Guiding children through learning about other religions and cultures

I have a 12 year old daughter who enjoys learning about cultures different from her own and about other religions besides Christianity (in the culture context, so it seems). She’s grown up avidly watching international gymnastics, and I think this has created a comfort level with and measure of intrigue for different cultures, languages, and religions. I mostly think this is a good thing, but I am a little concerned about her interest in other religions. I would prefer she continue to be very grounded and learn more about the Christian faith before being further introduced to pagan beliefs. Are there any suggestions from parents, counselors, or others with wisdom on the matter on how best to handle this curiosity? I’m thinking of teaching her Christian apologetics but am not good at it myself and have so much to learn.

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What an extremely important question you have raised. My eldest daughter is only 7 so I do not feel qualified to comment but I am very interested. I live in China and just yesterday had to meet with my daughter’s PE teacher to explain that we do not want her practicing Yoga in PE. Guiding our children is quite the challange!

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@Leah, I agree with you that curiosity is a good thing! As a parent, I think its better for our kids to gain knowledge about other religions when they are still under our care. One idea I have is an introduction to different worldviews by a christian author as it will have good boundaries as she learns about other religions. I however do not have recommendations on books geared for young children on worldview. Another option is to introduce books on biographies of missionaries. With our kids, we have had to talk about how views differ among Hindus and Christians by sharing our own experiences and going over some scripture with them - ten commandments, golden calf incident in Exodus, story of Jonah, prophets message about idolatry in the Old testament etc. Natasha Crain’s books on apologetics are also great for conversations with middle school aged kids for more grounding in faith. Sacred books on other religions and real life experimentation with other religions would certainly be something that I would steer away from. At a young age, such exposure could be detrimental to her spiritual growth. I hope that helps. Good question! I look forward to recommendations on books that others may have.

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@Lakshmismehta, thank you for the several suggestions. I think they will prove helpful.

A quick search for Natasha Crain’s books brought up a few results. Is there one in particular you’d recommend over the others? I saw one called “Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith” that sounds intriguing.

The Bible stories you mentioned would present good opportunities to discuss differences in beliefs, practices, results of adherence, etc.

I’m particularly interested in what missionary stories would offer insight with a Christian worldview. My daughter does not like to read, but she would dig movies about such things. Even a couple years ago or better she took interest in the movie “Sheffey” about Robert Sheffey. More recently a couple of films we’ve come across that have elements of missionary work really snagged her attention. So, I think your missionary suggestion could be very useful.

I definitely want to supply the material to meet this curiosity and it not be left to internet browsing with possible perilous exposure to wrong ideas and ideologies. (Like Ravi says, ideas have consequences.)

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Wow, @brianlalor. Way to safeguard your child. I’m curious how that went. I have the impression China isn’t an area where Christian beliefs would be respected in a school setting, but that could be a wrong impression.

If your daughter was aware of your concern and discussion with the teacher, how did she seem to view your intervention? Did you have to explain to her why yoga was not acceptable?

I hope this conversation turns up some useful tools for us and other parents/guardians trying to guide our children. @Lakshmismehta shared some really good suggestions in this thread.

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Hey Sister!

I have a smart, inquisitive 13 year old daughter who started a new school that is very forward on “respect the individual and their beliefs - there is no wrong answer, only preference”. And, coming out of a Christian, faith-based elementary school, it has been an adjustment for her. As a middle schooler, she is already wrestling with many of the ReBoot topics. And, she has a kind heart for others and raised the , “why did God create people for hell?” question recently. So, I know she is trying to process and digest a lot. But, I also understand that she has a lot of homework and required readings, so I consider that reading, for her, is probably not the best answer.

The foundational thing I have let her know is that God is not afraid of questions and welcomes them from people that seek Him. God is perfect truth and we look to God to provide us the factual way to view the world and ourselves. And, that the Christian faith, consequently, is open to any and all questions. I have told her to not be anxious, if someone asks her a question or raises a challenging topic that she doesn’t know how to answer or square with the faith, especially from an adult, as they have had advanced training. But, I’ve told her I’m her Cliff’s Notes ready resource and that, if I don’t have a sufficient answer, I’ll track one down for her. I’m trying to make it safe for her to voice any and all questions. I agree with Lakshmi that it is better to deal with aspects of this while they’re at home and we still have influence than to leave it to the church or school or friends.

In regard to methods, aside from those mentioned, I would add that I’ve had my kids ask for an allowance but I’ve redirected that to watching 10-20 minute videos from Ravi, Ramsden and others as a way to earn spending money. There are many great short video resources that you can track down and view to figure out, which types would work best for your daughter, if something like this makes sense to you. An ancillary benefit has been that she is scoring straight A’s in her Logic and Ethics class while most are struggling.

