Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's Going to be Worth It

atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
You learn alot about a people when your actions and words announce that you are going to live your own life your own way, when you declare that you're not going to live your life their way. Doing something so wholly revolutionary creates consequences.

You could keep the peace and get in the long line that has gone before you or you can listen to your own drummer, however measured or far away. You could quiet the noises in your head and in your stomach for awhile and shuffle forward with the other people who have not questioned why. It is the easiest thing in the world to quietly mumble acquiescence, to do nothing at all, and to simple sleep walk through it all.

I'm not capable of this.
It is not in my make up anymore to stay in line, stay on the path, follow the crowd.

When I was younger I bought into the idea that if I was very good and very compliant, then I would be happy. And I was very good and I was very compliant. But the questions kept coming and the disquiet remained long in to the nights.

And I'm glad of it because that disquiet has made all of the difference in my life.

For my children and for YOU, I hope that you remember to celebrate the freedom of getting off of the narrow path, out of the shrinking rooms of what is acceptable. Speak your truth, however much your voice shakes. 

Today my daughter has been considering some ideas that used to frighten or appall or confuse her. She is opening her mind to new ideas. She is willing to consider that there is much that she doesn't know. I hear her in conversations with people as she seeks to learn more about how others think about ideas...and I'm thrilled for her.

Just moments ago she walked into the room where I was and she announced, I'm feeling like such a good person today, Momma! I'm proud to be me today.

So, yeah.
Blaze your own trail because you will discover yourself there.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review by John John

atheist parenting books for freethinkers secular reading materials for kids
The other day a reader named Frau M. suggested that we try the book Why Don't We Go To Church by Gail Miller and Rosalind Eagle, illustrations by Angela Seear. The mini-paperback costs about $15 from, slightly over-priced but about average for micro-published books.

I ordered the book off of and John read it for me. Here is his review of the book:

I thought the book was rather well-written with educated language, simple concepts, interesting and clever drawings, and you could tell that the author has knowledge on the subject. While the illustrations aren't overwhelmingly important to the story, they do illustrate some concepts in the book. I thought it was well-tuned for children rather than for adults. I would recommend it for kids of all ages, it is probably written for kids under the age of ten.

This fifty-page book is about an atheist kid named Dan who moves to a new town and starts school with some anxiety. He worries about making friends and fitting in to his new school.  

Dan makes friends with Alex, who identifies himself as a creationist. The boys have conflicting beliefs so when Dan decides to make primordial soup for his science fair project Dan fears that his friendship with Alex is in danger because of Alex's beliefs. He is right, there is quite a bit of conflict from Alex and Dan is frequently put on the spot at school among the other students.

It was an interesting scene when Alex invites Dan to go to church with him and Dan is put on the spot for his primordial soup project.

Dan is very confused as to why the idea that life came from soup was comical to the people at the church but he eventually learns that the science of life idea is one that the church tends to fumble on. As a result, Dan becomes better informed of the conflict between scientific knowledge and religious belief.

I would recommend this book to atheist and non-religious parents who have younger children because it has some complicated ideas that have been simplified enough to explain to children.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Very Damaging List Against Homeschooling

The post that brings the most people to my blog site is called "The Case Against Homeschooling".  Are these folks coming here looking for a case against homeschooling?
I'm happy to provide!

I'm not the slightest bit afraid to talk about those subjects that might expose the negatives of homeschooling. Because, in spite of them, after all, it's always a choice.  

For goodness sake, parenting is rife with choices from morning until night!  How to educate, feed, raise, discipline, guide, let go of, hold on to.  ...Decisions all over the place that each parent must make somehow. As for the negatives below, I have found, after twelve years of homeschooling, that almost every single thing on the con list below, somehow becomes a pro of homeschooling at some point!

I'm going to offer this little expose' in honor of all of those children and families who are about to begin and who want the total, unhidden, balanced truth.

This is my writing and I offer it as such, my story. Someone else might have a different list.

  • We live in a neighborhood with elderly neighbors, most of whom have lived in the same home since having it built forty years ago. We have no children in our neighborhood except for the unkind kid who verbally attacks John every time they get together (isn't that boy nicely socialized?) and the other kid down the street who is the drinker and smoker. We care about this second boy boy alot, but the kids don't want to hang out with him much; sometimes they still do. 

