religion

10 Reasons Parents Should Avoid Forcing Strict Religious Opinions On Children

Undoubtedly, most parents want the best for their children, and raising children with some religious teaching could be suitable for their development. While religion can benefit a child in developing empathy, compassion, and forgiveness, forcing strict religious views can be hurtful in many situations.

Accountability

Teaching about a divine force can enhance your child’s imagination. However, if they take things at face value, you are at risk of not teaching your child about accountability and responsibility. Actions have consequences in real life, and if a child believes that everything is a plan of an outside force, your direction and guidance in everyday activities could be diminished.

Curiosity

Children are curious and enjoy discovering the world through their naivety and thirst for knowledge. Teaching them spirituality can open up another world, but strict religious rules and beliefs can be tricky to navigate without harming their natural desire to learn. If a child wants to know more about space or science, clashing it with religious teachings can lead to confusion.

Fear of punishment

Despite their fun-loving curiosity, kids are known to take things literally. That’s why religious rules can easily slip into indoctrination, which can create anxiety and constant fear of punishment. For example, it shouldn’t be a big deal if your child eats the wrong meat at a birthday party or forgets to pray during sleepovers. Yet, the child might see it as the end of the world due to fear of being punished over something that should not be on their little shoulders.

Diversity

Suppose a child is only exposed to other kids from similar religious views. In that case, they are missing out on precious experiences like learning about different cultures and embracing diversity. This will confuse them once they are in the real world and create problems when they meet with people who do not meet their religious criteria.

Gender bias

Many religions promote strict gender roles that are outdated and potentially harmful. Forcing these gender roles can turn boys into toxic men and leave girls behind despite their initial willingness to learn and do great things in their lives. It can also teach boys and girls that staying in toxic environments is okay. Finally, most religions tend to punish or dismiss members who are not straight. These teachings from childhood can translate into adulthood, and the consequences are often disastrous.

Emotional strength

Children should learn to find strength in themselves instead of looking at a higher power. In small doses, a connection between a child and a divine force can give them comfort and guidance, but essentially, they need to learn to cope with their emotions, including negative ones, because they will need it once they are out on their own.

Adaptability

In a world with around 4000 recognized faiths, teaching a child that their religion is the only one that is real is not doing them any favors. This is not something that could harm them in adulthood. It is an issue that could arise while children are still in preschool and harm their connections and how they form relationships with other children.

Decision making

Religions are not based on evidence. However, when you’re making a challenging decision, you need facts, and that’s why teaching critical thinking and leaning on hard-based evidence can help your child do better. While faith can fill one’s heart, rational thinking should not be discouraged.

Unconditional love

Finally, most religions teach that love is unconditional, and it is a universal theme of love found in all religious traditions. However, teaching a child such big words like “unconditional” can leave marks. It removes their power to stand up for injustice and leaves them vulnerable. Children flourish when given unconditional affection, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be taught boundaries.

Proceed with caution

Many aspects of faith can benefit a child’s development. However, it is up to parents and others involved in a child’s life to ensure that a child understands there is more to life than religion. It includes freedom of thinking, expressing themselves, and properly communicating with kids who are different while being capable of standing up for themselves and facing challenges.

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