Parenting and hypocracy
Posted: 01 October 2012 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hello all,


I am new to the forum, despite being a follower of SH’s work.  I am recently married, and my wife and I have been talking about our parenting philosophies more than ever, in the event that we have a child in the near future.


Since I can remember, I was literally the only non-believer in my community—or circle of friends and family.  I rarely, if ever, talked about my views to the largely Christian people around me.  I was always a firm believer in equality, or humanity, with the idea that I wanted my child to decide for himself what he wants to believe.  Once I started to vocalize my feelings on the subject, I would frequently make the claim that children should be exposed to all religions and be able to make the decision to believe on their own.


However, in my most recent years, I am beginning to take a different route with my opinions.  I am, more and more, in belief that I should be pushing my child in the direction of non-belief; and the idea that religious convictions can do nothing but harm to them (ironically, the same way my friends’ parents reacted when they would hear my beliefs). 


Given that I have always expressed my concern for religious indoctrination—especially with children and vulnerable adults—what gives me the right to drive my child in the opposite direction, with the same conviction?  I, like most religious people, believe my way is the right way.  I would be unintentionally “bad-mouthing” those people, the same way they shame me in front of their children.  I truly believe that the only way to a free mind, and the progression of this world, is to abandon blind faiths.  So, in reality, wouldn’t I be justifying the false accusation that atheists are dogmatic by preaching non-belief to my children?


What approaches do you take with your children (or would you take, if you had any), in order to provide the (what I believe to be) best and most probable direction toward self-fulfillment?

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Posted: 02 October 2012 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I do not have children, but I talk a lot about this with friends who do, and discussed it with my parents as I grew up.

To me, religion or not, there is always the burden of a parent between telling children what to think and providing information and let them make their own choices. It could be to eat meat or not, or political affiliation, or which football team to root for… whatever. The self-aware parent has a keen awareness of how they are influencing their child… and struggling between the need to provide boundaries and stability and a sense of certainty that is necessary for psychologically healthy children… and not over doing it, and over limiting, denying, controlling, indoctrinating that child.

Clearly you are of the mindset to be self aware of how your behavior is/will affect your child. That alone sets you apart from 99% of the hairless apes out there. Take some solace in that.

As much guidance or suggestion I can have… present plurality when you can, and be open to their questions not dismissive. State what you believe… be willing to explain WHY… but then simply say, “What do you think? Why?”  Ask them to consider things… just encourage a level of critical thinking from the beginning… then see what happens. In the end, their psychological capacity to see possibilities and be comfortable with different and even competing opinions and views will mean as much as what you teach and exemplify.

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Posted: 02 October 2012 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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The society that surrounds the child and what its peers think have more influence on what the child grows up to be and believe than the parents attempts on influence.
I think the best thing parents can do is instill critical thinking and distrust of ppl claiming to be authorities unless they back things up. Then teach kids about lots of stuff. My parents covered everything except religion, live in the top 2 secular nation in the world so could have something to do with it.

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Posted: 02 October 2012 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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My children are in the 2nd and 4th grades.  I can’t tell you with certainty that your kids will not be curious about God until they meet someone who takes it upon themselves to attempt their indoctrination. When mine first expressed to me their concern that I may go to Hell since I don’t believe, I told them I was cool with that, since that’s probably where all the good parties are anyway and we had a good laugh. 


At the present time, all of their friends and their grandparents are religious and so they have decided that they are as well.  This is hardly surprising since their current level of cognitive development could not be made to comprehend the big bang or evolution, but the precepts of religion are easily within their grasp.  Daddy tells them that we evolved from prior species and that when we die that is the end.  Grandma tells them they were crafted lovingly by God and will return to him after death for an eternity of bliss.  I’d go with grandma too. 


I haven’t lost a wink of sleep over it.  I’m thankful to my mom for teaching them all of the Bible stories as she did me, because I get irritated when people (seems like almost everyone these days) lack at least a basic familiarity with that book.  I wish she wouldn’t trouble them with the nonsense about Hell, but I am committed not to shelter them and that is an honest representation of religious beliefs.  I will continue to impress upon them the values that I hold dear: truth, love and skepticism and attempt to model the embodiment of those values for them.  I have no doubt that, as their educations proceed, they will find the question of theism as obvious as I did. 

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Posted: 02 October 2012 10:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Tell your kids you don’t believe, that you or they don’t have to believe, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Tell them they are welcome to pick any religion, or no religion, they want to follow but that they may not impose their religious beliefs on others or expect others to accept or respect their religion.

