Raising a lil free thinker
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25-08-2012, 07:08 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
I was raised in a household of closet atheists, and they were closeted to me, too. I didn't find out until decades later that both my parents were atheists.

They did not influence me at all. Religion just never came up at home unless I brought it up. I went through an intensely catholic phase until I was 10. My parents passively supported it. I remember coming home once and asking why we did not have a cross in the house. When I got home from school the next day, there was one in my room. It never occurred to me to wonder why it was in my room and not in the house, I figured they didn't find a good spot on the wall for it.

All the way from little on my dad, an engineer, and mom, a mathematician, explained all common things to me extensively. There were no unanswered questions. How does a car move? Dad was good at simplifying things to where I could basically understand when I was 5. They never touched religion and I didn't seem to have religious questions, I posed those to the nuns at school. But I know that everything had a reason and came from some place. And I grew up looking for reasons and such, on a simple level of course.

When I was around 10 I quit reading fairy tales and that included the bible. I don't know what the exact trigger was anymore, I think that babies who were not baptized before dying could not go to heaven was one of them. But the first testament looked like Brother Grimm's fairy tales to me - gruesome and bloddy and it had lost all the magic for me.

So I guess you could say that I was raised as a freethinker - thought was allowed to flow freely even in the realm of religion. What made all the difference IMO is the patience and thoroughness with which any and all questions I had were answered. No one ever told me I was too young to understand, things were boiled down to a level I could work with, whatever age I was.

I grew up asking questions and getting to the bottom of things.

Predictaby (for my parents) I ended up applying the same scrutiny to religion and it came up lacking.

I hope this helps. The point is not to raise an atheist but to raise a child that employs critical thinking. That is the actual point of it, religion is just one of many things that this thinking will be applied to. Religion is not important. Thinking is. If you start pounding on religion you may awake a rebellious streak and raise a devout person. Just let the kid think for themselves, encourage that. Religion is so ridiculous when you apply logic to it, a kid who thinks logically will find it's own way.

Think: What do I want to give my kid for it's way through life? Is it a hatred of religions or is it critical thinking?

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25-08-2012, 07:09 AM (This post was last modified: 25-08-2012 07:18 AM by Vipa.)
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
I've been raised in a similar way to Leelas version and my nephew is being raised similarly too.
Sure my parents do hold mild new age beliefs but they never insisted on anything.

From my own experience and from the experience of how my nephew gets raised I've come to some conclusions:

Until your child can talk it's anyway all about nurturing etc..
But as soon as it can talk at least some words or understand what you are saying:

As Leela and others say make sure to always be open for any topic your child wants to talk about. You may give your opinion but make sure to not withhold alternatives (this of course depends on topic and age)

It's never just "no you can't do X", it should be "no you can't do X because..."

Don't kill your kids imagination just because you don't want it to become a believer. Hold a balance between reality and wild imaginations. Go along with fantasies, after all you aren't raising a machine

And of course I too would recommend to pick some nice religious stories and read them together with other tales.

If your kid is claiming things ask why it thinks this way. You won't get an answer at first, because it can't "process" this question but my 2yo nephew has started to answer these questions quite well and started to ask "why X" all the time - he sure will pester his teachers very well one day Tongue
Even small children are able to discuss things if you're willing to give them some time.

But my number one rule remains: actions speak louder than words
Your child will copy your behaviour anyway, so if you are open minded and a critical thinker your child will probably copy these traits too.

And to end it with Atothetheist's words:
"The best thing you can do as a parent, is to let the kid decide in the end." Given the right tools it may stray sometimes but it's unlikely that it will fall off the wagon completely ^^
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25-08-2012, 07:36 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
The best way would be to be honest with your kid. Give down to earth answers to the questions like how did humans come to exist etc. Give scientific reasons for how things work, why they do what they do.

If you do that then your child will have an advantage that kids who's parents are forcing god onto them will never have. The ability to understand, to think for themselves and to have an appreciation of the universe that we live in.

Behold the power of the force!
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25-08-2012, 07:49 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
Teach the child to be skeptical of a claim that is not supported by evidence. It's been three years since I declared myself an atheist, and let me tell you, I would have been an atheist far sooner had my parents told me the truth about religion. I had to come across the facts of religion, the atrocities that it had caused, all the false hope and dogma spread by it, all on my own. It is not the best feeling, especially since religion dictates that you should feel guilt for doing so. Feeling as though you are stabbing your fellow believers in the back. It is not healthy to teach a child to become a Christian or an Atheist. Let them come to their own conclusion by simply teaching them the methodology to do so.

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25-08-2012, 10:33 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
Hey, Kat.

There are four parenting styles: permissive, absentee (that one isn't the right term but I just woke up), authoritarian and authoritative.

Permissive parents let their child do as they will.
Absentee parents aren't involved (they aren't physically absent).
Authoritatian parents say "do as I say!"
Authoritative parents, my favourite, provide clear structure and boundaries and when asked "why" answer "I want you to do X because (insert explanation)"

So be authoritative. Tell them that you believe X or that you would like them to believe X or that unlike the other perople they're encountering, you believe X BECAUSE (insert your explanation).

