Atheists/agnostics, how would you raise your children? Watch

luckylouielou
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With the majority of the world still religious, I've become interested in secular parenting. A friend sent me a pdf of a book called Parenting Beyond Belief and I've just started reading it to get ideas on what atheists or secularists teach their children seeing as religion still has a foothold on family values.

So TSR atheists and agnostics, what are your ideas on raising children without religion? What values would you teach them? Would you actively tell them that there is no god or that religion is hogwash or would you try to let them decide for themselves? Is there room for any sort of spirituality that you can teach them? And how would you feel if your children later became religious?
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Agrippatropes
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I will teach them to eat religious babies.

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So TSR atheists and agnostics, what are your ideas on raising children without religion? What values would you teach them?
While at this stage in my life I know next to nothing about the mammoth task of raising kids, I see no reason why belief in gods is in any way necessary to teach children to be empathetic, loving, rational and generally good people who can contribute a great amount to society and appreciate life. If anything, caring more about humankind than a deity makes this task much easier and dare I say a more natural process.

Would you actively tell them that there is no god or that religion is hogwash or would you try to let them decide for themselves?
Naturally, at some point they will come to know that I do not believe in religious claims and if they ask me questions on my views I will be honest. I'd like to think that I can and will give them as much freedom in thought as possible. One thing I certainly won't do is drill into their heads that gods do not exist or use any fear tactics to force them into atheism or anything else.

Is there room for any sort of spirituality that you can teach them? And how would you feel if your children later became religious?
To me, the awe and wonder of all aspects of life - human and non-human, the science of it, the arts that we create, the communication etc. - and the universe is spiritually fulfilling and 'magical' enough without the need to conjure up superstitious answers for what we don't know. I would also teach them that it's OK to not know and be honest about our ignorance while still striving for knowledge.

As an ex-Muslim and someone who lives with and loves Muslims of various beliefs and levels of orthodoxy, I would not mind if my children became religious as long as their ideology does not force them to cause harm to themselves or others. I'd like to think that I would've raised good people regardless of whether they are religious or not, liberal or conservative, Arsenal supporters or not. It all comes down to intentions, in my opinion.

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Ascend
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(Original post by Agrippatropes)
While at this stage in my life I know next to nothing about the mammoth task of raising kids, I see no reason why belief in gods is in any way necessary to teach children to be empathetic, loving, rational and generally good people who can contribute a great amount to society and appreciate life. If anything, caring more about humankind than a deity makes this task much easier and dare I say a more natural process.



Naturally, at some point they will come to know that I do not believe in religious claims and if they ask me questions on my views I will be honest. I'd like to think that I can and will give them as much freedom in thought as possible. One thing I certainly won't do is drill into their heads that gods do not exist or use any fear tactics to force them into atheism or anything else.



To me, the awe and wonder of all aspects of life - human and non-human, the science of it, the arts that we create, the communication etc. - and the universe is spiritually fulfilling and 'magical' enough without the need to conjure up superstitious answers for what we don't know. I would also teach them that it's OK to not know and be honest about our ignorance while still striving for knowledge.

As an ex-Muslim and someone who lives with and loves Muslims of various beliefs and levels of orthodoxy, I would not mind if my children became religious as long as their ideology does not force them to cause harm to themselves or others. I'd like to think that I would've raised good people regardless of whether they are religious or not, liberal or conservative, Arsenal supporters or not. It all comes down to intentions, in my opinion.
Can't really put it any better than this. Plus the eating delicious religious babies doctrine.

