“Nice” Canadian parents defer to children on religion, most everything

May 19, 2016

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

A researcher has discovered that Canadian parents, unlike many others around the more patriarchal world, defer to their children when it comes to religion.

For a scholarly article titled Kids, You Make the Choice, Joel Thiessen conducted 60 interviews with Canadian parents and found that they strongly emphasized their children have “choice” on whether to be religious or non religious.

“Deferring to children is part of what it means to be a nice, inclusive, tolerant Canadian, even in one’s home,” Thiessen, of Ambrose University in Calgary, writes in the journal Secularism and Non-Religion.

“Research in Canada demonstrates that to impose religious or secular views on to another, even one’s own children, is un-Canadian.”

Those are lines to remember.

It makes me wonder if “nice, inclusive, tolerant” Canadian parents (including me) are more prone than almost any others around the world to subconsciously subscribe to the worldview expressed by Robert Bly in his book, Sibling Society.

That’s where the author, poet, storyteller and translator tells us that we live in a “sibling society, ” in which children are basically raised by their peers. He goes on to suggest many North American adults have regressed into adolescence and adolescents refuse to grow up. Or maybe I’m going too far.

Thiessen’s excellent research focussed on Canadian parents who were either regular attenders, marginally Christian (who, for instance, attended church mostly on special occasions) or were not religious at all.

Thiessen didn’t include parents who are affiliated with world religions, such as Islam or Sikhism. And he today he confirmed with me via Twitter — @joelthiessen — that he didn’t interview many new immigrant families.

Many immigrant parents are known for having strong expectations of their children, not only in regard to excelling in education, but also in regards to religion.

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