Atheist father with a problem
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28-05-2012, 11:49 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
(27-05-2012 08:28 AM)theWritingHand Wrote:  Hi all,

My name is Cedric. I figured out I was an atheist quite a few years ago. There's no definite date really, belief (of lack thereof) does not have an on/off switch. But that's beside the point.

I live in Malta (Europe), which is predominantly roman catholic, to the extent that religion and politics are very tightly intertwined, and religion permeates society very heavily. To cut a long story short, I have a son who is eight months old. I realized right away that I had to baptize him and raise him in the roman catholic religion, not because it's a good thing to do, but because of the stigma and marginalization he will surely suffer if he is to be brought up as an atheist. These days, it's hard enough to be integrate even if you're a conformist, let alone if you swim against the current. And for children, integrating with society is an essential part of growing up in a healthy manner.

This however brings me a number of predicaments. First of all, by bringing him up in the roman catholic religion, I am filling his mind with the same load of nonsense that has plagued me for the larger part of my life. Essentially, I am being unjust towards him. So, in my mind, I know I want to raise my son as a free thinker with a strong sense of morality and a healthy dose of skepticism towards religion. But how do I achieve that?

Let's be fair here. Children are extremely malleable. They're very easy to influence. But because of the very nature of their malleability, they are very easily confused, and a lot of harm can come out of that. How can I tell my son to disregard what everyone around him is saying about god? How do I teach him to think for himself, when that is clearly a skill that is acquired over time and with maturity? How do I teach him to hold his tongue and not contradict my mother or his teacher when they go on about how much god loves him? Why should I burden him with this internal struggle, forcing him to live a deception. Children should be innocent, not deceptive.

And if I play along with the god game, how can I forgive myself and look him in the eye when he grows up and calls me a liar for having led him down a path I knew was untrue?

I need help with all these problems. And I'm reaching out to this community for help. And as I learn to deal with these difficulties, I intend to start a blog (under a pen name) treating precisely with the issue of atheist fathers facing this same difficulty, because I am sure there are many others out there who are facing this issue every day.

I hope someone here can help me. Kain is only 8 months old, but before I know it he's gonna get to the age where this problem is gonna crop up, and I honestly don't know what to do. Please help me.
Cedric,

First of all, congratulations and enjoy your having Kain in your life. I have 2 children (daughter 14 and son 18) both educated in a Catholic School system. My wife is Catholic and I was as well until very recently. I actually just told my wife yesterday that I am an Atheist. My son became an atheist before I did with no input from myself. He is very intelligent and just figured it out on his own. He even told the school priest about it.

I told my daughter I was an atheist before my wife (about a week ago) and she seemed indifferent to it and not really surprised. She did not say that she too is an atheist but already has a lot of questions that lead me to believe she will in time.

I was not an atheist when my children were 8 months old but I can assure that my children were taught religion everyday from kindergarden to grade 12 and on their own questioned the validity of the bible and gods. I credit this to my kids intelligence (biased father) and the access to information that I did not have as a child.

You are in a situation where you will probably have to bite your tongue for many years but just like Santa Clause and the tooth fairy, he will figure it out on his own. Expose him to basic knowledge of science and evolution along side biblical tales of Noah's Ark and a 6 day creation and he will start asking questions that religion cannot answer.

Enjoy your son, they grow up very fast. When he is in high school you will look back at this and realize you were worried over nothing.

Randy

"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad I feel bad. That's my religion" - Abraham Lincoln
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28-05-2012, 05:42 PM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
(28-05-2012 11:49 AM)barkingmad Wrote:  I was not an atheist when my children were 8 months old but I can assure that my children were taught religion everyday from kindergarden to grade 12 and on their own questioned the validity of the bible and gods.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, "There ain't nothing more effective at turning out atheists than a parochial education." Big Grin

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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30-05-2012, 05:01 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
Hi. Sorry for taking so long to reply. I just wanted to thank you all for the encouragement and for sharing your practical advice with me. Being a fledgling parent I really don't know what to expect, but I'm doing my best to at least preempt some of the difficulties I might encounter. That's the reason why I started my parenting blog. I want it to be a diary of my experiences, as well as a resource collecting all the difficulties and doubts I have, and the solution to them.

