The fear of Hell for children.

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Matthew Redbeard Farquhar's picture
The fear of Hell for children.

I've been an atheist for about three years now. I'm 31 and I grew up in a very religious Christian cult. Where fear of hell was very prominent. Since I've discovered my identity and brains and became atheist I'm now dealing with the same situation with my 8 year old daughter.

I'm the only atheist in my family. Two parents who are divorced and 5 brother and sisters. I have allowed in the past to let my daughter to go to church with them because she loves being with them and seeing her cousins, who also.attend the church. I allowed this, because I wanted my daughter to make her own mind up. I did however, explain to her that Jesus and what the bible says is only something her family believes in and is not the truth. And I teach her science and evolution (Richard Dawkin' s book The Magic of Reality was a big help) and tell her this is what we know to be true.

One afternoon she came home from church and asked to talk to me. She had said her Sunday school teach had told her she must believe in Jesus or go to hell and burn. This angered me to know end and I told it was not true and they used that to scare people into believing what they did. It was a big topic for her because her mother died a few years back of an accidental drug overdose. And I've been delicately dancing around the topic, for I don't believe in heaven or hell and she knows that.

I guess what I'm getting at is if anyone may have any help they can offer in a such a tender situation I'd appreciate it. I want what's best for my daughter and don't want her living in constant fear as I did growing up.

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Chey97.'s picture
I grew up in a Christian home

I grew up in a Christian home as well so I understand the pressure one feels due to the theory of hell and gods rath. I'm sorry to hear of your struggles I too have trouble with the thought of death due to the fact that I don't believe in a heaven or hell so I don't speak of the topic much. Your daughter seems to be very open minded despite her age. I think your choice to allow her to choose what she believes to be a good idea that way she can explain why he does or does not believe is something. The issue with hell is a strong fear to any child whom has been threated with it just due to the fact of not knowing if its true or not. In my own opinion I think you should maybe try explaining to you daughter that there is no proof of such a dark and dreadful place. Also I know that when I was younger and when I'm with the two children I babysit it matters how you act when your telling them something. All children are different but it help me when they ask me something that I can't prove in a way that they would understand. I just tell them with confidence and with out showing any fear of hell or whatever it is that scaring them. If you don't show fear of the monster under the bed or hell then it shows them that they don't have anything to worry about. Children trust what you say and how you react to things because you are the person that protects and loves them. I really hope this helps Matthew please let me know if it does or doesn't. Best of Wishes. .

efpierce's picture
This is a tough spot for

This is a tough spot for anybody. You want what's best for your children but you still want them to be part of your family. I take it with a grain of salt with my wife's family and we usually avoid talking about the subject of religion so as to avoid any conflict. We all know where we stand on it and we don't cross any lines.

Pathway Machine's picture
I believe in giving children,

I believe in giving children, as young as possible, all of the facts or possibilities so that they will be better equipped, not just to believe like me, but make up their own mind. Do you know what a god is? What other people think it is? That it is really real or not? That we evolved? That there is disagreement in all of these things?

If a child has been introduced to one idea of hell, tell the child of others, including, but not limited to, your own ideas. I made a pretty good thread on this forum regarding the mythical pagan hell which was introduced to your daughter, and how the Bible doesn't teach it. Feel free to use it.

Zaphod's picture
I think you already did the

I think you already did the best thing you can do, I'm sure being a father and seeing your child suffering must make you want to do more but you already did the best things you can do and they are A. being honest with your self b. being honest with your child. C. let her learn and grow on her own. last but not least C. being there for your child when they needed you.

To me, I like to believe we live on in the thoughts and memories of those who survive us some longer than others. I also believe in personal hells and heavens but not as actual places people go when they die. Some people believe we are already in heaven and hell if that the case its just how you interpret your own life. I do like the thread PM made on the origin of the word hell though. I think he helled it pretty good.

Matthew Redbeard Farquhar's picture
Thank tiny all for your

Thank tiny all for your feedback. It seems an up hill battle with my whole family being religious, but I'm holding my own. I am going to check out the forum about hell from pathway machine. Than you again.

sarahevanston's picture
I think today's children need

I think today's children need something to be afraid of instead of sitting around playing video games, doing drugs and being dropout losers. If it's not Hell, it will be prison for some and a living Hell for the rest of them if they aren't taught the right way to live their lives. And I don't want to hear any boo-hooing about how children have it rough with this world we are leaving them; today's children are greedy, selfish and thoughtless which all needs to change.

SammyShazaam's picture
Personally, I'd rather my

Personally, I'd rather my kids go to prison than hell. But maybe that's just me?

Hamlet's picture
Prison is a real thing. Being

Prison is a real thing. Being in prison is often hellish.
I'd rather my son not go to prison, we have no fear that he'd go to Hell.

