18 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Force Religion on Your Child 

SharePinEmailForcing religion onto a child can have the opposite effect, and actually push them away from the faith, instead of drawing them closer to it.  Furthermore, it can also have a negative impact on a child’s emotional, psychological, and social development.  It is understandable that you might want your children to grow in their faith,…

Forcing religion onto a child can have the opposite effect, and actually push them away from the faith, instead of drawing them closer to it. 

Furthermore, it can also have a negative impact on a child’s emotional, psychological, and social development. 

It is understandable that you might want your children to grow in their faith, and love for God, however, no one likes to feel forced against their will to do anything in life. If you want to nurture a genuine, true faith in God in your children, then we suggest gently allowing them to explore religion without extra pressure from you. 

Here are 18 reasons why you shouldn’t force religion onto your child: 

Fear and Anxiety 

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By forcing a child to do anything, you will ultimately create a dynamic of fear and anxiety within the parent-child relationship, and this does not bode well for the healthy development of a child. 

It’s important that your children feel a safe connection to you so that they can come to you for support in times of need, but if they are fearful, and feel anxious because their parent is forcing religion on them, this is less likely, and it can also be damaging, and hinder healthy development. 

Forced Faith

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By pressuring a child to believe in God you are likely to instigate a forced feeling of faith instead of a genuine, authentic relationship with God. 

Out of fear of reprisal, a child might pretend to have faith, just to avoid disappointing you, or any negative punishments it might provoke. 

Rebellion

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If you try to force children or teenagers especially, to do anything, you are likely to provoke a sense of rebellion from them. No one likes to feel forced against their will to do anything in life, and children are no different. 

By applying extra pressure on your children to be religious, you may in fact push them towards rebelling against you, and the church. 

Resentment 

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The parent-child relationship is a special bond, and it should foster feelings of love, safety, care, and connection, however, if you are forcing religion onto your child, they may begin harboring resentment against you. This can form a wedge between you and your offspring, creating distance, and increasing the chances of relationship breakdown. 

Personality Suppression 

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If you force your children only to think and believe the same things that you do, you could be suppressing their personality which is not healthy. Every child is unique, and we can’t expect our children to always take the paths we want for them, even if it is in their best interests. 

Decision-Making Ability

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By removing a child’s ability to make their own decisions, even if it’s about something that we hold sacred, such as religion, we are diminishing their ability to make decisions on their own. As parents, we must foster our children’s abilities for independent thought, as while they are part of us, they are also their own person. 

Furthermore, one day our children will be out in the world living their lives, and making decisions for themselves, and we won’t always be by their side. So letting them think for themselves about important issues like religion, is a good way to initiate that sense of independent thinking from an early age. 

Emotional Stress

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Pressuring a child to engage with religion can cause considerable emotional stress, especially if that pressure is coming from their parent. 

The health and well-being of our children are our number one priority, and in time they may, or may not follow in your footsteps and become followers of Christ, however, what’s most important right now, is making sure that they grow up in a loving, supportive environment. 

Social Isolation 

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We live in quite a secular world these days and religious faith appears to be on the decline, therefore, our children are most likely at school with other kids who do not come from a religious background. This can make your child feel fearful of standing out or looking different from others, and unfortunately, children can lack understanding and sometimes be cruel. 

Pressuring your child to be religious can result in them being ostracized by their peers, or getting bullied at school. Hence, it’s important to be mindful of their reasons if they’re appearing less enthusiastic about religion than you’d hope. 

Critical Thinking 

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By presenting the idea of religion as the only belief system in the world you are denying your child the chance to develop critical thinking skills. 

During their lifetime your child will need the ability to analyze different concepts, topics, and ideas critically, and by forcing religion on them as “the only way” you are at risk of stunting their critical thinking skills. 

Identity Crisis

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If you deny your child the chance to be able to explore their own identity in a free, and relaxed way, you run the risk of suppressing their authentic selves. This can cause a child trauma, and can lead to issues around their identity once they become adults. 

It is much better to be a guiding light and accompany your child on their journey of self-exploration, the world, and religion, so do your best to support them as they discover themselves. 

Forced Morality 

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Forcing a child to behave in line with the moral codes of religion can lead to them behaving morally only to please their parent, instead of choosing to do so from a place of deep understanding of right from wrong, and a connection to their faith. 

It is much better to support a child’s learning about what the church and the world teach as being right from wrong and help them understand why. 

Guilt and Shame

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Forcing religion onto a child can foster feelings of guilt and shame within them both as children and further down the line as adults. Most children desperately want to please their parents, however, if they feel constantly pressured, and obligated to behave, and act in ways that don’t feel authentic to them, children can end up carrying around negative feelings of guilt and shame if they “can’t make their parents proud”. 

Dishonesty

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For many reasons, including fear of repercussions, or feeling scared to disappoint mom and dad, children who feel forced into religion can end up being dishonest to their parents about their true beliefs, and actions. 

Especially as teenagers, growing up in an environment that forces religious beliefs can feel incredibly stifling, and oppressive to young people, and this may lead to them lying, and saying what they think their parents want to hear. 

Mental Health

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Home is supposed to be a safe place from all of the pressures, vices, and competition of the world, however, if home is somewhere where you experience fear, intimidation, or manipulation around forced spiritual beliefs, this can have negative impacts on the mental health of children. 

Our children need to feel that we are their safe space, and whether or not they are keen to show an interest in religion, we must support them to flourish and grow as their individual selves.  

Potential for Abuse

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Without realizing it, by making children feel pressured, or attacked for not following religion, in some circumstances, this can start to cross the line into abuse. 

As parents, it is our job to protect our children from harm, not be the cause of it, and whether intentionally or not, it is paramount that you do not do anything to infringe on the health, and wellbeing of your children. 

Parent-Child Relationship

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It’s important to be mindful that you are not pushing your child away by appearing overly zealous or domineering towards them. Forcing a child to believe in, or engage in religious practice against their will can end up causing harm to the parent-child relationship.  

Instead, giving your child the grace, love, and space to flourish as themselves, you will foster a healthy life-long bond between you both. 

Legal and Ethical Considerations

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In some instances, forcing religion on a child can encroach upon their legal rights. It’s important to remember that while your child is your child, they are also an autonomous human being with legal rights and freedoms and we don’t want to do anything that would violate the rights of a child, ever. 

Cultural Ignorance

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By strictly enforcing religion onto your child you might be unwittingly denying them the opportunity to explore and learn about other cultures, and religious traditions. 

If a child is fearful of their parent’s judgment they may feel too scared to investigate and learn about other cultures, and this can result in cultural ignorance and is often associated with the development of prejudice, discrimination, and bias against others. 

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