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Parenting Beyond Belief- Abridged Ebook Edition: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids without Religion

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Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D. Contributors include Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr. Donald B. Ardell This is an abridged edition of the print classic. It does not include essays by Richard Dawkins or Stephen Law. Please consult the print edition for these essays. It’s hard enough to live a secular life in a religious world. And bringing up children without religi Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D. Contributors include Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr. Donald B. Ardell This is an abridged edition of the print classic. It does not include essays by Richard Dawkins or Stephen Law. Please consult the print edition for these essays. It’s hard enough to live a secular life in a religious world. And bringing up children without religious influence can be even more daunting. Despite the difficulties, a large and growing number of parents are choosing to raise their kids without religion. In Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan celebrates the freedom that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking children. With advice from educators, doctors, psychologists, and philosophers as well as wisdom from everyday parents, the book offers tips and insights on a variety of topics, from "mixed marriages" to coping with death and loss, and from morality and ethics to dealing with holidays. Sensitive and timely, Parenting Beyond Belief features reflections from such freethinkers as Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, and wellness guru Dr. Don Ardell that will empower every parent to raise both caring and independent children without constraints.


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Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D. Contributors include Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr. Donald B. Ardell This is an abridged edition of the print classic. It does not include essays by Richard Dawkins or Stephen Law. Please consult the print edition for these essays. It’s hard enough to live a secular life in a religious world. And bringing up children without religi Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D. Contributors include Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr. Donald B. Ardell This is an abridged edition of the print classic. It does not include essays by Richard Dawkins or Stephen Law. Please consult the print edition for these essays. It’s hard enough to live a secular life in a religious world. And bringing up children without religious influence can be even more daunting. Despite the difficulties, a large and growing number of parents are choosing to raise their kids without religion. In Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan celebrates the freedom that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking children. With advice from educators, doctors, psychologists, and philosophers as well as wisdom from everyday parents, the book offers tips and insights on a variety of topics, from "mixed marriages" to coping with death and loss, and from morality and ethics to dealing with holidays. Sensitive and timely, Parenting Beyond Belief features reflections from such freethinkers as Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, and wellness guru Dr. Don Ardell that will empower every parent to raise both caring and independent children without constraints.

30 review for Parenting Beyond Belief- Abridged Ebook Edition: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids without Religion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Books Ring Mah Bell

