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Raising children atheist - Page 2

post #21 of 42
Originally Posted by sharon71 View Post

why do people discourage a believe in Santa because of the message of being watched all the time ,yet do encourage the kids to be good because God is watching.

i doubt you'll find anyone in an atheist thread encouraging kids to be good because god is watching. winky.gif


i prefer to have my children think about how they would like to be treated and treat others the same way. no god, nor santa involved.

post #22 of 42

A couple of things, Dh and I were both raised Jewish, I was reform and he was conservative/orthodox. We started out raising our children conservative while attending an Orthodox Shul, where three of the DC's began their formative schooling. DD/12 is now in PS and DD/6 & DS/8 are HSed. We have moved away from this Shul as my DH doesn't feel so connected anymore and I am finally in a place where I can say out loud that I am an Atheist in regards to not believing in the Judeo-Christian God, however I identify w/ Buddhism and believe in a sort of Universal energy. My oldest does not believe in God at the moment and this is of her own accord, DS/2 has decided that there are many Gods and Goddesses as we have been reading stories about Greek Mythology, DD/6 still talks about Moshiach (the Massiah) coming and how Hashem (God) creates everything, our 2 youngest DS's/3 & 10 months, may not get any formal religious learning, other than going to the Buddhist temple for Family sittings and what not. I was raised in a home where my father was not Jewish, and though my parents were divorced, he raised us and promised my maternal grandparents that he would raise us in the Jewish faith. However, his family celebrated all of the Christian holidays sans Jesus and any mention of God. So I grew up believing in Santa- and all of the other fictional characters who brought presents and money :)  I tried to convince my children that Santa does not exist, but they wouldn't believe me, even though he's never been to our house! So, ya know, who cares if they want to believe in such things for now, it's fun for them and what not. What I do want them to understand is why I am not a believer, I want them to question everything and learn from it. Right now is the time for them to learn about other religions and other beliefs. I think perspective is important. i.e.; lets look at God/Gods through the ages and see how different cultures have worshipped and why. On another note, I find that where I might have once said "thank God" when I am grateful for something that has happened, or for my yummy morning coffee, I specifically will say instead "thank the men and woman who worked hard to pick the coffee beans that made my coffee possible this morning", or "I am grateful that the other drivers on the road where careful when we drove home through that storm", or "I am so grateful for the Dr.s who took care of so an so and saved her life" it places the responsibility of the action on human beings, and not on some mystical force that made a given act possible. I haven't read it, but I've heard it is good; Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief By Dale McGowan.  


Check it out at Amazon, maybe it will help. Good luck!

post #23 of 42

When I die, I am so going to the magical land of woodchucks. :D



Edited by Jennifer3141 - 2/9/11 at 4:00pm
post #24 of 42
post #25 of 42

I think it's important to decide whether you adhere to Positive Atheism (I assert that there is NOT a god) or Negative Atheism(I lack belief in anything called 'god'). And important to distinguish the two to children.

post #26 of 42
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post

I think it's important to decide whether you adhere to Positive Atheism (I assert that there is NOT a god) or Negative Atheism(I lack belief in anything called 'god'). And important to distinguish the two to children.


post #27 of 42

 We're humanists. We take the "maybe there is a god, but 'he' isn't really relevant to our daily lives" view. I think there is a deeper truth to a lot of the stories we tell. We read Greek myths, we do Santa, and even told them the Jesus story this year. I don't go to great lengths to convince my kids that Santa is real. I've never paid for a "phone call from Santa" or the other things that in my mind elevate the whole thing from make-believe to a bald-faced-lie.   We do god the same way. Lots of "some people believe, but we don't". We do however talk about the wonder of the world that we can see with our own eyes!  Though I do envy the sense of tradition and the beautiful rituals that many religions have, collecting tadpoles, or watching documentaries about outer space are MUCH more magical than the view of god I was raised with.

post #28 of 42
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post

Quite frankly, I don't think anyone understands death beyond a physical sense. And imagining Grandma in a land of woodchucks is no different, to me, than imagining Grandma sitting on a cloud with a harp.


We don't talk about it. I'm sure that one day the boys will ask about God or heaven or something but it hasn't happened yet. I probably will handle it the same way I handle Santa Claus. That there are stories about these people and some people believe they're true. If they ask me if I believe the stories, then I'll answer them honestly.

DH and I weren't raised in a religious homes and neither of us feel we lacked anything in that respect.
post #29 of 42

Another person responding to this:


Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

I don't know, as someone that was raised in a family that wasn't religious but has been seeking religious understanding and trying to find a religious home my whole life I'm jealous of my husband who was raised religious. As adults we realized that neither of his parents were true believers, but they still gave him something that is important to him and that I never had and it's a loss I can never replace. Ironically, my mother told me as an adult that she wishes she had taken us to church as kids, and now I've perpetuated the situation in the next generation because I had no beliefs to give my own child and now she is an adult. Even if he isn't practicing the religion he was raised in, my husband has a basis of faith and I've seen him turn to it in times of crisis and how it has helped him.

