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?
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):
To read on your own: