Just over 13 years ago, when I first found out that I was going to be a father, I knew for absolute sure that I was treading into unknown territory, and knew that I had no real idea how exactly I was supposed to be a good parent.
But I had two stable, guiding certainties that have acted as North Stars for me:
- I’m going to do this fatherhood thing RIGHT, and not just phone it in. I want to give it everything I’ve got, and if I’m ever not doing it right, I want to fix it and do it right.
- I know for absolute certain that my church has my back on this, and that all the help I need to carry out point #1 can be found in Scientology.
Lucky for me, I was right on both counts.
I seriously love being a dad. Yes, I work like crazy to provide for the family, but every instant I can spare, I’m out there creating the future with these kids. We do endless projects, have endless outdoor adventures, endless chats about the world we live in, geography quizzes at the dinner table, the list goes on and on.
That’s not to say that parenting is some blissful utopian unreality. With three kids, my wife and I have had a constant set of new problems both with the kids themselves and with dealing with life. It’s been more challenging than anything I’ve ever done. That’s where Scientology has proven utterly invaluable in our lives, in that for every problem or shortcoming we had as parents, there was always a solution, always a helping hand to be had at our church. The examples of all the places where our religion helped us be better parents abounded, such that I started a whole website just to catalog them all.
But here’s where the plot starts to thicken.
I’m very public about the fact that I am a Scientologist, and have been so ever since I created my very first web page over 25 years ago. As a result, I have received two very different types of reactions to my religion:
- Normal folks of every faith, who are respectful, kind, understanding and encouraging, and
- A very, very slim minority who are noisy, nasty, rude and have an unbelievable penchant for making up stories, creating false equivalencies, or otherwise being downright unpleasant despite never having met me.
It’s really quite startling to see the difference between those two types.
As a stark example, my kids very much enjoy outdoor mountain sports, specifically mountain biking and skiing. In online communities where I share what we’re up to and where religion isn’t mentioned, I get:
- “You are a good parent 🙂 your kids sound like they’re living the dream!”
- “Good job parenting!”
- “Nicely done. These moments are among the best. You are setting up your kids to always have something healthy in their lives.”
And things of that sort continually.
I get a lot of people envious of the life we make for our kids, both inside and outside our religious community. People I meet and hang around with love our way of life, and love how bright, aware and not-glued-to-devices our kids are.
But on social media, I’m quite visible as a Scientologist, and in those circles I’ve come under coordinated, continual and entirely unreasonable attack from people who have never met me or my children.
I’ve been told every manner of made-up-ism, from made-up restrictions I put onto my kids like “Scientologists can’t browse the Internet” (what?!), or “Scientologists can’t talk to their babies for a year after they’re born” (no idea).
I’ve been told my kids can’t make up their own minds about their religious beliefs, when personal choice in that matter is the VERY FOUNDATION of Scientology. In the essay “Personal Integrity” by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, he writes: “What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that, you have lost everything.”
One of the primary guiding principles I’ve applied in bringing up my kids stems from that. If I can expose my children to as much as I can in this world, and prepare them to study, learn and observe for themselves—teach them as well as I can to be understanding, kind and compassionate—then I’ll have done a good job as a dad.
And that, in and of itself, has been—and will continue to be—the most rewarding journey for me and my family, despite the pitiful squeaks of bigots I’ve never met.
This post originally appeared on STAND – Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination.