What Kids Think About Religion and the Holidays
Do kids believe everything they're taught about religion?
This time of year brings people together, whether that may be through religion, being with family, or a combination of both. In my latest, From a Kids' Perspective survey with kids ages 12-18 across the globe, I wanted to find out how kids really feel about religion, what they believe in, how different their views may be from their parents, and what they think about their religious holidays.
Do kids believe everything their parents and religious leaders tell them about religion?
When asked whether or not they believe 100% of what is taught in the Bible, Torah, Quran, or other holy book, the majority of kids said no. This was surprising to find out, because while most kids (87%) identify with a specific religion, that doesn't necessarily mean they are fully devoted to everything that that religion entails or teachers.
Since the previous question provoked a surprising answer, I asked the kids who answered “no”, to explain further and give a few examples of things in their religion where they don't share the same views. I received lots of responses on topics like gay rights, women's rights, evolution vs. creationism. A few examples of what kids said were:
- “I personally have a more scientific belief of how the word came to be and how everything works so I disagree with those aspects in the Bible.”
- "The Bible says homosexuality is wrong, but I think God loves everyone regardless of their sexual orientation."
- "Because they were books written thousands of years ago with different intentions then being used today, I believe in science and evolution and abortion and gay marriage and other things the Quran and Bible preach against. Most of the saying are outdated."
Do kids follow their parent's religion? If not, what do they want their parents to know?
- Sixty percent of kids said they follow the same religion as their parents, but kids want their parents to understand that it's okay for them not to share their same exact beliefs.
- When we asked kids if they are going to raise their own children like their parents raised them when it came to religion, most kids said yes, but there was a smaller group of respondents that said they would allow their children to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow a religion, and if so, how intensely they wanted to follow it.
Do kids appreciate the religious significance of the holidays?
When asked why they like celebrating holidays, an overwhelming majority said they enjoy spending the time with their family more so than for the religious aspects. At the same time, there was a smaller portion of respondents that felt like there was way too much emphasis on the materialistic parts of the holidays, like gift giving and the importance of presents, and they would like to see the holidays refocused on the religious significance.
I believe the take-away from this survey, is that times are different then when our parents were growing up, and it's more important now more than ever for parents to allow their kids the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not they have the same beliefs as their parents. Giving kids this responsibility encourages them to take control of the way they want to live their life and it also develops a strong trustworthy relationship between parents and their kids.