Another way to look at it is to explain to them what YOU believe and why but don't put any pressure on them to be like you. Most times, if you're a good parent, they'll gravitate that way anyway.

Penultimately, try to develop a positive message. It's had to teach kids to NOT be something, but easy to teach them TO be something. So don't just say "we aren't X" say "we are Y". You'll be able to clearly explain what Y is and why you are Y, which gives them clear boundaries to latch onto.

Lastly, if your child grows up in this sort of environment and decides to believe something else, don't be upset. You've given them all the tools to make an informed decision and they've done just that. Love em, not despite their decision, but because of it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-08-2012, 11:45 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
(25-08-2012 07:08 AM)Dom Wrote:  Just let the kid think for themselves, encourage that. Religion is so ridiculous when you apply logic to it, a kid who thinks logically will find it's own way.

Yep - It's just my observation and of course everyone's different, but I think around 9 is the age when a kid begins sorting things out in a real and conscious way. They are trying to set themselves up for more independence, and they need TOOLS.

That's when parents can really screw a kid up; by doing stuff for them... thinking for them... telling them how they should be, rather than providing possibilities of how one can be, or how things really are.

If a kid is over protected or insulated from alternative ideas, chances are... it will be easier to just let someone else think for them when they run into something they are unsure of. Really, it's a matter of security in their own ability to think. It becomes a matter of thinking for themselves.

Critical thinking is the best TOOL a parent can provide a child. And the best way to provide this is do exactly what Dom's parents did: give clear, honest answers to all questions. ALWAYS - and don't dummy it down - it's dishonest and denigrating. If you are unsure yourself, make their learning experience yours as well.

Take a tip from Ddrew; the man knows his TOOLS. He may have been uncertain about how exactly to explain a couple of things, but he was able to provide his boy with videos & documentaries they could enjoy together and discuss. Just treating his boy with respect as a thinking & continually learning being, is providing him with an entire tool box - fit for any kid and adult. Thumbsup

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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25-08-2012, 11:50 AM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
I'm liking where everyone seems to be going with this. I certainly do appreciate all your input guys! =)
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25-08-2012, 12:01 PM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
(25-08-2012 10:33 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Kat.

There are four parenting styles: permissive, absentee (that one isn't the right term but I just woke up), authoritarian and authoritative.

Permissive parents let their child do as they will.
Absentee parents aren't involved (they aren't physically absent).
Authoritatian parents say "do as I say!"
Authoritative parents, my favourite, provide clear structure and boundaries and when asked "why" answer "I want you to do X because (insert explanation)"

So be authoritative. Tell them that you believe X or that you would like them to believe X or that unlike the other perople they're encountering, you believe X BECAUSE (insert your explanation).

Another way to look at it is to explain to them what YOU believe and why but don't put any pressure on them to be like you. Most times, if you're a good parent, they'll gravitate that way anyway.

Penultimately, try to develop a positive message. It's had to teach kids to NOT be something, but easy to teach them TO be something. So don't just say "we aren't X" say "we are Y". You'll be able to clearly explain what Y is and why you are Y, which gives them clear boundaries to latch onto.

Lastly, if your child grows up in this sort of environment and decides to believe something else, don't be upset. You've given them all the tools to make an informed decision and they've done just that. Love em, not despite their decision, but because of it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Ya gotta admire someone who knows how to use 'penultimately'. Thumbsup

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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25-08-2012, 12:02 PM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
Be strong and keep up the good work. You're doing the right thing. You are not brain washing the child into mythology.

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a
free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their
political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their
own purpose. ~ Thomas Jefferson
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25-08-2012, 12:02 PM
RE: Raising a lil free thinker
(25-08-2012 12:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(25-08-2012 10:33 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Kat.

There are four parenting styles: permissive, absentee (that one isn't the right term but I just woke up), authoritarian and authoritative.

Permissive parents let their child do as they will.
Absentee parents aren't involved (they aren't physically absent).
Authoritatian parents say "do as I say!"
Authoritative parents, my favourite, provide clear structure and boundaries and when asked "why" answer "I want you to do X because (insert explanation)"

So be authoritative. Tell them that you believe X or that you would like them to believe X or that unlike the other perople they're encountering, you believe X BECAUSE (insert your explanation).

Another way to look at it is to explain to them what YOU believe and why but don't put any pressure on them to be like you. Most times, if you're a good parent, they'll gravitate that way anyway.

Penultimately, try to develop a positive message. It's had to teach kids to NOT be something, but easy to teach them TO be something. So don't just say "we aren't X" say "we are Y". You'll be able to clearly explain what Y is and why you are Y, which gives them clear boundaries to latch onto.

Lastly, if your child grows up in this sort of environment and decides to believe something else, don't be upset. You've given them all the tools to make an informed decision and they've done just that. Love em, not despite their decision, but because of it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Ya gotta admire someone who knows how to use 'penultimately'. Thumbsup

The only thing I admire is the nekkid body.Drooling

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