Atheism and Kids

hungoverharry
Posts: 9
Joined: 2006-06-28
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

Does anyone have any good advice for raising kids Atheist?

I dont have kids yet but when i do I d like to be prepared with what to tell them and how to handle it.

Mainly, how do you tell your children to react to the reactions of people when they here that a child doesnt believe in god?

How do you keep other people out of your business of raising you child atheist?

Do they get picked on because of how you raise them?

Just curious basically. Raising a child is work, raising them to ignore wide spread ignorance must be a huge challenge, especially when it comes from other adults.


GrimJesta
GrimJesta's picture
Posts: 152
Joined: 2006-06-21
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

Personally, I wouldn't raise my kids atheist. I'd raise them to be open-minded and curious. Atheism isn't a dogma, but rather the natural result of such things. Even if they didn't turn out atheist, they'd still not be dogmatics as a result.

The curiosity and open-mindedness is what'd teach them to endure the barrage of information, venom, and spite they'd surely encounter growing up (as far as religion or lackthereof goes).

Teach them to take criticism well as well. No matter what road they take they'll be sure to encounter a lot of it, and teaching them to take it also allows you to prod their convictions and question their ideals without feeling like you're pressuring them. That's how you bring out the little non-theist in them without making them feel like you just verbally smacked them around. Smiling

That's pretty much how my mother raised me and my siblings.

-=Grim=-

No Nyarlathotep, Know Peace.
Know Nyarlathotep, No Peace.


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline

Holmes
Posts: 12
Joined: 2006-07-06
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

Become a Pastor or Minister. That seems to work wonders... Laughing out loud

J/K. I was raised in an Agnostic family. I turned out Fundie years after leaving home. Go figure.

But does it really matter if your kid turns into a religious nut? After all, who cares? Long as they aren't hurting anybody with their 'delusions'. 100% of the population has weird personality quirks anyways; might be kinda nice to have a kid that feels compelled to help out in soup kitchens and stuff. That's certainly one of the less harmful delusions.

But if they start hurting folks in the name of their 'God', that's when you draw the line.

Cuz if God really wants them to hurt somebody, it's reasonable to assert you're not going to be able to stop them anyways. Laughing out loud And in the more likely instance He isn't, then they're criminally deluded.

Be more worried they don't grow up and become a poltician or something equally vile.

Scott Holmes


Danhalen
Posts: 10
Joined: 2006-07-06
User is offlineOffline
Re: Atheism and Kids

hungoverharry wrote:
Does anyone have any good advice for raising kids Atheist?

I dont have kids yet but when i do I d like to be prepared with what to tell them and how to handle it.

I have two children, and I have to say you will have to let them reach their own conclusions concerning the existence of deities. What my wife and I have done is to teach them all they want to know about religion. That is, we got them books of all the varying mythologies we could find. We answer their questions as honestly as we can. First and foremost, we refer to all religions as mythologies. My oldest son is twelve, and he is well on his way to becoming a Buddhist of the non-theist kind. Make sure you question your children concerning any of their beliefs. This will get them into the critical thinking required for intellectual discovery. Never settle for "I just think that's the way its." Always ask them how they reached their conclusions.

Quote:
Mainly, how do you tell your children to react to the reactions of people when they here that a child doesnt believe in god?
I tell them to have the other person explain why they believe in their deity.

Quote:
How do you keep other people out of your business of raising you child atheist?
I equip my children with the knowledge of as many mythologies as possible. Then I let my children explain to the interfering party why they are wrong. It's funny when a twelve year old explains theology to an adult.

Quote:
Do they get picked on because of how you raise them?
My oldest has been mocked at school for voicing reason. He mocks back. The downside is he mocks me too (especially when he catches me in a logical contradiction).

Quote:
Just curious basically. Raising a child is work, raising them to ignore wide spread ignorance must be a huge challenge, especially when it comes from other adults.
It's not so much of a chore when you allow your children to understand why ignorance is such a plague on the world.

Does it suck for you to know that God only loves you because you're afraid he'll kick your ass if you don't believe in him?


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has some good freethought books for children out.