Hope there’s something in here that helps!

Kevin

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John @kumquat, thank you for that feedback. What you said at the front is what I want to help my daughter understand.

The foundational thing I have let her know is that God is not afraid of questions and welcomes them from people that seek Him. God is perfect truth and we look to God to provide us the factual way to view the world and ourselves.

My daughter doesn’t ordinarily ask me questions: I spill information haha. She is rather quiet and not one to open up about what’s on her mind. I often just start talking about whatever is on my heart to tell her. She’s usually gracious to listen for a few minutes anyway. I hope when she bumps into her own serious questions that she’ll ask them of me.

I’m impressed that your daughter is having Logic and Ethics at 13. My daughter had a raised-brow reaction to that and liked that your daughter is making A’s as a result of listening to Ramsden and Ravi talks. This puts me in a good seat to present the topics and videos to her. Boy, it is hard to capture her attention sometimes. I may need to use your learn-to-earn approach!

Thanks again.

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@Leah, sorry for the late reply. Glad that was helpful! Yes, I was thinking about “Talking with your kids about God” by Natasha Crain, a book similar to what you saw online. It may be a book to consider discussing during family meals or devotional time. It has some conversation questions at the end of each chapter. I bought the book and I realized I would have to wait until middle school to use it as my kids are still in elementary school. As far as missionary stories, our kids really like all of the “Torchlighter” movies by “The voice of the martyrs” or the book series, “Christian Heroes then and now”. For example, the story of Amy Carmichael and Ida Scudder gave a glimpse into Hinduism/India for our children.

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I gladly report that I found the Torchlighter series on PureFlix. Yes! I’m looking forward to us watching it. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Leah @Leah. This is such a timely topic and one dear to my heart. I have recently finished reading “Forensic Faith” by J. Warner Wallace. I’ll refer to it as (FF) He is an LA, California, cold case detective and a former atheist. He came to faith by reading the Bible the same way he studies cold cases. (FF) teaches how to read the Scriptures evidentially in order to answer tough objections to Christianity.
He is also adamant that young children to teenagers be taught how to defend their faith so they are not led astray by false teaching and atheistic propaganda through the educational system and on into college. He has written two books geared especially to young children. One is “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids” and another “God’s Crime Scene for Kids”. They are fun reads and will ground young children to teens in their faith. He has written the same books two books with the same titles for adults.
Google his website: https://coldcasechristianity.com/ You will find a wealth of resources that he offers free. You can go to his blog from his website as well. I think your daughter will find some age appropriate resources and love it.

(Forgive the lengthiness of this post.) A little advice from a grandmother: Many years ago my daughter was in public school when Family Life Education (FLE) became mandatory in my state. I, along with several other Christian parents, fought it tooth and nail because it was introducing topics that have now become accepted as norm today–the very thing we feared. I don’t know if such curriculum is even labeled FLE anymore, but one thing I did then for my daughter was opted her out of the class that taught these unChristian subjects. There was an “Opt Out” form I had to fill out first. What I did was opted her out of the entire curriculum. However, because I knew she could be singled out by her teachers and friends, I used reversed strategy. Because the curriculum considered 14-17 year olds “adult” enough to make their own decisions (I took this from their own Standards of Learning guidelines), I noted on the form that since she was considered an adult by their own standards, she had my permission to to make her own decision as to what she wanted to be taught. I also stated that she should be given alternative topics, consistent with her own standards and beliefs–not sent to the library for wasted time. One subject that was given her was to calculate the cost of having a baby. (We happened to have a neighbor who was expecting at the time, so it was a great assignment.) My daughter successfully navigated the curriculum and actually became the envy of her fellow classmates and gained the respect of her teacher. (She was 16 at the time.)
Again, I’m not sure how things work today, but I tell you this as a possible example and way around subjects you are concerned about your daughter learning. Be creative with your daughter’s school when it comes to what she is being taught about other cultures and religions. Get involved creatively so that your daughter isn’t embarrassed at having her mother at school. She’s getting to that age if she is 12.

I now have two granddaughters that my daughter has placed in Christian school because of the public school environment and teaching. It is not by way of sheltering them because, at this particular school, they are taught these other cultures and beliefs, but are then taught the Christian response so that when they go into the world, they will know these worldviews and how to respond. I realize this is not a viable solution for every family, and there may not be Christian schools in your community. Homeschooling also has come a long way and there are co-ops that share the responsibility of teaching various subjects.
I think the other suggestions you’ve been offered will be great paths for you to take. I pray that your daughter will be able to remain strong and true to her faith because it is getting so much harder than when my daughter was in school ?? years ago :wink:

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