    But my point is that this means that we are ALONE. We don't have a single neighborhood friend to play with. While this isn't, specifically, a homeschool issue, it does effect our homeschooling experience because, unless we leave the house and drive, we don't get to hang out with kids daily.
  • The kids don't see other kids every day.
    We see them often, maybe 2-3 times per week, on average. Much more some weeks, less others. However, this is not socialization, this is socializing. When we do get together with friends the time spent together is very in-depth and meaningful, usually.

    As for socialization, my daughter is in her first year as a dually-enrolled homeschooler at the local community college and her instructors have all commented on how mature and dedicated of a student she is AND she has made some fun friends quite easily. Today, TODAY she asked a guy for his phone number and he gave it to her.  😀
  • Our house is a mess.
    We are here in our home far more than most families. Messes multiply around here. We have more books and games and stuff than we need. Mostly books. Activities are spread all over my house as I type. Several people are involved in several different activities that require space and time. So it's messy, but busy.
  • Homeschooling takes time.
    Your time, parental time. As the mother and major homeschooling parent in the house, I spend a great deal of time on planning, researching, and more planning. It takes organization and a great computer. There is no way around the need for planning.  

    Being a homeschool parent requires  footwork to find what’s available in the community, figuring out how to get information on your own, knowing how to access people who can answer your questions, and knowing how to communicate well. These are are essentials skills of being a homeschooling parent. Being resourceful is essential.
  • Can you support your child as they are?
    They will be with you 24/7. Can you honestly embrace the person that they truly are? Homeschooling is like putting every problem into a pan and boiling it down. Soon the problems are all that you can see...unless you find a way to commit yourself the the children that you have. You have to accept them so that they can accept themselves and move successfully into life.

    For many parents, this is the exact reason why they do homeschool, so that their children can experience acceptance and encouragement for who they truly are.
  • I don't know everything about every subject.
    Again, planning, researching, planning. Time well spent, but time, nonetheless.

    AND my kids can do math in spite of me.
  • Not everyone approves.
    Can you remain dedicated to a lifestyle that often takes hits from family and friends and media? People will disapprove without having the slightest understanding of it. It is a lifestyle choice that people feel the need to give their two cents on. Overall, people are very supportive and admire us. But there are those folks who can't accept it.
  • Some learning objectives work best in group environments
    Homeschool groups and co ops are useful for many different types of these objectives, but there is still organization and planning involved. With a little initiative your kids can and will have some of the most wonderfully meaningful group experiences ever.
  •  Did I mention cost? 
    Some homeschool families spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on materials and optional experiences. This type of cash outlay is not necessary. I know very frugal families who homeschool extremely successfully. But, as we all know, some great activities cost money.
  • Some kids are unwilling to work.
    This shows itself in many different ways, little gets done. Lessons require a certain amount of willingness on the part of the child. If your child is less-than-motivated, it's not much fun.
    Just like if they were in school.
  • Homeschooling parents have less free time or child-free time. Privacy? I get some, but I have to create it. It's all about balance. As a homeschooling parent, you will have to figure this one out. Parents always need to figure this one out no matter how their children are educated!
  • Homeschooling through high school
    This part of homeschooling requires some more...YEP, research and organization and creativity. People homeschool through high school every day, including my daughter!  It works.
    John and I at Falling Water
  • Homeschool families can be marginalized, demonized, and, generally, be treated oddly.
    Living outside of the box is an honest expectation for families who choose this lifestyle. Homeschooling parents learn to cheer lead whenever the need arises. At some point this outside of the box experience will become a point of pride...once you can let go of needing approval from those around you.
  • For some parents, the doubt comes and goes, but never really disappears. It's the nature of the individual that matters. I know of several parents who are constantly on edge about homeschooling while other parents I know are the freaking paragons of placidity! Homeschooler's angst can be like having the world's worst friend in your own head! But I know of public school parents who doubt their choices there too.