Tell your kids there are hundreds of god stories out there but no one knows which, if any, is the right one, and the loudest spewer of fire and brimstone isn’t at all convincing.  You don’t need to go anti-theist on the kids since that could be counter-productive, but removing religion’s sugar coating is fair game.  Tell them that people kill over religion.  Tell them that people use religion as an excuse to do bad things.

Tell your kids to do good because it is the right thing to do in this life to make their lives and the lives of those in their community easier and not because of the promise of what they will get after they die.

Tell your kids not to bet the only life they have on what’s behind death’s curtain.  And teach them how not to let some loud-mouth buffalo them with fear into believing.

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Posted: 05 October 2012 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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This is a tough one.  I don’t have children.  But if I did, I think I’d focus as much as possible on their physical and emotional well-being and not worry about their religious/philosophical upbringing.  I’ve always believed kids to be naturally curious, and I certainly think that religion does a good job of stunting curiosity and critical thinking skills.  So I’d answer any questions they might have as honestly as I can and I wouldn’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” to the tougher questions.  I’d also try to always be willing to discuss those harder questions with rationality and skepticism rather than shy away from them.

[ Edited: 05 October 2012 01:15 PM by clfst17]
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Posted: 08 October 2012 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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MasonTK - 01 October 2012 07:41 PM

Hello all,


I am new to the forum, despite being a follower of SH’s work.  I am recently married, and my wife and I have been talking about our parenting philosophies more than ever, in the event that we have a child in the near future.


Since I can remember, I was literally the only non-believer in my community—or circle of friends and family.  I rarely, if ever, talked about my views to the largely Christian people around me.  I was always a firm believer in equality, or humanity, with the idea that I wanted my child to decide for himself what he wants to believe.  Once I started to vocalize my feelings on the subject, I would frequently make the claim that children should be exposed to all religions and be able to make the decision to believe on their own.


However, in my most recent years, I am beginning to take a different route with my opinions.  I am, more and more, in belief that I should be pushing my child in the direction of non-belief; and the idea that religious convictions can do nothing but harm to them (ironically, the same way my friends’ parents reacted when they would hear my beliefs). 


Given that I have always expressed my concern for religious indoctrination—especially with children and vulnerable adults—what gives me the right to drive my child in the opposite direction, with the same conviction?  I, like most religious people, believe my way is the right way.  I would be unintentionally “bad-mouthing” those people, the same way they shame me in front of their children.  I truly believe that the only way to a free mind, and the progression of this world, is to abandon blind faiths.  So, in reality, wouldn’t I be justifying the false accusation that atheists are dogmatic by preaching non-belief to my children?


What approaches do you take with your children (or would you take, if you had any), in order to provide the (what I believe to be) best and most probable direction toward self-fulfillment?

Hi,


The parenting philosophy I follow is called Taking Children Seriously (TCS). It applies Karl Popper’s method of how people (including children) create knowledge. It also applies the method of Common Preference Finding, which applies Popper’s method of knowledge creation in the context of a knowledge containing entity consisting of two or more people (such as a family).


One of TCS’s principles is that parenting can be done without coercion (i.e. making someone do something against their will). Coercion causes suffering and parenting should be about avoided suffering (on children and on parents).


Parenting is about helping children solve their problems and helping them learn how to solve their own problems (because they’ll need this when they don’t have you around to help them).


Note that all life is problem solving.


At birth, our problems are few. We are hungry and cold. These situations are problematic because we don’t want to be in these situations. And how do we solve these problems? We cry to alert our parents – it’s inborn. And it’s our parents’ responsibility to help us solve our problems by presenting us with milk or formula and wrapping us with blankets. And as soon as our problems are solved, we stop crying.


In adulthood, our problems are many. We want shelter, food, transportation, electronics, entertainment, and many other things. And how do we solve these problems? We get jobs to earn money to trade for these things and we do research to find the things that fit our preferences.


Some people are lonely, so they want companionship. And they solve that problem by establishing romantic relationships. Some people also want lifelong commitment, so they solve that problem by getting married.


Some people want to attract people sexually, so they solve that problem by going to the gym to get in shape and dressing up sexy.


Some people want to know about how the world works, so they solve that problem by reading books and/or going to school to learn physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, history, and so on.


To learn more about TCS, join the discussion group (I learned most of what I know about parenting from discussions here):
http://groups.google.com/group/taking-children-seriously


To read on your own:
http://curi.us/1540-taking-children-seriously

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http://ramirustom.blogspot.com
http://fallibleideas.com/
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http://groups.google.com/group/taking-children-seriously/subscribe
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