My husband, meanwhile, was raised with a very strong faith.  His mother is actually in the process of becomming a Lutheran minister.  He is now outspokenly athiest and feels very negatively towards religion AND feels basically duped and lied to.  Upset that he put in so much effort and time into something he now considers a lie/fairy tale.  Basically, I think it can go either way, kwim.  I know a lot of people who were raised without religion and are perfectly happy that way.  If you want to feel better about being religion-free you might want to read some Sam Harris.


(PS Good to "see" you around)

post #30 of 42
Originally Posted by outlier View Post


This is great.  I think you just confirmed for me that I won't encourage ds to believe in Santa when he's old enough.


OP, have you checked out the author Dale McGowan?  He writes extensively about this exact topic both in print and on his blog, http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/.  I know this thread is not about Santa, but he does have an interesting take on it here: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=4982.

I love his book, Raising Freethinkers. FANTASTIC read!

post #31 of 42
Originally Posted by TiredX2 View Post

Another person responding to this:


My husband, meanwhile, was raised with a very strong faith.  His mother is actually in the process of becomming a Lutheran minister.  He is now outspokenly athiest and feels very negatively towards religion AND feels basically duped and lied to.  Upset that he put in so much effort and time into something he now considers a lie/fairy tale.  Basically, I think it can go either way, kwim.  I know a lot of people who were raised without religion and are perfectly happy that way.  If you want to feel better about being religion-free you might want to read some Sam Harris.


(PS Good to "see" you around)

I agree with TiredX2 that the street runs both ways.  I was raised in a very strict, conservative household and I have spent a lifetime trying to rid myself of the baggage of my youth.  To this day, I feel incredibly inadequate for once believing everything that I was told as if such things were cold, hard facts.  I never questioned anything.  "Truth" came in one set of clothes and anything outside that framework was highly discouraged.


DH and I could both describe ourselves as agnostic.  I think it is important to talk your children about what you think or believe, or your lack of belief in something that others believe in.  I think it is okay to express doubt.  One thing that DH and I are trying very hard to do is to provide DD with information and knowledge from a wide variety of sources.  I am confident that she is an intelligent human being and will reach her own conclusions as she matures.  She has a close Roman Catholic friend and sometimes she'll ask me about all the crosses in her friend's house and over their beds.  She'll ask about the statues that she sees in the Chinese restaurant or why certain women in our neighborhood always wear their heads covered.  It sort of keeps me on my toes because I need to explain it in a way which is unbiased, but at the same time making her aware that we don't do that or any other across-the-board religious practices because we have our own doubts about such things.  She seems to take it in stride, but I think it is because we don't hold back on explaining the historical contexts in which people practice religion/faith.  If she choses to delve into some faith at some later time, I want her to do it with eyes wide open.  I think a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

post #32 of 42

I'll be upfront and say I wasn't raised with Santa, and I am not raising my kid with it. :)


We are spiritual agnostics, and believe that there are boundless possibilities as far as a higher power(s) and the afterlife go.  We are going to have our child(ren) study world religions, and engage in philosophical conversation as much as possible.  I want them to know everything that is out there, so they can make their own choice about religion/spirituality/or lack thereof.

post #33 of 42
DH was raised atheist and he never gave me the impression he missed something during childhood. He did become a Quaker upon growing up.
I was raised Lutheran, and while I question many things I used to believe, I also remember that the idea of a loving caring God was very important and comforting to me as a child and still is. I do want my children to be able to enjoy that comfort, but I do not lie to them and pretend believing in aspects I don't believe anymore.
I guess experiencing one's parents as honest about they believe is more important than the actual content of the belief.
post #34 of 42
I'm an agnostic/humanist, DH is more atheist - and as our child(ren) gets older I'd like to share with them my hopes (or maybe they are beliefs) for good in the world irrespective of its source, and the beauty of it. I'd like for them to find joy and comfort in knowing that there is love waiting for them. I think I would like to be honest about world religions with them with both the good and the bad. innocent.gif
post #35 of 42
I'm dealing with this, too. Except I'm UU-Pagan and my dh is atheist. I don't mind which religion my kids choose, for the most part. However, I have more Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation, while my dh has been telling my kids that when you die, there's nothing. That's fine for him, but now my kids are terrified of death. They stay up late with anxiety, have nightmares.,.to me it's as bad as the "hell" fear. So I don't know what to do about that. I wish we still lived by a UU. greensad.gif
post #36 of 42
Originally Posted by AtYourCervices View Post

I think it would be good to not lie to my children about religion, and I should discuss my beliefs openly. However, a part of me feels like I'd be telling them Santa Claus doesn't exist. I'd be taking away that childhood magic. 

I'm not UU, but I'm a Presbyterian married to a man who is basically an atheist, or maybe an atheist with pagan leanings.  He doesn't really talk about religion much at all.  Funny you should mention Santa Claus, because my children went to a Christian preschool and kindergarten and both of them seemed to believe in God, but right around the time they realized that Santa wasn't real, and all those other things, they stopped believing in God.  My 7 year old is quite adamant that there is no God, and she gets angry if you try and pretend things with her.

post #37 of 42

I am really enjoying this thread. My dad was brought up very religiously and was going to become a minister. Once he started college he had to take a comparative religions class and he couldn't get his head around how so many different religions all had similar/different beliefs - how could he ever know his was the right one?


My brother and I were raised agnostically Christian. Mom took us to a Methodist church sometimes and one year youth group was cool but mostly church was boring. We learned the prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep" and it scared the crap out of me. We were not baptized as children because my parents thought it should be a choice, not something done to us. We were "dedicated" in the Methodist church, whatever that means.


Fast forward and I went from agnostic to Wiccan to generic pagan to UU / atheist. My brother went from heavy drug user to Buddhist to Wiccan to born-again, baptized-in-the-river evangelical Christian.


DH is an ex-Catholic atheist. DD does not believe in God at this point. If she brings it up, we discuss all kinds of things people believe and ask what she thinks. Same applies to Santa, et al. (She knows I am the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny and Santa and is fine with it. She likes to play those games because they are fun. DH and I hadn't planned to do them with her but her grandparents on both sides started it up and we decided it would be OK as long as we didn't string her along with a bunch of crap.)


The thing that's been the hardest for us so far was last summer/fall. DD has anxiety and fell into a terrible depression after being bullied at a private school. She realized her own mortality around this time and became extremely fearful of death; every night for weeks she would have hour-long crying fits that almost made her vomit. She would ask us "Why do we have to die?" and "Why is death on this planet?" Eventually she started asking "What's the point of living if we're all just going to die?" Good existential discussion for high schoolers, but not fun with an obsessive, depressed 6-7 year old. We talked about lots of different things she could believe but she just couldn't choose to believe in any of the religious ideas people had about death, and I just couldn't bring myself to try and convince her to believe, even though it may have ended her and our immediate suffering. (She has been in therapy since August and is doing amazing now. She's back to her normal, fun and gregarious, but very intense self.) I'm a bit worried about how she will be when our old dog does die, but for now we can discuss it without her breaking down.


post #38 of 42
The one thing I want to say is that from your location OP, you're in Georgia. Living in the South and being anything other than a Christian (ideally born-again) can be very tough in my experience. If your kids are older, it's probably not as much of an issue as if they are young.

I think UU handles everything quite well, actually through the Religious Education program. Kids develop their own set of beliefs and "code" to live by. Most programs I'm aware of do a really good job at exposing kids to a wide variety of faiths, without touting one as superior or true or whatever. My guess is that your UU church probably has a subset of Atheist Mamas and Dads. I don't feel you need to burst their bubble in any way. I think if you're true to yourself, your kids will know that.
post #39 of 42

DH and I are atheist. We were raised Jehovahs Witness. In a departure from that we handle most questions about death, religion etc with-"Well this is what I believe, what do you think?" SO our plan is to provide whatever information they ask for and then honestly be okay with whatever they eventually choose. It makes it hard when at least one set of grandparents are still very religious and not real open to other peoples beliefs, but we work through it.

post #40 of 42
Originally Posted by KaylaBeanie View Post

 There's a big difference between Tinkerbell and god though, because Tinkerbell is innocuous and has no history tied to her beyond a cheerful child's story. Also, as an atheist I have to do Santa...otherwise, how would we celebrate Christmas? ROTFLMAO.gif

I don't think this really fits in with the conversation, neccesarily. I can't not post my opinion on this though. Before deciding whether or not Tinkerbell has any historical links I would do a little research. I find that people's creative expression is really rarely anything new. There is a quote that comes to mind; "All events are old events happening to new people". And I see this to be the same for ideas. Just like a scientist can't create life they can only rearrange the cells, a musician can't create new notes only rearrange them, I think we humans really can only presents existing thoughts or ideas in rearranged ways.

My point is, there probably is a lot of history tied to Tinkerbells character. And this is precisely why I screen very heavily on tv. Who are these people ? (disney, nickolodeon or whatever). What do they believe? What gives them the right to speak into my kids lives? and What results are going to come from the influence of this character in any child's life.


Sorry to anyone who thinks this has nothing to do with the conversation. I just think that if you are so quick to screen god or God out, you should give some thought to the origins of this so-called Tinkerbell.




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