    I'm pretty sure that this is more a personality issue than a homeschool one, specifically. But I mention it because our own personalities are very much a part of our family lifestyle.
  • There are no overseeing bodies to reprimand, guide, or support you. So, you are, truly, on your own. This can freak some folks out. For others, it is a comfort. I love it, but as first I was frightened. It took me about a year to truly appreciate this part of homeschooling; having other homeschoolers to talk with made all of the difference. Now this is one of my favorite things about homeschooling, knowing that our decisions are our own and that our children are being educated with sense and reason rather than the fear that school standards reflect.
  •  Accepting the fact that children learn at different levels and different speeds. They actually do. Even when they are in school. But it's more obvious in homeschooling.
  •  And, it is up to YOU, to your family, what gets into their lives. Talk about a panic sandwich with guilt on top. Very often you are going where there are no roads. Get ready to steam your way down a path of your own construction. homeschooling. Believe me, you will be empowered!

That's my honest list AGAINST. Being a parent means being constantly on the look out for the best thing for your child. I hope this list helps. I hope you realize that this list is intended to let you know, up front, some of what you will have on your place if you homeschool. I hope the list doesn't turn you off...just be more informed! 

What About Socialization?

Nope, I don't think that's a problem.  

Honestly.  When we get with kids, 
we experience the exact same things every group of kids does.  

The kids learn sharing, what a bully looks like, conflict resolution, 
popularity, peer pressure, etc. 
and the kids are just...normal.

Have I missed anything?
What "negs" would you add to this list?

This post is an encore post
and, as it happens, not very damaging at all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Do You Know What to Teach?

How to homeschool, secular homeschool beginning homeschool

How do homeschooling parents know what to teach their children? 
 (i.e. what curriculum, what publishers, which grade level, etc.)

That is the right question!!!

Before you purchase curriculum, do some homework! There is a lot of curriculum available to homeschoolers and it can be overwhelming and expensive if you don’t do a little research first.
What does your state recommend?  Look at the homeschool laws in your state using the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at this link:

At that website you will find so much information, you might just want to spend an evening reading on that site!

After that, think about why you want to homeschool.  Are you concerned that your child is “behind”, “ahead”, “lost”, not getting enough, getting too much, or the many other reasons that a parent might begin looking into homeschool.  Think of those reasons.  Materials are available for the struggling learner as well as for the motivated learner.
  • Do you have a scope in mind?  An array of materials that you feel are the right materials or subjects at this time?
  • Do you want materials that will tell you what to say?  Materials that are designed to walk you, the parent, through the lesson, and give you the words you need to explain clearly?
  • Do you want to proceed with “outside of the box” or non-mainstream ideas?
  • Do you want to work on lessons for hours each day?
  • Is your child ready for independent work?
  • Does your child prefer “hands on” materials, doing it themselves, being read to, lectures, reading independently?
Have you seen the Rainbow Resources catalog? When I used to shop for curriculum I would spend days looking at this thing! When our family first started homeschooling, the Rainbow Resources catalog was about a quarter of an inch thick. The last time I had one in my home it was about an inch and a half thick! Not much secular materials though.
Times have changed and homeschooling materials ABOUND.
All of these questions and more are a good place to start as you begin your search for your own style of homeschooling.  Some parents feel free to pick and choose materials from across the spectrum; some parents choose a “boxed” curriculum; some parents do not purchase specific materials at all.

You Don’t Have To Make This Decision Today.

I give you permission to take all of the time you need to look at the various lines of materials out there.  
  • Take as much time as you need to familiarize yourself with styles of learning.  
  • Take the time to work with and talk to your children and figure out together what WORKS with them and what direction would they like to go.  
  • Furthermore, get out there and make every effort to meet other homeschoolers, learn from them, talk to them, and ask every one of your questions!
LOTS of website out there that appear to be informational are often disguises for selling materials, so watch for that. I strongly believe that you need NO MATERIALS AT ALL to begin homeschooling.  None.  That’s right.  It can be totally free.

Let go of the fear this moment. Go read with your child.  And allow yourself all of the time you and your child need before purchasing or acquiring any materials at all!


How to homeschool parents know what to teach their children?

By taking the time to listen and to learn.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sing it Back to Me

atheist homeschool atheist homeschool atheist homeschool atheist homeschool 
I'm a bit of a depressive, have I mentioned that?

I have been struggling with it a bit more than usual lately, probably because of the weird sleep crap that I deal with regularly and partially due to the crazy schedule that we have been keeping around here.

It's not a thing to worry about, just to know where I am with things.

The kids and I have been talking about it quite alot because it effects them dramatically. Jerry has been so helpful and supportive. I can't help but think that I might not be as wonderful about it as my husband is...

