Agnosticism is theologically defined as the acceptance that there is not enough information about a divine being to offer physical belief or faith in a specific God. As is the case with many religions, this textbook definition may vary from one parent to another. In a society where more than 90% of the population believes in a higher being, agnostic parents are often faced with religious questions early in parenting.
Birth to Five Years of Age
Young children may view God with the same eyes as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. This is not to say, God is a fictional holiday character, but asking a child to have faith is often assumed in both cases. If a child is raised by agnostic parents, relationships with other children of religious backgrounds may spark questions about God and religion at home. Until a child is old enough to read, study, and discuss religion, it may be best for parents to work around the questions with general answers. For instance, if a child asks “Is God real?” agnostic parents can choose to answer, “Every person’s religious beliefs and faith in God are different” and proceed to change the subject to something more child appropriate.
Five Years and Above
After a child learns to read and is better apt to understand reason, agnostic parents can take a different stance to religious questions. Many people believe agnostics deny the existence of a higher being, but this is not the case for every agnostic. Differences in religion are vast and occur in every form of religion. Agnostic parents should support a child’s right to choose their own religious path and decide on their own whether God is a divinity they wish to accept with faith or not.
Some agnostic parents are surprised to notice religious changes in their children that lean toward atheism. Atheism is commonly accepted as the absence of faith in God or any higher being at all. Unlike some agnostics who claim a lack of information on the subject, a complete denouncing of faith is assumed. Younger children, or even young adults, may have difficulty rationalizing the differences between atheism and agnosticism. Again, parents need to support their children’s choices in faith, but as children age, healthy discussions can take place to firmly define the fine lines between agnosticism and atheism.
There is nothing easy about parenting and when religious questions are posed on agnostic parents, the stress can be even heavier. Children and adults of all ages have questions about faith, which should be accepted and discussed in an age appropriate manner.