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beanson's Avatar Comment 1 by beanson

Shouldn't he have worked out what to do with his wife before hand rather than panic with ad hoc counter-indoctrinations that are liable to confuse a 6 year old for all love?

It's rather like him and her are having an ideological battle over the metaphysical outlook of their child- somewhat distasteful.

Perhaps the best thing is not to marry someone whose views on child-rearing so strongly contradict your own.

"The antidote I was seeking, he suggested, was to be found in books of evolution..."


Don't leave it too late though- the jesuits say they only need the boy 'till 7- after that, as we all know, it is possible for a seemingly intelligent person infected with dogma to dismiss all rational, naturalistic explanation without a care in the world.

But what if raising my kids to be truly free in their thinking results in their becoming religious?


If your children really WERE being raised as free-thinkers I could guarantee that they wouldn't adopt religion. To be willing to accept obvious absurdities requires indoctrination, but that is the problem- you are allowing your children to be brainwashed

Might the attempt to impart one worldview or another to one's children - whether religious or secular - itself be ill-conceived?


Look mate, quit being so friggin' wish-washy, your nutty wife has the jump on you, she has been busy with dogma-drench for a while now, all with gay abandon, and for why?- because she just KNOWS she's right, your kids are almost lost- take some immediate restorative action!

Sun, 19 Jul 2009 22:22:00 UTC | #380623

zengardener's Avatar Comment 2 by zengardener

beanson

she just KNOWS she's right, your kids are almost lost- take some immediate restorative action!


Here here!!

Raising children means indoctrinating them. There is no getting around it. You either do it yourself, or you let other people do it. I doubt that one would be so non-committal about astronomy vs. astrology

"well son, some people believe the world is flat and others believe it is an oblate spheroid with an iron core."

I can't imagine marrying someone with any more than a vague notion of the divine, for just this reason.

Sun, 19 Jul 2009 23:52:00 UTC | #380643

cauri's Avatar Comment 3 by cauri

My daughter's mum is ridiculously religious. Church on Sunday, leading the choir, not a book in the house that does not have the word god in the title or some picture of azure clouds in an orage sky.

I have many of the same worries that Danny points out. I spend a lot of time giving my 4 year old perspective on the question of god and gods. I read to her about hindu gods and greek gods and other myths as well as teaching her science and philosophy. Her first song, I wrote for her, called particle physics for toddlers and basically breaks down people into smaller and smaller bits form molecules to quarks. She loves it.

She lives with her mum half the week and me half the week, I call her by her middle name, Rose, an her mum calls her by her first, Netanya. One day she turned to me and said "I like god." She paused. "Netanya believes in god, but Rose doesn't" Once I got over hearing her talk about herself in the third (and fourth?) person. I began to think about what it meant. Has she really split her personality so clearly down the middle? Am I nurturing schizophrenic-tendencies? What kind of psychological damage can this do? Once parent-panic subsided I realised that she simply has found a way to please both of us.

Children have an amazing ability to adapt to situations. The fact that she can see that 2 people can clearly have 2 different points of view and not have a problem with that really pleased me (though the fact that both people were in her head made me a little uneasy.) But she is processing the differences and embracing skepticism.

That said, I would like to see a few more books for children about science and secularism and skepticism and humanism and naturalism and philosophy and fewer "faith" books that infect the bookstores in this country and elsewhere. Less presumption that the religious path is a natural one and that atheism is an unnatural or abnormal choice.

Maybe I should publish Particle physics for Toddlers...

Sun, 19 Jul 2009 23:55:00 UTC | #380644

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 4 by RichardofYork

Parents although neccessary are a terrible blight on their offsprings education

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 00:19:00 UTC | #380650

Jay Cee's Avatar Comment 5 by Jay Cee

Raising children means indoctrinating them.


It doesn't have to be that way. Everytime they ask a question. Tell them to look it up in a book or on wikipedia. When I have kids and they ask me things like "Is there a God?" I'm not just going to force my militant anti-theism on them. I'll make them read about it.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 00:58:00 UTC | #380659

Shifty Gray's Avatar Comment 6 by Shifty Gray

@ cauri: "Once parent-panic subsided I realised that she simply has found a way to please both of us."

What made you realize it? Isn't it still possible that this might have a negative effect, somewhere, sometime?

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:00:00 UTC | #380660

Jay Cee's Avatar Comment 7 by Jay Cee

Cauri

Maybe I should publish Particle physics for Toddlers...


Absolutely!

