French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.
My kids are Jewish by their Mum and Protestant by their Dad. Mr Attila was born in a Buddhist country and his sister in a totally secular one. We worked in Muslim and Hindu places and we are currently living on a Catholic island. How could we possibly educate our children in a single religion? if there is one thing I learnt from all those years working in war affected countries, is that education is paramount to prevent violence. Teach your children how to respect each other and the people around them for who they are and to honour all religions – as each is a pathway to the One God.
The Philippines are a Catholic country, even though not formally anymore. But you’ll always be asked “are you a Catholic?”. My natural answer would be “why do you care? does it make any difference to you whether I am Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist or a worshiper of the Sun?“. It is cultural. In any document – even the kids subscription to their sports classes, you ll have to answer their obsessing question “what is your religion?“. It was the same in Thailand and it already used to drive me crazy. I never answered, and I must admit no one insisted on me filling the blank. Asian don’t make fuss. Under any circumstance are you allowed to lose face. Let the foreigners be. They are not here to stay anyway.
This cartoon of a girl praying in a church comes from my daughter’s school book. This is the reading material of a “private and non religious school that respects all faiths“. Wait another month and I know that my son will learn that “G is like God” and God is Christ. Period.
My toddlers, like all kids of their age are constantly asking questions. They wonders why we don’t go to church, why her friends’ yaya are pregnant again, why so many of her classmates’ fathers are “living abroad“, why there are so many kids barely dressed in the streets and sleeping on carton sheets. All those questions are a chance to talk about respect and understanding. What each of us can do to help, at our own little level.
I do believe in God, but my God has no religion. How we live our religion is far more important than what we say about it.
Did the teachers ever wonder how a Muslim Filipino would appreciate this cartoon? Does it mean that you have to be in a Church to be able to love God? I wish this picture was just used as a basis for discussion to open our children’s minds and hearts.
Why not teaching values instead of religious messages ? You don’t need to belong to a Church in particular to believe and practice integrity, tolerance, caring, compassion and empathy. God to me is in each and everyone of us, he does not belong to a place. The divine is in our heart.
There are lots of Chinese, Japanese and Korean in my kids school. How about learning from each other instead of imposing one single way?
Make children proud to share their culture and where they come from instead of always imposing beliefs. Teach them to discuss, debate, learn from one another instead of always bowing their head. I’d rather open my children’s mind to wonder than close it with beliefs. Our endless discussions about life take lots of my energy and time. But I do believe it is worth the investment.
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