Friday, October 7, 2011

parenting beyond belief: on raising ethical, caring kids without religion, edited by dale mcgowan


i'm getting in early with reading parenting books, and reading some during pregnancy on the assumption that even if i do have time to read when the baby comes, i will probably be too sleep-deprived to process anything.

i really liked this book.

i liked it because rather than trying to lay out a step-by-step, prescriptive guide to raising a free-thinking child, it took the approach of collecting a broad range of stories and ideas from a wide variety of people, and presenting them for thought and consideration.

some of the contributors were raised in free-thinking homes and shared their experiences. some were born to religious families, and talked about how they came to become atheists and what that meant for them.

the book looked at different approaches to religious holidays and presented a range of views on why atheist families might choose to engage with them or not. there were stories from families with one religious parent and one atheist parent. the question of good and evil was raised, and there was some reflection on how to talk about this with your kids in ways that don't invoke god and sin. there was also an interesting chapter on the place of ritual in families, and suggestions of how to use ceremony to mark important life events without doing to in a religious manner.

i felt that the book dealt with religion in a respectful way, acknowledging it's place in human culture without denigrating it
kids must learn as much as possible about religion as a human cultural expression, while being kept free of the sickening idea that they will be rewarded in heaven, or punished in hell, based on what they decide - a bit of intellectual terrorism we should never inflict on our kids, nor on each other.
i didn't agree with everything in the book (i guess that is to be expected because the editor went out of his way to present a range of different views on specific issues), but i got a lot of good ideas from it. there's a lot of food for thought in there, and i'd recommend it to parents who want to raise free-thinking kids.

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