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:01:00 UTC | #380662

Fil's Avatar Comment 8 by Fil

My childhood was ruined by having a Catholic mother and an "C of E" father who was really an agnostic (mostly my mum of course). What's even worse, I never got the opportunity to discuss philosophy, religion or anything similar with my father because any talk on such matters was barred under pain of marriage breakdown by my indoctrinated mama. Sadly he died when I was just shy of 21, so we never had the chance to talk as adults away from her, her bloody priests and all their bullshit.

Luckily I realised by myself that Christianity and especially Catholicism was inane, indeed evil, codswallop (by about age 14) despite the tender mercies of the unChristian Brothers to bash the love of Jesus into me.

The only positive thing regarding religion I learned from my father was that the Church of England have all the best hymns.

Don't marry, or especially have kids, with someone whose philosophy is that far different from your own.

Especially if they are Catholics.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:04:00 UTC | #380664

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 9 by Quetzalcoatl

Fil-

Have you heard about the latest pronouncement from the Catholic Church?

They're such a caring bunch.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:06:00 UTC | #380665

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 10 by Ignorant Amos

This sort of item upsets me. My children were never baptised and were informed from an early age that they had the right to choose whatever belief system they desired when they were both old enough and could make such an informed decision.

My daughter attended Belfast Royal Academy the oldest school in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is a co-educational, non-denominational voluntary grammar school situated in north Belfast.

My son attended Ulidia Intergrated College who's mission statement is:-

"Educating together, Catholics and Protestants, and those of other religions, or none, in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding, to the highest possible academic standards."

Even though the curriculum by law in UK schools forced them to sit through Religious Education classes, these classes were more objective in that they were not driven by the religious bias of individual teachers as is the case in the sectarian seats of learning.

Needless to say, in spite of extended family influences, neither of them have found any requirement to have religion in their lives and thats something I feel proud about.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:30:00 UTC | #380671

Fil's Avatar Comment 11 by Fil

@ Quetzacoatl

Thanks for that cheery item. Caring bunch, indeed. ;-)

I once had an ignorant Catholic fellow teacher get right in my face in the staff room, in front of everyone, because I happened to mention that my wife used an IUD without any problems. It was "vile abortion" in her view. I replied loudly that I considered both her and her church to be pretty much the same thing. Thankfully that shut her up, amid stifled giggles round the room.

Being excommunicated by the Catholic Church seems to me like christ on a stick...I'd take that with great pride rather than fear.

Which reminds me, I must hand in my formal resignation papers...

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:41:00 UTC | #380674

hayden_scott's Avatar Comment 12 by hayden_scott

Danny, Danny, Danny, you are the problem! So quit bitching about your wife. And quit looking for a magic children's book to solve your problem (although that's the approach your wife's been successfully taking). Fortunately, because you are the problem, you also happen to be the solution.

First off, get a fucking view! Your kid tells you they believe in god, and you respond:

"There may very well be a God, Theo. But not everyone agrees on that - there are many people who doubt there is a God. We might never know for sure if there is or not"

Does that reflect your personal view? That there "may" be a god; that we "might" never know. If it is, then you seem to allow a fair bit of room for the existence of god. That being the case, why are you now surprised that your kid seems to be veering that way? So get a view. It will act as a marker in your dealings with your children.

Secondly, now that you have a view, state it clearly. Don't hide behind a book. Don't hope that your children will read between the lines as you read them the classics. Don't say "there are many people who doubt there is a God"; say, "I" doubt there is a god. But don't stop there.

Thirdly, explain the thought processes that have lead you to conclude that there is (probably) no god. Explain the necessity of reason and evidence in most if not all things. When your children continue to parrot their mother's belief in god, ask them "why" they do, and "how" they are so sure.

Forget searching for a book to do the work that you haven't.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:51:00 UTC | #380678

Nastika's Avatar Comment 13 by Nastika

The following YouTube videos from potholer54 were very useful in providing my children with a concise introduction to cosmology, abiogenesis and evolution:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=100500E4C9404405

I also look forward to Cauri's Particle physics for Toddlers particularly the chapter on those pretty spectral emission lines...

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 01:52:00 UTC | #380679

JackR's Avatar Comment 14 by JackR

Shouldn't he have worked out what to do with his wife before hand rather than panic with ad hoc counter-indoctrinations that are liable to confuse a 6 year old for all love?...

...Perhaps the best thing is not to marry someone whose views on child-rearing so strongly contradict your own.


