Communion advice

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
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yellowfish
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Communion advice

Post by yellowfish » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:36 pm

I know this topic has been worked over a few times, but I would really like some advice.

My wife and I (Both Atheists) have rather been at loggerheads over this, but we have finally decided that the season is now upon us and its time to get off the fence. The Prayers that were coming back as homework last year could just about be coped with, but this year its His classes turn for communion and things seem to have taken on a higher imperative.

We have decided that we have two options,

One- tell the school that he will not be taking communion and that we do not want any more prayers sent back as homework nor do we want him to be asked to recite them in class (Or incidentally held back at break for not knowing them) We will go and watch the communion as a family in the same way we would attend a friends wedding.

Two- accept the offer of a blessing that was made when we explained we were not catholic or indeed religious. this would involve him doing all the work as normal including the homework prayers.

Our problem is How much say do we give our son? He became very upset recently that he was not doing the actual full communion like his friends, we thought he understood, but he is only seven and it seems to only now be something he is able to comprehend.
I am in favour of explaining things to him, but taking the decision and hopefully pressure out of his hands and going for option one. My wife wants to explain everything but let him choose, I fear his decision will be fear based because he doesn't want to be different, my wife feels the same but feels it is a valid reason.
AFAIK, we would be the first in the school to not take the blessing alternative, I hate to fight battles through my child, but Someone has to be first.

Has anyone who has been in this position any advice? Did you take the decision away from your child or leave it to them? What was the outcome, was the child picked on? How did your child manage in the long build up to communion?

One thing I should say is that our childs receiving his education in his community has always been the priority, we have never considered sending him ten miles into town to the ET school an option.

Once again, I know this is an old subject, but I would love to hear from parents who have been there and done that. We are going to see the teacher Monday should we go for option one, if its two I have promised to shut up about it and not interfere, which will be hard but we have to settle this.
Bik
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Bik » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:18 am

I'm not a parent but a couple I know in the same situation talked to the school and opted the child out of all communion preparations, in that case the school was understanding and cooperative, the child was allowed to read his own books during prep time.
In that case the family went to Eurodisney at communion time so that the child had something to look forward to when his schoolpals were looking to their communion, my friend reckons it worked out cheaper than the rigmarole involved with communion.
Unless it's a new school I'd be surprised if they've no experience of a child opting out of the RCC sacraments, in my own day there was a Mormon kid in my class who obviously opted out of them too and the school didn't spontaneously combust with the effort to cope :lol:
"Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion." Superintendent Chalmers
yellowfish
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Re: Communion advice

Post by yellowfish » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:07 pm

they definatly have experiance, but previously children have done all the work but then taken a blessing rather than not attend at all, we are looking at asking that he drop learning the prayers at school and as homework, and that though he will be in the class he can read or colour or do something he enjoys whilst they are practicing communion (A daily event in the lead up!) . Obviously he will still have to go with them when they go down to the church for practice, but we want them to find something usefull for him to do, not just to sit on a pew and watch, though we have to be fair in that its a big class.
Did your friends involve the child in the decision or just make it for him? (My preference is just to make it for him, its not a decision I feel he can reasonably make given all the pressure.)

The communion is taken very seriously in this school, but I think the staff will be fair once we lay things out. I am more concerned about his feeling the odd one out, something that already worried him when he thought he was getting the blessing.
Bik
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Bik » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Perhaps I'm missing something but why would the children of non RC believers need to do the prep work and take a blessing?
When I was in primary school over 30 years ago that wasn't the case. The kids weren't allowed to colour (or do anything which was obviously fun) but they were allowed to read books from the school library or bring ones in from home during that time.

In the case of my friends they made the decision but explained as best they could to the child the reasons for it. I think any 7 year old would want to follow his/her pals if given the choice, especially if it involves being given gifts of money and in a girls case wearing a fancy wedding dress.
"Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion." Superintendent Chalmers
Feardorcha
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Feardorcha » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:34 pm

I would recommend Option 1.

Stand up for your values and tell the school to back off.
Your child will be freed from a lot of tedious double-speak and will value your honesty.

You could also promise him a special day out, buy him a new outfit on reaching the age of reason, and bring him and his pals to Leisureland, Croke Park, the military history museum, the national aquarium or some other place of wonder.
yellowfish
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Re: Communion advice

Post by yellowfish » Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:20 pm

The choice is made, we have had the chat and tomorrow I will see the teacher. I expect no problems from the school, they are good people and I am sure it will all be OK, this should not be a problem. It may be a surprise as we will as far as we can tell be the 1st to request this level of removal and not to take up the blessing. This is a very rural area and people here have strong roots and large extended families. It is easier for people like us, new arrivals with no tradition to be the first.

My only concern at this point has been doing this in the right way so as to avoid my son having to feel isolated or even be picked on because of something out of his control. Thats why I was seeking the input of parents who may have been in the same position.

It has taken this long to persuade my wife that it was something that was worth the risk, she naturally is averse to taking actions that may cause her child distress.

