Telling your children you're an atheist now?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
31-07-2013, 10:50 AM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
I'd advise listening to what your children say first, because each one is different.

My children both go to catholic school. While walking home with them from school I usually ask them what they learned today.

One day my 9 year old son (now 13) told me about a bible story his teacher told them in class about "Jonah and the Fish".

This is what he told me:

Jonah was on this boat in a bad storm and the sailors blamed him for it because god was upset with him, so they threw him overboard to make the storm stop. Then he was swallowed by a big fish and he was stuck there for days until he prayed to god to make the fish spit him out, which it did. Then Jonah went to some towns and told people to pray or god would destroy them.

So I asked him "So did the storm stop after they threw Jonah over?", he said "the teacher didn't say". So then I asked him "what do you think the sailors would have done next if the storm didn't stop?" And he said "They would probably be thinking that they should have paid more attention in science class!". I swear I almost pissed myself laughing! Smile I knew then that he wouldn't have too much trouble dealing with my non-belief. (I have to admit that I didn't use the term "athiest" at the time though, because of the negative stereotype).

However my younger son (just now turning 8) is a different story. There was something on the news recently about athiests and he asked me what an athiest was. I told him that it is some one that doesn't believe in god. He told very matter of factly that everybody believes in god. So I know he'll need a bit more time.

"I am a knowledgeable man, I have knowledge. If I knew how I knew what I know, I would know half as much, because it would be clogged up with where I knew it from...that is why I cannot always cite my sources. - David Mitchell
"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-07-2013, 12:11 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
I never came out in so many words, but when my children ask honest questions I give them honest answers and they have put the puzzle pieces together (or rather my eldest who's 8 going on 9, my youngest is only 3). I strongly recommend TTA's latest podcast on secular parenting (it's NOT atheist parenting, but more 'middle road'). Your kids can know what dad and his church going friends believe and what you do, and WHY. You can tell them you are not scared of going to hell because you don't think it even exists, etc. Those are good windows of opportunity to have intelligent conversations with your kids. For your marriage, it can be clear that you support what your husband does in regard to raising your children, the same respect should be returned.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes LadyJane's post
31-07-2013, 12:47 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
I'd go with devils and hafnof's replies. Gradually approach the topic and explain that there are different religions and views. When asked, find a way to carefully tell your child that you're "not sure what you believe" or something among those lines. Be gentle with your response. Discuss with your husband what you believe is the best approach to talking to your children about this, or at least your 12 year old right now. Take into consideration what unsapien said. Your oldest is 12. Is she more likely to understand, or is she likely the child that will need more time before understanding?

When you feel the time is right to talk to your children, allow them the opportunity to understand the subject of multiple religions and beliefs, or no belief at all, and accept them as well. My parents took this approach. They let me choose at a young age if I wanted to go to church or not, and although the majority of my family are fire and brimstone Baptists as well, religion was never pushed on me, luckily. I learned about different religions and beliefs outside of my family - tv, school, people, etc. But I sort of wish my family would have been there to somehow talk to me about this. It would have reduced a lot of the confusion I had to deal with.

You're making a good decision as a parent to talk to your children when the time is right. Just be patient and careful with your answers and approach and all will be fine.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-07-2013, 07:03 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
(31-07-2013 10:50 AM)unsapien Wrote:  However my younger son (just now turning 8) is a different story. There was something on the news recently about athiests and he asked me what an athiest was. I told him that it is some one that doesn't believe in god. He told very matter of factly that everybody believes in god. So I know he'll need a bit more time.

I would be more apt to explain to them that this is incorrect when they're young and open-minded rather than later when the "seeds" of religion and religious thinking have taken root. Showing confidence and a clear-headed perspective of your stance on religion is gonna serve you better than waiting.

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

- Bertrand Russel
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-07-2013, 07:40 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
Hello. I am also married to a believer. We too are having problems, but ours doesn't have anything to do with belief.

Anyway, I was just wondering... maybe we can grab dinner sometime? Smile





On a serious note, I think Hafnot had a great response. Probably the road I will take with my children when they are of age.

“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”

-Neil deGrasse Tyson
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-07-2013, 09:01 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
(31-07-2013 07:03 PM)eksyte Wrote:  I would be more apt to explain to them that this is incorrect when they're young and open-minded rather than later when the "seeds" of religion and religious thinking have taken root. Showing confidence and a clear-headed perspective of your stance on religion is gonna serve you better than waiting.

I agree, but like Escape Artist, my situation is a little more complicated.

I did correct my son that there actually were people that didn't believe in god, his reaction told me that he hadn't even considered that this was a possibility. So I felt that telling him that I didn't believe, would have been too much.

Also (the more complicated part) My wife & I had agreed (among other things) that my "soul" was my responsibility. But she insisted that our kids must be raised in the catholic faith. We agreed that we must both be able to speak truthfully about our beliefs if/when our children asked. And I insisted that fear (like HELL) could not be used to hold them in the "faith" and if they decided to leave "the faith" of their own accord they could.

Perhaps because she knew I was not of the faith when we married she was more willing to concede.

But this is a very simplified description of our still ongoing discussion but I assure you it is not easy.

"I am a knowledgeable man, I have knowledge. If I knew how I knew what I know, I would know half as much, because it would be clogged up with where I knew it from...that is why I cannot always cite my sources. - David Mitchell
"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
31-07-2013, 09:43 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
Yeah I was fairly passive about it at first, but the point where I started to actively explain that other people believe other things and encourage my daughter to question what she has been told is when she expressed to me that she was fearful and having nightmares about the "the red devil that lives in hell and you go there if you don't believe in it".

I have a problem with any belief system that offers infinite punishment for children who "fail" their gullibility test.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
01-08-2013, 07:02 AM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
(31-07-2013 07:40 PM)NoahsFarce Wrote:  Hello. I am also married to a believer. We too are having problems, but ours doesn't have anything to do with belief.

Anyway, I was just wondering... maybe we can grab dinner sometime? Smile


Yeah, the problems we were having didn't have all that much to do with beliefs or lack thereof, either. Mostly that I felt I wasn't being appreciated and that I wasn't being treated the way I felt I deserved to be (let's just say he wasn't holding up his end of the golden rule).

Like I said, we are getting better, but the trust is not fully back by any means. I still feel wary and on my guard. Any little behavior he displays or any kind of attitude he gets that makes me think he's slipping into old habits has me pissed-up something quick.

The most important part is that now I don't feel totally dependent on him. I know that I could be happy on my own. And that, you know, there probably really is another man out there who would love to put up with me. Smile

I hope things improve for you and your spouse, whether that means the two of you work things out or you go your separate ways. I don't wish the kind of misery I went through (am still partly going through) with my own marriage on anyone.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
01-08-2013, 11:46 PM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
(31-07-2013 09:39 AM)devilsadvoc8 Wrote:  You can also try getting the Magic of Reality by Dawkins as a book to leave around for them to read. When my son who was not yet 9 read the chapter with me on evolution and small changes not being visible but over large time scales it was, it was exciting for me to see his mind grasp the concept instead of being told something. The book addresses other religions and their beliefs sporadically in each of the chapters.

My daughter's just over 2 years old. I cannot wait to read it with her. She's constantly going up the bookshelves and running her hands along Daddy's books - which I love.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-08-2013, 01:18 AM
RE: Telling your children you're an atheist now?
I have no children, and my wife is an Atheist, but there will come a time one day when we do have children, something that I think about on occasion. Neither me or my wife are "out" as non-Christian. I think Hafnof's doing it right, but it seems you will probably have to answer to your motherinlaw sooner rather than later. Good luck!

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: