though I will allow her to do this much sooner in her life than I did.

ABCs of Parenthood

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This last year has been a whirlwind of mistakes and learning. It’s been a year of new experiences, great advice, not so great advice, debates and discussions. I have compiled the list into an easy ABCs of Parenthood. It also gave me a chance to use some of my new found awesome fonts in Photoshop!

30 Things I Hope To Teach My Daughter

  1. Be Yourself.
  2. Don’t try to please everyone.
  3. Make mistakes.
  4. Learn from those mistakes.
  5. Question everything.
  6. Always remember your manners.
  7. Remember, there is someone out there worse off than you.
  8. Smile at strangers.
  9. Love yourself. If you don’t, how can  you ask someone else to love you?
  10. You are worth more than sex.
  11. Strive for more than mediocre.
  12. Love is not a fairytale. Real love is hard work.
  13. Respect and appreciate your teachers.
  14. Read a good book.
  15. Find your passion.
  16. Do for friends what you can.
  17. Lend things without expecting it back – this means money.
  18. Keep secrets close to your heart.
  19. Don’t be afraid to ask your true friends for help.
  20. Learn the art of silence.
  21. Open doors for people.
  22. Offer to carry a heavy load.
  23. Call and check on a family member.
  24. Be kind to animals and the elderly.
  25. Let someone cut in line.
  26. Don’t be a bully and stand up to those who are bullies.
  27. Learn to write with pen and paper.
  28. If you want people to take you seriously, learn to spell, don’t rely on spell check.
  29. Vowels are important. Use them.
  30. Never give up, you are better than that.

The Lament of a Working Mommy

To Punky, in the wee hours of the morning, 

I find myself getting ready for work and I get to peek in on you for just a short moment. I brush my fingers through your hair and I tell you to give Mommy just a few minutes and I will get your bottle. 

While I fill the bottle in the kitchen, I can hear your soft cries, while you lay in your bed in the dark. I smile to myself, because one day you will know what it means when I say, “Give me a minute.” 

Every morning I return to your bedroom, the same way as yesterday, and you smile up at me though sleepy tears and we start the day with the same routine as days gone by. 

Clean butt and a warm belly full of milk and off to bed again you go. I kiss your cheeks and whisper “I love you” before I lay you back down and cover you up. I find myself looking down on you, just one last time before I have to close the door and leave for the day.

All day long, I think of you. I tell stories about you. You are the mascot of my team at work. They all look forward to new stories and pictures, OR, they simply indulge my new mommy ways of pushing you on people.

I count the minutes until I get to come home. 8-5 is way too long, before I finally get to drive home and eat dinner with you. Those 8 hours when I don’t know what you are doing. When I can’t see your little face. When you can’t drive me crazy and make me frustrated. 

At work I wonder what you are doing. I wonder if you are thinking of me. Do you worry that Mommy won’t come home? Do you look for me? I wonder what you think of during the day. What new things you are learning. What fun things you are doing.

I wonder what I miss.

Parenting with Social Anxiety

We are officially a Gymboree mommy and baby. We went to open gym yesterday and Punky had more fun. She was able to crawl around and cruise on all the different ramps and mats. She was able to get out of her shell and play. I just let her explore the gym and she one minute I am talking to another mom and the next, I look back and Punky is WALKING.

She just took off. I was so surprised. She didn’t get very far before she fell over, but I cheered for her and told her out great it was and she just smiled and crawled back to where she started.

This struck up a few conversations with some of the other moms in the gym.

This is where things got sticky, in my head. I have a self-diagnosed social anxiety, a quirk really. I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but I know myself well enough to know that when I am in a public situation, with people I don’t know, I start to panic. My heart starts to race and I start to clam up. I do take a small dose of anxiety medication, but really I don’t see a therapist for it. It’s just something that I live with and deal with.

However, in that moment, I had to reason with myself that I had already taken myself out of my house, to go somewhere other than work or Walmart. I went to a social situation and I brought Punky with me. If I was already here, and it was the second time, that I just needed to relax and let Punky have fun. Let myself have fun.

So we started talking. Usually, once I get to know people, I am pretty much alright. I just have to get to that point. I have to get out of my house and I have to make myself not to make excuses or re-schedule the events. When I learned about Gymboree, I made an effort to go because I wanted to allow Punky the opportunity to socialize. So, that’s the first step.

I have paid the fee and set up a commitment for the the next two months to attend 1 class a week. I reason with myself that I can’t waste my money with reschedules and excuses that don’t really exist.

Once we started talking, one of the moms invited me to their mommy group. They have play dates and mommy date nights, nights out. I was flattered that this woman was inviting me, and she seemed nice enough for sure!  The problem is me.

We are not the most conventional of parents. We are parenting without religion, we are parenting without gender roles, we are parenting as a lesbian couple. I don’t know these women well enough to know if they would be alright with these things. I don’t want to be the whispered about mom either. I mean, I am sure these women are nice and in the back of my mind, I know my fears are irrational.

I don’t really have mommy friends outside of work. I think it would be awesome. I want, so badly, to get out of my shell and do this. Not just for Punky, but for myself. I have taken the first step and asked to join the Facebook group. I will try and get to know these women in a Gymboree and Facebook atmosphere.

I don’t know these women and they don’t know me. Maybe once I feel them out in a public setting, I might get around to stepping out and actually meeting them at their houses or in a more intimate setting.

Like everything else, this is something I hope to work on this year. I want to get out and do things. I want to take Punky places, I want her to experience things and I don’t want my anxiety to limit the things she is able to do!

Our Trip to Gymboree

Punky and I spend Saturdays together. She and I usually leave the house in the afternoon and give her Mama time to sleep in and take a break. Mama stays home with Punky while I go to work because her Bipolar disorder doesn’t allow her to work right now. It makes for a great financial situation that we don’t have to employ daycare, however, it makes me nervous about Punky’s socialization.

She will be a year old in just a few short weeks. She doesn’t really get to be around other kids her age. I have the car at work all day, of course, even if I didn’t, my partner also suffers from agoraphobia and other things that limit her ability to leave the house alone.

I also don’t really have mommy friends. I don’t really have many friends in person at all. We pretty much stay to ourselves. I also have a slight problem with going places by myself in public situations where there may or may not be people I don’t know.

So, all in all, the kid has the unfortunate pleasure of being home bound most of the time.

When I saw the opportunity to attend a free Gymboree session, I thought I might as well get over my fear of strangers and take Punky out to get some socialization. This is a huge change for me since becoming a mother. I honestly have to make myself get out and mingle with other people.

So, we arrived at Gymboree, I didn’t talk myself out of it or reschedule it like I normally would have done with an outing like this. And, all in all we had a nice time.

The instructor explained that each week there would be a new theme. The theme this week was ramps and rhymes. So, we were teaching the kids to climb up ramps and slide down slides. There were all sorts of mats and tumbling things for the kids to crawl on and play on. There were colorful tunnels, that Punky chose not to even attempt. Lots of singing and exercise. This mommy was worn out by the end of the day.

We live as a fairly lower, middle class family in a pretty affluent town. Everything is pretty overpriced, I am intimidated by the moms that I see at the park in their SUVs and stylish clothes. Though I am sure I am just paranoid, I also feel like they look at me funny. So stepping foot into this place was something I sorely did not want to do on a personal level.

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However, for Punky, it was something I was willing to overcome. Also, we don’t have many friends, mommy or otherwise, that we associate with outside of family. So, I wasn’t sure how the atmosphere was going to be with a two mommy household.

After the class, I realized that most of the parents were as new as me, so we were all keeping to ourselves. I also realized that Punky was having fun, though she was apprehensive and I knew that I had to make the numbers work to allow her to go back again.

I spoke with the instructor and got the scoop on the classes and I was told that I could enroll in the Saturday classes and the 1 Saturday a month that I had to work, I could make it up on that Monday. So, it was a great set up for a working mom. Not to mention that they have an open gym play on Sundays, so I thought that might also be awesome.

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It’s definitely worth the money. Punky and I will get some bonding time in an environment where she can play with other kids and learn things. I think the cost is not as bad as I thought, because at first I thought it was a once a month class for $65, but its really once a week class, which is great.

The instructor also told me they are having a special for $20 off the first three months and giving out 4 free class passes, so we could attend 2 classes a week if we wanted to. I think it’s quite a deal and I think we will do it.

Basically, I enjoyed taking Punky to Gymboree and I am glad that we can expose her to other kids her age and bring her out of her shell the more she goes.

Intelligent Design in Science Class?

I just learned about this Missouri House Bill 1227. A Missouri legislator is trying to pass a bill which would introduce the idea of intelligent design in public schools, without discrimination.

Missouri Representative, Rick Brattin is proposing Intelligent Design/Creation be required teaching and given equal time in every science classroom in Missouri, including college level classes, prohibiting families from making their own choice. This will also require the schools to spend money on new text books on or including Intelligent Design.

Intelligent Design in the Science Class? Is that a contradictory statement to anyone else?

I will be honest here, I didn’t know what intelligent design was until this very moment. I am not the most political person in the world. Until this blog. I have decided that I need to be mindful of what is going on around me. Especially when it comes to my child’s education.

Punky isn’t quite a year old and we have a long way to go before I really need to be concerned, but seriously? If we pass a law that allows intelligent design to be taught in science class, we are allowing religious teachings to be given to our children.

I have said before that I have no qualms with people who are affiliated with a religion. I have nothing against those who go to church or follow the teachings of the Bible. It’s just not for me. The repercussions of religion, the church and most people I come in contact with have been more negative than positive. I have made up my own mind in this and I hope to allow Punky to make her own mind up as well.