    When I was in a college childhood psychology class, the subject of teaching children morals came up. My professor basically said that's what church is for, how else can you teach kids about right and wrong unless those rules come from a higher power. Frozen with disbelief, I was unable to call "bullshit" or express my toughts at all. Here I was, a young woman who was not raised in a church and somehow managed to not murder anyone, steal, or behave like a jerk in general. I also found time to vol When I was in a college childhood psychology class, the subject of teaching children morals came up. My professor basically said that's what church is for, how else can you teach kids about right and wrong unless those rules come from a higher power. Frozen with disbelief, I was unable to call "bullshit" or express my toughts at all. Here I was, a young woman who was not raised in a church and somehow managed to not murder anyone, steal, or behave like a jerk in general. I also found time to volunteer all without a church encouraging me to do so. Hmmm. I wish I would have had access to this book then. The author combines several essays on ethics, morals, holidays, (yep, he even covers Santa) as well as death. He does this in a fashion that does not slam religious thinkers. He encourages people to teach their kids to think for themselves, show some empathy, and use common sense. I was particularly fond of the chapter on giving thanks. Give thanks for the farmers and the sun that grow your food. Be thankful for the animal who lived and died to provide meat. (skip that, veggies!) No diety required! Do the right thing. Not because it's scripted by your religion or for fear God's wrath... do the right thing because it is just that. The right thing. A church in my neighborhood has this on the sign this week: "Good without God is just O" (Is that like zero or "oh", like who cares?) Either way, I will call bullshit on that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I was not exactly the right audience for this book, not being an atheist. But it filled a definite gap for me, being a parent who does not feel comfortable raising my child in an organized religion. As one who is neither "religious" or "atheist" I am part of a growing segment of society who checks off "Other" when queried about religious belief. This was always a non issue for me in the past. Most of my closest friends are secular. My family is hands off about matters religious. And, as an adult I was not exactly the right audience for this book, not being an atheist. But it filled a definite gap for me, being a parent who does not feel comfortable raising my child in an organized religion. As one who is neither "religious" or "atheist" I am part of a growing segment of society who checks off "Other" when queried about religious belief. This was always a non issue for me in the past. Most of my closest friends are secular. My family is hands off about matters religious. And, as an adult, I have never really had to confront my lack of a chosen faith. However, children bring along a variety of new issues: People often automatically assume you are raising your child as a church going Christian. They send religious cards and gifts. They begin to indoctrinate your kid into their belief system before you have had a chance to have certain conversations with your child about the wide variety of belief systems that are present on this planet. I am looking for a few tactful tips on handling potentially sticky situations. I would love to have a few more resources for my daughter on world religions, so that she can learn, at an early age, that not everyone has the same concept of the Divine, the origins of the universe and all of the Big Questions she has started to ask us. I do not want to put more weight or value on one set of beliefs over the other. Instead, I would like to stress what these various religious and ethical groups share: common tenets about honesty, respect, non violence and love. (Later on we can get into all the ways the organized groups mess this stuff up with messages of intolerance for others, 'righteous wars' and damnation!) Mainly, I want to raise my daughter in an atmosphere free from the toxicity of "Hell" and 'eternal suffering and torture for people who, misguidedly, joined another team'. In my view, this has always been child abuse. I was thrilled to read, in Parenting Beyond Belief, that others feel the same way. If my little girl never has to lie awake at night, terrified of angering a fierce and vengeful god through some childhood infraction...and preoccupying herself with visions of hellfire and other perversity, I will feel I have done my job on this front. Conversely, I am dedicated to raising a child with sound morals, good judgement and compassion and respect for others. I have no real concerns about accomplishing this feat without involving organized religion. However, I want to be armed with sound arguments and reasons when religious people, inevitably, accuse me of being weak on morals and ethics due to my lack of church going. Books like this one are rare and they do not offer 'all the answers'. Non affiliated people are hard to pin down. They are not attracted to groups. They do not feel they even HAVE all the answers. They desire a lot of proof before declaring something in a categorical way. The closest thing I have to a body of like minded fellows in a spiritual sense are the Unitarian Universalists and the Buddhists. Thus, I am hungry for books on this topic. And I am finding the footnotes and 'additional resource' sections of this book to be most useful. I hope that Dr. McGowan will consider another compendium on the topic of non religious parenting. I will also be on the hunt for more titles that deal with 'Spirituality rather than Dogma". As our population continues to shift, I am certain there will be more demand for titles such as this one and I applaud the effort.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Obscuranta Hideypants

