Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tea and Biscuits for Atheist Parents

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?!

Some people have asked me why I have an atheist parenting blog, why I blog about atheist parenting in particular. 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, people who are hidden atheists or people 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, not my expertise, not my definition, not 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. Some of the criticism has actually come from other atheists! Why do you have an atheist blog???

But it's OK, 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. 
And I would love if that were so.

If only it was so easy.
But many of us still have questions and concerns and things that confuse the heck out of us. 

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? 
  • How do we face the pain of death in the 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? 
  • What about Christmas?

These are some of the struggles for newbie 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 simply remind parents that not knowing the answers is absolutely OK.

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 or biscuits and I would 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. I love the friends who visit here!

Mom and Lizzie
Yes, now I see it.

Just like regular parenting.

Being a parent is the hardest thing that I have ever done; and 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.

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