As A Child, Who Do You Believe?

I was raised a Catholic. I was baptised as a baby and I made my First Holy Communion as a young girl. My Mother took us to Mass most Sundays and every Christmas. We weren’t ‘fair weather’ Catholics, but our religion wasn’t a huge part of our daily lives either.

Then my sister died suddenly at just five years of age, and we were set adrift.

Just a child myself, I really struggled to reconcile my sisters death with what I had been taught to believe. Why did my little sister die? Why would God take her away? Why would he hurt us so deeply? It just made no sense.

When grief rocked our family, we didn’t turn to the Church or to our Religion, in fact we stopped going to Mass at all. My sister’s death tore a jagged hole in our lives that Faith just couldn’t touch.

I have never felt the loss of, or indeed the need for, Religion in my life since. I greatly admire strong Faith in others, I don’t judge it and I don’t feel the need to challenge it. I am at peace with my own beliefs. But just because I don’t tick a certain box or follow certain teachings, doesn’t make me a rudderless ship. I am not in need of conversion or guidance.

And herein lies my dilemma: My children.

I want my girls to be open minded and unprejudiced, to respect all Faiths. But will other Faiths respect my boundaries? As my children grow and learn will they be allowed the space to make their own choices?

Because society, as always, feels the need to pigeon hole to be comfortable. Why don’t you baptise your children? They will feel excluded. Just do it. And what about Holy Communion?? The dress, the big day! Well if you aren’t of a certain Faith, then what the hell do you believe?!

I believe in being a good person. I believe in being honest and kind. I believe we all have the right to put our Faith in whom we choose.

And this is what I shall instill in my girls.

But who do my children believe? Their Parents? Their Grandparents? Their teachers? Their peers? All these people hold influence in my children’s lives. And sadly, in this forward thinking age, we are still very much swimming against the tide in a predominantly Catholic country, with school systems and traditions sluggishly emerging from the past.

Now more than ever, we should none of us be defined by our religious beliefs. It is a scary time for us all when ignorant men like Donald Trump can swing his weight about in the Oval Office!

Learn. Respect. Accept.

Jenny Cox, writer for the M Word.ie