Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unschooling Religion

I think we are finally able to really call ourselves "whole life unschoolers" or "radical unschoolers" since we are no longer planning to force church(the last aspect we are finally letting go of). I have been reading a lot of books lately, I mean A LOT! They have been all unschooling or peaceful parenting related and the more I read, the more my thoughts have been swayed to believe that religion and radical unschooling really don't go together. This go round at the LDS church hasn't gone like I expected. My kids quickly embraced all their friends, but they have simply not embraced the church part of it. They hate sacrament and show disrespect during it no matter how many pleas I make and really I don't want kids who comply with something like this if they are truly not enjoying it. I am realizing that in order to really continue following unconditional/peaceful/authentic parenting, I cannot force my kids to go to church and if they do not want to go, I don't really have much desire either especially watching their distaste and Nate sleeping in the pew. The next order of business is Nate who has always jokingly called himself a "Natist" when it comes to religion. He is not into the lovey dovey parts of religion and it has always made him uncomfortable. I guess religion is something I have always searched for because its something I feel society expects of us and our homeschool group is uber religious as well, but I just don't know if its right for us at this time. I read my Bible and of course I believe in God, but for us, for our family, I think we need to give up organized religion. It feels wrong even though we are told it is right. Its inspirational and very moving many times, but something deep inside me feels it isn't right for us. Maybe this is why we searched out so many churchs, I was looking for somewhere that made us comfortable when in the end, none of them did because its not right for our family. My kids know who Jesus is and we talk lots and pray lots together, however, I just think our family has had a few interesting/annoying/hilarious/uncomfortable years in and our of different church's and many aspects of the Christian faith. I think my kids have had an amazing experience getting to pick out different church's to try, but ultimately, none of us can stand anywhere we go. The "teaching" for kids in church is so undermining of who my children are and they are smart little cookies because they complain incessantly about how the teachers talk to them like they are their pets or two year olds or something. They are quick to pick up on stuff like this because that isn't how we treat them. My kids are used to being respected as an equal, not some unknowing babies or dogs awaiting training so I believe this part of our lives makes church very hard on the kids. I think radical unschooling and institutional church settings just are not mixing well. Nate says we are naturists and we believe in nature and God and that's it. lol, who knows, but its funny to think about. I hate letting church friends down by not being able to commit to it all, but ultimately our family isn't going to work out in any church I don't think. That's alright though and I have really begun coming to terms with that being a high possibility over the past year. Some good books I have read lately that have helped me in my thinking about anything institutional including church are:
  • Unconditional Parenting
  • Learning All the Time
  • Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves
  • The Happy Child: Changing the Heart of Education


Andrea said...

What about trying a home church? Maybe setting it up in the living room after dinner or something. Make it relaxed but still have a message and read some. I plan on having a home church when I get older. I understand what you mean though. I just can't imagine not having my kids listen to messages or reading the bible everyday, so they can grow in Christ.

1bighappy said...

I have been following your blog for a long time, and though I have wanted to, I have not yet posted. I believe this is the time for me to post something.
I'd like to suggest reading the book Revolution by George Barna. I totally see you as a revolutionary, and I think this book will answer a lot of your questions as you are on your journey of faith.
The book talks of the housechurch movement that is taking place in America. It is nothing new, the New Testament references many "churches that met in the home".
I won't say much else, I could write pages on what being part of a housechurch has done for me, my faith, and my family.
Check out the book, I know it will change your life, and will provide you with the missing pieces you've so desperately been seeking.

Blessings to you and your family

sheri said...

I don't mean any disrespect (and you can certainly choose what you want to do with all of this) but sometimes in life, we do things we don't "want to do" or "fully enjoy". Does every working adult truly enjoy getting up and going to work each day? Of course not. Does every SAHM truly enjoy cleaning toilets and preparing several meals/day every day of every year? Of course not. But we do it because we know it's best. As adults we've (hopefully) learned that we don't always get to do everything we "want" to do. I have a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are there Sundays I'd rather stay in bed and not get everyone ready to go spend 3 hours at church? Of course there are. But I go because that's where I know I should be. I WANT to follow God's commandments...even if that means occasionally doing things I don't want to do. I have concerns for children that are raised w/out being taught this very basic lesson. Life doesn't suddenly change when you become a responsible adult. There will ALWAYS be things we/they don't want to do, but still need to do.
I don't expect you to change simply because I posted this on your blog, lol, just wanted to get that off my chest. Thank you for allowing me the venue to do so.