    Parenting Beyond Belief is made up of a wide variety of views. The common thread is parenthood, with a mostly-common thread being atheism. So far my favourite essay is by Julia Sweeney (of SNL fame) about her daughter and their discussions on faith as it relates to Big Things like death. Her honesty with her daughter, and her frank writing style are warm and engaging. It is interesting to see not only what she says to her daughter ("what happens when we die?" "Frankly, darling, we decompose.") b Parenting Beyond Belief is made up of a wide variety of views. The common thread is parenthood, with a mostly-common thread being atheism. So far my favourite essay is by Julia Sweeney (of SNL fame) about her daughter and their discussions on faith as it relates to Big Things like death. Her honesty with her daughter, and her frank writing style are warm and engaging. It is interesting to see not only what she says to her daughter ("what happens when we die?" "Frankly, darling, we decompose.") but how she follows this up in regular life. As she notes, some people look aghast at the idea of telling a child such a truth. ("Horrible truth" is the actual phrase used). I wonder, though, about the horror voiced by people about telling kids the truth. While I agree that the truth should be put into terms the child can understand, I also think that many times the intelligence of children is underestimated. I am not saying "my child is a genius and so all children are", or anything of the sort. I do say, though, that they understand a lot more than we think. Their capabilities are often given short shrift. Also given short shrift is the effect of "white lies" meant to comfort. Santa Claus, Heaven, and the Easter Bunny all spring to mind. Most of us have come to terms with the non-existance of Santa Claus. Many people remember the disappointment in finding out that no, indeed, there is no such person. I don't think anyone has totally lost faith in their parents on finding this out, but some sense of betrayal might well be there. We do get over it. But what is the point in the first place? Why do we choose Santa Claus and Heaven to put forth as truth, and not, say, Sleeping Beauty? The thing about Sweeney's presentation of the truth is not just the words she uses, it is also the attitude with which she speaks those words and the way she lives her life which will teach. A bird dies in their back yard, and they watch it for days, every day a little bit less of it remains. They talk about the breakdown of the material, what happens to the material. It is done without fear. It is presented as fact (and it is), but not as a warning, nor as a means of keeping the child in line. Sweeney's father, who had been very close with the child, dies. Sweeney illustrates to her daughter how he lives on in their memory- in things they do either consciously remembering him, or as a result of his influence on their lives. It is very clear in her writing, that Julia Sweeney loves her child, has an open and honest relationship with her, and thinks deeply about her welfare. It is her clarity which convinces. Her atheism is presented without condemnation of religion (her family is religious, Catholic) or excoriation thereof. It is what it is. Clearly, she is at peace with letting go of god. This peace is transmitted to her child.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This is a phenomenal book. It is at once inspirational, educational, humorous, and enlightening. I read it straight through in the first two days I had it, and I've gone back to re-read many of the essays over and over again. I think this is going to be one of those books in my library that will be dog-eared and have notes in the margins. I grew up and spent most of my adult life in regions where Christianity is not just "the norm," but if you are anything BUT a Christian (let alone identifying y This is a phenomenal book. It is at once inspirational, educational, humorous, and enlightening. I read it straight through in the first two days I had it, and I've gone back to re-read many of the essays over and over again. I think this is going to be one of those books in my library that will be dog-eared and have notes in the margins. I grew up and spent most of my adult life in regions where Christianity is not just "the norm," but if you are anything BUT a Christian (let alone identifying yourself as an agnostic, atheist [gasp!], or naturalist) you are looked down upon and regarded as downright EVIL. When my children were born, I started wondering if I was somehow depriving them of something by raising them without religion. The many authors in this book have answered my question with a resounding "NO!" What a wonderful resource for parents like me (and my hubby) who want to raise our children as free-thinking individuals! One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the ability to make up my own mind and explore my own individual sense of spirituality without the guilt that often accompanies being raised in an environment of organized religion. I'm happy to give that gift to my boys as well. This book really helps to provide some tools and reassurance in our journey. This book also provides tips for creating a sense of community and structure for our children (the one thing I DO think I missed out on as a child in the only non-church-attending family in the entire town), and points out the importance of religious education and teaching our non-religious children how to thrive in the very religious culture in which we live. Like a previous reviewer pointed out, I'd recommend this book to anyone...not just non-religious parents. I think the essays help others to see that those of us who do not subscribe to a particular religion are not angry or lost or devoid of a sense of sprituality or wonder!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stina

    This book was not a page turner, but the information it contains is important enought to slog/skim(?) through the whole thing. I'm often interested in religious debate and anecdotes from people who knew all they needed to know about God when they were six or ten or fifteen. Granted, I can't remember ever believing in God, but I do feel that I take time to consider the option and the facts and other people's feelings on the matter. I'm curious about how they got there, but the curiosity doesn't se This book was not a page turner, but the information it contains is important enought to slog/skim(?) through the whole thing. I'm often interested in religious debate and anecdotes from people who knew all they needed to know about God when they were six or ten or fifteen. Granted, I can't remember ever believing in God, but I do feel that I take time to consider the option and the facts and other people's feelings on the matter. I'm curious about how they got there, but the curiosity doesn't seem to be mutual. This book helps to point out all that one goes through in a world where youth groups and church camps turn out believers that can't wrap their head around the fact that someone who is not living their life for God could also be moral and good. I remember hopping in a guy's car in college to head off for our first date and on our way to the canyon we were hiking, he asked what religion I was. I explained that I wasn't religious and that I wasn't raised that way and he exclaimed, "BUT DO YOU STILL HAVE MORALS??!?!" I couldn't tell if he was asking because he wanted to get laid in the desert or if because he was worried that he might have been going hiking with a carefree murderer... I didn't put out, didn't kill him and never heard from him again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Pankau