Danhalen
Posts: 10
Joined: 2006-07-06
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

Holmes wrote:
But does it really matter if your kid turns into a religious nut? After all, who cares?
What kind of religious lunacy are you refering to? It is extremely harmful to have a child fall into the Christian theology of self-loathing. Children need to know they are good people on their own merit. They do not need some intermediary to take the punishment for crimes they are not guilty of.

Quote:
Long as they aren't hurting anybody with their 'delusions'.
Most American religious delusions are harmful to the person who holds them. They are hurting themselves. Whether it be mental harm or physical harm, it's counter-productive to a healthy mind.

Quote:
100% of the population has weird personality quirks anyways; might be kinda nice to have a kid that feels compelled to help out in soup kitchens and stuff. That's certainly one of the less harmful delusions.
Don't you think it would be better for a child to want to work in a soup kitchen because he sees the need for it? Does he or she need to feel like they need to act good for Skycheif? Shouldn't they want to do good for the sake of doing good?

Quote:
But if they start hurting folks in the name of their 'God', that's when you draw the line.
Draw the line at self inflicted mental anguish.

Quote:
Be more worried they don't grow up and become a poltician or something equally vile.
Unless they go into politics for the sole reason of making a difference.

Does it suck for you to know that God only loves you because you're afraid he'll kick your ass if you don't believe in him?


BethG
BethG's picture
Posts: 83
Joined: 2006-02-24
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

I think GrimJesta is right on with this one.

I raise my daughter to be open-minded...and rational. Like GJ said, atheism is not a religion. There are no set standards or dogma to live by. I think what is more important is to teach your children to think and find things out on their own, not to just accept what others tell them.

I remember when my daughter figured out that god is in the pledge. I didn't tell her that because so, she shouldn't ever recite the pledge. I asked her how it made her feel and told her that if she didn't feel comfortable reciting it, that it isn't a requirement. One of her best friends is JW and does not recite the pledge. I told her that she can just stand like he does and does not have to recite. She decided that she still wants to say the pledge. (She's 7, btw.)

I think a lot of her questions are centered around what she hears me talking about and sees me reading. Which is understandable. Ever heard that saying "Children learn by what they see"...or however it goes?

She also pointed out the god bless America signs that you see everywhere. So, that was a nice segue into the "freedom of speech talk". Eye-wink And that where we live (in the US) we have certain freedoms and personal choices that we can make.

Sometimes I just wait for her questions. Like, "Why are we here?" (She was asking why people exist.) I think I got that question when she was about 4, which I wasn't ready for, considering her age at the time.

Recently she asked "Is there anything that exists outside of the universe?" *sigh*


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Kids

Send them to christian church camp. That did it to me. lol.

Seriously, I have four kids and am married to a fundie. I was worried that they would be confused but really it makes them skeptical against everything. Mine are fine.
They're nicer to non-related believers than I am. They just go with the flow right now and I'm glad. They need to be kids. If religion is approached in a 'fun' fashion. (i.e. making fun of it) then they catch the jokes and it makes them curious without that feeling of oppression that some of us were forced to deal with when we realized that we had been duped.
Ultimately, in our time, I don't see a viable way of keeping children completely sheltered from religious influence.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Greg
Greg's picture
Posts: 16
Joined: 2006-08-13
User is offlineOffline
I am 15, and I guess that I

I am 15, and I guess that I would have been alot happier if my parents didn't shove anything on me. If I were you I would just inform them, once they hit an age they can understand, and let them choose. They may not choose to be an atheist. But at least they wont grow up saying their parents forced them into something. If someone does confront them on their religion or thoughts, then you could simply stand up for them, which they would be deeply appreciative for.


FreeThoughtMake...
Superfan
FreeThoughtMakesMeTingle's picture
Posts: 173
Joined: 2006-08-14
User is offlineOffline
I don't know what I'd

I don't know what I'd do.....I'd raise them to be open-minded but eh maybe just teach them to lean a bit more to my thinking (agnostic atheist) but still learn and much as i can and teach them as much as I know on different religions and let them choose when I do have kids.

Quote:
Religion at BEST - is like a lift in your shoe. If you need it for a while, and it makes you walk straight and feel better - fine. But you don't need it forever, or you can become permanently disabled.