Also, thanks OP for bringing Parenting Beyond Belief to my attention. I just ordered it from the Book Depo.
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Paracosm
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I would raise my kids with the freedom to choose whatever religion they wanted (or if they didn't want to choose one, that is also totally OK!). I wouldn't force them to be bound to a certain religion as I don't believe that's fair. If my child wanted to be religious, I would do everything in my power to support them in their choice. Everyone is an individual and everyone deserves choice.
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*the use of choose is not meant to be offensive, please don't take offence! Me and my verbs :erm:
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loveleest
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I will raise them as non-believers. Through school and just general research of their own, they can decide if they still are non-believers or choose to join a religious group if they please.
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callum_20011
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with a lift or elevator
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Blondie987
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I'd raise them with no specific religion or belief but I'd educate them on every belief as best I can and let them decide
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17inchGuns
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Explain that it's okay to have imaginary friends when you're young but that some people just don't grow out of it.
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KomradeKorbyn
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Personally I think it's poor parenting to teach kids that the reason they should be a good person and help others isn't because it's the right thing to do, but because they'll personally benefit by going to heaven.
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LamantChenille
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As somebody who has been raised in a pretty agnostic family setting, I think can safely say that it is very easy to promote good values without backing them up in a religious context. My parents always brought me up to be polite, kind and loving towards other people, to be empathetic and to listen, to not commit crimes or hateful actions, and when I asked why I should do those things, they would say that it was simply right to behave in a loving way towards all people.

I also think one of the most important things you can do as an agnostic or atheist parent is to not push your beliefs onto your children. My Dad is a committed atheist, and my Mother believes in some sort of higher power but in more of a floaty, spiritual, 'God in everything" way, rather than as part of a committed religion as such. But neither of my parents ever told me I had to believe the same thing as them, in fact, they actively discouraged this and pushed me to discover my own beliefs and feelings. This meant that, when I was older and became more interested in persuing religion, I didn't feel like I had 'broken any rules' or that I was disobeying my family, but just that I had found my own path that was right for me. My parents don't share my religious beliefs, but they respect my views as I respect theirs. I honestly think that growing up in such a tolerant and open-minded household has really helped to shape me as a person and I hope to, when I become a parent, emulate the example my parents have set, just the other way around. If my child wants to be religious like me, that's great, if not, that's also great. I think that as long as the morals and values are there, people have the potential to be fantastic, regarrdless of whether or not they have a religion.

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CherryCherryBoomBoom
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(Original post by loveleest)
I will raise them as non-believers. Through school and just general research of their own, they can decide if they still are non-believers or choose to join a religious group if they please.
(Original post by Blondie987)
I'd raise them with no specific religion or belief but I'd educate them on every belief as best I can and let them decide
I'd be the same :yy:. I actually have more respect for people who follow a religion without indoctrination, because it shows they can really think for themselves and are being true to themselves, rather than just being religious out of fear or just because someone told them to.
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Peroxidation
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I would show my kids the truth. I would prove to them that there is no God, no afterlife, no soul and no spirit. I would show them the wonders of the atomic world and teach them how to view the world objectively and to see beyond the veil of illusion.

There are innumerable miracles taking place all around us and even inside us all the time. These are not the work of a deity though, they are the work of a far more important power: the quantum world. If you shut your mind off to the world by blindly and zealously accepting an answer you will never witness reality. You will never gaze deep into the atom, observe things existing in two places at the same time or watch in awe as two entangled particles experience the same thing at the same time regardless of the distance between them. Particles can even be separated from their own properties!

Once you get a glimpse of this alien world you never go back. You cast aside superstition and your God is replaced by the scientific method. Religion really is the only form of evil. Only religion and other superstitions can isolate someone from this beautiful reality.

This may sound strange coming from a Buddhist, but ironically Buddhism is a religion which encourages objective thinking. In fact the whole Buddhist way of life is a means of achieving a purely objective way of thinking and viewing the world. It's a religion which says "it's not my place to tell you the answers because I don't know them, but what I can do is give you the means to find them." The Buddhist concepts of Right Mind, Right Thought and Right Knowledge are in fact analogous to the philosophy behind the scientific method. It's pretty odd coming from a religion. I hesitate to call Buddhism a religion though, it's more accurately described as a philosophy.
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hussamhussam
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Will you teach your children that homosexuality is OK and if so would you also tell them that incest is OK? If not, what "secular" reason would you give when they as why it's not OK?

What if your teenage girl wanted to become a prostitute, would you give her this enlightened liberal "freedom"? And if not, what reason would you give?

What answer would you give when they ask you where we came from? Where the world came from? And why?

And what would you tell them about death? That we die and that's it? How would you go proving that or even explaining it?
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Alexion
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A lot of primary schools tend to teach Christian values, and mine was no exception. My parents never had any particular beliefs and I found my own faults with religion - I had a few other sceptical friends and we all became atheist through our own choice.

I suspect that in the future I won't be able to hold back from contesting any religious beliefs that my child picks up :lol:
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Compost
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(Original post by luckylouielou)
With the majority of the world still religious, I've become interested in secular parenting. A friend sent me a pdf of a book called Parenting Beyond Belief and I've just started reading it to get ideas on what atheists or secularists teach their children seeing as religion still has a foothold on family values.

So TSR atheists and agnostics, what are your ideas on raising children without religion? What values would you teach them? Would you actively tell them that there is no god or that religion is hogwash or would you try to let them decide for themselves? Is there room for any sort of spirituality that you can teach them? And how would you feel if your children later became religious?
I don't see it as a problem - all parents pick and choose what interests they 'share' with their children. I didn't introduce them to golf either. I tried to be neutral with my kids - when they asked I said that i didn't see any evidence for a god but that Granny, who was very clever, believed there was one. One of my children chose to go to church for a while when she was about 6. I explained I wasn't willing to go with her but arranged for her to be able to go. I made them all attend the school carol service once as a cultural experience, after that they could opt out if they chose. They have friends who are Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Muslim of varying levels of piety and a lot who have no religion.

In the end I have landed up with 4 kids in their early 20s / late teens none of whom has any religious belief. I have to admit to being relieved but I would have to accept whatever choice they made.
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The Epicurean
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I wouldn't teach my children that there was no God. I can only tell them what my views and opinions on the topic are and why I have come to the conclusion I have.

As for teaching them about Christianity (the religion of my family), I'm undecided. The fact is that that religion often plays an important part in a culture, and kids will want to know about their grandparents, great grandparents etc... So for them to understand who their culture and ancestors, I feel it somewhat necessary to teach them about the religion.
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CherryCherryBoomBoom
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(Original post by hussamhussam)
Will you teach your children that homosexuality is OK and if so would you also tell them that incest is OK? If not, what "secular" reason would you give when they as why it's not OK?
Yes, I'd tell them that homosexuality is fine. I wouldn't encourage incest as it's generally illegal and frowned upon in most cultures.

What if your teenage girl wanted to become a prostitute, would you give her this enlightened liberal "freedom"? And if not, what reason would you give?
I wouldn't be proud of my daughter being a prostitute, but if she was of legal age, got into it through her own free will and was being safe, then who am I to try and stop her?

What answer would you give when they ask you where we came from? Where the world came from? And why?
I'd tell them about the different religious and scientific theories that I know of and then leave it up to them what they decide is probably true or not.

And what would you tell them about death? That we die and that's it? How would you go proving that or even explaining it?
As above.
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username1066741
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(Original post by hussamhussam)
Will you teach your children that homosexuality is OK and if so would you also tell them that incest is OK? If not, what "secular" reason would you give when they as why it's not OK?
Do you phrase it like this because you feel they're comparable?
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Thomb
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I'd bring them up listening to this for inspiration.
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hussamhussam
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(Original post by CherryCherryBoomBoom)
I wouldn't be proud of my daughter being a prostitute, but if she was of legal age, got into it through her own free will and was being safe, then who am I to try and stop her?
I'm sorry but you have just perfectly shown how bankrupt atheist morality is. I can't believe how anyone would allow their daughter to become a professional whore.

(Original post by Toughtee)
Do you phrase it like this because you feel they're comparable?
How are they not? No one has been able to explain why one is allowed and the other isn't.

Children will always be curious and keep asking why. What will you tell them? "Just becoz"?
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