Teaching my child to think for herself

I want to start by saying I am raising my child to be an individual giving her choice over many things in life even at her young age of 5. I am Secular Humanist and her mother is well, a blend of various eastern philosophys, and some modern day spirit crap . Needless to say we are no longer toghether but are good friends. We both allow our child to express her feelings(respectably), and almost a year ago she told me she doesn't believe in God. I was happy and her mother was ok with it too, but I feel compelled to tell her what others think. Some of you may be going why would you teach any theist idea? The reason is that I want her to make an informed decision, about everything, I want her to be able to use her mind and look at the evidence and make a decision. It is not fair to her not to at least tell her about the various religious texts and secs in the world. If I did force my Atheist veiw on my child I would be no better than any theistic faith that force there religion on their children. Now don't get me wrong she is a real smart 5 year old but she is still 5 so the conversations are simple and I will continue to "up the ante" as she grows. Here is an example of what happened lastweek. Me an her were driving and she asked me who was the statue of the women in the cemetery and why were there so many of her. I told her that some people think that when you die you go to this place that sounds real nice called heaven, and other people think that you die and then your born again as something else, some people also use to think all kinds of stuff but no one knows for sure. Your daddy thinks that when you die your body is recycled into the circle of life like on the lion king. If you ever want to learn more about anything ask me and we can look it up. She continues to side with reason and I realize that I am a big influence on her but at least I am giving her an opportunity to explore other roads, unlike me when I was foced to be a Christain. What do you think? Do you think I am doing the right thing? Any suggestions?

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Comment by David Hirst on July 19, 2010 at 12:57pm
Comment by Fabio on July 11, 2010 at 8:53am
Of course you're doing the right thing. If there's anything this planet needs more than anything else, that's thinking individuals and thinking is not much good without knowledge. Providing her with the knowledge - or, better, with the means to acquire knowledge at her own pace - is the best way to make her a sane, productive and rational member of society. Do you think that if most believers out there had any knowledge of the sheer variety of beliefs that have raised and fallen throughout human history, and of those that still survive, they would really believe in the first place or be so adamant in their conviction that their religion is the true one? Many would, no doubt, but there would probably be many more atheists around than there are now. Keep up the great work.
Comment by Dejah Thoris on July 11, 2010 at 8:18am
I have taken the same approach with my four children. Whenever the topics of religion, what happens after you die, etc. come up I always have given them an idea of what others believe and what I believe (or rather don't believe). We have an encyclopedia of world religions which we reference from time to time and we have discussed stories from the christian bible. If any of them would have requested going to church then I would have accomodated them. At this point my three oldest (17, 14, 11) are atheists. My youngest (5) hasn't asked anything about the subject yet. I think it is important for children to be able to make their own decisions and have an understanding of the variety of beliefs. My oldest has a best friend who is a JW and my son has been to meetings with the friend and it has only strengthed my son's atheism.
Comment by David Hirst on July 11, 2010 at 7:52am
Sounds a bit like my situation 8 years ago. My partner split up with me when my daughter Karma was 5, taking her 150 miles away to live in the middle of nowhere with her pagan, mother earth friends. She comes to stay with me every month for between 2 days and a week. She's now 13 and very much on my side when it comes to anything religious or spiritual. Her mother has surrounded her with her spiritual friends, taken her to sweat lodges for weekends, meditating and banging drums. Her school and friends are Christian but she's turned out to be a beautiful intelligent atheist.
I can't see that I have indoctrinated her into thinking like this given her upbringing. I think the fact that she has been shown theism, pagan & new age thinking and atheism she has had the opportunity to decide for herself.
The problem with the majority of children caught up in religion is that for most of their early life they only get taught one view of life and by the time they get introduced to other ideas it's too late for them to make rational decisions.
It is very hard not to feel like your preaching to your child when you know that the other most important person in her life is saying something different. I tendered to discuss her mothers ideas and give reasons why `to my way of thinking` they didn't seem to work. Over the years we have enjoyed discussing anything from UFO's, conspiracy theories, cults and religions using a skepical viewpoint and hopefully that has helped her when confronted with other peoples views. I tried to make these subjects something fun and interesting.
I think the best thing for children is to be shown the amazing diversity of ideas and ways of living your life and give them the tools to evaluate them critically and then leave them to make their own minds up.
You obviously love your daughter and are honest with her about how you think about life. That will probably be enough so stop worrying so much about it and get on with enjoying your time with her because, believe me they grow up fast.

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