Raising a Freethinking Child
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24-02-2011, 09:08 PM
 
Raising a Freethinking Child
I wrote this email to Seth today. I'm curious as to what others think....

Seth,

I have had a thought in my head that has been bothering me for quite some time. How do I raise my son to be a Freethinker? Freethinking is to come to conclusions inside ones own self without outside and authoritative forces. So how do I raise him to think for himself without influencing my own thoughts upon him?

I am a 33 year old atheist. I was raised in the christian church. My family is religious but not to any extremes. My father was raised a strict catholic and mother was raised lutheran. There was open dialouge in my upbringing but my parents rarely attended church. We attended on the bigger holidays and periodically throughout the rest of the year. They got me involved in the youth group activities but even that was touch and go. So I was a believer as that's how I was raised but it was never forced down my throat or anything. I was in my mid to late20s when I rejected christianity. My parents and I have never had an outright discussion about my choice in this matter, but for the most part, they know. I don't think they are too please, but I don't think they are terribly bothered, either. As long as I'm happy and moral, they don't really mind too much about the rest.

Well, I am now the mother of a twelve year old boy. I'm a single mother but his father is VERY involved. They attend church and are pretty active in that community. I attend their church when my son is in a special activity or something of the like. My son loves his faith and his church. He is a VERY bright child. He knows I don't go to church but I was always pretty sure my son just assumed that was because it was his father's family's church. Well, as of late, my son has been asking questions. He hasn't questioned his own faith (yet) but he has questioned my lack of faith. He has seen things on my computer, overheard various conversations between myself and friends, and has started to understand the meaning behind the lyrics to much of the music i listen to. He has started to question if I am christian or atheist. Like most, he has this picture in his head of an atheist being this scary poisoned person. So, when he asks, I just lightly address the question, turn the conversation around, or just change the subject completely.

I don't want to influence my son on his faith (or lack there of if he so chooses). I want him to be happy and to make his OWN decisions and form his OWN personality. The idea of being a freethinker is to come to conclusions for ones self based on evidence, science, logic, and reason. So if I influence him, am i not stepping on his right to be a freethinker? I was in my mid to late 20s when I rejected christianity. There was no one pivotal moment or any one person in my life that influenced my liberation. It was a conclusion that I came to all on my own. This is what I want to happen with my son. I don't want him to question his religion because mommy does. I want him to question it all on his own when he is ready. For all I know, that time might never come.

Just as my parents did for me, I just want him to be happy, productive, and moral. So how do I support him in his decisions along the way that he will make and that I may or may not agree with. I want him to be a freethinker but how do I raise a freethinking child without being hypocritial and impose upon his freethinking process??

Thank you,
Xxxxxxx
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24-02-2011, 09:54 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I'm not a parent, so I'm not sure if my opinion is valid (although I was raised Christian and about your sons age I grew to reject the faith on my own), but here is my opinion anyway.

I believe you are over-thinking the idea of freethinking, because the fact is, everybody is influenced by something. When I came to become an atheist I was influenced by the lack of evidence, when I wanted to learn to play music, I was influenced by a few musical artists, I am still influenced by others today (whether I admit it or not). There is nothing wrong with influencing your son in the direction of questioning, and to turn away his questions not completely answered to me is a bad idea towards making him a freethinker. You can be an example, you can answer his questions, and more importantly make sure he knows just what an atheist is, if he asks why you are an atheist, tell him. I know personally I've always wanted to understand my parents beliefs, have conversations with them, they kept the door shut, and still do.

Anyway, that is just my two cents, I am betting somebody else has three cents to offer you on here.
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24-02-2011, 09:56 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I have but one thing to say to you, good sir.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS6-vI70oc0

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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24-02-2011, 10:01 PM
 
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
A. i am not a sir, good sir. (you obviously didnt even read the post)

B. i am not a fan of that song in the least. it is always referenced by others.
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24-02-2011, 10:02 PM
 
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
In regards to the general topic, I've been thinking about this subject a lot. How I want to approach the subject of religion and so on with my child. I don't want to indoctrinate Atheism into my child, then I'd be no better than the Christian parents. I DO however want my child to understand why I chose Atheism, after careful research, and I want to educate my child in all religions.

