Raising an Atheist child

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Discussion by: Cogan1988
Hello everyone,  I was wondering if people who have experience with raising a child as an Atheist could give me any advice on the best way to go about it. My girlfriend and I are currently expecting our first child and she is a Christian. Not forcefully so, just by default. My problem is that I want to raise my child how to think rather than what to think but I’m not sure how to do this or even propose this method without upsetting her. A christening is inevitable but that’s fine. I just want the child to be able to think freely and make up its own mind about its beliefs. Any experienced advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

47 COMMENTS

  1. We raised our children as atheists, which was not very difficult because I live in a secular country. We just never talked about god, no prayers and we didn’t go to church. My mother was a devout catholic and took them sometimes to church and we as parents were fine with that. We explained to them that some other people, like grandmama believe in god, bible, worship and the like and we don’t, it is that simple. We never made a big deal out of it.

  2. I don’t think you have to propose a method. Kids are naturally curious and will want to know why. It’ll take a lot of work, but help your child figure things out on his or her own. Don’t just answer every “why?” with an explanation, but ask what they think and guide them to thinking more clearly with your own questions. Be comfortable with saying, “I don’t know” and go find the answer together. Help them to experiment and try things out. Show them neat things about how the world works, go to museums, and read good books with them. Don’t make religion something taboo, but talk about stories from other religions.

  3. We raised our children. Period. We gave them the freedom to explore, to experience the world on their own, we told them that there are people out there who need to believe in the supernatural, but we also told them we do not share that believe.

    We talked about evidence and critical thinking and that without such anybody can believe anything and can be manipulated. We encouraged them to ask questions.

    We supported their encounters with the natural world, which changed me and I became an arachnophile out of necessity not to transfer my phobias to our children.
    We celebrated Christmas and explained its roots. We also sent them to a one week bible camp together at age 8/10, after they showed some interest.
    When we picked them up, we asked how it was. Their only comment: Amazing what some people believe.

    We did not indoctrinate them either way, we answered questions and let them choose.

    They are still atheists.

  4. Providing a moral and ethical compass is essential; perhaps looking into Secular Humanism would be useful (e.g., Council for Secular humanism>Resources>What is …) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will provide some ideas. Just recently I read an essay “Was the Buddha the First Humanist?” by Pat Duffy Hutcheon, which drew inspiration from Buddhism by Rhys David. She remarks on David’s appreciation of early Buddhist teaching and “its significance for modern scientific humanist thought”. With some careful surgery and substitution to eliminate deistic language, Thomas Jefferson’s Bible might be useful.

    Innate interests in and questions about the natural world and about human behavior offer opportunities to demonstrate and engage in rational inquiry and critical thinking. Obviously science is a natural vehicle but anything can be approached without recourse to superstition or the supernatural. But there are limits to scientific inquiry and appreciating the spirit of “Don’t know” as a valid and necessary answer to some questions, instead of dishonest fictional explanations, seems important from my point of view.

    Finally, there is the problem of how to navigate life in an environment suffused with religion, irrationalism and anti-intellectualism. Maybe this is the biggest problem one will have to confront. American society has become viciously polarized to an extent I could never have imagined when I was young. The company and support of likeminded people seems like it would be more important now.

  5. I’d like to pass on our experience for what it’s worth, as our children are now grown up and making their own way in the world.

    We never mentioned religion at all, apart from commenting generally on say, Buddhism or Islam , and the myriad other forms it takes. They did attend the weekly religious instruction classes at school and our daughter went to Sunday School and Kid’s Club ( for social reasons, not initiated by us) . I think they may have realised that they were not in a religious household, as we never attended church or performed any signs of observance.

    In a way , I think the exposure to the Christian culture was not a bad thing. They are thoroughly familiar with the stories and traditions that are dominant in our community. I don’t think that is harmful at all, as long as you don’t think any of it is true!

    Moral values were transmitted as the need and occasion arose, and were usually framed in the form of having empathy.

    On reaching adulthood they became more vocal about their lack of belief, but I think that had more to do with their network of friends than our influence.

