Dear Stefan:

My wife and I have two children under 3 years old. I was raised in a Christian family, but over the past decade or so I have moved away from those beliefs. I now consider myself agnostic/atheist (take your pick, as for me they are practically interchangeable). My wife, on the other hand, is a Christian, though she isn't dogmatic about it. She just prefers to believe in God, and she admits as much. Neither of us attend a church, and the topic really doesn't come up very often. Otherwise I would say our worldviews and values are highly compatible.

The obvious question is how to present these ideas to our kids. I certainly wouldn't want to feel like I was lying to them just to avoid conflict, and I likewise wouldn't want her to feel pressured into keeping her beliefs to herself because she doesn't feel prepared to argue about it. And it isn't just my wife and me; it's also our extended families and the broader culture that are highly theist. No matter what I do, I can't just shield my kids from bible stories and bible themes, so it will need to be addressed, and frankly I wouldn't want to keep these ideas from them even if I could. They need to be exposed to a range of ideas, if for no other reason than to be well-rounded and educated people. Also, I think Christians have some good things to say, even if only metaphorically. Too many people (though certainly not all) knee-jerk their way into nihilism via atheism, and I certainly don't want that for my kids. Yet I don't want to just allow them to adopt cultural values wholesale.

At the same time, I would hate for them to feel pressured into believing what either of their parents believe. I think they're on their own spiritual journey, and honestly I believe that if I do a good job, they'll end up seeing things like I do anyway (at the risk of sounding conceited), but at least it will be their own choice. Plus, having read people like Joseph Campbell and Jordan Peterson, I think the Bible is rich in imagery, and like many other myths, actually should be read, once you're mature enough to take it for what it is.

Second question: 1:22
My boyfriend and I (mid-20s) have been dating on/off for a year and a half. We love each other and want to get married and start a family but at the same time we’re unhappy. He’s upset with me because I can hurt his feelings a lot, and bring up problems in the relationship without much patience. Often I lose hope and say we should just break up. My whole life I’ve heard people tell me that I’m mean or too harsh, and it’s especially a problem in relationships. How do I fix this problem? When I try to talk about it or look at it, my mind gets all muddled and I can’t think clearly. I’m confused about if I’m actually harsh or if people just don’t want the truth/opinions spoken clearly. Sometimes people say they’re really grateful that they can always count on me for an honest opinion. I’d love it if people would speak to me openly though. I feel like if someone were to address my flaws directly, without trying to tiptoe around my feelings, then it means they really love me because they want me to get better, they’re willing to risk my getting upset to say it, and they think I can handle it.


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April 2024

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