I’m pretty sure that this comes up with every parent, and has been going on for a long time. The phases that kids go through as far as trying to find their identity socially, and trying out lifestyles of friends that they make along the way, and out of just plain rebellion just seem to call out for trying on psychological and religious worldviews that seem to counter what has been set forth in the home… Especially if it is done rigidly.
We are entering the second generation of kids that will have our highly advanced mass communications available. It was a big huge deal when my dad was young to know someone who had their own television set, even though there were only three channels, and those only broadcast a signal for a few hours a day. Now there are hundreds of 24/7 channels, movies, recorded programs, and the the whole digital gold mine of the internet. If someone has thought or believed something, you can bet that there is something out there, and it’s a billion percent easier to find and explore than it would have been 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago.
When the kids decide to explore another religion (and they WILL), I would say that it’s a good idea not to overreact. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others, it’s a good exercise. If you are incredibly strict about your belief system at home, this will not deter the kids in the least. It will only make them careful to hide it from you. I’ve seen that one a million times, and that was back in the youth of my generation.
When I’m thinking of these kinds of questions, I try to remind myself of my primary function as a parent. That helps to keep things in perspective. That primary function is to nurture them, and to help them attain all the skills that they will need when they are on their own in life.
If they are not allowed to explore themselves or their environment, they will not be able to grow. Simple as that. I hope that all of your kids at least read about other belief systems.
It’s funny that this comes up, because as the holiday displays show up all over the Retail Kingdom, My girls have started asking questions about different holidays that they are hearing at school…. and I have been using these questions as a launching board into (very brief) overviews of different beliefs. Thursday evenings’ discussion was on the ride home, after K asked, “Do we celebrate, um… Hanukkah?” I know a lot of parents whose answer would either be a simple “No”, but I take these as good opportunities for growth for the both of them.