As for being a homeschooling family with a depressive mother, you can see from the openness of my blog that we do quite well. I have those periods, few and far between, fortunately, when the depression tends to get me down for a few weeks. I'm experiencing that now.

In order to deal with it, the kids and I have made plans for their daily schedules. We have so much going on, as usual, and I don't want them to have to miss their activities because of my need to hibernate a bit. Though they, too, appreciate some down time.

We still get some lessons done. I enjoy reading and studying and the kids and I actually enjoy these days when we are home and quite intimate. We have been following interests with documentaries, books we are reading, discussions, and general quiet activities that stimulate our brains.

Also John has had a friend over to the house for sleepovers and these boys absolutely enjoy one another! Elizabeth is getting to school and work independently.

We're handling it.

I may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
But, for now, thank you to my readers here.

You bring me joy.

Do you have a chronic condition that makes it difficult 
to homeschool or to simply PARENT?
How to you handle it?
What is difficult about it?


After doing a small amount of research, 
I'm SURE my symptoms are created by the Prednisone I am taking 
for my poison ivy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mandalas, Harmony, and Time

When our family returned home from Brisbane about six months ago I knew it would take us some time to adjust to being back home when we felt like our home was over there. I can admit it: we have trouble with change!

Elizabeth and John had such different ways of handling the drastic switch and if you have read this blog for any length of time you know that a great deal of thought went into adjusting.

If your family is planning on a major move, I highly recommend planning for the adjustment period. Give it time. Recognized the need for acclimating. It takes longer than you might expect.

In the meantime, now that we were home, Elizabeth was struggling to adjust.

Those many months ago I printed out about a hundred mandalas, bought her some fun pens and markers, handed her her iPod, PC, and pillow, and let her at it.  For about a month she could be found laying, sitting, leaning, coloring.

Some people didn't understand me allowing, encouraging her to take this time, and that is OK.
But this adjustment period allowed her to be in her head and in the world at the same time. It allowed her time to have friends contact her, family to visit, space in the house to adapt, and her heart to heal.

Six months later and those mandalas are still on our mirror wall in the front room, greeting visitors as they enter. Almost everyone exclaims at their beauty and creativity.

Helps Elizabeth to feel ....... at home.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jazz Hands!!!!!!!

Tonight: Elizabeth's Opening Night of Your Guests are Ghosts

Back in a few days!

Linda Garrett (Director), Elizabeth (Lin), and Ann Tschoe (Myrtle)

Live Today: Inhabit this Moment

This is performance week for Elizabeth's show and that means, of course, that I am crazy busy. I haven't been able to do much with lessons with John for a few weeks now so he and I have a system.

I leave a list of chores and lessons for him to do independently and we check them out each afternoon or evening when I am available. It is working out nicely, though John and I are looking forward to getting back into each other's days.

This week I have had him doing independent reading of some fiction, watching a US History series on Netflix, doing programming language classes with his dad, Algebra with his dad, a few chores, some handwriting, and watching TEDtalks. Takes less than two hours each day.
Then he is to spend time exploring something of interest to him, not a computer game.

Today John watched a TEDtalk given by Arthur Benjamin: A Performance of Mathemagic. He was entranced and went on to watch other TEDtalks by Arthur Benjamin just for his own interest! John was impressed with Arthur Benjamin's passion and love of math, with his ability to apply it in interesting ways, and with the fact that we have watched an entire The Great Courses class taught by Dr. Benjamin called The Joy of Mathematics!

You see, when I think of homeschooling, of any schooling really, I think of it as an opportunity to light a life, ignite interest, get minds stoked! 

Giving John the freedom to explore his own interests has created such fun in our week:  earlier this week he did some magic tricks and sleight-of-hand, today he's learning about Fibonacci.

Who knows!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Frau M. Suggestions for Freethinker Titles

 atheist parenting books secular
One of my past posts that bring a good number of readers to my blog is a post entitled Books for Your Skeptical Children. Parents are always looking for more and better way to move beyond religion in raising their children and this post lists a dozen or so titles for freethinking families;  
I think it's time we had more books!

Who will write some more?!!!!!??

In the meantime, a reader suggested a few more freethinker titles for your library. I have ordered these from just this evening and I'll let you know what I think when I get them!

