Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Atheist Parenting Blog

Why do I have an atheist parenting blog? I mean, without the religion part, isn't it just... parenting?!

Why do I spend so much time getting atheist parenting information out there into the ether? Once a person finally let's go of the shackles of their religion, isn't that... enough?!

In that case, why do I feel the strong need to blog about atheism and atheist- or humanist- or skeptic-related issues? Isn't enough that I just AM?!

Isn't this just giving me a label: atheist?!

What is the point?!

Hmmmmmm.
Some people have asked me why I have an atheist parenting blog, why I blog about atheist parenting. For the people who feel this way about posts and blogs labeled atheist parenting, I appreciate your skepticism. Is it possible that my writing is offering simple basic rational parenting support? Yes, I guess that is very possible. At the same time, there are many parents out there who are new to living a secular life, new to raising children without the traditional ways, hidden and living in seclusion due to their secular choices, afraid to be open and yet determined to raise their children as skeptics and as happy people, and looking for those few voices out there who can offer them understanding, community, advice, or just a general feeling of being normal. Many first-generation parents are seeking in earnest and I am proud to be available and open and willing to offer my support. Not my advice or my expertise or my definition or my label! My support, my friendship, my small community.

Sometimes I am quite shocked by the vehement negativity that has come my way for my atheist parenting blog. Much of the criticism has come from other atheists! I view their condemnation with compassion and with an open mind. I'm quite certain that those who don't understand the place for an atheist/humanist/skeptical parenting blog are coming from the point of view that atheists can simply move forward into the world, parenting, working, forming relationships, living their lives in a wonderful world free of religion.

If only it was so easy.

Moving into the World as an Atheist Parent

Should we do Santa? How about the Easter Bunny? Is it inconsistent to do the fun part of Tooth Fairy? Is it damaging to pretend? How do we handle religion in the schools? How do we explain the religion that is so much a part of the world without being disrespectful? How do we teach our children to recognize indoctrination attempts? How do we handle family? What do we do with the friends of our children who tell the kids that they are going to Hell? How much openness is best for the kids with their peers? How about openness for us with adult friends? What about those who bully with their religion? How do we handle the Pledge of Allegiance in school each day? How should our family handle the very public religious rituals in our culture? The struggle for atheist parents who no longer accept handed-down rules.

The earnest questioning goes on and on. I, as an atheist parenting blogger, don't have the answers. But I do openly entertain the questions. I fearlessly use the words. In my opinion, what I offer on my atheist parenting blog: I encourage other parents to make their own decisions about how to address these issues. The loveliest part of what I do as an openly atheist/secular/humanist parent is I encourage parents to ask the questions, to explore the ideas themselves within the context of their own families, and to create their own family identity, rituals, practices, answers, and direction with confidence. Sometimes I even remind parents that not knowing the answers is absolutely OK.


Last Year:  Christmas in Australia
My blog is a place where people come with questions, with confusion, with timidity. If my blog existed in the real world, I'm sure I would serve tea and sandwiches and have a spot for a nice nap. And a fireplace.. I post what I post... things about holidays, discipline, education, friendships, daily experiences, playtime, the media, parenting questions, my own concerns. Readers who comment give me great feedback, feedback that helps me to see why they come to my blog when they have books available that they can read. Specifically, they are looking for another person with whom they can feel understood, valued, of like-mind, welcomed, and even entertained by with the humor of questionable taste.
Yes, now I see it.
Just like regular parenting.

Being a parent is the hardest thing that I have ever done; just between you and I, that is saying something! Most atheist/secular/freethinking parents that I know are extreme thinkers. These are people who voraciously read, question, wonder. I am proud to be on this parenting journey with other parents...just normal parents.


Welcome readers in Guatemala!

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If you enjoyed this post you might also read: 
Atheists Believe in Nothing 
Or you might try:  You Were Never a Real Believer
Or click here:  Mind the Gap

12 comments:

  1. What I love about your posts (and the reason I read your blog) is that it is like a little fireside chat with a friend. I get to hear the good and the bad, and it helps me in my journey, raising a family without the religious overtones I was raised with. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. That means so much to me, coming from you!

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  2. Hey Karen. I don't comment often enough though I do read all your posts in my reader. I am glad you wrote this one, though.

    I have always been a bit curious about why the stress on atheism here as the overriding theme. Granted it is how I self-identify, it is how we are raising (and homeschooling) our kid, and yeah if you know me long enough IRL you will know my thoughts. But I don't address the issue openly in group situations.

