At what age should children?

The Thrive course or Training Programme as they prefer to call it that Suze and l are taking is a very interesting, structured course that is designed to push you and challenge your beliefs. Where did they start from, were they choices or did you inherit them from others, did they form through peer pressure, or did they begin with your parents? Or were they yours and always yours?

Many of the beliefs that we have had over the years are formed with us and sometimes we are not always sure where they came from or when and how and why we ever started believing them.

There are a lot of beliefs that the course examines, and it is NOT a course that is instructing a believer to NOT believe, it is simply a way of allowing people to look at how they choose to control their lives as in – do they have full control or do they allow outside influences to control their lives to make life easier for them?

It is an interesting undertaking because Suze is taking the course due to low self-esteem and l am taking the course to help her get through, but my self-esteem is much higher and in truth l don’t really need the course. But learning is learning, and all new teachings is in fact a form of power with regards knowledge – the more you know the more you process.

As we work through the chapters, and currently we are in Chapter 3 – How powerful do you feel? Which is a chapter that starts to explore where our beliefs began in the first place but also, how much control we have with them and additionally it focuses on a person’s coping skills dealing with internal and external thought processing?

Of course, many people seemingly think that beliefs really are only to do with religions, but they’re not. Beliefs cover all sorts of topics from religion, to superstitions and phenomena, to mental and physical health issues and disorders, to addictions and habits to cultural influences, to the stars and horoscopes to seasonal celebrations and the list, the fascinating list goes on and on covering all sorts of things that people buy into with regards belief and what they choose to believe in.

It looks at how capable you believe yourself to be as a person coping ……….. or sadly for some, not.

As l was working through the chapter l was taking notes and jotting down some facts and figures and nodding my head in agreement at some paragraphs and shaking my head in disagreement at others. This is a course that can make you really question everything you have ever thought you believed or for that matter still believe that you do believe in them and as enlightening as that can be at times, equally it is incredibly frustrating. You have to try and detach the emotion [which is easier for me] and look at everything in a clinical and objective manner [again easy for me] but just because it might be easier for me, it doesn’t always mean it is EASY to the eye and the brain.

It talks of the power others have over you and if you choose to allow others to have that power over you or not and whilst as adults no longer living with parents you can view things with one set of eyes, equally you have to then consider the impact that ‘powerful others” can have over you like those in authority, those you respect, those you love, those you are friends with, those you look up to – which in basic terms equates to doctors, friends, family, peers, siblings, politicians, police and parents.

How much power of belief do those outside influences have on you, that is NOT in your control to stop? The answer is that those with a very strong foundational balance and high in self-esteem can and do control their own lives and do not rely upon outside influences to ‘control aspects’ of their lives because they can deal with what life throws at them with ease by themselves.

We briefly touched on superstitions last night and l thought okay, so saying things like ‘old wives tales’, ‘touching wood’ and so on, might be classed as superstitions, but how many of us say those things not through a font of belief but merely because we were indoctrinated into those beliefs by our parents when we lived at home as children and all that has happened is that we continue to use the terms NOT because we buy into it, but because they have become as much as a way of our language as the very word ‘and’.

But the more l read and in turn discussed with Suze how much influence our parents had over us as youngsters and parents still have over their children today, it did make me think on something else …. what age should children be indoctrinated into their parent’s belief system and more importantly, should we endeavour to enforce our own beliefs onto our children?

Let’s be honest that is where most of us learn the very basics of our early belief systems … and as we age, yes many of us exercise our rights of choice to say ‘yay or nay’ to early beliefs that were taught, and we learned.

I was born into a Roman Catholic family. My mother was a Salvation Army girl when young, but upon marrying my father was forced to become Roman Catholic. My father’s parents wanted their first-born son to become a Roman Catholic priest but my father had other ideas and so began the war between he and his parents.

When my parents and l left England as a young family in 1965 and emigrated to Australia and then when my father was posted to Malaysia with the RAAF in 1968 l was still very much a Catholic and a practising one at that – l will say now that l remember at that age not being happy with the situation. But also all these years on, being instructed to pray at the bottom of my bed by both of my parents as well as attending Sunday school in Butterworth in 1969 when l was 6. However, on a visit back to England in 1970 a few things happened to me and not forgetting an incident in 1969 with my mother which made me question much of everything in my life even at that young age.

My father had a massive falling out with his parents during the 1970 visit about religion and suddenly he was no longer a practising Catholic, although my mother still tried to enforce her own beliefs onto my sister and myself until 1972 when we were living back in Australia. I do recall not wanting to pray and not wanting to believe in God.

