Kids need… what?

Hey Bart,

I am enjoying keeping up with your podcast and blog, etc.

I wonder if I might pick your brain a little? At this point I am probably described best as an universalist/humanist with a base in Christianity. Our family quit attending church a couple of years ago. I LOVE not going to church on Sundays. I feel peace and no pressure. The thought of going back to almost any church for any reason makes me squeemish, but…

We have 3 kids (12, 8 and 8). Overall they have been fine with our not going to church. My daughter mentions going once in a while, but honestly she mostly wants to do crafts and sing. However, both sets of grandparents are here in town and VERY regular church attenders, and lately they’ve invited the kids to go with them to attend Sunday school at the conservative church we used to attend.

I don’t want to be one of those families that has their kids taken to church by someone else. My husband wonders if our kids have a need we are not filling. He wonders if we should find a more progressive church to visit with them, but we are in a small southern Bible belt town with very few options. Honestly, I don’t want to go anywhere at all, but I worry that I am not letting my kids experience something important.

What do you think?


Dear Mary,

As much as I cherish the values I learned in church, it took me a long time to overcome the dark side of faith… including a fear of hell and other punishments, a sense of essential unworthiness because of original sin, and guilt for not being able to believe stuff that was frankly unbelievable. I know church folks mean well, but laying all that stuff on a little one feels kind of abusive to me now.

That said, kids love Sunday School and VBS and all of that because they love having adults really talk to them about how to be good and how to live well and how to handle fear and uncertainty. That and the games and the crafts and the songs. Methinks that may be reason enough for you guys to start some kind of cooperative Sunday morning kids club, where you and some friends bring your families together to communicate your deepest values to your kids in that same hokey way.

Hope, peace, joy, innocence, delight, forgiveness, caring, love, respect, wisdom, honor, creativity, tranquility, beauty, imagination, humor, awe, truth, purity, justice, courage, fun, compassion, skillfulness, wonder, trustworthiness, kindness… those are the kinds of values that kids need to interact around with their parents and neighbors their parents trust.



By | 2017-11-17T15:58:11+00:00 February 10th, 2015|Blog|

About the Author:

Bart Campolo is a secular community builder, counselor and writer who currently serves as the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Cincinnati. Listen to his podcast HERE!