Disclaimer: Before I start writing this article on mothers and religions, let me assure you that it has nothing to do with any particular religion, culture or affiliation. . (There are a lot of them, have you seen our population?)
My date with religion
My first encounter with God was when I was all 4, I remember doing somersaults imitating my mother as she prostrated herself on the ground. The image of an otherwise loud and chaotic woman in a calm and serene state intrigued even the toddler me. She then came out of an almost meditative state to curb my curiosity. The next thing I know is that she dropped me on her knees, placed my palms on top of hers, and made me repeat some prayers that were mostly gibberish to me.
Fast forward to 10 years later, the lovable childhood co-devotees (meaning my mom and I) were now mortal enemies when it came to religion. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t secretly abducted by the Illuminati and I didn’t have a devil’s altar hidden in the back of my closet (Or if?). Growing up, his approach to religion repelled me, because anything I did (or more accurately didn’t do) I was warned would get me skewered and cooked in hellfire.
Before the conjecture of this is written by an atheist begins – let me clear things up, I respect and practice the religion I was born into, it’s just that my path to God is different from the bumpy road suggested by my mother. Thanks to the internet, libraries and many logical scholars, I managed to form an opinion on religion that was practical enough to recognize science and spiritual enough to believe in a higher power.
Looking back I realized that my mother didn’t operate as a single entity, it was a cult of all mothers who were kind of taught to be petrified of God and that’s what they transmitted. No matter what sect of society they came from or what holiday they were celebrating, mothers everywhere followed this fearsome path to divine divinity. To learn (or unlearn) from my experience, if I ever plan to bring any offspring into this world, (doesn’t seem likely, have you seen the state of the planet?) I would like to teach them religion as a treasure hunt – I’ll hand them the map, but how to get there and what they find at the end is up to them to interpret. As for you, scroll below for pointers that helped me make a meaty argument in front of my mom, and it might help you hold your ground in front of yours, too.
1. Differentiate Culture & Religion
Religion is simple and comes with a few ground rules so you can live life legitimately, only when you dilute it with culture does it get complicated. Culture is when a society of people come together and start practices under the guise of religion – more often than not it has nothing to do with it. For example, according to my mother, women are expected to behave in a certain way (I’m not kidding, laugh less loudly), dress appropriately and follow all the rules set by the head of the family, who happens to be my dad. Most religions maintain men and women on an equal or more or less equal footing. If I dress modestly, shouldn’t my male counterpart do the same? And about making the decisions – women have been scholars, have owned businesses and run societies since time immemorial, so why shouldn’t we have a seat at the decision-making table?
2. Be open to growth and open to change
When I was a kid, I really had no choice but to believe everything my mother taught me about religion. A potent cocktail of fear and the violent threat of not standing in line. It wasn’t until I grew up that I learned to ask questions and counter statements that didn’t sit well with me. But the thing with moms is that it’s always their way or the highway. They will ask you to follow a ritual blindly, without even explaining much of the same to you. For them, asking is disrespectful, but how can I find meaning in not cutting my hair/nails on certain days of the week? For me, everything you do in the name of religion has to have a purpose or reasoning and if you can’t find that, there is something wrong with what you are being taught. Therefore, keep your views open and adaptable enough for change, just because they come from your parents, they don’t need to be set in stone.
3. Agree to disagree
It’s a tough pill for parents to follow, but it’s normal for your kids to have a difference of opinion when it comes to religion. You don’t have to give them up or deny them, especially when your process of instilling information on the subject has been wrong from the start. Your children come from you, but they are not an extension of you and no religion teaches you to impose your beliefs on them (if so, you are wrong), so shouldn’t this be applied within families like Well?
Our parents come from a generation where they are taught more about heaven, hell, the afterlife and how life is only a passing phase – but this life, which lasts about 70 to 80 long years , can also be lived by embracing religion instead of using it as a crutch to get by.
4. Be a vessel of knowledge, not a mouthpiece for patriarchy
If you are a knowledgeable and educated person from any part of society, you know that religion has not inherently promoted misogyny – politics, patriarchy and capitalism have, over time, made men the actors of religion. But if we go back to the core books, not only are women equal to men, but in some scenarios they hold more power and rights (yes, you heard that right). Unfortunately, my mother and many others chose not to question the chain of command, but luckily for them, we are here to do just that. So the next time my mother excuses my father’s royal behavior because of his divine stature, I will remind her that according to the same religion she follows, heaven lies beneath her feet and it is only the door. .
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