Time for mom

My faith = my choice. What about choosing a child?

My faith = my choice. What about choosing a child?


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The vast majority of Poles are Catholics. It is often said that Poland is a one-faith country where religious minorities constitute a small percentage of the population. And such information is confirmed by statistics. Despite this, mixed marriages of different denominations are concluded with us. A condition of consent to enter into such a marriage in a Catholic church is the declaration of future spouses about the upbringing of children in the Catholic religion. Many marriages have only a civil marriage and here the state does not interfere in the upbringing of the offspring of such a couple, there are also unlawful relationships. The vast majority are, however, weddings, where both the groom and the bride belong to the leading church in Poland.

It is said that faith is our private matter. I am an adult, I have a choice. And the child? Should it have him too? Or is it better if parents decide for him in this matter? And how to solve this issue when the spouses differ in their religion?

"Inheritance" of faith versus the child's free will

Parents who get married in the Catholic faith, asking for baptism for their child, take responsibility for raising him in the spirit of this faith. What exactly does this mean?

According to the Declaration on Christian Education and the Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II. On catechization in our time, religious education is developing in the child the awareness of the existence of God as the only creator of the world, defining the laws governing it.

Parents should ensure that the child knows and keeps 10 God's commandments, receives the sacraments, and prays. They become his main teachers of faith. By their behavior they are to set an example for a child how to live according to the principles of the Catholic faith and in harmony with God.

A child of several weeks or several months is baptized and as a result becomes a child of God, part of the community of the Catholic Church. It "inherits" faith from parents, cannot protest in any way, has no right to choose. And here arises a conflict between those who consider this type of practice as enslavement and deprivation of the eternal right to decide about themselves and those who see in Catholic education hope for the future and the only right way leading to full faith.

(Non) religious education in atheist families

Sometimes a child attends religion and receives the sacraments, despite the fact that his parents are unbelievers or profess atheism, i.e. the belief that there are no gods. The main reason for this is the fear of social rejection.

We are unbelievers ourselves, but the son attends religion, we do not want other children to bother him - guardians often explain their decision. Some of them declare that they gave in to the pressure of the family and the immediate environment: I go to the cinema with my son, I can and go to church. For the sake of peace.

However, not everyone does this. Some atheist families choose to reject conformist attitudes and raise children in accordance with their own values. They do so by taking responsibility for all the consequences of introducing a child without religion in the country's society, where 90 percent people declare belonging to some religion.

Another solution is to avoid the topic of faith with your children. Children are not forced in any way how, what and if they are to believe, leaving them free choice.

A child of many denominations

A specific situation arises when one of the spouses belongs to the Catholic Church, while the other profess another religion. If they marry in the Catholic religion, they automatically commit to raising children in accordance with the principles of that faith. Seemingly simple, but ... This is only a condition that must be met for a priest to marry a couple. The church has no legal force to enforce this commitment.

After marriage, both husband and wife have the right to raise their offspring according to the principles and system of values ​​that they consider to be right. If one of the parties does not agree, the only way to avoid it is to win the case for taking away or limiting parental responsibility. This is not so simple.

As stipulated in the provisions of the Family and Guardianship Code, it should be demonstrated, for example, that the best interests of the child are at risk (Article 109 § 1 of the Civil Code) and the fact that a Buddhist father, without the consent of a Catholic mother, tells his daughter the principles of his religion does not clearly indicate that that such a provision was broken.

The Polish state does not interfere in what religion parents should raise their children, leaving it up to them. It is believed that a Catholic who marries a person of another religion should be aware of the consequences associated with this and issues related to the upbringing of a possible descendant should be settled in consultation with the partner. As with atheists, multi-faith families solve this problem differently.

Sometimes a child accepts the faith of one of his parents, at other times he is brought up in tolerance to the religion of both, or he is given a free hand to decide for himself whether and what faith he will accept. Which solution is the best? We will probably find many supporters and opponents of each of them.

Raising children in multi-faith families is not always easy. For each of us, our own norms and moral principles are the best, and we would like our children to follow them in their lives as well. Sometimes it is difficult for us to accept and understand other views, especially in a sphere so delicate and evoking as much emotion as religion. Therefore, spouses professing different religions, in order to create a strong relationship, must show special patience and understanding with each other. Life presents many challenges for such families, which is why the art of compromising becomes invaluable here.

However, if young people before the wedding discuss the vision of a shared future, they will be fully aware of the consequences of marrying a person of another religion and their mutual relations based on tolerance and respect, they have a good chance to meet the difficult task of wise upbringing their children.

* According to the 2011 census, almost 90 percent Poles declared their belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Second place was taken by the Orthodox Church, and the third by the Union of Followers of Jehovah's Witnesses. It should be noted, however, that the answer to the question about faith was voluntary and given to less than 89 percent. the then inhabitants of our country, i.e. 34 out of 38 ml people. In addition, there are discrepancies between the results of the census and data from the Central Statistical Office, which is based on the declarations of the churches and religious associations themselves.