My wife and I are both atheist. We have four children (three together and the oldest is my step son). My parents are basically non-theists or deists. They never discussed religion with any of their children, nor did they ever advocate any religion, including atheism. It just wasn't discussed in our house. My wife's family are minimally religious, minus some extended family. They believe but don't technically practice or attend services, with some exceptions during "religious" holidays. I should also mention that we live in Southern United States. A place known for it's religious fanatics.
Her family is, I guess upset would be the word, that we don't accept any religion or at least a basic belief in a god. It's a subject we try to avoid in their presence. Some things have been mentioned but they still support us and our children. My step son believes in a god of some sort. I wouldn't exactly say the Christian version but something to that effect. His father is Christian. How he and my current wife ever got along is beyond me.
Okay, quick explanation done, I'll continue. My wife and I have different approaches to child rearing. I am a strong believer that we should not discuss the irrational beliefs of any religious sect. If my children ask me a question about the existence of humans, or life in general, any time they question the universe, it's existence or our place in it, I give them a scientific explanation to the best of my abilities. I won't even bring up the belief that there is some supreme being that created the universe and us for his or hers amusement. If asked about dinosaurs, I don't discuss the belief that they existed along side man only 6000 years ago as a god of some sort created. Now, at times I confuse my children immensely. Sometimes I may even contradict what they've been told by another adult, with belief in a god. Sometimes I upset more religious members of my wife's family. I'm not apologetic. I don't feel sorry for what's been said.
Now my wife's approach is distinctly different. She will actually discuss other's beliefs. If asked about dinosaurs, after explaining them scientifically, she'll say something like, "but some people believe..." She definitely makes a point of saying that it's simply a belief but evidence shows that the more scientific explanation is probably the accurate explanation. I understand what she's doing. She wants her children to understand other's beliefs in an attempt to better understand that person. In the hopes that they will eventually take a less argumentative stance on religion or toward religious people.
I don't know. I just feel that I should give my children the best answer to advance their knowledge. I don't think that I should pass on religious belief I hold no respect for. My wife is thinking that eventually our children will have a better understanding of religious people. On some level they will be more tolerant and understanding of their belief. Making them fit in more now. Trying not to upset her family or their social life in the bible belt.
I'm not saying that I'm right and she's wrong. That we should advance their education and not fill their head with magical stories. I think they should have a well rounded education. I can see her point. She doesn't want to force a religious position on her children, so that they may decide for themselves later. Some may argue my position is no different from a religious zealot forcing their children to a church every Sunday. So I'm not asking how you think we should raise our children or which one of us is right. I'm just wondering if some of my fellow atheist parents are in the same boat.