    There you have it! A pain-free secular upbringing.

  6. Fine motives, good on you.

    As it happens I am in exactly your situation except 5 years on. Even to the extent that I’m kind of a second generation of this sort of thing as my father was an atheist while my mother and my family were brought up Mormons. So for what it is worth…

    I have watched science shows with my son since he was born. I talk to him about science and the natural world (he loves inside natures giants, Cosmos and Wonders of the Solar System). My father let us stay up as late as we wanted provided we where watching the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation- so loads of BBC stuff life on Earth and all that). In me that helped set up the cognitive dissonance that made my leaving the church inevitable. It also meant that when I did leave science was what I went straight to for explanations of the world not some new age spiritualism.

    My wife and I have taken the stance that we just explain what we think and why on most issues and if one of us has a different opinion we explain that we have a different opinion. I’d suggest you don’t try to raise your child as anything. I trust that if I teach my son to think for himself and he chooses to become religious he’ll do so with his eyes open and be more likely to question latter on. If you try to force him/ her they may well rebel out of spite. I think the most powerful thing is to ask simple questions and encourage them to do the same.

    My father didn’t tell me why he left the church until I was in my teens very religious and determined to bring him back into the fold. When he did it was very clear the church was fraudulent and I was an atheist about 30 seconds latter and on the euphoric high of years of guilt and shame being swept away (ironic as I spend years trying to get that feeling from my faith). So don’t do what my dad did. He could have saved me years of suffering. Tell it simply and straight as soon as their old enough to ask. You should let you wife know you’re not prepared to lie to your child from the start. You don’t need to be aggressive about it or too pushy if you do you’ll make matters worse.

  7. Totally agree with Kraut at #3. My children, now 18 and 14, have been raised in a basically Christian environment. We celebrate all sorts: Christmas and Easter, Halloween and Bonfire Night. We attended church when they were young. I said their prayers at bedtime for years. But crucially, when they asked questions about religion I have always answered with “some people believe X but others believe Y”. I encourage them to think for themselves. We watch science and nature programs and have a gently humanist outlook. I am not raising atheist children, I am raising intelligent, caring children. The rest is up to them and they have both come to the conclusion that religion is a fallacy. Don’t fret it, just be open to discussion and honest with them.

  8. Congratulations! You’re gonna be a Dad!

    I think the most important thing you can do is to simply be a Dad. Be involved. Lead your life to your ideals and good values. Admit your mistakes. Answer their questions. Your kids will forgive you, for no other reason than that you are their Dad. Don’t bullshit to them, kids can sniff it out at a thousand paces.

    Your kids will be their own person from day one, they will form their views by what they see around them and the heroes and role models they look up to and love. Make sure it’s you.

    Have fun!

  9. My parent did not indoctrinate me. When I first asked my father where we came from he just told me that some people believe in God and some people believe life came into existence in an organic soup. But they always encouraged me not to believe everything that I am told but to think critically and read different points of view. And the result of it was that I became a Christian two years ago.

  10. Read the last chapter of Dawkins’s book “A Devils Chaplin”. Basically learn your child to ask “why” by asking “why” aloud yourself. I was raised in the Christian faith but my dad kept asking “why” all the time and I picked it up. He talked to me about “why” (why is the world round and not flat, why are Germans wrong (he fought Germans in world war 2 and met lots of not-so-wrong Germans since), why cant a priest have a wife, why do you want have a toy car, etc etc). At about 20 I discovered I did not actually believe all the things they told me at Sunday school and in Church and that the God they told me about very likely did not exist. Much to the regret of my dad who kept asking himself and me what he and mom did wrong.

  11. I am currently raising two daughters. The first is age 6 and the second is age 3. It really isn’t that hard to raise and atheist. My wife and I teach them to question everything. Almost to the point of frustration some times. My 6 year old loves science. She can spout the scientific method and often uses a rudimentary understanding of it to draw conclusions (it makes me proud when this happens). Now back to your question. I would say to foster scientific thought and understanding. If they ask questions, don’t lie to them. I have found that once they can reason the fairy tales take care of themselves.