Do you have any more titles of tried freethought books for kids or teens or adults?

Please share your library titles below!

Thanks Frau B!

In the Moment...

St. Louis
Currently I am:

Thinking:  About my sister who has just moved to another city, bought a house, started a new job, total lifestyle change, poison-ivied  to the max, and making the changes work

Enjoying:  A week where Elizabeth has had such engaging events at school and John has been enjoying his lessons.  And I am enjoying my book The Covenant by James Michener. I am learning so much about the history of South Africa. Did you know that Pinterest is a wonderful source of images of the actual people and places and events mentioned in this book?

Wearing:  A very loose caftan-type dress so that a garment doesn't abrade my poison ivy  (yes, in an odd sisterly-sharing thing, we both have poison ivy)

Feeling:  Calm, Happy, Excited about this upcoming fall and all of the things we are working on

Needing:  I really don't need a thing.

Wanting:  I wouldn't mind a nice biscuit to go with my tea. I would also like PEACE in St. Louis

Listening:  to boys wondering if frogs can have eyelashes, even if they don't have them already

Wondering: how Jerry's meetings are going and if he is enjoying being on the planning committee for our astronomy club and the upcoming major eclipse in our area in 2017. I wonder if any Brisbane friends will make the trip up to see the eclipse with us since we went to Australia for theirs!

Making:  an embroidery piece. I have drawn an image that I like very much and I'm working on transferring it to a piece of material so that I can embroider it.

Eating:  nothing

Drinking:  a lovely cup of jasmine tea

What are you up to??????

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thanks, Hitch

My family didn't go to church when I was a kid. But things got decidedly rocky in the family my Dad decided that he needed to get us to church to help deal with the painful things going on. 

At the age of fourteen or so, I was introduced to Catholicism: Ghosts (holy and otherwise), freaky bloody hearts in the wall art, angels following us all over the place, eating the "true" body of Christ, and the lot. In retrospect I am so grateful that I was a teenager before being introduced to the dogma of the religion because I truly wanted to believe. I tried to believe. My internal nonsense meter never did stop trying to get my attention, so I was old enough to have some skepticism.

The brainwashing of the Catholic church, though, is formidable. It took me years of doubt and questioning and the FEAR of doubt and questioning before I was finally able to find my way through that crap.

For my kids, being an atheist doesn't mean much more than hearing mythologies from around the world, cocking an eye, and saying "Okaaaaaaaay...interestiiiing..." I am proud to have raised them without the brainwashing.

The kids and I end up talking about belief systems pretty often, as it turns out. One can hardly hear the news, move through the world, and be present in the United States without being bombarded by religious messages from all sides. Happily, my kids don't have to battle the internal religious guilt or the many levels of frustration with the believers of the world spreading their particular brand of "truth" and "love." While living in Australia the kids had wonderful experiences with putting their atheism out there and having friends and groups be very cool about it.

Our family is a homeschooling family. One of the lessons that we do regularly is to read biographies. In the last few weeks, one of the people we read about and listened to was Christopher Hitchens. The kids both enjoyed his particular brand of hard core atheist speak. We listened to a few TEDtalks as well as a few talks on YouTube.

The Pay Off

One weekend we hosted a family of friends in our home in Brisbane. This family had recently moved quite a distance away from us and had made a six hour drive up for a nice, long visit. Let's call these friends the Cravats. 

The Cravats are a family that practice homeopathy and that have a nice, lucrative online business for homeopathic remedies for families, pets, and livestock. The family considers themselves spiritual and maintain some pretty unusual claims in their world view.

Mother Cravat told me that she actually diagnosed a young man with cancer of the uterus, her diagnosis being accomplished by waving a necklace over the man's picture and putting her hands on her spell book (or whatever she calls it). She sent the man a homeopathic remedy for his uterine cancer that she simply labeled "vitamin" so as to not shock the poor man with the diagnosis. She was very proud of this one and her kids consider her a hero for her work.

In spite of our vast differences of opinion we have enjoyed one another's company for the most part and our children have become good friends.

One particular night during the visit, while I wasn't listening very closely to the conversation that the kids were having, I did notice the volume begin to raise and the language start to get a bit anxious. The Cravat teens were insisting that one of their claims of chakras or auras or something was absolutely true. 