    Ugh. This suffered badly from anthology bloat. Too much fluff went in to fill out the page count, for my taste. Now, buried in there was some brilliant stuff: a list of notable atheists/agnostics/deists set to the tune of "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General", or a poignant piece on the history of discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, and one of the keenest observations I've ever come across about the difference between conservatives and liberals*. And, speaking as someone w Ugh. This suffered badly from anthology bloat. Too much fluff went in to fill out the page count, for my taste. Now, buried in there was some brilliant stuff: a list of notable atheists/agnostics/deists set to the tune of "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General", or a poignant piece on the history of discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, and one of the keenest observations I've ever come across about the difference between conservatives and liberals*. And, speaking as someone who agrees with the substance of this book, I just got bored. Most of it was "you're non-religious and that's okay and it's going to be hard sometimes but you'll be better off for it". It reminded me of a lot of the pro-vegan propaganda I've read that, in retrospect, really rubs me the wrong way. And I have to complain about the formatting for Kindle. I imagine that in the print edition, important quotes and talking points from the text would have been offset in a box with large type and with a different-colored background. In the ebook version, you just get random text stuck in the middle between two paragraphs. Very bizarre reading experience. So, I don't think I can really recommend it, at least not all of it. At best, it's worth thumbing through and taking notes. *For the curious: the philosophical difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives believe there is a best way to do things and everyone should do things that way. Liberals believe there are lots of good-enough ways to things, so why get upset about it? Brilliant, right?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I didn't think that I needed a guidebook for raising kids with no religion - because that seems to suggest it is a difficult or unnatural thing to do. However, I read every other kind of parenting book, so I gave it a shot, and enjoyed it. I think anyone, even "spiritual" people, will get plenty out of this. Unless you're the sort of person who will answer "because God said so", (basically ducking the question with a non-answer), when your kids ask difficult questions, then you might find some o I didn't think that I needed a guidebook for raising kids with no religion - because that seems to suggest it is a difficult or unnatural thing to do. However, I read every other kind of parenting book, so I gave it a shot, and enjoyed it. I think anyone, even "spiritual" people, will get plenty out of this. Unless you're the sort of person who will answer "because God said so", (basically ducking the question with a non-answer), when your kids ask difficult questions, then you might find some of these essays useful someday. I also have to admit that I was chastened some by a few of the essays on tolerance. I realize I'm quite intolerant of religious views, and there were some good reasons here to adjust that. The most compelling one is that it is clear that humanity seeks spirituality, for whatever reason. So, if you don't understand the draw of religion, then you can't understand human nature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I was skeptical of the value of this book -- my secular parents did fine without it, for example, as my brother and I are ethical, caring people. But I heard an interview with McGowan on the radio and was so impressed by what he had to say that I ran out and bought the book. What an incredible resource! From Richard Dawkin's loving letter to his little daughter, to handling questions about death, to the admonitions to raise secular kids to be religiously literate (do read the Bible to them) and I was skeptical of the value of this book -- my secular parents did fine without it, for example, as my brother and I are ethical, caring people. But I heard an interview with McGowan on the radio and was so impressed by what he had to say that I ran out and bought the book. What an incredible resource! From Richard Dawkin's loving letter to his little daughter, to handling questions about death, to the admonitions to raise secular kids to be religiously literate (do read the Bible to them) and tolerant of religion (don't teach them to sneer at religion), to the section on "To Easter Bunny or Not to Easter Bunny?" there's a wealth of information here from outstanding contributors. Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, and Dawkins are just a couple treasures. Raises excellent points for religious and agnostic parents as well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    Happy to have found this resource and the author's blog "The Meming of Life" - it encourages me to find such thoughtful authors as McGowan, as well as other thoughtful humanist/atheist/non-believers/skeptics such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Phil Plait. Although I am not comfortable pasting a particular label on myself, this book and several passages in the author's blog have made me comfortable "coming out" as a non-believer and minority and as a parent - putting a face on a minority that others Happy to have found this resource and the author's blog "The Meming of Life" - it encourages me to find such thoughtful authors as McGowan, as well as other thoughtful humanist/atheist/non-believers/skeptics such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Phil Plait. Although I am not comfortable pasting a particular label on myself, this book and several passages in the author's blog have made me comfortable "coming out" as a non-believer and minority and as a parent - putting a face on a minority that others may generalize (and perhaps dismiss or fictionalize or even demonize) is important, just as it is important to stand up for other minorities, particularly in the face of a majority who might dismiss, fictionalize or demonize them. In the past, the "discourse" between the believers and non-believers has left a bad taste in my mouth as it just seemed a whole lot of shouting. Dale McGowan transcends this with a thoughtful approach to nearly every situation with the goal of hearing and being heard. Very refreshing...very helpful for thinking about how 99% of people will interact with my children around holidays, talking about the tooth fairy and santa claus and, yes, god. This has come up over the past few months for me as I have seen in a documentary about Pat Tillman, read about certain laws that affect non-believers and have come to understand how certain groups (like the Boy Scouts) make assumptions and judgements about who I am based upon a "group" that I belong to or a "label" that I wear. Suddenly, being out there seems important to right a wrong that is doubled by silence. The essay by Stu Tanquist is a good guide for the parenting issue that came home today - the Boy Scouts are recruiting my child, yet the BSA explicitly says in their bylaws, ""The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the **best** kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are **necessary** to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members." (Emphases mine.) I was actually shocked and saddened to read this - who knew (a la, "then they came for me") that my family could be discriminated against? The answer to this issue to me is not to have an outraged theology lesson with my 6-year-old, who is oblivious, but rather to keep integrity in mind, to find another outlet for our "scouting" behavior, yet to also not feel that I have "under-addressed" this issue by letting this slide in favor of "all of the other activities we have going on right now". I didn't *need* Stu Tanquist to tell me this, but appreciate the affirmation of the possible alternatives juxtaposed with the totality of the individual situation. Mostly I'm just sad for the lost opportunity. GSUSA is not so picky about this. but I *really* digress... I think there is something in this book even for believer parents, even if to understand how points of view among believers differ, and also to understand (on the off chance you might meet one) how non-believers might act and react and think and feel about things. Indeed, as a non-believer, one of my favorite parenting books is "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee", a Jewish approach to parenting - perhpas it is surprising to know that a non-believer might look to guidance from a book based in religion. Even if the idea challenges you, Dale McGowan is a steady craft in the stormy waters at the intersection of believers and non believers, and has chosen essays from a wide range of interesting individuals. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a good book, on a wide variety of topics relating to religion and children. In fact, it's quite worth reading even if you haven't got/don't want children. It's a mind-sharpening task, trying to distill the essence of your ideas to something a child could understand, and explaining things with the weight of responsibility upon you (small kids, unlike college students, believe everything you say). Like any eclectic collection, there are less successful moments. In the middle of an otherwise This is a good book, on a wide variety of topics relating to religion and children. In fact, it's quite worth reading even if you haven't got/don't want children. It's a mind-sharpening task, trying to distill the essence of your ideas to something a child could understand, and explaining things with the weight of responsibility upon you (small kids, unlike college students, believe everything you say). Like any eclectic collection, there are less successful moments. In the middle of an otherwise good piece on the need for Humanist community, the author suggested that a Humanist replacement of the Bible be created. Apparently he didn't quite get the fact that the Bible isn't popular because it's well-written, or insightful, or instructive, because it's none of those things. It's popular as the Word of God, whether literally or "psychologically" true. Humanists can read Gilgamesh and the Illiad, but nobody will agree that those are the only old stories our children should know. When you look at the stories as fiction, you have to admit there's been good, probably better, fiction written since. And you can't put in all the real explanations of the world, because scientific knowledge is both vast and ever-changing, unlike Biblical "knowledge". It just wouldn't work to replace a "holy" book with something that goes through new editions every couple years. The very concept of having a single, central book, no matter how diverse, is anathema to most Humanists. Anyway. The parenting book's pretty good.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    There are so many books out there on how to raise your child using Christian values. In a world that is growing more secular by the day, this book is helpful and refreshing. It reinforces the fact that you don't need religion to be a good person, or to raise moral and kind-hearted children. It is not a novel, or a list of how-to's. It is a collection of essays by humanist authors grouped together in difference topics- morals, education, and even death. I found it inspiring that so many educated There are so many books out there on how to raise your child using Christian values. In a world that is growing more secular by the day, this book is helpful and refreshing. It reinforces the fact that you don't need religion to be a good person, or to raise moral and kind-hearted children. It is not a novel, or a list of how-to's. It is a collection of essays by humanist authors grouped together in difference topics- morals, education, and even death. I found it inspiring that so many educated and well-rounded people are atheists, and they have much knowledge to impart on the reader. It reassures that you don't need to send your child to Vacation bible school, or sunday school just because everyone else does. You can stand out from the rest. You can say, "no, I don't believe in supernatural beings" and feel confident that in taking your stand, you aren't alone. The only downside to this book is that it can be dry at times. If you put it down and come back, you can keep reading with fresh eyes- and it's well worth the time. I recommend this to anyone who doesn't want to raise their child in a Christian home- who is looking to raise their children without the burden of imaginary sin, or the idea of reward and punishment. Be good just because it is the human thing to do. That is what this book proclaims. I can get behind that any day.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    Not just for parents... I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of essays on nontheist education and lifestyle. While this book is geared toward parents, and certainly useful for them, I found it highly useful on an individual level as well to think about these issues. I really appreciated the additional resources provided at the end of each chapter, this allows you to take your own pursuit of these ideas much deeper than is allowed in individual essays. Most of the resources also include a note on Not just for parents... I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of essays on nontheist education and lifestyle. While this book is geared toward parents, and certainly useful for them, I found it highly useful on an individual level as well to think about these issues. I really appreciated the additional resources provided at the end of each chapter, this allows you to take your own pursuit of these ideas much deeper than is allowed in individual essays. Most of the resources also include a note on appropriate age level which was very useful as well. The book touches on practical real world problems, and I found it truly eye opening to read of some of the discrimination that the authors and their children had faced. One topic I wish would have been addressed more is how to deal with extended family members of faith. Dealing with an overzealous teacher is one thing, but how do you strike balance with a loving and good intentioned grandparent who truly may believe that your child may be doomed to eternal damnation because of you. Some of the authors who are in mixed marriages touched on this briefly but I think it is an important enough issue for nontheist parents to be explored further. I would definitely recommend this book to well just about anyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Legacy Dad