Its going to be great to be free of the prayers at homework. We will still have to do the gentle deprogramming, we can not opt him out of all religion, nor do we have controln over the priest popping in, but this will give him clarity and as has been said remove the mixed message. I want him to know we are as proud of our position on faith as others are of their faith.
Tulip1
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Tulip1 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:14 pm

Hope it all goes fine! Let us know.
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
yellowfish
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Re: Communion advice

Post by yellowfish » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:40 am

Hi Tulip
Sorry I should have got back before. It went well, the teacher was very receptive and agreeable, however at the end the offer was still made for him to come to communion and just say a little prayer! so I had to explain again that we are not Christian.
My boy tells me that he is not joining in prayers but just carrying on with his work and nothing has been said. Several things stand out though, We have gone for a very soft option, He will still be singing the hymns in class, some of which are very full on, but thats pretty much all they sing and obviously where prayer has no virtue, practicing singing does.
He will still be surrounded by the religious teachings on a regular basis, we may have an agreement that he will not learn faith as fact, but when the teacher addressess the class or the other 5 children at his table it is unlikely that he will not hear it! Basically we now have an acknowledgment of our Atheism, but if we had wanted to have an education free from religious teaching as fact in this area we would have had to have removed him to the local Educate together school 9 miles outside his community. This is something I would not consider even if it were a practical option.
This is why we need a secular system, but frankly Quinn seems to think his little bit of tinkering is enough, This accommodation is not ideal in any way, but it is the best I feel we can hope for without causing him stress in school.
Tulip1
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Tulip1 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:50 pm

yellowfish wrote:Hi Tulip
Sorry I should have got back before. It went well, the teacher was very receptive and agreeable, however at the end the offer was still made for him to come to communion and just say a little prayer! so I had to explain again that we are not Christian.
My boy tells me that he is not joining in prayers but just carrying on with his work and nothing has been said. Several things stand out though, We have gone for a very soft option, He will still be singing the hymns in class, some of which are very full on, but thats pretty much all they sing and obviously where prayer has no virtue, practicing singing does.
He will still be surrounded by the religious teachings on a regular basis, we may have an agreement that he will not learn faith as fact, but when the teacher addressess the class or the other 5 children at his table it is unlikely that he will not hear it! Basically we now have an acknowledgment of our Atheism, but if we had wanted to have an education free from religious teaching as fact in this area we would have had to have removed him to the local Educate together school 9 miles outside his community. This is something I would not consider even if it were a practical option.
This is why we need a secular system, but frankly Quinn seems to think his little bit of tinkering is enough, This accommodation is not ideal in any way, but it is the best I feel we can hope for without causing him stress in school.
Well it is great that it was not a problem. You can view it the other way as well; the other children see that not everyone agrees that this is truth, something that will become more obvious as they get older.

I do agree that Mr Quinn is disapointingly weak in his approach. Although I read this anouncement on Schooldays.ie:

http://www.schooldays.ie/education-news ... -801460343
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
Mrkenny
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Re: Communion advice

Post by Mrkenny » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:39 pm

yellowfish wrote:I know this topic has been worked over a few times, but I would really like some advice.

My wife and I (Both Atheists) have rather been at loggerheads over this, but we have finally decided that the season is now upon us and its time to get off the fence. The Prayers that were coming back as homework last year could just about be coped with, but this year its His classes turn for communion and things seem to have taken on a higher imperative.

We have decided that we have two options,

One- tell the school that he will not be taking communion and that we do not want any more prayers sent back as homework nor do we want him to be asked to recite them in class (Or incidentally held back at break for not knowing them) We will go and watch the communion as a family in the same way we would attend a friends wedding.

Two- accept the offer of a blessing that was made when we explained we were not catholic or indeed religious. this would involve him doing all the work as normal including the homework prayers.

Our problem is How much say do we give our son? He became very upset recently that he was not doing the actual full communion like his friends, we thought he understood, but he is only seven and it seems to only now be something he is able to comprehend.
I am in favour of explaining things to him, but taking the decision and hopefully pressure out of his hands and going for option one. My wife wants to explain everything but let him choose, I fear his decision will be fear based because he doesn't want to be different, my wife feels the same but feels it is a valid reason.
AFAIK, we would be the first in the school to not take the blessing alternative, I hate to fight battles through my child, but Someone has to be first.

Has anyone who has been in this position any advice? Did you take the decision away from your child or leave it to them? What was the outcome, was the child picked on? How did your child manage in the long build up to communion?

One thing I should say is that our childs receiving his education in his community has always been the priority, we have never considered sending him ten miles into town to the ET school an option.

Once again, I know this is an old subject, but I would love to hear from parents who have been there and done that. We are going to see the teacher Monday should we go for option one, if its two I have promised to shut up about it and not interfere, which will be hard but we have to settle this.
heigh there, I myself am a parent of a four year old im an atheist however my wife although not very religious,she's not a full blooded atheist I face a similer problem as you do im hoping I could maybe convince my child that we could visit all our relations, havea fun day out and keep the church out of my Childs life as much as i can.
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