My kids and I pray and meditate but we don't go to church. Not sure if it's because of all of the mediocre to bad experiences I've had or because I don't really like groups of people... I can't tell. Either way we don't go to church.
One day while having a conversation about "control" we got on the topic of "Does God Control You"... Heavy stuff. We arrived here because I explained to my kids that I did not control them. As their mother I am guiding and teaching them but I don't "control" them. They have free will to choose and there are consequences for their actions. Kids believe that their parents have magical power over them. I wish but not true.
Explaining consequences was a simple lesson in karma and "cause and effect". If I throw a ball against the wall it will hit the wall and come back; the harder I throw it the faster it will return... karma. If I flip the light switch, the room then goes dark... cause and effect. Maybe not the best analogies but that's what I used.
Well then my child asks, does God have control over everything. This was interesting because parents, parishioners and people in general can only answer this question based on their religious beliefs and affiliation... and well everyone thinks they are right. So I said to my kid, "That's a good question. Some people believe that God has ultimate control over everything but we still have free will so that means we either don't have free will or God doesn't control everything". I told her that for some people life is like a video game. You get points; and at the end, you go to a good or bad place when it's over. I then continued, "Some people believe that God started everything and then it's all just here sloshing around. Some people think that there is no god or deity at all".
I then asked her about what she thought based upon the way we live. She confirmed that she does believe that god exists and that "God controls her life". I asked why. She said she "didn't know". Red flag! I told her it's not good to believe in something if you don't know why. So I asked her to continually search for why she believes something is true. I told her that you can't just take someone's word for it. Upon deep thought, you must come to your answer. This answer is not because of what others think but from what you believe in your heart to be true. I also let her know that in all thing she should question, have faith, be able to accept being wrong and find solace in uncertainty. We then agreed that our life is a testament to our good works; the way that we treat people and nature; our ability to act with grace and our continued thanksgiving for our lot in life.
I want my kids to believe that they are not the beginning and end of the universe. I think that when we get caught up in what club we belong to, we forget about the good things that many religions try to express. If we are able to move beyond tenants and traditions and focus on our actions, we can inspire change and touch the lives of others.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.