“I should be allowed the choice to NOT believe in what my parents believed in … ” l used to argue with her which always awarded me a clout across the head with the back of her hand. My father supported me, but my mother would berate me, belittle me and otherwise attempt to humiliate me for my beliefs or lack of belief in ‘God’ but l chose another path.

By the time l was 14 [1977] my mother had finally agreed to leave me, and my beliefs be, but it caused a massive rift between us…… but also at that time, l was starting to challenge many beliefs that l had grown up with that my parents had introduced to me.

Years later or if you want clarity, from between the years of 2017 – 2021 l started to heavily criticise all of my own beliefs and a few months ago and long before Thrive was on the scene l made the decision to DROP all of my beliefs into a bucket and just get on with my life.

Therefore reading this course, is at times a real eye opener in some ways and merely a nodding head syndrome in others, but last night we were reading about how that as when we were children, our first introduction into the belief system is with our parents – they exercise their rights as our parents to introduce their belief systems to us and until we are of a certain age [irrelevant to whether we believe them or not] we must – whilst living under their roof – obey them.

This then made me think … why should we? Where do our rights come into play – why can our parents simply not introduce and educate us on core values, but leave aside beliefs until we are of an age to appreciate them more and make decisions for ourselves? I remember seeing a debate a couple of years ago where upon, an organisation was trying to convince people, that children from as young as 3 probably and 5 most assuredly knew what gender they wanted to be – so if they were born a different gender to what they wanted to be, they would know.

Okay, so if that is true, surely children as young as five can decide what they want to be taught with regards beliefs also?

The question today is … at what age should children be indoctrinated into their parents belief system?

Let me know your thoughts below.

Thanks.

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32 thoughts on “At what age should children?

  1. Nobody should be forced to practice a religion unless they want to. Parents can provide information and fact about what they believe in and lead by example. It’s a very personal thing and differs from faith to faith. One thing I’m sure of is if the child knows the logic of religious practices, they are more likely to understand the why, and follow them too.

    1. Interesting answer Sadje – a further question to you though – where you say

      “if the child knows the logic of religious practices, they are more likely to understand the why, and follow them too. ”

      I ask comparable to what as a definition? “What is ‘logical religous practice compared to ?’

      Also if the child decided to NOT follow the religion being taught would that be acceptable?

      1. The logic of religion is what convinces a person to follow it as the right path. The illogical practices found in many faiths confuse and alienate people from religion. If we know why we believe or do certain things, and we are convinced that they are the right ones, we are more likely to follow them. Take Roman Catholics for example: they have a lot of rituals going on which sometimes ordinary people cannot understand and hence they stray away from their faith.
        If a child chooses not to follow the religion of their parents, who can force them? I’ve seen many people, including my own siblings let go of their faith and I understand the reason. It was the lack of understanding the logic behind it in the first place.

        1. It would take too long to explain in a comment. But I’d put it simply that my faith/religion is very straightforward. It tells us that God created the universe and everything in it. Our purpose here is to be good to each other, be kind and generous. Every good deed brings us closer to God.

  2. Children get enough indoctrination by osmosis from Day One without engaging in an indoctrination campaign. Of course you should explain your beliefs and you will be asked about them all along the way unless you have scared them off with indoctrination. If you are smart, you will also explain how others believe differently and respect their own differences as they find their own path. At least that is my view.

  3. Ooh – fun question. And here is too much information LOL

    My own “indoctrination” was pretty liberal – it didn’t matter to my parents what church we went to – the rule was come Sunday morning our butts were in a pew somewhere – anywhere. Folks think all Italians are Roman Catholic – couldn’t be further from the truth. My father and his father and most of his relatives were Masons – some of the women in the family were Eastern Star – so NOT Catholic. My mother’s family were Catholic but only as it was convenient. I have no idea if I was baptized, there are no records. My elder male sibling took to the Catholic church like a duck to water – my only exposure within memory was the free lunch program in the Summer that the Catholic church provided to us poor kids in the projects. I didn’t like those people or their attitude or their fancy church. I told my mother when I was 7 I wasn’t ever going to go there for any reason, she said OK since we are moving soon you can chose a church when we move…I went to a Lutheran church for awhile, didn’t like it, when I was 12 I went to a Congregational Church and there I found a home. My family followed me from church to church. My elder male sibling made first holy communion in the Catholic church, confirmation in the Lutheran church and became a deacon in the Congregational Church. The Congregational Church was the only one my younger brother ever attended.