My son, a thirteen year old skeptic of the highest order, listened to the volume going up and listened to these unsubstantiated claims being made by his friends. In rebuttal, in his wise little old man voice, I heard him clearly say, “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

The room was silent. My son simply smiled.

Thanks, Hitch.

Atheists Talking to Our Kids About Death and Grief

Atheism and death secular no heaven  grieving, death loss atheist secular
I wrote this piece a few months ago for an online atheist magazine and thought I'd go ahead and bring it over here for TWO reasons.
  1. A friend recently asked me about how to talk to kids about death without using Heaven or the afterlife, and
  2. An online friend suggested that I bring the piece here to my blog because she thought the writing would be helpful and easier to find here.
So here it is. It's not a Great Piece, but it's good.

Question from a reader:

How do you deal with a very young child getting upset/anxious/afraid about death when you feel guilty that you can't put the heaven spin on it all?
Oh yes, this is one of those places where atheist parents become aware of the huge gap between raising children in a religion and raising them in the light of free thought. In death there are no easy answers, no treacle destinations, no light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly it becomes obvious that it is different raising a child outside of religion

What is a freethinking parent to do? Atheist, freethinking parents want to know how to offer comfort and wisdom and love to our child without bringing anything pretend or false into the conversation. 

If you are in the middle of a loss and grief situation, my sincere sympathy. It is extra difficult figuring this out during times of intense loss and suffering. I do hope you are considering this issue of dealing with major personal loss before any personal need arises.

Please notice that the question from the parent above specifically mentions the guilt that this parent is feeling for preventing their child from getting to look to heaven for comfort and joy. 

Dear Readers and Questioners, see how this adult is struggling with their own guilt as they move away from the religion of their upbringing. That guilt is so strong in such good people. How I would love to magically remove the guilt that has taken hold in the minds of perfectly reasonable and caring humans. Each of these parents is struggling with these internal voices while deliberately working to create a healthier world view for their own children.


What if I told you to let go of the guilt; would that help? 
My experience is that it takes quite a while for people who have been raised in certain religious traditions to let go of that particular form of bondage. I strongly recommend looking at that guilt and inviting it to hit the road. 

In the meantime, let's look at loss.

Every loss is different. Every child is different. Yet there are some universal points to being a human being experiencing a major loss that may make our approach a bit less frightening, a bit less overwhelming and lonely. Let's give some thought to how children at different ages tend to approach loss in the world.

Brief Discussion of Loss By Age

If your child is younger than seven or so, he is still in a very egocentric place where he feels as though things that happen in the world happen to him personally or because of him. They believe in the power of words and magical thinking. This child tends to believe that life is forever, that death can't possibly touch them. These are our little superheroes! Death is so very misunderstood by these children; media, games, and cultural taboo don't help much in this regard.

As the parent to these children, we don't want to instill fear of death, yet these little hearts will still be afraid. It is at this point that parents tend to grasp for the simplified straw of a Sky Daddy and a Sky Garden. If you have read myth stories with your child before this difficult loss you might talk about how different religions and mythologies in human history have created many stories, some comforting and some scary, to explain death. 

But we know that when a beloved human dies, just as when a pet dies or our tulips die, that that is the end of their life. The elements from their body go back into the earth and begin again as nutrients for future generations of living things. We also know that the love that we shared with these people during their lives made them happy! We know that the time we spent with our loved ones lives on in our minds and memories in such a way that they can bring comfort to us long after they are gone.  

The older child, ages six through twelve, begins to understand that death is irreversible while still being rather remote and far off. These are the years when children spend time working on a death philosophy in their own head. The circle of life idea is very helpful during these years. 

These are also the years when ghosts, demons, and other supernatural fears can rear their frightening heads in the minds of our little burgeoning freethinkers. These children want answers for their very real fears.

Teens think about death quite frequently. The immensity of death tends to overwhelm all humans, but teens can have a real struggle with it. This is the time of life when a person experiences so much inner turmoil and confusion and tends to keep it all locked up inside. Existential angst is truly painful. Sometimes, these overwhelming feelings can come out in risk-taking behavior in teens or even in some younger kids. Some teens tend to take a what the fuck attitude at the finality of death, feel like life is pointless. 

The best thing a parent can do is be there, be honest, frequently remind their child that they are not truly alone, let them know that you are concerned for them. Get help if necessary.

