Children of Freethinking Parents
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08-04-2012, 10:02 PM
Children of Freethinking Parents
Hi. I am new to TTA, but not to atheism. In short, my journey to an atheist position has been a long, slow, progressive one where I began as a teenage agnostic, stumbled through a 'spiritual/force in the universe' phase, back to agnosticism, and slowly to atheist.

My husband is also an atheist and has been, all his life.

We have been raising our 3 children (all under 8) without religion. It's been fairly easy in that we live a couple states away from my religious extended family, and my in-laws haven't mentioned religion since our wedding 13 years ago when their friends (Korean Methodists) asked why there wasn't more "religion" in our ceremony. (Married in an historic farmhouse by a UU minister, we used one biblical reading - Corinthians 13, 4-7 & 13. No mention of god - only love. Other readings were a Native American 'blessing' and various readings from classic literature and vows we wrote.) I was (and remain) the only person in my huge extended family not to be married 'in the church' but members in my family were too polite to say anything about it. Smile

So although we have been able to sidestep church/religious events, our eldest son is starting to hear stuff from peers at at school - none of which we've had to address too seriously. But I know more is coming and we will have to tackle some questions, head-on.

Here's my concern - - I feel it would be one thing to 'come out' to people about the atheistic views held by myself and my husband but another entirely, to impose the certain ostracism and bias our children would no doubt experience if it were known that they were children of atheist parents and being raised without religion. Although we live in a blue state, the community in which we live is very conservative. In fact I'm shocked at how many people I know who actually teach religious ed! This surprises me most because we live in an upper middle class area with loads of professionals and I like to associate higher education with more rational/logical thinking... but experiences with friends and neighbors in my community don't support that hypothesis.

So, as my desire to connect with like minded people, and to join what I hope is real momentum in the coming out of atheists grows, I am held back by the even greater desire to not impose any hardship on our children that might come with subjecting them to the last, seemingly acceptable bias/prejudice - against atheists.

If it was just about me and my husband, and if our children were grown... well... it'd be different.

That's where I am - and I'm curious to know if anyone here is in a similar situation and if so, would love to hear other parents' take.
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09-04-2012, 01:10 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
Instead of baptizing our daughter we had some sort of ceremony at her first birthday where we had peopole choose inspirational text an poems. I read "the pale blue dot".

I'ts an interesting question you raise. I think the predefined rituals that come whit religion are one of the mean reasons why it is still popular here in Belgium.

Looks like finding others is quite the challenge fore some.


Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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09-04-2012, 05:20 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
Here is my 2c worth.

Be proud of who you are. Be completely honest with your children.

The world is changing. In 20 years time your children will love you for being real. They will have learnt from you a fabulous to stand up for what you believe is right.

You will benefit the community at large by making them more aware of atheism.

All this is easy for me to say...I'm not in your shoes.
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09-04-2012, 07:13 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
I have 3 children, 15girl, 14boy, 10boy. My wife and I are both atheists. Proud to say all 3 of my children are atheists. I keep my children informed on all the religious silliness and teach them critical thinking every opportunity I have. I have to work on them about evolution because unfortunately they just aren't interested. Too much like school Tongue

I have informed them to keep their non-belief as quiet as they can and explained how problems may arise. My two oldest have recently told a few friends but it hasn't affected them too badly. An occasional kid tells them they are going to hell, at least for the most part sometimes a little worse.

I can only tell you from my experience in Louisiana that you keep them prepared and definitely teach them critical thinking and about evolution while they are young. Don't wait until they are teens, that's an uphill battle lmao. Even at a young age they can grasp certain aspects of these things.

Richard Dawkins has a pretty good book for kids/adults that I would suggest picking up also.

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09-04-2012, 08:23 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
I'm a son of atheist parents but I am baptized and I did my communions just because it's tradition. Iirc when people asked me why I did my communion I said "for the presents ofcourse!". I never believed in god, infact the only times i got into trouble is because I didn't follow the rules during a religious class or event. Otherwise I'm a really nice guy, not that I was being a nuisance, I just didn't understand why people believe.
I can remember one time I was watching tv and it was a typical american sensation program like "XTREME CAR CRASHES!" but then random "Xtreme" videos and at one point it was about a group of people waiting for the second coming of christ and they showed a picture "they just took" of an angel in the clouds and my mother told me to watch something else because it's all nonesense. That's about the only time my parents intervened concerning religion. Besides that I have asperger, it's impossible for me to believe.
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09-04-2012, 08:40 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
My three are grown now, the baby is 25 today. Two are Atheist, one doesn't really give religion much thought.

When they were growing up, many years were in the deep south where we were surrounded by the super-religious. My kids went to all different churches with friends. My son went to revivals and a Christian concert with one of his friends. I think the tent revival literally scared the beJesus out of him. He is the 25 year old and is the strongest in his non-belief.

I was forced to go to Catholic church and school. I was going to let my kids look around and decide for themselves. We did the secular celebrations of holidays such as Christmas and Easter but there was no packing up to go to church or any religious overtones. Actually out of habit and tradition, there were originally some religious overtones like a Nativity decoration but over time all that was phased out.

When my son was in about the first grade, his teacher told me that he had the best grasp of what was real and what wasn't in terms of movies and books and such. She said that many of the kids didn't have the ability to grasp the difference between fantasy and reality, but he did. I think that carried over to his take on Christian teachings.

They knew where I stood. I think the beginning for me not bringing religion in was when I really listened to the bedtime prayer that I had recited and that I was having my older kids recite: Now I lay me down to sleep...blah, blah, If I should DIE before I wake...WTF is that? That's an awful thing to send a kid to bed thinking about. I ended that little routine.

They came and asked questions and I answered. I trusted them to make the decision that made sense to them. But they were also told to have respect when in another's home for their beliefs.

I'm not anti-social. I'm pro-solitude. Sleepy
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09-04-2012, 09:22 AM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
I was raised by atheist parents who never mentioned they were atheist until decades later. They just didn't go to church and there was no talk about religion at home at all.

I ended up exploring religion and becoming enchanted with it until age 10, when I decided it was a fairytale.

I think if you make a big deal out of it, it becomes a big deal. Kids are rebellious by nature once they hit a certain age, and they may rebel by getting religious if you have been harping on atheism all their upbringing.

Kids want to explore things, let them. Just make sure you tell them about all the real ways things are (evolution etc) and let them think for themselves. Explain a lot of "how does this work" kind of stuff, like how does a car move and whatnot. Look it up if you don't know.Teach analytical thinking and everything will fall into place.

I wouldn't make a big deal about religion. It isn't relevant to life and it's not important is the message you give by ignoring it. It certainly worked for me, although I did go through a very devout phase at a young age. I think if my parents had prohibited church, I would have been rebellious enough to pursue it. As is, I "played" it and abandoned it like my dolls and fairytale books.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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09-04-2012, 09:09 PM
RE: Children of Freethinking Parents
I fear for my young daughter being attacked by her school mates for being a "non-believer". She doesn't know the cruel world yet.
I'm doing what I can to prepare her, but I still would not want her believing in the god crap just to fit in.
I've told her to keep opinions to herself about god and I don't go to PTA meeing with an atheist t-shirt.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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