Human beings consider religion as a holy, sacred, spiritual, divine and absolute way to connect to God. It affects the way people live and their life following death. It is of utmost consideration in a diverse religion-based country like India.
But is it good to preach religion to kids? What if theological ideas are forced on children? Should the child have a say?
Impact on the child’s life
In the era of industrialization and advancement of analytical belief, it is hard to think that there are communities which still play the blame game with religion. In a race to prove their superiority and edge over others, they target their kids and impose their shallow ideologies. But the fact highlighted from the various researches conducted emphasises that religion has a miscellaneous impact on the mindset of kids. Different age groups with different backgrounds respond adversely to these teachings. Religious beliefs and practices have the potential to profoundly influence many aspects of life. Certain researches have associated religion with the kid's positive development but on the contrary, terrorist attacks and some child abuse cases within the community have resulted in negative publicity concerning the control of religion.
But the question is why do parents want to impose religious belief onto their kids?
"I see it as a way of life, which I learnt from my parents and grandparents. Therefore, it is my duty to infer those to my kids!" says a Hindu mother. Most parents see religion as a rite of passage that was passed down between generations. They consider it as a part of their parenting responsibility to pass on their faith. They want to ensure that their kids become warm and affectionate and this is possible through good values, discipline and powerful religion. What parents wouldn't want their kids to be more successful and efficient in their work? "The holy books", says a Hindu mother " talk so much about the good habits and the effects they have on the thinking and perspective of their kids." Certain parents believe that worshipping God; visiting temples, churches, mosques not only make them emotionally strong but also broadens their ability to explore things more easily and with better results as compared to others. Looking at the number of unaffiliated people be it atheists, agnostics or, it's a major concern for the parents. Therefore, for a multitude of reasons they feel there is a need to raise their kid with a religion. A research conducted in the UK reports that 70% of adolescents have pragmatic responses towards ritual beliefs and hence they avoid certain norms be it attraction towards drugs, alcohol, tobacco or personal problems such as depression, suicide attempts or insomnia.
Personal religious beliefs and practices act as a barricade against negative effects and reduce the rates of downturn amongst the population. It brings a sense of positivity and infuses in people equality towards others. Instead of comparing and letting others down, clans become more and more responsible and self-observant. Religion has a major influence on the academic performance of kids. It is found that kids who have a proper schedule; getting up early, meditating, praying to God are prone to get better feedback during exams and tests. Religious people believe that God is the supreme power. They consider them their well-wishers. That divine power is always keeping an eye on them and guiding them throughout.
Repercussions of forcing religion
However, forcing kids to follow parental religion won't be as beneficial as their self-devotion and dedication. Compelling kids to visit their respective house of worship every week or asking them to be a part of religious rituals won't lead the desired results. Parents need to understand, a child is a master of their own life. Coercing them to follow a certain belief or constraining them from others is not the right option.
Indeed, the results which are positive may turn negative for others. Therefore, instead of simply pressurizing your own set of ideologies and beliefs, parents need to know the mindset of their kids. Not all kids respond equally to religion.
What kind of religion is this where others have no option but to follow under pressure? There are innumerable instances where parental ideologies are forced on kids.
There are many people who push their beliefs on others. Driven beliefs won't lead to better results. Inconsistent religiousness seems to bring no result at all. It means no doubt, parents can force their kids to follow certain beliefs but in the long run, that won't give them any developmental advantages nor a mentally stable self. It leads to the clashing of opinion between parents and kids. Eventually, kids will stop trusting you, stop talking to you and in some rare case, they may even be a victim of loneliness and mental illness.
Give the child a choice
Why cannot parents simply do their part i.e. share their ideologies and solely leave it upon them to decide whether they are satisfied with that religion or wish to change it? There is totally no harm in that. It's never the case that an atheist cannot succeed with good grades or remain healthy and positive minded. The unnecessary imposition of religion on the kids not only deteriorates the relation between the parent and child but also creates a gap between them which can lead to harmful consequences. This tends to create tension in the family, sometimes incongruous ones.
It is still believed that until kids are guided, they may come under the influence of others and start pursuing wrong deeds. But that cannot give parents the "right to choose" for them. We need to shed those old followings and give kids "the right to choose." Inform your kids about both the aspects and leave it as a complete choice for them to decide and work upon.
Religious and non-religious people are prone to both success and failure. Religion can solely not lead to happiness and non-religious beliefs won't snatch the right to be fortunate. The important part is to be open to your kids and don't let religion expand the gap between the two generations.
Making a choice for kids not only becomes a hindrance in the development of free choice but also doesn't let kids become capable of taking decisions on their own.
No religion is bad as long as it does not harm the sentiments and emotions of others.