Raising a Freethinking Child
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24-02-2011, 10:58 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
No, I'm not offended in the least. I started this thread as an open dicussion. I'm a bit lost on this subject and that's why I'm asking for thoughts and opinions on it. I have many ideas in my head about it... and many of those ideas are conflicting. That's why I'm asking for opinions...

He has just recently started to ask questions. Not a lot and not all the time. So that's why I figured I would try to tackle this issue now rather than down the road after I make a mess of things. Smile
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25-02-2011, 12:58 AM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I've been in a relationship with an amazing woman who has a 4 year old son who also has a father that is somewhat active in his life. He gets him for 3 weeks every couple of months since he lives so far away. He also happens to be part of the mormon church and seems to be active in that.

I know my situation is different but its something I have put a lot of thought into since I have become attached to this kid and love him very much and as much like my own as I can. There was some friction between me and his father and at one point he noticed the atheist bumper sticker on my car and we had a discussion that skirted around the topic. I let him know that I would not push my beliefs on the child and only planned on doing what I could to prepare him for life.

I came to the conclusion that I would definitely not push my non belief on him but educate him about the one subject I could. Science. He loves astronomy and science and figure that if I can educate about how the world works I just might have a chance.

I will never lie to him. If he ever asks I will tell him what I believe but its not a topic I will bring up on my own.
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25-02-2011, 01:59 AM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
Your son is being taken to a church. Churches are notorious for brain-washing. The church has no right to influence your son, but they are going to anyway. You have every right to answer your son's questions honestly. You also have as much right to influence him as your husband does, and he has a lot of help from the church.

Your boy is going to make HIS choices anyway. Let him know what you believe and why. This way he will be able to compare both sides. Otherwise he will be missing pertinent information and may make bad choices because of it.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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25-02-2011, 04:47 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
Like most have mentioned before, I too would recommend just being honest with your son. Kids are going to have influences, the most important this is that they are good influences. Be a good example of a positive Atheist and show him that religion is not needed to have a meaningful life and a strong moral compass. The church will teach their view as if it was the only view that is right. You don't need to put the church down, but maybe present questions to him about what he knows of other religions, or even of Christianity. Religious literacy can sometimes be enough for someone to contend that they don't know. When I was his age and started asking questions, I knew very little, if anything, about the other religions. I'm often surprised to find out how much of the Bible modern Christians choose to block out, maybe you can start with 2 Kings 2:23-24.

You said that he is a bright young man, so that is a good sign. When he start putting the pieces together, Occam's razor should cut that Christianity right out.
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25-02-2011, 05:37 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
(24-02-2011 10:05 PM)Pain.Killer. Wrote:  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.

Mommy and daddy conflict, so I don't think it is very easy for him to mimic either of you without the other questioning it. He is at that age where he is beginning to become more self-aware, if you give him a reason to he will question his own beliefs, and that is what makes him a freethinker. His father will no doubt influence him, your job is to influence him in the right direction. By the way, what kept me out of trouble that I probably would have gotten into when I was younger is the experiences of those older than me, my father and uncle were drug addicts, womanizers, drunks, etc. I am nothing like that, because of their experiences.
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01-03-2011, 08:38 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I am a father of a two year old son, and my wife is pregnant, so I have thought quite hard about how to raise a skeptical and freethinking child. I don't want to impose my beliefs on my children, but I do want to share my love of thinking and questioning things.

I think that what I want to do is teach by example. I want to have lots of good conversations with my children and encourage them to think ever more deeply about things and show them how I am open to being wrong and changing my mind because of contrary evidence or reasoning. I want to teach them how to research things they are interested in and strongly encourage reading and learning.

Learning how to think well is not an automatic process, so I want to help guide them so they become adept at thinking clearly. I'm not so interested in telling them what to think but in teaching them how to think well. From there, they will figure things out for themselves.
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06-03-2011, 02:25 AM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child

I'm no parent, I don't even babysit, so I feel I have no business offering my two cents, but I thought this video made a lot of sense. Hopefully it helps. ^^

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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06-03-2011, 03:24 AM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
Great find!
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06-03-2011, 03:25 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
Hi Pain.killer.

I've been following this tread with great interest. And I think you ask the correct questions. +1 rep.
A few weeks ago I asked about the same question on this forum and that gathered some info too. That tread can be found here

As far as Having children, My daughter is just 2 weeks now. So my practical experience in raising children is limited to changing diaper and staying calm at nightly cries. Smile But if you are interested I can give you my point of view as the 12 year old boy I once was and the person I am now.

As a mother you are a God to him. Boys are just more attracted to their mother then to their father. However, If your little Martian* comes to you with a straight question, he will expect a straight answer. That’s what (12 year old) Martians want! If that answer is "I don't know" that's fine. But don't dance around the subject.

What would I do?
Perhaps it is a good idea to think about why you are an atheist. What pushed you over? What's your point of view? Are you agnostic? Deist? Pantheist? How did you came to that conclusion? Then, when you get questions from your boy. Ask him if he can define what an atheist is? Now you can both go an compare each other's point of view. Don't be afraid to answer with "I will think about it" or "I don't know. I look into that". Just don't forget to get back on the subject once you found an answer. Your boy will appreciate the way you take his questions serious.

* (reference to men are from Mars, woman are from Venus. A Martian will only ask questions to someone who he respects and consider specialist on the subject. On Mars it is a great honour to get questions by other Martians. A Martian almost always asks for a solution, not empathy)

(24-02-2011 10:05 PM)Pain.Killer. Wrote:  I should clarify that *I* do not want to influence and tread upon his freethinking.
Well that’s a strange attitude...Smile
Whether you like it or not, just by being his mother you already influence him. Bear in mind that childeren don't copy you littraly. When you are unclear on your way of life. You give signals to him that 'its okay to "slack". I think i's better to be more to the point.

That’s my point of view.


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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06-03-2011, 04:46 PM
RE: Raising a Freethinking Child
I'll chime in as well...

I've raised 4 kids - two soon to be 22, one 19, one 16 (blended family - not twins).

I tried raising the two that I brought into the family, when they were young, in the church, even as I was hanging onto the last vestiges of my own faith. By the time my kids were about 8 and 3, I stopped any pretense of religious faith and stopped going to church.

I gave them straight answers about metaphysical questions only children can ask Smile Both kids now, 22 (almost) and 16, are both nontheist.

The two my wife raised until we were married were also raised in the church - with a bit longer time to be immersed in it. When they stopped going to church, they really didn't complain about getting to sleep in on Sundays. The boys are both in college, almost 22 and 19. I always thought they considered themselves Christian - that until they were home a couple weeks ago and the subject of religion came up.

I wouldn't say they are atheists, but they described themselves as nonreligious and not really buying into the whole thing...

When my kids were young and they asked if there was a god, I was honest with them. I told them many people believe there is a god - and many people worship that god in different ways and customs and all of them believe their way is the way god wants them to worship him - as for myself, I don't believe in it - primarily because if one group is right it means every other group is wrong and if the wrong people are destined for hell for not believing correctly, that god is a sick sob...

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