? about raising an agnostic child

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
? about raising an agnostic child
Mon, 03-02-2009 - 9:08pm

Sorry this is going to end up being kind of long!

My Husband and I are expecting in May... This may be a little early to start thinking about this but it is really important to both of us. Background I went to a private school all my life (Parents were baptized, but did not want me or my brother baptized) but the private school I went to happened to be Catholic. I have a lot of background and info on the Catholic Religion due to my school but never did any of the sacraments. My Husband was raised Lutheran but agrees with me that we want nothing to do with organized religion and do not want the baby even introduced to it. (now when she is a grown up she can make any EDUCATED choice she wants and we will obviously still love her)but our big dilemma is we both agree that we get our higher order thinking and questioning skills from having been involved in organized religion our whole lives. We want the baby to have these questioning skills and be able to think "outside the box" with out involving religion. We cannot come up with another way to teach these skills. I was wondering if anyone has suggestions on how to teach their child to respectfully question what they are taught with out involving any kind of religion.

Thank you for reading!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2006
Mon, 03-02-2009 - 9:59pm

Well, that wasn't very long! lol
Congratulations on your news!
I think it is never too early to start thinking about raising your child...and I have yet to STOP thinking about raising my children...LOL.
But, especially about religion and freethinking, I think that all of us on this board will agree that the better educated and prepared the parent, the better they will be able to bring a child up in this world.
You said: we get our higher order thinking and questioning skills from having been involved in organized religion our whole lives.
So, I think your question is that you want your child/ren to be critical thinkers, questioners, people who prize logic and reason above all other things.
Please correct me if I am wrong.

My surprise is that you and your husband attribute having learned these things from your religion, but I am happy to hear it! I learned these things after "recovering" from the follow-the-leader mentality. So that was my bias.

How do you teach these things?
One day at a time. Questioning things. Thinking things through. Learning. No magic bullet, though. This type of thinking builds upon early-learned skills and encouraging adults who allow questions and tests and mistakes. There are some great books out there! So, spend some of your relaxing days ahead reading! lol
That's my two cents!

I'm looking forward to hearing from other parents on the board too!
Welcome to our board!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2007
Tue, 03-03-2009 - 4:54am



and depending on where you live…



You may also have an atheist/agnostic or secular parenting group near you on http://www.meetup.com

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Tue, 03-03-2009 - 7:02am
Thank you for your response. I agree that we had to "recover" from that mentality as well. That's why we both feel we learned those skills from the recovering process, saying and thinking things like "wait a min that doesn't make sense, or that contradicts itself" but it had to be taught to us first. That is great advice and links. Thank you for taking the time to read.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-1999
Tue, 03-03-2009 - 12:26pm

Hi Lex and let me add my congrats on you new addition! I like what Karen had to say about "one day at a time" and the next post with the links are wonderful. One thing I would add would be the one teaching aspect that seems to get ignored a lot which is teaching by example.

You have already established yourselves as 'respectful questioners' so your child will definitely pick up on that. So many parents forget or dont even realize how powerful their own example is for teaching their kids.

Best wishes to you and your DH and please come back and post pictures of the baby!!! Let us know how you are doing, this is a great community and I think you'd enjoy hangin' out here!


May your day include things that are happy!
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2005
Tue, 03-03-2009 - 2:50pm

Welcome and congrats on your pregnancy! Just a few more months... you must be so excited.

I think it's wonderful that you are thinking about this already. I understand why it's such an important issue. My partner and I both came to freethinking after much "recovery" from religion as well. (Southern Baptist on both counts.) As such, this is something we discuss a lot even though we aren't TTC yet.

I think the very fact that you are asking questions is a big indicator that your child will be on the right path to freethinking. If your children see you questioning things, they will learn to question as well. I would also make it clear through actions that you are interested in their point of view and are eager to discuss (and not necessarily answer) any questions they might have. Questions like, "What do you think about that?" or "Does that make sense to you?" are great resources for opening discussion.

One thing that's very important to me because it was so instrumental in my "recovery" process (I love that description, btw) is introducing many, many religions and belief systems. I plan to tell my children stories from mythology and modern religion and explain that ALL of these stories (from Zeus and the lightening bolts to Noah and are Ark) are all stories made up by humans to explain things they don't understand. Remember, if you don't teach your children these stories and themes, someone else will. I'd rather my children hear the story of the genesis creation from me, told as a myth in conjunction with Native American creation myths, etc. rather than having them hear it for the first time from a Christian playmate who presents it as the truth.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-12-2006
Tue, 03-03-2009 - 9:37pm

I was not raised in religion, but I was told about religion.

Disney Sig
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 03-04-2009 - 8:17am
Thank you so much for all your advice! This seems like a wonderful board I am so glad I asked my question and got to meet all of you!
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2008
Wed, 03-04-2009 - 1:26pm

I have to agree with the other posters about teaching by example. My father drove me nuts when I was a teenager because asking for help with a simple homework assignment led to a 45-minute discussion as he helped me figure it out for myself by asking more and more questions, but the upside is that I now have very little fear about asking questions and trying to make things make sense.

I was also lucky to be raised in a religious community that encouraged spiritual exploration. In fact, a whole year of my religious study was comparative religion, where we studied different faiths and then talked about how they were different and similar to our own. This was with a Reform Jewish synagogue, and the point was so that when we had our Confirmation the following year (for those who don't know, Reform Jews don't think that a 13-year-old is wise enough to be able to commit to Judaism, so there's another 3 years of study before a ceremony where the youth confirms his/her belief in the Jewish faith), we were doing so with the knowledge of other options. Too bad that in my case it made me question religion and faith to the point that I left Judaism altogether by the time I was 18. (I have somewhat returned, if only in practicing some things such as lighting the Channukah candles and holding Passover seders, but that's because I see it more as a connection to my ancestors--and now my DD's ancestors--than anything religious or spiritual.)

When your LO is old enough to ask questions, let her, and even encourage her! Ask her questions, and listen to what she has to say. Two of my favorite rules are "There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers," and "The only stupid question is the one that isn't asked."

Congrats on your coming baby!

Thanks to Lisa (wrangler_angel) for the awesome Siggy!

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