What I find funny about theists and Atheists is that Atheists tend to know more about religion than the theists do. I think knowledge is power and all knowledge I can give my child will better them in the end. I discussed with my fiance the issue that I have with my child pledging to the flag. In school I never pledged to the flag, I felt it wasn't an issue of simple patriotism, but stretched instead into dangerous nationalism.

I am happy to be a US citizen, but not "proud". I think too much pride is a negative thing, and that being proud of your origin of birth is silly when you think about it. It was a coincidence, not something you achieved. So I don't want my child to stand up like a robot and recite, year after year, a pledge. That's one of my weird opinions that I'm sure many people disagree with.

But in general I want to raise a freethinking child, it is just easier said than done. There are so many outside forces that the child is going to be exposed to, it's hard to keep up the educating aspect lol.
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24-02-2011, 10:05 PM (This post was last modified: 24-02-2011 10:09 PM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
If he's asking you about yourself tell him, being honest is not the same as being manipulative. He wants to know what you are doing and why. If you avoid him, then all he'll do is get a bad image of what you do. If he asks you questions about yourself you should let him know what you've decided and that you've decided it. Let him know that it doesn't mean you feel bad about his current choices. We don't have to go through life alone just because there's an importance in making our own decisions.

If he comes to you and asks you about yourself he is actively discussing this with you. That is his choice, don't disrespect him by deciding that what you say might shape what he believes. If he wants to know about you then tell him. Free thinking means learning about everything, and gaining knowledge on different sides. He's trying to understand your views on this.

@Diclonius I've never pledged allegiance either, a few times when I was in the early grades teachers would try to convince me to do it, but they couldn't force it.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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24-02-2011, 10:05 PM
 
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
yes, Ketola. i see where you are coming from. however, i should clarify that *i* do not want to influence and tread upon his freethinking. i want him to get it for himself and from his personal life expiriences... not just because "mommy (or daddy) said so." it is too easy for children to just mimic and vomit out what their parents think.
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24-02-2011, 10:15 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
(24-02-2011 10:01 PM)Pain.Killer. Wrote:  it is always referenced by others.

Ah, well it is to be expected. If I chose the username "Freebird" I would grant it a certain measure of what is to be expected.

As far as the topic, don't "teach" him anything about it. Give him the knowledge required to academically succeed in life (mathematics, language, science, morals, ethics) and answer any religious questions he may bring to you as objectively as possible. Let him have his santa claus/jesus imaginary friends growing up, but when he's old enough to think for himself, I would engage him more and more in theological discussions.

But what would I know, I'm just here for the Reputation points.

Shalom!

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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24-02-2011, 10:43 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I think there's an important distinction between influencing a child and being straightforward. Further, I don't think influencing him is bad. It's just important that the influence is done by setting an example. When he asks if you are an atheist, tell him the truth, then explain what an atheist is, and be very clear to him that YOU made the decision to be an atheist, and he can make the decision himself, just like you did. The example you set is honesty, and it will encourage him to be honest with you.
Of course be gentle. There's no reason why you can't explain why you are not convinced that there is a god, without putting down his and his fathers beliefs.
Sometimes the best lesson we can teach our children is that we DON'T have all the answers. I've always taught my daughter that I am not perfect, I make mistakes, and questioning things is ok. Open the door, and make sure your son knows it's ok to question things. That includes questioning you. When he asks you questions, don't be afraid to tell him when you don't have an answer.
Most importantly, in my opinion, is keep doing what you are doing. Right now you are looking for the best way to raise your son, and that makes you a great parent! When we stop trying to improve, we stop improving.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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24-02-2011, 10:44 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I hope you notice what i said pain_killer, I am not a parent I made sure to be slow about my response and make sure I didnt say anything that might upset you. I'm a child who had a lot of issues and no answers, and I was afraid to ask about them. I'm someone who goes to people suffering in ways I know, and helps them by giving them my opinion. I don't tell them I'm right, I even give them some information about the other side. But children do think, and they don't need to mull over every question alone. Answering tough questions about yourself can be very good in a parent child relationship. It tells your child that they can come to you no matter what the issue.

I'm not telling you what to do, or saying I'm right. This is my opinion, but I really want you to at least consider what I am saying. My opinions as a child who had to deal with too many problems on my own.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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