raising my 7 year old daughter as an atheist (in the bible belt south, mind you)

interested in feedback/morale support in my being honest with my daughter about (the fact that) there is no god.  i live in south carolina, where even not going to church causes one to be labeled a 'heathen' , and parents are giving a good deal of flack about it also.  now to really introduce a wrench: i am also going through a divorce, where my lack of religious views were exploited and used to demean me.  perhaps i thought the group may have some advice to a n00b such as myself. 

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Wish I had advice for you.  Just admiration for standing your ground, doing what you believe in, and giving your daughter a great start in a life of reality!  Awesome!

I know someone that is raising a 7 year old daughter (and a younger son) as an atheist - they (and myself) have always told her that people believe in god, but god is imaginary just like Santa, etc - those people are just confused and are being lied to by their parents - none of the religious holidays are celebrated. The daughter is very smart and told me that her teacher said it was "Okay to be an atheist" even though the teacher is not. At her school they recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning but she leaves out the "under god" part and nobody notices.

It is a lot easier when the child was never forced into a religion. If your daughter was raised believing in god then it will take a bit of work but it should not be too hard since you can also compare god to Santa, easter bunny, boogeyman, talking animals, etc - they are all imaginary even though a lot of people believe they are real.

Consider joining Parenting Little HeathensRefugees from the Bible Belt and Real Talk for New Atheists. Sorry to hear about the court bias. We can certainly lend some moral support.

You might want to consider celebrating HumanLight and Darwin's Day, instead of not celebrating holidays.

Have you searched for atheists nearby? Try putting your location into the appropriate fields in Members>Advanced Search to find people nearby.

thanks, ruth, and everyone else.  holidays are not problematic, (although i feel a tad guilty, i still play santa, with a nod and a wink....and she still likes that),  as far as xmas goes, i try to explain to her that these are based on bible stories, which are much like fables with a *moral* (sometimes) lesson.

Raised both my children with an open mind, used a white board at the breakfast table where everything, including, sex, science, politics and religion were discussed. I even allowed then to attend religious instruction classes to be with their friends, my son declined, because he didn't want to be bothered by religion, so he sat RI class out in the detention room, my daughter did attend RI with her friends, though, one day at the age of eight, she upset the instructor when she pointed out the stupidity of her lesson and got kicked out of class.  She came home thinking she had turned her classmates against her, only to find out the next day that they were all backing her, much to the dismay of the instructor.  Yes, from then on, when she confronted the instructor, the instructor had to answer to the whole class as they backed her up totally.  All of her RI class became atheists, in spite of their parents, likely to my daughter prodding their intelligence.  Just give her freedom to discuss anything and everything.  My daughter became a scientist for a while and is now a physiotherapist.   You both might help produce a change in your community for the better.  Though most importantly, don't push atheism onto children, just point them towards resources to find the right answers and they will work  it out for themselves, children love challenges and hate being badgered, RI instructors often do the badgering and drive the children against them, which is a mistake the school instructor made, apart  from giving nonsense lessons that a eight year old rationalist could see through.

The links Ruth gave above are probably great. I'll look into them soon myself. G'Day probably came closest to the advice I'd have given. Kids don't need to be told exactly what to think, they just need to be taught to think. You can tell them what you think of course. I think one of the most important lessons we can teach our kids is that sometimes people make claims they probably shouldn't. That's kind of like  your mouth writing checks your brain can't cover (Not sure that's relevant in todays debit card world).

I was especially saddened to read the grief you got in the courts. I'm Atheist, married to a catholic, raising two kids your age (as catholic). In anger, I think my wife would do the same. I hope you're through with that phase and now you can get on living honestly with your daughter. I'm sure she's special.

LOL Greg,

In this age of the credit card, I'd liken that passage to: The mouth running wild with the credit card while the brain is unemployed.

Thanks to that whiteboard, my children were doing algebra on it before starting primary school.

I can't over-express the importance of that open discussions on the whiteboard in our lives, it made meal times full of interest, the children never wanted the television on, we drew and discussed all the organs of the body, discussed how our self-image is an illusion (taken from Buddhism), my daughter was so fascinated by organs and biology that she originally received honors in bio-medical research and commendations on her efforts in cancer research, before realizing hours of lab work didn't suit her.  My son was so fascinated with drawing cars and engine parts that he became a mechanic, which, because he is tall, hurt his back, so he heads a team selling car parts and accessories.  All the way through school they understood mathematics and physics and wondered why other students couldn't.   All due to the whiteboard, blank paper or other tools for meal time discussions.


 I have no advice but like Sentient Biped I do admire your courage.  keep us informed on how things go.

I have a 10 an 8 year old an I do the same thing you do. I don't put labels on them like telling them there atheist thou. I personally don't think there old enough to understand it, or to make THERE own decision about it. I just try to instill a mind hungry for knowledge, an a mind that truly understands the value an necessity of reason. Plus my ex is agnostic, which makes religion one thing we don't argue about. Kinda ironic to me :)

Augusta, Georgia here.  The Bible belt sure is a pain on an atheist.  I live surrounded on 7 of the 8 houses around me populated by evangelical Catholics (I'm located near the edge of Alleluia Community if anyone's heard of that place...I moved there partially because I was a member at the time).  I hear, "Jesus loves you," "God bless you," (not even sneeze related) and the like all the time.  My daughter was 10 before I came to grips with not being Christian anymore and she and her mother cling tighter to "the Church" the further I run away from it.  I fear all of this will turn into a divorce for me as well...if nothing else, for my own sanity.  No advice there, friend, but an "I can relate" style moral support post :). 

I don't feel quite the condemnation because charismatic Christianity is a pretty potent drug and most of the Christians I know are like hippies going on about love and peace, and how freaking awesome their God is and they don't really give a shit about whether or not I'm going to hell (at least not verbally); it's quite irritating but I imagine probably better than outright condemnation I imagine comes out of the fire and brimstone groups.  Big problem for me is that it *is* a drug and it *does* make you feel good...and withdraw is a bitch. 

Anyways, I wanted to mention that because that's something you need to explain to your daughter because she is surrounded by Christians and therefore it's quite likely that she'll be talked into going to Church eventually by one of her friends later in life.  Experiencing the rush and being told it's God might successfully con her into believing if she doesn't understand the psychological effects beforehand. 

I think you and your wife would be doing a serious injustice to your kids by not discussing what you believe and why you believe that way.  She should tell the kids about her religion.  As a counterpoint, you should tell your kids about why you don't believe.  Your kids deserve to know who their parents are.  That way, they will know a little about were they come from.  I think it is important for children to know how different everyone is from each other.  I'm pretty sure they won't feel so much pressure to conform to some mold that is not of their choosing.

Don't tell them what to believe.  By doing so, you will only make a fool out yourself.  Or worse yet, you could hurt your kids by asking them to take sides.




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