I got a comment from a lovely mother who read my blog, out looking for some ideas on how to parent her freethinking and inquisitive daughter. Mae asked me a question that is, by far, the most often question I ever receive. Online or in person! I've been wanting to write a post on this subject, so I am including it here so you can find it again and again as you journey your way through parenting your own little skeptic!
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!
And my reply to Mae and to ALL of the Maes out there in the world who are looking for some parenting guidance for raising an ethical, freethinking child:
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 told...to explain the these early people who didn't have the technology and science that we have today 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 studied and observed 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!
And, I want to add, Mae and You, Dear Reader, you actually DO have the answers or you know where to find them. Trust in the process of being honest instead of that knee-jerk reaction of passing along the myth stories. It won't be long before we have generations of children who no longer have to find their way through the muck!
And THEN imagine what they will do.........!
(this is a copy/paste job! All spelling and grammar errors are original.
What a nerd I am to even write this part. LOL)
If you enjoyed this post you might also try this one:Life, The Universe, and Whatnot
Barely Out of Tuesday