    Some would ask, well whyever not, are you not certain? Why would I not proclaim? Is it because the faith of my childhood (Catholicism) was built on doubt and that faith is simply doubt making a leap. There was no real rebellion on my part. I understand the Church's dogma and I find it unacceptable so I have moved on, no hard feelings. In other words, the faith I moved away from wasn't out to get me, guilt me for eternity (such an idea!).

    I think I don't proclaim because, frankly, I hate it when the godly do.

    That's just where I am coming from. My daughter (9) thinks one big god is a dumb idea; she thinks if a god makes sense, it would be many gods of many different things (the washing machine, the compost pile, etc.). Can't say she's wrong!

    Anyway, nice sharing a cup!

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    1. Well I'm SO GLAD you commented because I think this post was just for people like you! It has been an ongoing struggle for me when people criticize (I'm a bit low on self-confidence at times...) and so I struggle! After having about two weeks of internal conflict, it finally came to me in a nice comfortable flash in insight. (grin)

      So THANK YOU so much, I'm so glad you posted.

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    2. ALSO: just the other day my son was talking about how much more fun it would be if there were many gods who could really help: the god of hair cuts, the god of lost keys, the god of gaming, the god of travel directions...

      Can't say his idea was a bad one!

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  3. Hi Karen, I often read your blog but I've never commented, and I love your constant stream of interesting pinterest finds - I follow your board on pinterest.

    I'm considering starting an atheist parenting blog myself and I have been struggling with figuring out what my voice should be. I'm more interested in having a place where I can express my thoughts and views on many things, including parenting, without having people come back with the usual religious counter arguments.

    I live in Canada, which is a fairly progressive country, but the area I live in seems to be almost like the "Bible Belt" of Canada, which I find to be fairly distressing and frustrating. I view my need for a blog like this just as a sort of place to vent my thoughts about the ridiculousness I see around me, and if anyone ends up reading it and being helped by it, so much the better!

    Do you find that you get a lot of negative feedback on your blog, or is it mostly likeminded people?

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    1. Amanda, on my blog I never ever get criticism anymore. I used to. But those who aren't like-minded fell away. I guess my unwillingness to debate takes the fun out of it for them.

      I would love to read a blog like that! I hope you keep thinking about it... I can't promise you that you won't get any negative feedback. I guess it depends on who reads your stuff.

      Also, 99.9% of my clipart is ALL MINE! So I'm glad you like it!

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  4. I am definitely thankful for any support when it comes to atheist parenting. Parenting itself is difficult, and when you are different from the most, it's even more difficult. I am so glad I have found your blog and your forum for atheists!

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    1. I'm glad you are here, Stephanie! I feel as though you and I are walking a new path together...
      Welcome Friend!

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  5. I've never read your blog before. I would definitely like to read more. You touched on something that really struck home with me. Before having our baby, my partner always opted to celebrate Christmas with his family, I abstained. We're both atheist, but we handled it differently and that was fine. When we had our son, however, we could not agree how to go about it. Finally I compromised due to family pressure. I said we could celebrate as long as it wasn't a “Christmas" celebration, and was solstice based. I was immediately steam rolled over as my son received babies first ornaments and stockings and such. I really don't know how to handle it. I've already bent my principles. I've also been told I was "cruel" when I mentioned not doing the Santa thing. Have you already blogged about any of these topics, our food to

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  6. Yikes! Smart phone + nursing baby= gibberish. What I was trying to say was, have you blogged about these topics before, or did you have any insight? I am the only person I know struggling with these questions. Even other atheists and agnostic parents seem to mainly just go with the flow. I'm always looking for new perspectives.

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    1. LOL! What a nice reason to post gibberish, though. ;)

      I wrote these pieces that you might find helpful:

      http://taytayhser.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-secular-merry-christmas.html#.U7Zf5rHHknw

      http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/yule-love-it.html#.U7ZgK7HHknw

      http://taytayhser.blogspot.com/2013/11/thankful-365-days-year.html#.U7Zgi7HHknw

      SURELY YOU KNOW, that you are NOT ALONE.
      Atheist parenting is difficult with the pressure to conform to the "traditional" holidays, more power to you for thinking about it NOW and for working to make deliberate, sensible, fun, family-oriented, and honest holidays in your family.
      <3

      I have NEVER been one to "go with the flow". ;)

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