Should I take my daughter to church?

Today's Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis feels a sense of comfort with her own religious beliefs and wants the same for her daughter, Sophie.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Today’s Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, image this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie and husband Blaine.

I have very vivid memories of Sundays in church with my family. There were scratchy tights on special days, blue jeans when we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s after, hair always braided, and matching coats (for my sisters and me; my brother had his own Sunday best). Forget about Easter and Christmas — that was a whole other ball game. Easter saw new dresses (and sometimes hats were involved) while Christmas Eve mass saw “clackie shoes” (Mary Janes, my favourite thing ever) and sleeping in hair rollers the night before. When I was this little — small enough that my mom picked our clothes and made sure we were presentable — church was a thing we did. I went to Sunday school and liked the stories we heard and crafts we made (yes, you can make the Assumption into a play-based lesson), but it was more about ritual and less about beliefs.

As I grew older, I went through phases of contentment and struggle when it came to my relationship with God. As an angsty teen, when my friends were all dating and I was staying at home on Friday nights, I wondered “why God made me go twice in the brains and boobs line and skip the boyfriend line all together.” (I said this out loud to my mom one time. It’s a wonder the woman managed not to burst out laughing.) In my twenties, I wanted to know that the path I’d chosen was the right one, and I asked for signs (sometimes they showed up, sometimes they didn’t). I’ve had years of wondering what the hell God was doing up there, and years of worrying about my own actions and how I would be judged. I’ve questioned His existence, and I’ve threatened to walk away — especially when friends were doing the same.

But in all of that, something came to light for me around the time Sophie was born. It isn’t about my Catholicism, or the sacraments I’ve received; it’s about how I live my life, and how I know I’m not alone. That isn’t for everyone — and I don’t profess that it should be — but at the darkest moments of my life, my God has been there for me. And that has given me tremendous comfort.

I write about this as Blaine and I make plans to move to a new neighbourhood in a few weeks (yes, we did manage to buy a house, so I can stop feeling so defeated). Our new townhouse is right across the street from a Catholic church, a daily reminder and a big ol’ question mark when it comes to Miss Sophie. Our darling girl was baptized when she was three months old, screaming through the whole ceremony. And while part of me knows it’s one of those rituals I alluded to, another part of me felt that warmth and comfort I seek. We take Soph to church, but I still can’t determine how to give Sophie an open heart and an open mind, accepting of all people, races, religions, sexual orientations and so on, while still retaining the comfort I feel in my faith. It’s not an easy thing, learning to raise your children somewhere in the middle. I’m not even entirely sure the church would agree with walking that line. I guess all I hope for is that Sophie finds her own place, wherever she feels less alone; I will tell her about my journey, give her the tools to question and to stand by her convictions, and let her work it through. That’s sort of the cardinal (no pun intended) rule for child-rearing, isn’t it? Love them, equip them, answer their questions, be there for them and let them go.

So why does that sound so friggin’ hard?

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