    I am a Christian "freethinking" father and read this book to simply better understand how atheist parents might raise their children. What I found is that although I do not agree with the various authors beliefs, I often parent my children in the same ways. I teach my children to question religion and to read and learn about all religions . I don’t force my beliefs on my children; I expose them to it and let them make their own decisions based on my example. I also teach morals based on what is r I am a Christian "freethinking" father and read this book to simply better understand how atheist parents might raise their children. What I found is that although I do not agree with the various authors beliefs, I often parent my children in the same ways. I teach my children to question religion and to read and learn about all religions . I don’t force my beliefs on my children; I expose them to it and let them make their own decisions based on my example. I also teach morals based on what is right and wrong not fear of eternal damnation. We don’t celebrate Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny either. I teach my children tolerance of all people and beliefs even if they contradict their own. While I am the first one to admit there are many fanatics in Christianity that try to force religion on people (read the book unChristian), I also felt the authors were trying hard to do the same for believing in no religion? The biggest take away from this book: Tolerance – From both sides No matter what your religious beliefs, let’s focus on raising strong, educated and character driven children for the future. I can agree with that.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Honestly, I can't say how glad I am that a book like this exists. It's the only book I've seen of its kind, and I don't know how they could have possibly written it better. The book accomplishes what it sets out to do very well in my opinion. Even from a non-parenting point, I can say I would be excited for my parents to read this book, at least so they can get a better idea of where I'm coming from in my beliefs. As explained in the introduction, this book contains a wide range of ideas and opi Honestly, I can't say how glad I am that a book like this exists. It's the only book I've seen of its kind, and I don't know how they could have possibly written it better. The book accomplishes what it sets out to do very well in my opinion. Even from a non-parenting point, I can say I would be excited for my parents to read this book, at least so they can get a better idea of where I'm coming from in my beliefs. As explained in the introduction, this book contains a wide range of ideas and opinions about non-belief and how to incorporate that into a home, ranging from the opinions of Richard Dawkins to Unitarian Reverend Dr. Roberta Nelson; it's nice to have something like that to reference to when nonreligious people are typically described as "militant". Overall, I find it a very insightful, intelligent read. I will definitely be buying it soon.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I dig this book. For those of us who were raised with a heavy religious influence (which influenced us to be moral, to religion's credit) but are choosing to raise children without religion, this is a Godsend. (Ha ha) I was honestly clueless, I'm ashamed to say, about how to raise our kids to have the same morals we were raised with. This book really opened my mind up to all the possibilities, options, and hope for moral, freethinking kids. The essays are from a very wide variety of authors with I dig this book. For those of us who were raised with a heavy religious influence (which influenced us to be moral, to religion's credit) but are choosing to raise children without religion, this is a Godsend. (Ha ha) I was honestly clueless, I'm ashamed to say, about how to raise our kids to have the same morals we were raised with. This book really opened my mind up to all the possibilities, options, and hope for moral, freethinking kids. The essays are from a very wide variety of authors with an even wider range of ideas, so I doubt there is anyone anywhere who will agree with every single one. But that's the beauty of what McGowan did here: he invited people from all backgrounds to share their ideas for raising ethical kids without religion and he put it all together in one book so we could all choose for ourselves. It is the essence of freethinking.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Though I'm not an atheist, I find I have a lot in common with this thoughtful, deliberate, compassionate group of people doing their best to raise ethical, caring kids. Do I value critical thinking? Yes. Do I think people are capable of doing great good for one another? Yes. Do I stand in awe of the wonders of this world and the achievements of science? Yes! So skip the belligerent Penn Jillette and concentrate on Dale McGowan and Julia Sweeney. Together, we'll do our best to help our kids ask g Though I'm not an atheist, I find I have a lot in common with this thoughtful, deliberate, compassionate group of people doing their best to raise ethical, caring kids. Do I value critical thinking? Yes. Do I think people are capable of doing great good for one another? Yes. Do I stand in awe of the wonders of this world and the achievements of science? Yes! So skip the belligerent Penn Jillette and concentrate on Dale McGowan and Julia Sweeney. Together, we'll do our best to help our kids ask great questions and trust them to find the answers that are right for them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michell8