SammyShazaam's picture
Lol, I've seen plenty of

Lol, I've seen plenty of people get out of prison before... but never hell. Just saying.

ginamoon's picture
I do not think it is proper

I do not think it is proper to make children fear of hell or things. Better to let them properly know that there are consequences for everything they will do. That there would be hell for those who will do evil. :P

Pathway Machine's picture
I agree, completely. Its

I agree, completely. Its interesting to me . . . I have a family member who is a Jehovah's Witness, and they don't teach hell. They approached a local preacher who teaches hell and told him that the Bible didn't teach hell, that it was pagan in origin from Babylonian mythology, and much to their surprise he told them that he knew that. So they asked him if he taught hell to his congregation in order to scare them into attendance and he laughed and told them, no, he taught it to them because if he didn't he would be out of a job.

You see, unlike what many unbelievers think, hell doesn't frighten believers in hell, but rather, the tradition appeals to them because it creates a false sense of moral superiority. Its a xenophobic inferiority complex.

SammyShazaam's picture
That's really interesting. I

That's really interesting. I often wondered why the church focuses so much energy on hell, particularly when preaching to a congregation of the so-called "saved". Wouldn't it be completely irrelevant to them, since they're not going to be going there anyway?

Something about chalking it all up to be a simple inferiority complex doesn't feel quite right to me (maybe because I was hoping that it would be something more complex). Why do humans feel better about sending people who disagree with them to burn in hell? Of course, I do feel that way sometimes, lol, but I try to put it out of my mind as fast as possible since I know that such a feeling is unproductive and unnecessarily stressful to myself and the disagreeable parties involved :)

CyberLN's picture
Matthew, you're a good parent

Matthew, you're a good parent. Your concern for your daughter is evidence of that. I've had the honor of raising four kids (two I gave birth to, two I didn't). I raised my kids without a heaven, no hell. They have all turned into wonderful adults who are decent and caring. What I can share about my experience is that eight year olds don't have the same ability to think critically as you did in your late twenties. Eight year olds want to please the big people (adults) in their lives. They depend on and trust them. Trust is the key here...if some folks they love and trust, the theists in your family, tell her things, her instinct and desire is to believe them. She doesn't have all the tools she needs yet to decide all on her own yet. Trust your instincts. You have every right as her father to set ground rules with your family. You get, if you want, to tell them that if they want to continue to benefit from a relationship with her they cannot take her to that church or threaten her with hell. There is simply no reason to scare children.

mattyn's picture
I agree with CyberLN, you

I agree with CyberLN, you shouldn't have to scare children to get them to do what you want. A caring home with concerned parents is all they need to grow up the right way.

Hamlet's picture
Even the best and most

Even the best and most appropriate parenting is no guarantee that ones offspring will be productive, law abiding citizens.

SammyShazaam's picture
If I had to choose, I'd want

If I had to choose, I'd want a productive child over a law abiding one. Especially with the system as it stands now!

Hamlet's picture
In the really olden days,

In the really olden days, when there was no Adderall or Ritalin they had to try something to keep those kids under control. :)

Zaphod's picture
You mean,.... they had to do

You mean,.... they had to do something!

efpierce's picture
Exactly! They had to get up

Exactly! They had to get up off of their butts and go outside, get some exercise and socialize face to face not face to computer screen. I am all for today's technology, I use it every day for work. What bugs me is the people that are constantly glued to their devices playing games and watching crap. All of these drugs are the same as religion, just a way to get your children to do what you want and to not think for themselves. I would liken the effects of these drugs to a living hell if I wasn't able to use my brain and think for myself.

CyberLN's picture
There are both kids who

There are both kids who should be and should not be on medication. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to medication. There are absolutely biological conditions that can (and should) be treated with medication so that a child can grow up without a skewed view of reality. That being said, there are parents, and doctors who give these meds inappropriately. Technology (tv, computers, gaming, smart phones, etc.) can be thought of the same way.
The answer is not just insisting they go outside and play.
What the REAL problem is, IMHO, is making babies for the wrong reasons. The only reason anyone should become a parent is a consuming desire to participate in the development of a fellow human being. Any other reason and the risk of raising a child who has issues is exponentially higher.

efpierce's picture
This could become one of

This could become one of those out of control topics, but are you saying that certain people shouldn't be allowed to have children CyberLN?

SammyShazaam's picture
Control is overrated :)

Control is overrated :)

I don't think everyone should reproduce, but I would be vehemently opposed to any aspiring authority that stepped up and declared themselves fit to make that judgement on someone else.

Zaphod's picture
Well said Sammy! Who is fit

Well said Sammy! Who is fit to judge who is fit to reproduce?

CyberLN's picture
My first instinct was to

My first instinct was to answer, "absolutely not" to your question. But that isn't specific enough. Are there people who should not have children? Hell yes there are! Should some sort of agency or person in power decide that? Hell no!

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