I ran into an old friend the other day during a Fourth of July celebration. He is a devout Christian that I grew up with. He now has two daughters (identical twins) and one son. Where have the time gone? Nonetheless he told me that he was having some problems with his 4 year old son. Apparently the son no longer wants to go to church. The son claims that he wants to be like his mother and stay home. The mother is an atheist. My friend, who by the way name is Travis, has been trying to convert Amber (the mother of the son) for the longest but it doesn’t seem to be working (can’t say I am mad about that). To complicate things more Travis is married to a devout catholic who has made it her mission to see that Travis’ and her twin daughters are raised catholic and that Travis’ son is also raised catholic which is a major problem with Amber. Amber has half custody of the son, whose name is Joshua. Joshua does live with his father and step-mother for two months during the summer and is currently residing with his father today. The mother has tried to get full custody of the child and even have tried to get a court order preventing Travis and his wife from religiously influencing and forcing religion on this child but the problem is Travis and his wife live in Texas and Amber lives in South Carolina and so no court wants to “deny the child religious privileges” Though Amber, whom I also know very well, has never asked me for any advise on the matter, I have offered some advice to Travis. Of course Travis didn’t like my advice when I told him that the child has a right to reject any religious belief and if the child prefers to take after the mother then there is nothing wrong with this. I told Travis that educating the child on multiple religions including their origin is perfectly acceptable but forcing one particular form of religion on the child is just wrong and should be considered a form of abuse. Needless to say we haven’t spoken since. I felt at the time that I offered some good sound advice but maybe I was wrong and maybe I jumped to one-side too quickly. What do you think, was I wrong?

NOTE: I replaced the real names with alias in order to protect the person’s privacy.

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Replies to This Discussion

You did what you think is right...there is nothing wrong with that. And I agree with you, but do you really need my approval? ;)
Even if it is true, maybe you should have avoided the word, "abuse." More than likely, any advice other than agreeing with him would have fallen on deaf ears, but you almost guarantee it by equating his child rearing practices as harmful.

Then again, their isn't really any nice way to tell someone that their firmly held belief is a pile of garbage. I'm just sorry that you ended up losing a friend. I hope all works out for the little boy.
If you wanted to retain his friendship, telling him that you believe the way he wishes to raise his kids is abuse probably wasn't the best way of putting it. ;) Parents generally tend to get pretty defensive over that kind of thing.

Other than that, assuming he asked for your advice and even if he didn't you stated your opinion which he is free to consider or not. I don't think you were too one sided, just that you could have edited yourself a bit so he might actually hear what you had to say. He didn't exactly pick the best audience when he confided to you that he was having this problem now did he? (assuming he knows you are an atheist).




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