Is That Weird?

I think I was raised in a different way from most people in America.

When I was a kid we never talked about religion or politics in our house.

We went to church once in a while, but never with any regularity. And I have no idea how my parents voted, or even if they did.

A lot of the people I know weren’t raised that way at all. In a lot of cases people are raised with two religious faiths. Faith in God and faith in political party. In many families these things are talked about every day. Sometimes I actually wonder which is more important to people.

I don’t want to denigrate anyone for raising their kids the way they want to. I think we’re all trying our best.

But I can say I’m glad my parents raised me that way. I think it really helped me see the world in a unique way.

I don’t know if they did it on purpose. I don’t know if they didn’t care much about religion or politics and so it just never came up. I don’t know if they were waiting until I was old enough to talk about those things.

I don’t know if it’s related to the fact that by the time I was old enough to vote in a Presidential election they were dead. Maybe they would have suggested I vote a certain way in the 2000 election. I’ll never know.

I could find out, of course. I could ask my brother who is eight years older than me. Or I have relatives I could ask. But I like not knowing. I don’t sit around wondering, “how did my parents vote?” I just sit around thinking, “I’m glad they never told me.”

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who grew up this way. I do think it’s rare. Tell me your story in the comments.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher and Ch'an Adept living in Kansas City. He regularly gives teachings through the Open Heart Project. He also runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows and was transmitted the Caodong Ch'an lineage of Master Hsu Yun.

2 Responses

  1. We didn’t talk about religion or politics either when I was growing up. I think my mother voted for whomever my dad did. It was the sixties before women’s liberation. I took myself to church when I was in the sixth grade. I wanted to know what they were doing in there. I maybe went a total of six times over a year and then never went back. I don’t know if my home was weirder than anyone else’s but I do know my mother drank too much alcohol, was hooked on codeine (thanks to her doctor) and was a rageaholic, especially when she was out of codeine pills. On the one hand its good because, #1. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol; #2. I wasn’t indoctrinated into any religious belief that I had to go along with when I grew up. I got to make my own choices about that stuff, which over my adult years has fluctuated. I like figuring things out for myself and I am comfortable not knowing things, like life’s big mysteries.
    I have known people who left religions they were born into when they became adults and their parents disowned them because their religion told them too. Very sad.

  2. Religion was rarely spoke about but politics, boy howdy, my folks would scream at the tv during debates. I watched debates for fun as a kid. I wanted to be a politician when I grew up. Lucky for me my folks always went left and it makes life easier for me. I don’t have political tension with my father like I do with my extreme right in-laws.
    I find it strange when I find out people were not raised with politics. Those people usually think it’s strange I was raised with a bible and church.

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