Developmental stages in children have been well-researched. But your child may still be experiencing things that are not considered typical because of their feelings about death. Always, and in all ways, being there, talking openly about grief, sharing your own, acknowledging that the loss is strongly effecting you. Sharing your own grief, putting grief in the spotlight, and taking the time to experience it fully not only helps to deal with the depth of loss, it also models the normalcy of grief. 

And if you need help, please get it. There is no shame in seeking a bereavement therapist. Find good books and websites to help you to understand grief and its phases. Educate yourself, as in all things.


What Do We Do?

Honor the Lost Person or Object

When a beloved person or pet dies or when you experience a major loss, feel it! Experience the loss together. No need to rush it along, deny its depth, or sweep it behind the door. Instead you may find meaning in do something that truly honors the lost beloved person or object.

Human beings crave ritual. We find comfort in the wake and in the funeral, however difficult they are to face. So why not create your own way to honor your beloved person? When my dad died the kids and I went to places that were special to him. We felt our loss. We talked about how these places would always remind us of him. And we made donations to two different organizations that meant something to Dad. In one case, we asked friends to make donations in his name. In these ways, we felt as though his influence on this earth continued after his life.

Your loss will be unique and worthy of time spent with it.
Sometimes this takes a very long time. That is OK, there is no exact time period for grief. Mostly, love and support one another in the way that makes the most sense.

There are no rules. There are no normals. There is only our loss and our family. Do what makes sense and remember that we are modeling for our children at all times, even during these difficult times.

In the meantime:
  • Spend time with those you love
  • Embrace your children every single day
  • Talk about what really matters
  • Look at pictures, movies, letters, listen to music
  • Cry
  • Laugh
  • Hug
  • Do your best
  • Sleep well and eat healthy foods
  • Talk about what hurts and why it hurts
  • Learn about the idea and the process of grief together
  • Heal hurts and resentments
  • Create rituals and events to celebrate that which has been lost
  • Remember that Time Equals Love
  • Make great memories 
  • Be gentle with yourselves
  • Rest when you need to
  • Make being healthier a family goal
  • Recognize that sadness sometimes looks like anger
  • Recognize that sadness has many different faces
  • Find ways to make the world a better place in honor of your lost person or object
  • Grow something
  • Appreciate the time you have
  • Take all of the time you need
  • Keep a close eye on one another
  • Remind each other that the depth of their loss does not frighten you and support the expression of that loss
  • Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment...
  • And love one another, because that is what truly matters. 

There is no magic trick.
There is only love and time
and learning to live with your changed life.


Your comments are welcome.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Inspired Blogger Awards

secular parenting humanist homeschool blog raising atheist skeptical freethinking humanist parenting Atheist parenting, homeschool secular
In my small corner of the Blog-o-Sphere I have had the distinct delight to have been befriended by some truly wonderful writers and people. I find the internet to be a true source of inspiration and delight and I have decided to share some of my favorite blogs and posts with you from time to time.

In the spirit of making such distinctions I have created this meme that I will use to share my favorite bloggers and I invite you to share this meme with your favorite bloggers as well.

If you have been directed to this page by following the links on a meme, it means that your writing has been an inspiration to another human being, a reader who found their way to your small place in the ether and wishes to thank you for your contributions to the blog-o-sphere.

My Sincere THANKS to bloggers all over the world who share their insights, struggles, hearts, integrity, and honesty so bravely. People who are introverts, extroverts, brave, weak, everywhere on the spectrum. People who take a moment and reach out a hand...

I have a few versions of this award, so look for it in several designs and colors

If you are given this small token of esteem on your blog, you are welcome to mention your award in any way you wish, if at all.

Some suggestions might be:
  • List your favorite underdog posts from your own blog - those posts that contain your heart but that are seldom read
  • Explain why you blog what you blog
  • Invite your readers to extend the award to other bloggers
  • Create a special blog post celebrating something new and innovative
  • Offer the award to some other blogger or two
  • Thank the person who offers this award to you
  • Create some other way that fits your personality
  • Include an image of the award in conjunction with one or more of these ideas
  • Or do nothing and just know that you are appreciated.

The Award is not intended to be a pyramid scheme or a self-aggrandizing event or a thing makes the receiver beholden. Just a celebration of the pioneer blogger spirit!
Now let's go out there and blog! 


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