    Oh and to make things more interesting, my mother always expressed a desire to convert to Judaism –

    So – I have no answer to your question. I don’t have children so I don’t know how I would have handled religious education for them. My stepchildren didn’t have any religious instruction and I don’t know what, or if, my granddaughters have been, or ever will be, exposed to organized religion.

      1. I don’t know what her thinking was – maybe just to have us out of the house on Sunday morning so she didn’t have to deal with us for a couple of hours? Neither of my parents were very involved with us – they made us do what was required. It was required to go to school, so we did. Somewhere along the line my parents had the idea that we should go to church, so we did. The details were never important and they didn’t really care.

  4. I told my children what I believed and why… and they would have to decide for themselves. One daughter is much like me and one is not ~ I’m fine with that. Their father didn’t have much influence because he was hardly around (his choice)…

  5. Children learn about the world from their parents, so it’s inevitable that they’ll be exposed to their parent’s beliefs. In terms of religion, I’m not sure that shoulds are even relevant, because individual parents are going to do what they think is right for their family/

    1. Interesting answer Ashley, and l do agree with you – although l think that today parents need to consider more wisely the decisions they make for their children tomorrow.

  6. We are pack animals, and like to fit in, so if we learn to follow the pack leaders and get along, then we survive. Sometimes, choice is not an option.

      1. Not really. We are a tribe, a community, and the first community is the family. Without the family, we die (even if not physically, it can be emotionally, psychologically; an abandonment of not having that initial bond to family/pack/tribe). We need that initial connection, or there is nothing solid to grasp. There is no history in the void of unknowing.

        1. People can survive without family and in many cases without community. Their lives/life may not be enriched as others see it, but they don’t need either to function.

        2. Not at 8yo, not at 12yo, maybe not at 14yo if they want to be educated.
          It’s not about enrichment — that’s a goal, but survival always comes first. A child doesn’t survive without someone ensuring their welfare for a good number of years.
          Once we reach a stage of life where we can make a choice, we do. We break away from the family/group and join up with those who appear to have the same outlook/goals as we do.
          As a child, though, I don’t think anything is more important that belonging in the tribe (getting fed and sheltered).
          Your question was about children and choices, and my response is based on that.

        3. I see what you are saying regarding your answer and the influence and the importance of the community of family, l understand that.

          To some the rights to choose might not be an option, but choice should always be an option that is on the table at the same time as being fed, watered, and kept safe as well as being educated.

          All parents should be ever mindful of all they provide children in the core areas of development irrelevant to the age of the children. I agree that welfare is key, is paramount to survival if you wish.

          In my opinion, giving children the right of choice helps them towards their independence as well as it allows them a sense of inner power and control and is one of the first moves towards growing up.

          Parents are role models to their children, or they should be, and they must make decisions on what they are teaching is right or wrong for that child. Of course, there is no guideline per parent instructing them how to act with child a, b or c – just common sense and where applicable logical decision making.

          Choices and decision-making walk hand in hand – the question really is maybe at what age do parents consider their children capable of making choices in their eyes.

          How l have answered is based upon my own experiences with my family and growing up with two narcissistic parents.

  7. My parents disagreed on religion. I was taken to Sunday school and dropped off. Neither of my parents stayed with me.

    Once I went to college, I was able to explore other religions either by going to other churches or by doing research. I never joined a church, however, I have faith in our creator and that’s all I need.

    I am not a fan of organized religion, however, I feel children should be able to make their own choice.

    Excellent question and discussion, Rory!

    1. Hey Eugenia, yes l think ‘organised religion is similar to organised crime’ and children should have the fullest of choice made available to them. I can understand how some with faith would find comfort in the more community oriented religions.

      1. Rory, I was a commercial insurance underwriter and my company would not consider churches for coverage, for the same reason you stated. Many don’t realize that. Yes, some community oriented religions can be a good thing for wayward children.

  8. oy! I was totally indoctrinated. Even taught about other religions (Christian – which weren’t Christian). I started off indoctrinating my children. But then I stopped, maybe a bit too late. I’m still wandering. But coming to realize I believe there is a spirit/magical world, and I’m drawn to Mother Nature -Gaia.

    Is this course offered worldwide?

  9. My own faith says eight years of age is old enough to choose for oneself. Nobody gets indoctrinated, well they’re not SUPPOSED to get indoctrinated. You do get over zealous parents in every religion I’m sure.

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