Sankat said...

I just wanted to let you know...
I am homeschooling my kids (6 kids total, 2 in formal homeschool). They are still disrespectful in the pews at Church. One time DH was there with 4 kids and they started walking back and forth on the pews DURING sacrament (we sit in the 4th row from the front)!!!! However, they do love the gospel. They haven't been much since our baby was born 2 months ago and it will take some time to get them back into the routine of sitting at Church.
Because we homeschool, they are not trained, like many of the other kids, to sit still and not talk. This is a challenge, but I know they love the Gospel. I love it, and I want to share it with them...even if they don't know how to sit still and enjoy sacrament at this point in time.

Heidi said...

Have you ever thought about home church? There is a huge home church movement right now of a few families getting together in their own homes to share prayers and worship together in the style and approach that they determine.

It sounds like in someways it is what you are already doing!

The Winkelman's said...

Janis, I'm sad to see that you aren't sure how religion can fit into your family's life with unschooling and what not. I hope that you can find a balance with it because we LOVE having you and your beautiful family at church. Just a thought, but maybe the chuch is just what your family needs to have some balance with unschooling. Your kids may find sacrament meeting difficult (just like ALL kids do, especially mine) but because the church offers soooo much more it may be worth it to give it another shot. Having a family that can be together forever, receiving modern day revelation from the prophets, feeling peace from the spirit, and so much more are all yours if you want it. God will give it all to you... please just pray about it, Janis. Try to give it another shot and I promise He will tell you what to do.

Julie said...

I told you years ago that what you were looking for was friends, not a religion. I think in your mind, joining a church meant getting friends. I think it is clear that you need to find your friends elsewhere.

You know I do not believe nor approuve of religions. Guess what? I am perfectly happy and I do have friends. You can too. You just need to branch out a little. Take a class, join a club or do some volunteer work, you will get to meet a lot of new people that way and some of them will become your new friends.

Good luck.

Jessica said...

I have commented a couple times before and just want you to know that I love being in church, it really helps me a lot. But you need to do it for the right reasons. I hope you find what you are looking for and that your family can find peace. Going church hoping so much and going in and out of religions will ultimately lead your kids to frustration if they can't understand or process it. I pray that you and your family find peace and comfort and God in your life no matter what you decide.

Mama~~~~ said...

Janis--We used to be on babycenter together for many years and I recetly stumbled accross your blog. I will start by saying I am an athiest. I do not and will not ever follow any type of religion and I do not believe in God or following his ways. That being said, you are who you are... Accept yourself and the job that you do with your children. Raise them how YOU see fit and not how you *think* others will look at how you raise your children. There is no right or wrong way to doing anything. I think you worry about others perceptions because you care about people passing judgement, who cares what anyone thinks! I gotta tell you, I think some of that talk and comments you get based on religion are a bit *off*. I do think you put your kids first and your family first and I think that is ALL that matters. Try to raise hard-working productive members of society that care about others more than they care about themselves. That is all the world could ever ask for from a mother. I do not teach my children about religion, and I do not plan to, but I also do not push my non-belief in God on them either. I have 4 of the most amazing children in the world who love each other and care about people. They are all very smart and well-behaved and I am proud of them. I could care less what anyone else thinks about them or how I raise them. Feel secure in yourself and do it the way you want. Go with the flow and find some inner peace with your decisions. Good luck:)


Cyndi said...

I'm sorry for your difficulty, but ultimately, God does not need any of us. If I stopped going to church, it would still be there. Christ's church will continue to be true even if my husband stops believing, and Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil will exist even if my kids don't like primary. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but God doesn't need us, we need Him, and He will still be there even when we don't want Him. Don't give up so easily. Don't give up at all. It's all true. You have a treasure and you don't even know it. Pray about it, whatever, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I know it is, and it will always be true. -Love Cyndi