  12. I actually taught my kids to be skeptical of commercials on TV. I asked them, starting about the age of 5 with my oldest, if they thought the person on TV actually believed everything they said. I asked why nothing bad ever gets said about the product being advertised, which they also expressed wonder at. Then I asked why do they need to keep putting the advertisements on TV and getting in the way of TV time if they already told us about the product, isn’t being told once enough to get the idea. As they were figuring out these earth shattering mysteries for themselves they were getting asked by friends from school to come to “Playdays” at their various churches. When my oldest came home from the second one she was invited to and said “It felt like a TV commercial” I knew my work was done. It took her a very short amount of time to recognize all of the parallels and reason out that religion only works if it has buyers. Unfortunately they are into energy stones and Wicca at the moment but I never have to worry about them taking organized religion seriously.

  13. You MUST discuss how you both want to raise your children with your wife if you haven’t already done so. You can’t put it off because it might be unpleasant. If there are compromises to be made you both should be clear about them before the children get older. If the two of you are going to answer questions about religion slightly differently you should both be aware of each other’s answers the kids are going to get.
    Teach the child science appropriate to their age. Teach the scientific method. Ask the child to use reason and logic to figure out things they ask about that they can figure out (maybe with some hints). Read to them. Encourage your children to learn and read. Cancel your cable vision. Make sure you know your basic science: how is a year related to the earth’s movement, why is the sky blue, what makes rainbows, what causes the seasons, how do plants grow from seeds, how did people figure out the Earth is a ball, and all the other basic questions that children are sure to ask you.

  14. We are all born atheist, are we not? So no need to do anything other than inform them about, and help them understand the worst excesses of religion. Easily done by showing them the contradictions in current (and past) World faiths…

  15. Don’t try to give your child an “Atheist” education. My children have had a standard education, and two of them are avowed atheists. One of them has been confirmed in the church, but from what she says I do not think she will remain attached to the church.

    I’d simply ensure that your child gets a good education grounded in science, logic and reason, and then you’ll have the same pleasure as I have of seeing my children come to their own conclusions about religion and god, namely that both are quaint anachronisms.

  16. In reply to #15 by Nodhimmi:

    We are all born atheist, are we not? So no need to do anything other than inform them about, and help them understand the worst excesses of religion. Easily done by showing them the contradictions in current (and past) World faiths…

    I’m not so sure it’s correct to say we’re born atheists. Belief in god has to come from somewhere, and if everyone was born an atheist there would never have been a place for religions to evolve from. None of us are born with a belief in Jahve or Allah, that’s for sure, but kids appear to be natural teleologians, they automatically read purpose into explanations of why the world is the way it is, and even if that isn’t theism in and of itself it certainly rules out atheism.

  17. In reply to #18 by Bipedal_Primate:

    In reply to #15 by Nodhimmi:

    We are all born atheist, are we not? So no need to do anything other than inform them about, and help them understand the worst excesses of religion. Easily done by showing them the contradictions in current (and past) World faiths…

    I’m not so sure it’s correct to say we’re born atheists. Belief in god has to come from somewhere, and if everyone was born an atheist there would never have been a place for religions to evolve from. None of us are born with a belief in Jahve or Allah, that’s for sure, but kids appear to be natural teleologians, they automatically read purpose into explanations of why the world is the way it is, and even if that isn’t theism in and of itself it certainly rules out atheism.

    How can a newborn have belief in anything? Of course they are atheist, it is the culture they’re born into and the parental influence that forms their belief system; kids are not ‘natural teleologians’, they learn from their parents and other authority figures.

  18. In reply to #19 by Nodhimmi:

    How can a newborn have belief in anything? Of course they are atheist, it is the culture they’re born into and the parental influence that forms their belief system; kids are not ‘natural teleologians’, they learn from their parents and other authority figures.

