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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Parenting for Humanists, atheists, and agnostics

(c) New Humanist.
Apparently some couples in certain areas in the U.S. have faced difficulty adopting as atheists. Many other challenges face non-theistic parents as well...

Time magazine recently featured an article, Can Atheists Be Parents? In that article they describe how John and Cynthia Burke in 1970 faced some roadblocks in adopting their first child, and even bigger ones adopting their second. Eventually, they were able to adopt after some effort. God Discussion tells the rest of the story.

Even today, aside from outright discrimination against non-theists, parents face additional challenges. Common questions include: "how will my child be treated by other children and adults?", "will religious people try to indoctrinate my child when I'm not around?" Other questions relate more to their side of the fence: "how do I teach my child to be respectful of those with religious beliefs?", "how can I educate my child on reason-based conclusions while giving them the space to decide for themselves on religion?", or the more basic, "what do I say when my child comes asking about God?"

Humanists face these challenges, and another layer of obligations in passing along the many Humanist values and principles to their children which have little to do with the God question. The Institute for Humanist Studies has a section of their website dedicated to addressing parenting issues. Meanwhile, at New Humanist Magazine, Danny Postel writes about how he's addressed many of these issues with his own children. Another good site is a blog called Agnostic Mom: Raising a Healthy Family without Religion.

Lastly, there are two books of which I'm aware, on this topic:
Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion
Humanism for Parents - Parenting without Religion

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