I will definitely follow through with the advice you have given me. Unfortunately, I will have to refrain from introducing the element of atheism in my parenting blog. That's not because I'm ashamed of saying I'm an atheist, rather its because my readers might be put off by it, and it would be a shame to deprive them of the benefit they might otherwise receive from the blog.

Thanks again for your time and sharing. I look forward to growing within this community. That said, I might in time start a blog for atheist fathers (under a pseudonym). Do you think that would be well received by the community?

By the way, for those of you who have asked, here's a photo of Kain and myself:

[Image: Kain-and-Cedric-e1336929148469-300x286.jpg]

Writer, Musician, Magician, Father.
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30-05-2012, 07:55 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
Look, there really is no reason for you to mention atheism or Christianity on your blog. It is a religious matter and, frankly, it is not polite to talk about your religion, if the topic is not religious. So, yeah, the best thing is to concentrate on your parenting and leave religion out of it, as well as atheism. That way you will not be evil, baby-eating heathen and nobody will call social services on you.
Smile

As for a specialized blog for atheist fathers... Not sure about the audience and their numbers, but why not give it a go, if you can spare the time. Who knows, maybe it will be better visited than your original blog...

Good luck anyway.

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
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30-05-2012, 08:48 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
(30-05-2012 05:01 AM)theWritingHand Wrote:  [Image: Kain-and-Cedric-e1336929148469-300x286.jpg]
Oh, what a sweet little face!

Kain? Atheists and their irony... cute. Dodgy
***********************

I agree about your blog; it doesn't even need to address religion if it's about parenting blog. Parenting issues are somewhat universal - health & nutritional concerns, education, safety, socialization - all can be addressed in an entirely secular manner.

If the subject is raised by people who read your blog, you can still remain fairly neutral by stating the world in general operates fairly secularly, while some also choose to keep traditions alive. Keep it simple and balanced, and people will keep reading ... and none will be offended.

Anyway, sweet little Kain is going to keep you running, Daddy ... you sure you're going to have time for a blog? Wink

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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30-05-2012, 10:26 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
Just teach him how to think critically. Let him know that Christianity is not the only option, and be sure to educate him. My parents educated me, although they were Catholic. That has allowed me to see past their memeatic indoctrination (They didn't choose to try brainwashing me, the "Virus of the Mind" did) and be able to call myself atheist.
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09-06-2012, 01:33 AM
Thumbs Up RE: Atheist father with a problem
(30-05-2012 08:48 AM)kim Wrote:  Kain? Atheists and their irony... cute. Dodgy
Yeah I agree Tongue

Thank you all for the great advice. I hope to be more active in the forums as time goes by. This feels like a great community and I'm happy to be a part of it all.

Take care.

Writer, Musician, Magician, Father.
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09-06-2012, 03:40 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
I'm a closet atheist, except to my wife and brother. My extended family live nearby, and my six year old daughter is soaking up theistic ideas. My wife is a Christian.

We have a kind of compromise where we still say grace at the dinner table, but I'm allowed to teach my children about science. When my daughter asks me questions about my belief I ask her questions back to her. If pressed I tell her what I think.

Her questions have not gotten deep enough for me to tell her I'm an atheist, though I think this will happen within the next few years.
If she told me she was an atheist I would not allow her to label herself a such just yet. Labels have a way if becoming self-fulfilling and limiting. I would rather tune her bullshit detector than to tell her what to think, or even what I think.

There will come a day when she knows my view on the existence of God. That may occur when I am more "out" than I currently am, or may be the trigger for me to out myself. I won't lie to her, and I won't make her conceal something like that.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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09-06-2012, 04:11 AM
RE: Atheist father with a problem
On my part, neither my partner nor I ever go to church. My partner is agnostic and over time my views have rubbed onto her, even though I haven't tried to influence her. The thing is, when we discuss the issue, my views are very convincing, but I guess that's inevitable. What kind of worries me is my mother and a couple of my relatives. Malta is small and we all live within 5 to 30 mins away from each other. Their influence on my son is going to be there. As already discussed, this can still be remedied, and after all I became an atheist despite their teachings. But it's hard to get yourself out of that rut.

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