Amen, beanson. I cannot understand how anyone to whom atheism and religion matter could consider marrying someone of the polar opposite view, let alone raising kids with them. It's unfair on the kids; they're going to be confused and upset by the major mixed messages they're getting from their parents.

From a purely personal perspective, I know I couldn't even fall in love with a religious woman. I can't feel what I understand as love for someone that irrational. I need to be able to respect someone before there's any chance I'll fall for them and I simply can't respect grown adults who still believe in stupid fairytales.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 02:17:00 UTC | #380684

JackR's Avatar Comment 15 by JackR

I noticed that he frets about whether raising kids with "secular values" is just another form of indoctrination and I was about to respond to that, but then I saw that he has answered his own worry in exactly the way I would have:

All parents must confront the prospect that if we raise our children to be free, self-confident individuals, they may make choices that we don't like. Tough. The companion volume to Parenting Beyond Belief bears the title Raising Freethinkers. Sounds appealing - I'd like to raise freethinkers. But what if raising my kids to be truly free in their thinking results in their becoming religious? What if my efforts to instill scepticism in them lead them to become sceptical of my humanism? So be it.


Precisely. Truly teaching your kids freethought means they are free to disagree with you and free to believe and do things you don't like.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 02:25:00 UTC | #380686

davem's Avatar Comment 16 by davem

Best thing is to give your kids the Bible. Make them read the nasty bits, not just the nice bits. Then discuss them.

...oh, and never name your son 'Elijah'.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 02:30:00 UTC | #380687

Buchner's Avatar Comment 17 by Buchner

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 02:54:00 UTC | #380697

mmurray's Avatar Comment 18 by mmurray

I was kind of confused by all this as the boy's question:

"Daddy, why did Jesus invent butterflies if they die after two weeks?"


is really good but seemed to get lost. The kid has already started to ponder the problem of evill. I would encourage his interest in the natural world. That should be enough to put anyone off the idea of a benevolent creator.

Michael

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 03:48:00 UTC | #380715

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 19 by KRKBAB

Comment #398081 by hayden_scott says: //Don't say "there are many people who doubt there is a God"; say, "I" doubt there is a god. But don't stop there. //
That's it- your children want to know what YOU think. They LOOK UP TO YOU. Don't do the embarassingly politically correct "Well son, many people believe many different things...."

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 04:03:00 UTC | #380719

aegis's Avatar Comment 20 by aegis

@ http://richarddawkins.net/article,4076,Good-books,New-Humanist#398060

"it doesn't have to be that way. Everytime they ask a question. Tell them to look it up in a book or on wikipedia. When I have kids and they ask me things like "Is there a God?" I'm not just going to force my militant anti-theism on them. I'll make them read about it."

---------------------
You don't have kids, so you don't know this yet, but they will begin assimilating their worldview long before they can even speak - let alone read. Reading is a fine thing, but the poster you quoted RE indoctrination is correct. Either you do it, or someone else will. If you think that the time to bring up a naturalistic world view in uncertain terms is when they first ask, then you missed the train at the station about 4-5 years back.

You also have just abdicated the answering of what is one of the most important questions they will face to wikipedia. "Is fire hot"? Check Wikipedia! "This bottle with the skull on it must be a cool energy drink. Is it?" Check a book. "This teacher at school thinks the earth is 6000 years old and that those who don't believe in god are hellbound!" Son/Daughter, I suggest you reference the works of Bertrand Russell for insight into this conundrum...

Obviously, this is all quite silly. Give your kids the answers they need early to avoid obvious dangers like burning, poison, and religion.


Thus, it is important to begin early. Very young children dislike uncertainties and metaphysical wrangling (and do not yet have the cognitive capacity to handle them). If your child asks you if you love them, the only appropriate answer is "yes, very much!" You don't say "What is love?....blah blah". The child is looking for a base from which to begin understanding the world they are experiencing. If you fail to provide it, they will make one - and it won't be the one you have intended.

The fellow who is reading about other gods, etc, is doing a good job. Most kids can get the concept of "they can't all be right". I remember one of the first moments I realized religion was crap - amazingly, it was during the early 80's film "Clash of the Titans". We weren't a religious household, but my mom was peripherally catholic so I had SOME exposure to christian symbols, the bible, etc. But I somehow made a connection between one god-many gods, and realized the most likely thing was they were all as real as Bobo the golden owl.

If you are an atheist, you MUST make a stand for the sake of your children. They are what is important now, above yourself. If one doesn't get that, if you don't like making hard decisions in your kid's early development, then you should not be in the business of parenting.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 04:52:00 UTC | #380726

Marie-Louise's Avatar Comment 21 by Marie-Louise

Comment 398081 by hayden scott

Very well said! You always have to tell your children your OWN opinion.