    What is culture? According to the law of cause and effect this thing we call “culture” has to be a result of this other thing we call “nature”, that which came first. It’s all part of evolution, and our memes, our ideas and beliefs, are our extended phenotype, a result of evolution. Everything has to start somewhere and I think it’s fair to say that teleology, among other instincts, is part of the seeds that later grew or evolved into religious beliefs. Newborns don’t believe much about anything, but young kids quickly evolve into young teleologians, they explain things from the view of purpose instead of cause, even if no one tells them to.

    In order to be an atheist, you have to be aware that you are an atheist, but newborns aren’t even aware that there is a difference between themselves and everything else, and certainly not of the ideas that constitute teism, so newborns are neither theists or atheists, they’re simply just newborns. Absence of belief is not enough, you have to be aware of what ideas you are rejecting in order to reject them and then become an atheist.

    (No offense, Nodhimmi, but you didn’t mistake “teleologians” for “theologians” when you wrote “kids are not ‘natural teleologians’,”, right? It would be an honest mistake, but “teleology” and “theology” are very different things.)

  19. In reply to #20 by Bipedal_Primate:

    In reply to #19 by Nodhimmi:

    In order to be an atheist, you have to be aware that you are an atheist,

    In order to be an atheist you have to not hold beliefs in any gods.

    The OP hasn’t said where they live ? I think that’s really important. In a lot of societies you can just leave your children to grow up and they will turn out atheists. But in others like parts of the US you have to work hard to insulate them from the religious nutters who will include many of their teachers and school friends parents.

    Michael

  20. Hi, Cogan 1988. I figure: know yourself, be honest and speak your mind.Use logic and reveal in your discourse, the difference between superstition and mere belief, as against evidence and empiricism. Don’t be put off by “Pascals’ wager“, which can be used to try and justify belief in almost anything, without good foundation one way or the other.

    In other words: communicate. That includes taking notice of what others have to say, including those with whom you don’t agree. Let all of this rub off on your children, without being prescriptive one way or the other.

    I hope this makes sense to you.

  21. In reply to #21 by mmurray:

    In order to be an atheist you have to not hold beliefs in any gods.

    If that was enough to define atheism, rocks, trees, cars and small bags of neatly wrapped candy could also be said to be atheists.

    The OP hasn’t said where they live ? I think that’s really important. In a lot of societies you can just leave your children to grow up and they will turn out atheists.

    Why wouldn’t they just as well invent religions? You seem to think rationality is some sort of default position for humans, a point of view which could be said to be highly irrational considering how far removed from reality it is.

  22. ad hominem attacks work too. My father told me that his teachers kept telling them that Christains are stupid and uneducated and he thought the same until he found out they were wrong. But it worked for a long time.

  23. I suggest not attempting to raise an athiest child. This will in all probability come back to haunt you on many levels. For instance, I contend that you may alienate your spouse, or give rise and reason for your child to look towards religion once the dawn of rebellious behavior and viewpoints surface. Also, be advised, that on some level, your spouse will most likely find a reason for Athiest beliefs to be the fault of any short-comings your child may have.
    My success was simple. My son approached me at age 8. When he asked me about God, I simply told him that I didn’t believe in God, nor the Bible. I encouraged him to explore those answers for himself, and draw his own conclusions. We spent years exploring science and religion together.
    In short, encourage free thinking, but don’t surpress your own opinion. And remember, free thinking seperates us from many of the religions.

  24. Answer your child’s questions honestly and this can be done without disrespecting other’s beliefs. Remember it is your job to teach them about how to think and about all the ways our brains are deceived and influenced. Make sure your child knows it is safe to ask any question. If you do these things, your child will figure things out on her/his own despite what the school is teaching.

  25. In reply to #10 by Robert Kubik:

    My parent did not indoctrinate me. When I first asked my father where we came from he just told me that some people believe in God and some people believe life came into existence in an organic soup. But they always encouraged me not to believe everything that I am told but to think critically and read different points of view. And the result of it was that I became a Christian two years ago.

    Hi Robert,

    What did you believe before your conversion?

    Nordic

  26. Hi Cogen,

    You’re in a difficult situation, but I understand. I’m a Christian and want my sons to grow up to be comitted Christians. Unfortunately (or not?), we often have little control over what our children come to believe.

