Monday, November 5, 2012

25 Ways to Pass Love and Tolerance on to your Kids

 atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
I've talked a bit about some of the experiences that my kids have had when believers address my atheist children. They have some wonderful and loving friends who are believers and who represent Christians as they intend to look. These friends, and, in fact, what I am sure is the majority of believers, are very kind and fun and nonjudgmental and accepting. But when one of my kids has to come face-to-face with an adult or a child who gives them the demon eye or the wonderful 'going to hell' comment, how do they deal with it?

How do your children deal with it? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.

One of the lesser-discussed challenges when this happens is to have the necessary discussions with our children without passing along a similar intolerance as the one casing the distress.

First, there is the issue of the word "tolerant". It suggests putting up with someone or something rather than accepting and loving someone or something. It suggests that we want to teach our children to have good manners when dealing with distasteful things. Without getting caught up in defining terms, I prefer to think of this post as being about loving someone or something different from one's self. In other words, accepting. Yes, let's go with that. Accepting.

In fact, we can go further than that. How do we teach our children to experience someone or something different from them with enthusiasm, respect, and a desire to learn from them.

And, how to we do that? How do we raise children who value and embrace people and things different from them?

There are really NOT 25 ways to do this. There is ONE.
By valuing and embracing everyone ourselves.

Our children live what they learn.
If they are to learn this, they must see it in us.

It's that simple and that challenging.


  1. I love reading your little snippets, they are always very thought provoking and really reflect my parenting style. So glad that you are writing many of the things that other parents get nervous to discuss. I feel like if I voice my disbelief in religion that i will be viewed in a different way or as a bad parent, or even that I'll hurt another's feelings, and that is probably because I scoff or make fun of religion a lot. (mostly because I believe you have to disregard SO much information to believe it and it confuses me why more people don't QUESTION what they are being taught... thats on a different note.) because I SHOULDN'T make fun of those beliefs. And I get very tired of standing up for my opinions when others find out I don't teach my children religious things.

    Also, what did/do you tell your children when they ask what praying is or god ? I have a four year old and I'm just getting into those questions that I simply don't have the answer for at times. I try to do my best saying that prayer is a way for people to voice things that they feel in order to help them work through it. But I truly don't want to dive in too deep since it will likely confuse her. She's SOOOOO smart though and I can hardly keep up!

    1. Dear Mae, YAY for you for having one of those amazingly precocious children who ask questions!
      I can't tell you "THE" thing to do regarding what to say or do, but I can tell you what *I* did and said.
      First, from the library, again and again, I brought home creation and mythology stories. These books included the Christian religion stories. Side by side, the Christian stories, in no way, stand out as any more profound or "true" than any other mythology stories.

      So, we read these stories, talking about why the stories were explain the these early people who didn't have the technology and science that we have to day why things happened. Why did it rain today? Why is my camel sick? Where did people come from? Why do birds sing in the morning. Etc etc etc.

      We talked about how people are very curious and smart and really wanted answers, but didn't have them. SO, in the absence of really knowing, people will often make up stories to explain things to themselves. (have you ever told yourself that thunder was someone bowling in the sky? ect)
      WELL, eventually, the more people studies and thought and experimented, the more we were able to answer these questions with real answers. (We get sick because of viruses and germs. We had a rain shower because of the rain cycle. Birds sing in the morning because they can sense the dawn about half an hour before it happens. Stars are beautiful balls of gas many light years away. And we evolved from earlier species.)

      But, today, some people get comfort from these old stories. They have created complicated stories that include magical people in the sky (remember Zeus and Yahweh) who have powers. But you and I know that these stories, entertaining as they are, aren't truth or anything. Just stories told by people many many years ago to try to understand the world around them.

      Eventually, Where did "we" come from and all of the major existential questions. And I am very comfortable saying 'I don't know the answer to that. Let's see what we can find out from the knowledge base."

      Parenting a child through these years is an AMAZING journey that you will LOVE! And that will challenge you.
      But honestly is always the best way, in my opinion. Answer those questions at their level.

      Maybe watch "The Lion King". Get that whole "circle of life" thing to refer to whenever you find tiny dead baby birds or even leaves from a tree...

      Good luck and trust yourself! You will do fine!


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