My Child Doesn't Believe in God. Is It My Fault?


Elizabeth Lindell: My 11-year-old daughter told me last week that she does not believe in God. She said it firmly, said that she stands by it and that a lot of people feel the way she does.

I told her that I agreed with her about evolution, and she replied with, "Well, then, what did God do?" I did not have an answer. I didn't know whether to feel extremely proud of her intelligence and strength to stand by her beliefs, or wonder if I had failed somewhere by not taking her to church or temple service. 

I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school, but when it came time for me to make my confirmation, I didn't want to do it. I was in seventh grade -- a year older than my daughter is now -- and I knew that standing up in front of our church and promising things that I didn't mean was fraudulent. But I did it anyway, because I felt I had no choice. 

I wanted my daughter to have choices. In our house, we don't have a Bible, but we do have books about people who seek or have sought to bring about peace and change in the world. I didn't have an answer for my child when she asked her question, but a few days later, while I was driving to pick her up from school, John Lennon's song "Imagine" came on the radio, and some of the lyrics helped things come into focus for me. 

Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today ....

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace ....

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one.

Later, I shared the song with my child (who has recently discovered music), and I told her something I learned in therapy -- which is my church; the place I seek wisdom. I explained that good and bad exist in all of us. It's not either angels or demons. We choose who we are, we choose our lives and goodness comes to us not because we prayed for it, but because we shared it and reached out for it. 

I realized, during that same conversation, that my child knows who she is and what she believes, and is proud to say it. That has been my biggest hope for her.


Popular Video