    The lack of respect for parenting with religion in several of the essays was off-putting. Some of the authors seemed to think themselves superior for being so "enlightened" compared to their religious counterparts which was gross. But there were many really interesting essays that approached the topic respectfully and gave me a lot to think about. Whether we choose to parent with religion or not I think our children are better off being taught to do good because it's the right thing to do rather The lack of respect for parenting with religion in several of the essays was off-putting. Some of the authors seemed to think themselves superior for being so "enlightened" compared to their religious counterparts which was gross. But there were many really interesting essays that approached the topic respectfully and gave me a lot to think about. Whether we choose to parent with religion or not I think our children are better off being taught to do good because it's the right thing to do rather than out of fear of punishment or reward from God or because they might disappoint him.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Really enjoyed this. It provided a wide variety of opinions and offered up a bunch of different ideas and experiences. As a freethinking mom, I've been kind of feeling my way along in a seriously christian culture and trying to feel okay about not indoctrinating my girls into that culture. This book helped me feel like other people are out there feeling their way around, thinking hard about this subject, and making bold decisions too..even if I didn't agree with all their decisions. Really enjoyed this. It provided a wide variety of opinions and offered up a bunch of different ideas and experiences. As a freethinking mom, I've been kind of feeling my way along in a seriously christian culture and trying to feel okay about not indoctrinating my girls into that culture. This book helped me feel like other people are out there feeling their way around, thinking hard about this subject, and making bold decisions too..even if I didn't agree with all their decisions.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    I can't say enough good things about this book. The editor has done a beautiful job of pulling together many disparate ideas into a "story" of parenting ethical, loving, supported, well-rounded children from a secular point of view. There is refreshing humor, practical advice, many questions, and beautiful examples of what has and hasn't worked for other families. I loved the perspective on education and respect of children throughout the book. I can't say enough good things about this book. The editor has done a beautiful job of pulling together many disparate ideas into a "story" of parenting ethical, loving, supported, well-rounded children from a secular point of view. There is refreshing humor, practical advice, many questions, and beautiful examples of what has and hasn't worked for other families. I loved the perspective on education and respect of children throughout the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    R.Z.