    I would advise, like others have on this thread, to be honest and discuss Christianity with your child in a rational way without being demeaning. I often invite my sons to read entries on this site with me (especially my teenager), and we discuss my disagreements with atheism but also my admiration for some of the traits of the atheists on this site (such as good thinking skills, reliance on a plethora of resources, and a passion for your beliefs). I try to be balanced and fair while being clear about my beliefs. That’s the best we can do.

    Best wishes (though I’m pulling for your wife, of course).

  27. In reply to #24 by Bipedal_Primate:

    In reply to #21 by mmurray:

    In order to be an atheist you have to not hold beliefs in any gods.

    If that was enough to define atheism, rocks, trees, cars and small bags of neatly wrapped candy could also be said to be atheists.

    I thought we were talking about people. OK let’s say an atheist is a sentient being who holds no beliefs in gods.

    The OP hasn’t said where they live ? I think that’s really important. In a lot of societies you can just leave your children to grow up and they will turn out atheists.

    Why wouldn’t they just as well invent religions? You seem to think rationality is some sort of default position for humans, a point of view which could be said to be highly irrational considering how far removed from reality it is.

    I’m assuming they are raised in the kind of society where they get a rational education. But one where there is very little exposure to religion. In those kinds of societies atheist parents raise atheist children without any particular intervention. Well at least it worked for me and my wife and apparently @Latraviata. The contrast I am making is with the US where in some places your children will be told by the majority of their friends that they are going to die and go to hell or their friends will want them to go with them to prayer camps etc.

    Michael

  28. In reply to #28 by Nordic11:

    In reply to #10 by Robert Kubik:My parent did not indoctrinate me. When I first asked my father where we came from he just told me that some people believe in God and some people believe life came into existence in an organic soup. But they always encouraged me not to believe everything that I am told but to think critically and read different points of view. And the result of it was that I became a Christian two years ago.Hi Robert,What did you believe before your conversion?Nordic

    I was not sure what to believe. I thought there might be God but I decided to investigate it.

  29. My daughter, now nearly nine, showed an interest in the natural world from a very early age.
    This is an interest we share, so I have encouraged it – trips to zoos and museums etc.
    She also has tree of life on her bedroom wall since she was five and so she understanfs the evolutionary relationships between goups of animals and what evidence is available.

    When they started teaching her about gods at school, we have read about them at home.
    She realisised very quickly that no single god is unique or more likely to be true than any other, they all make the same claims and lack evidence.
    I don’t think I have pointed her in any direction, other than to question everything – including me and her teachers – and when in doubt, ask why someone thinks a certain way, or why they say it is true.
    What evidence led them to that conclusion, and to be very suspicous of those who use authority to back up their claims.

  30. In reply to #29 by Nordic11:

    I’m a Christian and want my sons to grow up to be comitted Christians. Unfortunately (or not?), we often have little control over what our children come to believe.

    But we have much control over what children come to believe, if we are prepared to intervene early. It is what underpins the remarkable reliability of culture. Kids from nought to five are doing the bulk of their habit forming through pretty firm brain wiring. Most importantly at this age they are highly suggestible and believe authority figures over the evidence of their own eyes.

    Here is my monthly Victoria Horner link.

    Once we are scrupulous about not presenting unevidenced opinion as fact and deferring discussions about such matters until later in childhood, then you and I can be confident of respecting this growing individual.

    This, of course, leaves every aspect of a moral upbringing intact.

    My daughter, currently a 15 year old atheist, but who has been on quite a journey (still in progress), briefly considered herself a Buddhist aided by some posters here and also took a look at Quakerism at my suggestion as the most enlightened Christian faith I knew of. She bought me recently for my delectation and dismay “The Lion Book of First Prayers” for very young children. What a noisome, loathsome little thing it is too.

    “Dear God, I like the twinkling stars,
    But how do you keep them up?”

    “Dear Lord on high,
    Make a clear sky,
    Make the day fine,
    And let the sweet sun shine.”