Comment 398087 by Jack Rawlinson

I totally agree with you. I could never be married to a man so deluded that he believed in a god.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 06:07:00 UTC | #380735

MarcCountry's Avatar Comment 22 by MarcCountry

Why not just tell the kid that Jesus didn't invent the damn butterflies?

Too true?

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 06:16:00 UTC | #380738

jackybird's Avatar Comment 23 by jackybird

Warning: Bitterness and Anger in the Following Post

After having been rejected multiple times by boyfriends for being overly intellectual and finding myself beyond childbearing age, I don't have too much sympathy for this guy. He's in a hell of his own making.

He's teaching his children something whether he likes it or not. He's teaching them that non-believers should feel uncomfortable about their lack of belief. He's teaching them that you should send your children to church even if you don't believe yourself. He's teaching them that non-believers should not say what they believe even when asked by their own children.

My parents didn't believe but they were never clear about that. Religion in our lives was simply absent. Other people are always eager and ready to jump in to that gap.

I know that all children are not only above average, but in the 90th percentile, but still, does he really believe that his little darlings already posess the congnitive skills necessary for these philosophical debates. And as far as the hope goes that, if he just gives them enough to read, his children with naturally not be "conventional believers," I think that's certainly risky. All believers I know are aware that there are other religions. Almost all read Dr. Seuss as children. Many, if not most, have encountered philosophy and science.

Why is he unable to address what HE believes? Ultimately, he just comes across as wimpy and whiney. He needs to speak honestly to his wife. He needs to speak to his kids. He says that wants his kids to grow up to be free thinkers, but he acquiesces to to their indoctrination.

Actually, makes me disgusted. I think I better stop while I'm ahead.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 06:59:00 UTC | #380751

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 24 by hungarianelephant

3. Comment #398045 by cauri

The fact that she can see that 2 people can clearly have 2 different points of view and not have a problem with that really pleased me (though the fact that both people were in her head made me a little uneasy.)

Sounds like you have a mini Tony Blair on your hands.
But she is processing the differences and embracing skepticism.

Ah. Maybe not then.

EDIT - btw I would love to hear "Particle Physics For Toddlers" if you'd like to share it.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 07:10:00 UTC | #380755

Stella's Avatar Comment 25 by Stella

I just saw this on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org/belief/141410/my_son_was_taught_to_believe_in_jesus_by_his_mother_--_how_do_i_help_him_become_a_free_thinker/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=alternet), where the sub-heading is: "Panicked by his son's Jesus references, an agnostic dad discovers a skeptic's reading list for kids. But is counter-indoctrination really the answer?"

The comment I posted there was:

"Counter-indoctrination?" Really?

Teaching kids (or any other people) to apply critical thinking skills is not a form of indoctrination. That's like saying using logic is a form of terrorism.

Psh.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 07:13:00 UTC | #380757

gobes's Avatar Comment 26 by gobes

Not long ago - my 7 year old son, who attends a church of England school (unfortunately the best around) came to me and said: "I don't get it. We have to pray everyday at school... but nothing ever happens". I can't tell you just how proud I was.

Without any prompting from me or my wife, both atheist, he deduced something to which his teachers are no-doubt oblivious! It's great when you realise that your kids are starting to question the world around them.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 07:44:00 UTC | #380761

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 27 by severalspeciesof

Oye...

This hits home harder that I want it to...

I must grow a spine, and soon...

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 08:03:00 UTC | #380769

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 29 by Chrysippus_Maximus

If the kids are intelligent they'll come to their own conclusions. No need to indoctrinate on either side, or really to worry about it.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 08:08:00 UTC | #380772

Chris Davis's Avatar Comment 28 by Chris Davis

Grumble. One (of many) reason I'm not doing the reproduction thing is I just know that if the fruit of my loins came up and announced that he or she had embraced the Fellowship of the Lawd, I should be obliged to carry out a retroactive abortion on the spot.

This is not something I can exercise equanimity about, any more than I could if the little bastard joined the Nazi party.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 08:08:00 UTC | #380771

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 30 by God fearing Atheist

27. #398172 by severalspeciesofI must grow a spine, and soon...


Ah, still procrastinating.

You have an excuse - you started out a theist. That's the kind part.

Now the unkind part - grow a spine!

Seriously though - be careful as well as bold.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 08:11:00 UTC | #380773