How I Learned to Let My Daughter Explore Her Faith Without Me

My faith has changed since I was a kid, so I won’t be by my daughter’s side when she attends church. But I’m glad she’s doing so without me.

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The first time my daughter and I had a legitimate disagreement was nearly two years ago. I was Team Iron Man and she was Team Cap, so we were on opposing sides of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War. It wasn’t so much that she couldn’t understand why I didn’t support Team Cap. It was much more that we weren’t aligned on a “major” topic. Not agreeing on this was truly frustrating to her. I was surprised by the anger she genuinely displayed. And I knew this would only be the first of many times we didn’t agree. Our big difference of opinion, I knew, would not be as trivial.

When I was my daughter’s current age, my mother thought it would be good for me to spend some time at church. My mother has not aligned herself to a church or specific religion, but has always been a spiritual person. So, I began going to church with my grandmother for what felt like all day on Sundays — 9 am – 3pm. I went about eight years without seeing a 1pm Giants game.

My churchgoing experience at First Calvary Baptist Church was intense, entertaining, baffling, and often fulfilling. I was especially fond of the gospel music, which was usually my favorite part of the service. I also became fascinated with The Bible and the stories found within it. Although I didn’t see it necessary to live exactly the way The Bible might have required, I did value the Ten Commandments. I often prayed, usually for things to be better for family and friends, for peace in the world, and sometimes for my professional sports teams to win big games.

But, what I found were people including my grandmother, unwilling to answer my questions about Christianity. There was so much I didn’t understand, from how God came into existence to why if God existed, would he let Black people be treated so poorly for so long. I didn’t get my answers. I was often told to stop asking so many questions or to just shut up by church members or by my grandmother. This led to resentment, a desire to answer these questions on my own, and an inevitable lack of interest.

In high school and college, I learned how religion was a tool…

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