    “God is great,
    God is good
    And we thank him
    For our food”

    Ultimate answer for all things including physics. A biddable God granting favours. An implicit denigration of loving human efforts.

    What hideous little mind worms to put into a young child’s brain, to say nothing of the crimes against poesy.

  31. As another poster said you had better discuss it with your wife. From your description she appears to be a “lukewarm” Christian and the mother of your child. I was lucky, my missus was a renegade Christian, and I was always a non-believer. There was no question of raising our kids as Christians or anything else, other than as nice human beings. My own advice is to be honest with the child. “mummy believes x, but I don’t believe x”. Children aren’t stupid. They soon suss out nonsense. The very hint of a disagreement between mummy and daddy will mean the child will have to think for itself

    As others have said, always have a healthy respect for the sciences and nature. At least we know they are real !

  32. I just figure if I don’t raise them as Christians they won’t be Christians. Hell, I was raised to be a Christian and I’m not a Christian. I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity these days.

    I guess they could always convert, but that’s their business.

    I will say that I don’t tolerate certain ideas being presented to my children from people they love and respect. That may be totalitarian; oh well. For example, everyone in my family knows that they had better never attempt to teach my children while they are so young that they are in need of salvation from sin. I find the idea utterly repulsive whether your attempting to convince an adult or a child that it’s true. But it’s especially wicked if you’re talking to my adorable …. intelligent … perfect … children.

  33. I don´t quite agree with raising a child as anything, and it reminds a cousin of mine, she followed it seems some book advices to raise her son, which was something like treat him like a prince and later on, like a peasant, it seems a bit “nazi”, children only need to have a balanced education that doesn´t put at risk their welfare and psychological security and after that things will outcome naturally as far as children have their own will accordingly to their own nature anyway, and children are of course independent from their parents in that sense, as far as I am not religious never mind if my parents and whole family is.
    But, I actually find it important that children need to be free in their education and not forced on religious matters at school (a humanist education I would call it).
    As far as I am not a believer, I never felt I had the right to deprive children to learn about religion either, but the school isn´t just the right place.

  34. Raise the child to question everything, not just religions but to be a contrarian and use evidence and rational thought to make decisions. My best advice would be to always be truthful to the child and encourage them to read, read, read.

    Engage them constantly, ask them what they think about this or that reasoning or belief system and when they give you an answer, ask them for the rationale behind their response. See if they readily identify nonsense in any topic and you will be well on your way to shaping and critical thinker who sees reality for what it is and makes the world a better place.

  35. Let this child make his/hers own decision from the start of communication. I do not mean decisions that affect their lives, but if he/she wants an apple instead of an orange, so be it. I have found that the earlier you let your children make their own decisions, the less they will become brainwashed into believing in some form of god. If they know life is about choices and consequences and not about some spirit they are brainwashed into believing in from birth, they will have a much better chance in real life, not the fictional one christians brainwash into their children.

  36. In reply to #36 by maria melo:

    I don´t quite agree with raising a child as anything, and it reminds a cousin of mine, she followed it seems some book advices to raise her son, which was something like treat him like a prince and later on, like a peasant, it seems a bit “nazi”, children only need to have a balanced education that doesn´t put at risk their welfare and psychological security and after that things will outcome naturally as far as children have their own will accordingly to their own nature anyway, and children are of course independent from their parents in that sense, as far as I am not religious never mind if my parents and whole family is.
    But, I actually find it important that children need to be free in their education and not forced on religious matters at school (a humanist education I would call it).
    As far as I am not a believer, I never felt I had the right to deprive children to learn about religion either, but the school isn´t just the right place.

    Exactly!! Let them make their own decisions early on. As I said previously, It’s not the decisions that determine life and death, but the easy ones, like oatmeal or cereal; apple or banana; chicken or salmon, etc. The more your child knows they can make their own decision, the more likely they are to not believe in some delusion like a god. They will have a full, strong , leader type mentality and that does often defer them to the atheist type of life

  37. In reply to #35 by Sean_W:

    I just figure if I don’t raise them as Christians they won’t be Christians. Hell, I was raised to be a Christian and I’m not a Christian. I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity these days.