---George Carlin---


Elegy
Elegy's picture
Posts: 65
Joined: 2006-08-01
User is offlineOffline
I agree with Dan Halen. I

I agree with Dan Halen.

I want my kids to know that there is no god, and I'd hate it if they became Christian or muslim, but what can I do? I'm not gonna force them to become an atheist

but when you grow up not believing in god, what's gonna suddenly make you think there is one?


Elegy
Elegy's picture
Posts: 65
Joined: 2006-08-01
User is offlineOffline
haha my dad raised me as an

haha my dad raised me as an atheist and i'm super happy

i'm sure my kids will be too

i'm gonna be just like dad Cool


Randalllord
Rational VIP!
Randalllord's picture
Posts: 690
Joined: 2006-04-12
User is offlineOffline
My advice is to do what I

My advice is to do what I do. I don't tell my kids what to think. I teach them how to think.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca


Zero
Website Admin
Zero's picture
Posts: 52
Joined: 2006-04-13
User is offlineOffline
Randalllord wrote:My advice

Randalllord wrote:
My advice is to do what I do. I don't tell my kids what to think. I teach them how to think.

Beautifully phrased.

..zero..
href="http://www.doubledoh.com" title="DoubleDoh Shirts" alt="DoubleDoh Shirts">DoubleDoh


ClubHollis
ClubHollis's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: 2006-09-07
User is offlineOffline
A bit dissappointed

Here i thought that this was a site of individuals mostly commited to dispensing of the harmful and ridiculous religion of christianity, but then it seems like the people responding in this thread would let, their most valuable commodity, their children fall prey to such a loathsome philosophy.

If you really care at all about your children you'll tell them THE TRUTH that god is a logical impossibility and that christianity is nonsense. Now what they choose to do after that is up to them, you cannot force atheism down their throat. But i completely agree with one of the other responders who's father was an atheist. My parents never forced religion on me, they decided to let me choose what i wanted, they didn't even baptize me, because that would have already been a commitment to one way. I am terribly grateful to them for that. However they did not give me the tools and knowlege, that i would have liked and had not the courage to face the discrimination, so i made pretend to believe in front of them and in public, but deep down, i never believed. I also was taught to respect my parents and i knew i would have embarrased them in front of their peers and family if i were to say the things i say as an adult.

I will absolutely tell my children the truth, and let them no that it's ok not to believe in myths. I would more than likely role-play with him and ask him the typical questions that theist will ask him, and i'd tell him the proper answer. The answer being is to place the burden squarely on the theist and tell him to tell them he doesn't have to answer questions like "so what created the universe?" "what about souls?" "where do you think love comes from?" and the whole lot of these can be responded to the same. I'd be quite proud to see my son or daughter have to stay after school because they refused to participate in something religious.

So my advice is don't drop the ball on the most valuable thing in the world, your future children!

Just use your head.


MarthaSplatterhead (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
ClubHollis wrote:Here i

ClubHollis wrote:
Here i thought that this was a site of individuals mostly commited to dispensing of the harmful and ridiculous religion of christianity, but then it seems like the people responding in this thread would let, their most valuable commodity, their children fall prey to such a loathsome philosophy.

If you really care at all about your children you'll tell them THE TRUTH that god is a logical impossibility and that christianity is nonsense. Now what they choose to do after that is up to them, you cannot force atheism down their throat. But i completely agree with one of the other responders who's father was an atheist. My parents never forced religion on me, they decided to let me choose what i wanted, they didn't even baptize me, because that would have already been a commitment to one way. I am terribly grateful to them for that. However they did not give me the tools and knowlege, that i would have liked and had not the courage to face the discrimination, so i made pretend to believe in front of them and in public, but deep down, i never believed. I also was taught to respect my parents and i knew i would have embarrased them in front of their peers and family if i were to say the things i say as an adult.

I will absolutely tell my children the truth, and let them no that it's ok not to believe in myths. I would more than likely role-play with him and ask him the typical questions that theist will ask him, and i'd tell him the proper answer. The answer being is to place the burden squarely on the theist and tell him to tell them he doesn't have to answer questions like "so what created the universe?" "what about souls?" "where do you think love comes from?" and the whole lot of these can be responded to the same. I'd be quite proud to see my son or daughter have to stay after school because they refused to participate in something religious.