If this is taught in schools, a place of academia … where is the respect for other beliefs in a public environment. Look, if a child wants to pray individually, more power to them. If a child wants to read the Bible in the library on their spare time, sure go for it.

But, when did it become appropriate to tell my child they must do that too?

What about those kids from Jewish homes? From Muslim homes? I’m not even talking about Atheist or Agnostic. Let’s think about other religions for a moment. The United States is a melting pot of all sorts of religions and cultures. School should be a safe place to blend all those into one harmonic place to learn things. Learn academic things.

If you want your kid to learn intelligent design, great! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. That’s what you take your children to church for. Or am I confused?

I am the first person to say that there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of God. There is not one way to know which theory of the way the world was made is correct. However, to introduce a religious based story to a school environment is wrong. When children are impressionable and should be taught these things at home.

How am I to help my child make up her own mind, when teachers at school will be telling her how to think, how to act. It’s just another way for religion to be forced upon my unwilling child. I’m the parent here. I pay the taxes for her education. I should get a say in what they teach her. Not to mention, that this bill will allow my tax dollars to not only facilitate the religious teachings of my child, but also pay for the new books that are required.

What’s wrong with leaving religious teachings in church? Any religious teaching. I don’t care if you want to teach your child about these things. I’m just requesting that you respect the fact that I may not want my child taught the same things. Your truth is not my truth. If I wanted her to be taught these things I would take her to church.

I’m appalled that this is even a proposed bill right now. I’m even more concerned that there are other states out there that have already passed a similar bill. I have already signed the petition to say no to this in our schools.

This is just the sort of thing this blog is actually about. My journey to finding out things that may affect the way I parent my child in regards to all sorts of topics. In this case, religion.

Respect my right to parent and teach my kid as I see fit when it comes to anything religious based. How about we keep science as science. The things that have definitive answers. Again, I’m not saying God does or doesn’t exist, but unlike the things they teach in science class, there’s no way to prove or disprove. Let’s leave that in Sunday school.

A New Kind of Coming Out

I have in the last few months, implied that I was Agnostic. Never have I said it out loud to anyone that I may come in contact with.  Family and friends may have gotten the hint, or they may not have. Unlike coming out as a lesbian, this was not something I could just show up with a partner on my arm and it was obvious.

Being Agnostic is something you have to announce. Well, it’s not really anyone else’s business, but there’s not a handshake (that I am aware of) or a pin to affix to my lapel to say, “I’m Agnostic.”

It’s also not something that I just want to bring up in polite conversation. I tend to steer clear of the topics of politics, religion and sex when I am talking to family or people at work. Some of my close friends know the truth about my doubts. They know that I am still searching for answers that I am not sure of.

While I didn’t grow up in a religious home, my parents and grandparents are indeed religiously affiliated. They are like most of society that I come in contact with. That’s okay. I don’t shun the religious. I don’t judge them. As I hope they don’t judge me.

So, here I am, bringing my religious beliefs, or lack thereof and doubts out in the open. I am having a new kind of coming out. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time. Last time I came out, my family was torn apart. My father didn’t speak to me for six years, and while this has been rectified, it’s not something that is easily forgotten.

This blog is my new life. My attempt to raise a morally conscious, kind-hearted child.  My navigation of religion and parenting and how to do it without damaging my kid. My partner and I are raising our daughter without religion.

When I said that to someone recently they remarked that I was going to allow my ‘prejudice’ to influence my daughter’s beliefs. This struck me as incredibly worrisome. My main goal is not to influence my daughter’s choices. I want her to be who she wants to be. I have come to realize I don’t know how to do that without indoctrinating her one way or another.

The comment really struck a cord with me. It made me re-think my parenting strategy. My partner and I have thought this through and we have discussed the fact that neither of us really believe in the teachings of the church. We both feel that the church has brought heartache to our lives growing up and has left us both feeling ashamed and evil.

My goal in raising my child is not to teach her that religion is evil. Or that religion is bad. I have no desire to tell her one way or another that God is real. I want her to respect other people’s beliefs. I want her to explore other people’s beliefs. I want her to expand her knowledge and be curious. I want her to question everything.

I want my role in her life to be open communication. About anything. This doesn’t include just religion. It means sexuality, relationships, education, self-esteem, everything! I want my child to come to me and ask me questions. I want to have discussions with her. I want to be honest with her and say, “I don’t know the answers. I can’t give you the answers.”

My partner and I are very different in our beliefs. Atheist and Agnostic are very different. However, we both understand the benefits of letting our daughter learn on her own. Explore on our own.

So, to those who love us and those who know us: We love you all, no matter your religious affiliation or not. Regardless of your beliefs and your political lean. No matter your relationship status, your gender, or your lifestyle.

I plan to help our daughter love people equally and accept people with an open mind and heart. I know my partner and I are both interested in raising our kid without religion, but that doesn’t mean without morals, boundaries, and love.