    I guess they could always convert, but that’s their business.

    I will say that I don’t tolerate certain ideas being presented to my children from people they love and respect. That may be totalitarian; oh well. For example, everyone in my family knows that they had better never attempt to teach my children while they are so young that they are in need of salvation from sin. I find the idea utterly repulsive whether your attempting to convince an adult or a child that it’s true. But it’s especially wicked if you’re talking to my adorable …. intelligent … perfect … children.

    You sound so defensive… The idea is to let your child make his/her own decisions. The idea is to be so comfortable in your raising of the child that you have no doubts that they will be a leader and think for them selves. I dont know if you have that quality in you. You have to be a leader first, and if everyone in your family is saying this, saying that…. just be careful, because you don’t seem to have control, and if you dont have control, jesus will appear out of no where in an instance just to give your little bundles of joy some confidence.

    • I have no idea why you needed to repeat to me what you had already said to others in regards to the importance of allowing children to think for themselves and to make some of their own decisions. Did you like the sound of your own advice so much that you thought you’d say it again, three times even?

      chain yanker

      In reply to #41 by goddelusion2:

      You sound so defensive… The idea is to let your child make his/her own decisions. The idea is to be so comfortable in your raising of the child that you have no doubts that they will be a leader and think for them selves. I dont know if you have that quality in you. You have to be a leader first, and if everyone in your family is saying this, saying that…. just be careful, because you don’t seem to have control, and if you dont have control, jesus will appear out of no where in an instance just to give your little bundles of joy some confidence.

  38. I am an Atheist and my son just turned four so I’m not to the point where I worry about it yet (other than correct bless you with excuse you and the like). I think the main thing is just to make so nothing is being forced on the child other than factual knowledge. If they ask questions on any subject all you can do is answer to the best of your ability and make sure they have the option to search for the answers on there own if they are not happy with what the already know. Something as simple as basic religious practices can cause an unfair shift in the mind of a child who has not yet learned to reason.

  39. I’m a senior in highschool living under a religious household with judeo-christian standards yet I still turned out to be atheist. I don’t think shielding kids from religion is the answer. They should be exposed to the realities of the world we live in and let them choose. That’s free-will. We are no better than those religious nuts if we shield the kids from religion. I believe that reason and science will prevail and they will adopt an atheistic worldview. That seems like a tough predicament for yourself to be married to a christian but i don’t know the details so my apologies. Maybe as the child grows older have debates with them on theism verses an atheistic worldview point and may the stronger side win. It did for me.

  40. Well Cogan, you’re buggered aren’t you? You wan’t to raise your kid as an Athiest, and your girlfriend is a Christian….Well, I advise you to put your foot down now! DO NOT Christen your child! A Christening is NOT inevitable and it isn’t fine! If you want your child to think for itself- getting it recognised, accepted and therefore indoctrinating it into the church before it can think for itself is just crazy! You can have all these discussions thrown around below when your child is 11 or 12, when he/she is old enough to really question religion and God/s, reason and higher politics. If it comes up beforehand- tell him/ her in a child’s language THE TRUTH, not about cells or replication but evolution and adaptation, the natural world, geography….everything! kids are sharp, they’ll cotton on…Just don’t bloody lie to them….. and then you don’t have to act to keep everybody else happy. Inevitably you will upset your girlfriend……In proposing that God is a myth and by sticking to your guns you’ve started already. It’s time for you to choose: Christianity or Atheism! You can’t sit on the fence with this one, the two are not compatible!

  41. I’m not a parent so I’m not speaking from experience.

    If I were I wouldn’t bring my child up to be anything, be that Atheist or Christian etc. It’s about the child choosing themselves and thinking for themselves.

    I don’t see much difference in bringing a child up as a Atheist to bringing a child up a as a [insert religion]. It’s about letting them choose for themselves when they’re old enough to understand. In the meantime you educate them, in science and religion (and everything else!) to give them the tools for life later on.

    Best of luck.

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