Reality-Based Child Rearing

i-d0615a4993c416b74ac447c3b28fa26d-parentingbeyondbelief.pngMy kids see a fair share of lukewarm religiosity with their grandma and teachers. At home, they’re taught that there are basically two types of characters:

  • Real people who merit empathy and solidarity, such as themselves,
  • Fictional ones that you can make up stories about, such as Spiderman, the Little Mermaid and Jehovah, Lord of Hosts.

Being Swedish, I’ve never come across a religious parenting manual. But I gather they are really common in the U.S., and that some are exceptionally nasty (as discussed by Jim Benton). Enter Dale McGowan, editor of the anthology Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, due out in April.

Parenting Beyond Belief is a book for loving and thoughtful parents who wish to raise their children without religion. There are scores of books available for religious parents. Now there’s one for the rest of us.

Includes essays by Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Mark Twain, Dr. Jean Mercer, Dr. Donald B. Ardell, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, and over twenty-five other doctors, educators, psychologists, and secular parents.”

I haven’t read the book (in fact, in my first eight years of godless parenthood I haven’t felt the need to read any child-rearing advice beyond basic medical stuff), but with a lineup like that and a foreword by Mike Shermer, I’d be very surprised if it isn’t a gem. Check it out on Amazon or at Dale’s web site.

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8 thoughts on “Reality-Based Child Rearing

  1. I have two children, and raised neither of them in the slightest religious manner. Both are fine (near) adults, capable of making their own moral choices, and with strong senses of justice and fairness. And I used no manuals.

    What I did need a manual on was how to change the expectations and conformities of teachers, other parents, and kids who were conformists. Every year we had to re-educate the teachers about our somewhat extraordinary children.

    They will, and do, make their own minds up about religion without my mindcontrol (which seems to have done very little so far; not even able to change my daughter’s love of rap).


  2. Sounds very good! As for the musical tastes of children, they are always transient and always crap. You should only worry if they like really good stuff, because they will abandon that music in their early 20s.


  3. This looks great. Its just the sort of thing I have been wondering about for raising my 3yr old, after having chucked out the ‘Good Children’ book my very catholic mother gave me..
    thanks for the tip!


  4. It’s about time!! As I needed training for a job that was “useful” to the Canadian government (read: not archaeology)so I could immigrate, I got a degree in Early Chidhood Education. We read almost as many books for that course as I have had to read for my archaeology degree (I said ALMOST!!). By law, such books have to be free of religious flavouring (if you want the other kind, you have to go to a private Christian school, such as Trinity Western University). I ran face first into trying to find parenting manuals that were NOT based on the Christian idea of spare the rod, spoil the child. What a culture shock!This was really the first time that I felt that I didn’t belong in this country altogether, and that I was different. I suddenly understand why people around here think I am raising my girls “wrong”. This lead to my disecting my own Swedish style child rearing, what it was based in and what makes me Swedish, which in turn brought me back to my fist love, archaeology. Some of the most corageous things I have done have been the result of having to stand up for my own child rearing principles (this is the Mennonite community of “Let’s shun those who do not submit”). Sometimes I have felt very small, but knowing where I come from and why I feel this way has helped me stand tall. Books like this one are essential for those of us who do NOT have an ECE degree, and who are just starting out on this path. You live, you learn, but it sure helps to have a book like this to guide you!


  5. Heavy! Please tell us, what are the specific child-rearing practices your neighbours complain about? And what kind of people in town are you friendly with?


  6. My kids (4 and 5) have been to church twice in their lives – once for their uncle+aunt’s wedding and a year later for the christening of their daughter.

    The weird thing was hearing them in the bath a few days later, playing with their Barbie dolls “I baptize thee Emma in the name of the father, son and holy spirit” (or slightly garbled words to that general effect).

    I expect they’ll get over it.


  7. I spent countless hours in church until the age of 15 as a member of the choir, and look at me now!

    Barbie, though, I think she’s probably a churchgoer in a big way.


  8. I will be more than happy to take a recommendation of a book, by someone who not only did not read that book, but is far above the need to read that type of book in general.

    What a powerful recommendation!


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