So my advice is don't drop the ball on the most valuable thing in the world, your future children!

Well said Club Hollis. I totally agree and that's what I am doing with my two boys ages 8 and 5. They don't believe in god or santa but they like to pretend about Santa so I let them. Santa is like a cartoon character.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I would urge caution as well

I would urge caution as well as informing them about the TRUTH. Too much 'programming' might cause it to be recognized as such.

You may wind up with a little William J. Murray
Wouldn't that make your heart swell with pride?

Google the name yourself. I'm referring to Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son. He was raised atheist.

I haven't figured out if he is crazy, ignorant, or lying though. lol.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


MarthaSplatterhead (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
I don't program at all. I

I don't program at all. I let them figure stuff out and kind of guide them when they ask and answer their questions through books and websites.

That guy William J Murray, is crazy IMO. I think this a unique example of how extreme "anything" can go wrong. Madalyn M O'Hair was trying to change things on a big scale. I imagine that was hard on those who were around her and loved her.


BethG
BethG's picture
Posts: 83
Joined: 2006-02-24
User is offlineOffline
My daughter (age 8, 3rd

My daughter (age 8, 3rd grade) outted herself to some kids at school today. (She said they were talking about God. And making fun of her JW friend.)

She said they yelled at her: "You HAVE to believe in God because he made everything, including you."

She responded: "No! I don't HAVE to!"

Yay her.


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
I'd have told them

I'd have told them either:

A. "No, I'm the work of the devil"

or

B. "Actually we were all made by the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

They're probably too young for the real arguments.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


KSMB
Scientist
KSMB's picture
Posts: 702
Joined: 2006-08-03
User is offlineOffline
Leda wrote:My daughter (age

Leda wrote:
My daughter (age 8, 3rd grade) outted herself to some kids at school today. (She said they were talking about God. And making fun of her JW friend.)

She said they yelled at her: "You HAVE to believe in God because he made everything, including you."

She responded: "No! I don't HAVE to!"

Yay her.

Your daughter rocks.


Scapegoat (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
Evolution of the brain & understanding psychological development

hungoverharry wrote:
Does anyone have any good advice for raising kids Atheist?

First you need to be aware that children are born without any beliefs. And beliefs are more or less based on perception development. My son has tried to teach my granddaughter from her most tender years that paranormal creatures, such as ghosts,  are not real. But his wife loves watching horror movies. And the scare tactics of one or two horror movies has frightened all my son's logical discourses right out of my granddaughter. The evolution of the human brain didn't involve the mechanism responsible for perception using logical discourse in perception development. Fear is a super effective means of control that religion understands and uses.

Quote:
I dont have kids yet but when i do I d like to be prepared with what to tell them and how to handle it. Mainly, how do you tell your children to react to the reactions of people when they here that a child doesnt believe in god?

Believers can be the most hateful and vicious people you'll ever meet, that is, when you stir up the fear that is the true foundation of their belief. Rather than have you young child try to defend herself against the onslaught of a Fundy, why not teach your child to avoid conflict. Now let tell you that when your child reaches adolescence, you'll probably not be able to restrain them. But by that time they should be able to defend themselves.

Quote:
How do you keep other people out of your business of raising you child atheist?

Don't let any but like-minded parents know your business. This will be very hard because, even though religious belief decreases with education, teachers are far from being on an intellectual par with scientists or philosophers. The percentage of religious teachers are basically the same as the general population. So you are even going to find religious bigotry within the public educational system. But note, most school officials realize that religion shouldn't be forced upon unsuspecting children. And so you have that fact going for you.

Quote:
Do they get picked on because of how you raise them? Just curious basically. Raising a child is work, raising them to ignore wide spread ignorance must be a huge challenge, especially when it comes from other adults.

Yes, children who are a minority, regardless of the minority, will get picked on by the majority unless all are educated to do otherwise. Minority children will get picked on because of race, sexual preference, political affiliation, and religion (or lack thereof). So if the children are in a minority, they need to learn to keep their yap shut when necessary.