Monday, October 26, 2015

Kathryn Wants to Know: When Family Doesn't Support Secular Parenting

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Question from a Reader:
Good evening,
I'm a newer atheist (3 years or so), and I'm expecting my first child April 2016.
My husband and I were both raised christian. My fathers side is VERY pushy and always criticizes my "beliefs." When they found out that I was pregnant they all started questioning how I was going to raise the child. I want my child to find who they are on his/her own without anyone pushing beliefs on them. I'm not sure how to respond to things like. my cousin asking if she could send me Babys first bible...
I already feel like an implant in the family. I don't want my child to feel the same.
How did you overcome these battles with family? 
Thank you,
My Reply to Kathryn:
Kathryn, first, I wrote this blog post early this year; maybe it will help:
But more importantly, I think that you may be sensing that everything is about to change and that you are leading the revolution. I fear your struggle will be long term, Kathryn. Your dad's families' religion and their church has taught them that they have the right and the responsibility to bully people into following their religious tenets and, if that doesn't work, to up the ante and become even more overtly domineering.I hate to be pessimistic, but I fear you can expect may years of struggling with this. Unless I am mistaken, these people are assured that they are in the right and that they have the right to put in their two cents. In my own experience, some of these folks, people who I genuinely love, never get to a place of understanding and acceptance. 

My first suggestion is to realize that the way you already feel in the family, like an outsider, will probably not go away. I'm not trying to be unkind to anyone, only to prepare you for a likely scenario. Many believers hold on to a very strong US vs THEM model that is not based in love or kindness, but rather, is based in fear and stagnation of thought. Their minds are not open to considering differing lifestyle choices in any positive or agreeable way. You really learn alot about people when your words and actions announce that you are going to live your own life in your own way.

In the end, it is on your head how to handle their stuck way of thinking. I think my blog post mentioned above is a really good start to preparing yourself because you are going to need it. You may need to thicken your skin a bit in the months to come and understand that they can not understand where you are in your life. That leaves you in a position of power in one important way: how you respond to their efforts. With confidence and with continued learning and research.

I hope you find a way to be clear and firm in your resolve to raise freethinking children without feeling like you have to become a soldier for atheism. Maybe that confidence will come to you as you realize, more and more, stronger and stronger, that you are the parent and it is truly your right and your responsibility to raise your child to be a thinking and loving human being. Becoming this first-generation atheist parent that you want to be is a process. Keep questioning. Keep researching. Keep learning.
I know you can do it.

Enjoy that baby!
Do YOU have any suggestions for Kathryn?


Biblical Parenting 

Secular Parenting in the News...and I'm Loving It!
Heart Outside of my Body
Growing Up Godless 
When People Undermine Your Secular Parenting
Myths About Atheist Parenting

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