This exchange took place in my car a few days ago:
My daughter, age 5: “Mommy, I think [other child in her class in RE] really believes God is real.”
She said this thoughtfully, but as an interesting remark, not a matter of concern but simply something to make conversation about.
My son, age 10, who is, himself, a pretty devout atheist: “Well, [sister], that’s a totally okay belief to have.”
He said this with a somewhat superior tone of voice, the way an older sibling does when letting a younger sibling know what’s what in the world.
Me, “Yes, it is.”
Other things overtook the conversation at that point, but it was definitely an ‘I must be doing something right’ moment for me as a mom.
And as a religious educator. When I shared this story on a social media site, a friend of mine from college days (who is, as far as I know, not a UU – possibly because she doesn’t live near a congregation – but posts stuff about atheism and humanism regularly) commented, “The benefits of a UU upbringing!”
Of course, my kids live with me and my husband, and we do our best to both model and encourage the values of respect and acceptance of a variety of beliefs about God. But they also come to BuxMont almost every week (price of being the DRE’s kids) and they get to hear the same messages from their volunteer teachers, their peers, their minister, and others here.
The more you are here with us, the more chances YOUR kids will have for that same kind of modeling and encouragement to come from many people. Otherwise, they may only ever hear it from you or you and a few others in a world that seems to encourage polarization and conflict about religious and spiritual beliefs.
If you value that, I hope we’ll see you soon. You and your children are welcome as you are – busy, flustered, hurting, happy, enduring, thriving, overwhelmed, in need of more, or content with life.