    This is a book of essays by parents who share their experiences of child-rearing trying to bring their kids up with good values but without religion. I felt that many of the authors were trying too hard to work against what they perceived religion was all about, when in reality, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim parents have many of the same issues that these parents have.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Lee

    Umm, all my reviews have a theme today. I found a lot about this book very encouraging. Of course, with my luck, one of my kids will become a televangelist. But all I can do is explain my world view and let the chips fall where they may.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    I was hoping this book would give pointers about how to raise a kid to be ethical without religion. I gave up on it because it's more a series of personal essays about how people gave up on religion and passed that on to their kids. This book is a waste of time. I gave it to Goodwill. I was hoping this book would give pointers about how to raise a kid to be ethical without religion. I gave up on it because it's more a series of personal essays about how people gave up on religion and passed that on to their kids. This book is a waste of time. I gave it to Goodwill.

  23. 5 out of 5

    April (The Steadfast Reader)

    Not a bad collection of essays. I'll admit that it's a rough start. Julia Sweeney's essay is placed first and came off a bit grating. Other than that, there is a wealth of extra resources for secular parents. Worth picking up and rifling through. Not a bad collection of essays. I'll admit that it's a rough start. Julia Sweeney's essay is placed first and came off a bit grating. Other than that, there is a wealth of extra resources for secular parents. Worth picking up and rifling through.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    This book of essays is a great resource for parents wanting to raise children who do the right thing when no one is looking----without the threat of eternal damnation!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Offers a lot of great examples on how to handle life in a theistic society, even when you aren't. Offers a lot of great examples on how to handle life in a theistic society, even when you aren't.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tamara York

    The format of this book is more a collection of essays than a typical nonfiction book. I found some sections and essays more helpful than others. I did mark quite a few quotes and resources to reference later. I am looking forward to reading the second book which seems more concrete suggestions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Lord

    Secularist Dale McGowanMcGowan (Calling Bernadette's Bluff) collected essays from some of contemporary secularism’s big names (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey) in support of those nonreligious American parents who seek to “articulate values, celebrate rites of passage, find consolation, and make meaning” sans religion. “‘Secular,’ writes contributor Ed BucknerEd Buckner “means ‘not based on religion,’ it doesn’t mean ‘hostile to religion.’” Though a few entries do evidence such anger or r Secularist Dale McGowanMcGowan (Calling Bernadette's Bluff) collected essays from some of contemporary secularism’s big names (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Margaret Downey) in support of those nonreligious American parents who seek to “articulate values, celebrate rites of passage, find consolation, and make meaning” sans religion. “‘Secular,’ writes contributor Ed BucknerEd Buckner “means ‘not based on religion,’ it doesn’t mean ‘hostile to religion.’” Though a few entries do evidence such anger or resentment, all these astute essayists have probably thought more about God’s nonexistence than many believers have about his existence. Most of the thirty-odd contributors recommend imbuing children with the ability to think independently and well; when pressured or rejected by real and figurative institutions that tend to favor the religious (e.g., schools, scouting, holidays), essayists advise parents to stick to their non-theistic guns. In that it considers parents as pedagogues, recalling Deborah Stipek and Kathy Seal’s Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning (Holt, 2001). Engaging and down-to-earth, this collection balances the scores of religious parenting titles shelved in the average library and is highly recommended. Find reviews of books for men at Books for Dudes, Books for Dudes, the online reader's advisory column for men from Library Journal.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brittney

    More an idea sourcebook than a "this is how you should do things" manual -- which makes sense, as I suspect many of us non-religious folk wouldn't, by credo or by temperament, be particularly into that sort of thing. Several dozen essays are grouped into chapters by theme - "Holidays and Celebrations," "On Being and Doing Good," "Wondering and Questioning" - each with a list of additional sources at the end. Viewpoints all along the non-religious spectrum are represented, from the somewhat aggre More an idea sourcebook than a "this is how you should do things" manual -- which makes sense, as I suspect many of us non-religious folk wouldn't, by credo or by temperament, be particularly into that sort of thing. Several dozen essays are grouped into chapters by theme - "Holidays and Celebrations," "On Being and Doing Good," "Wondering and Questioning" - each with a list of additional sources at the end. Viewpoints all along the non-religious spectrum are represented, from the somewhat aggressive atheism of Penn Jillette to two Unitarian Universalist Reverends. I read this all the way through, and found it incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking, and a great jumping-off point for the conversations my husband and I are starting to have about how we want to work both our Jewish ancestry and our non-theistic beliefs into the way we raise our children. I'll also be glad to have it around through the coming years to dip back into selectively and to mine its bibliography.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was an excellent guide for parents who are raising children in a secular home. I really enjoyed the Personal Reflections chapter where I read several essays from real parents who are raising their children without religion and what that looks like for different families. Some of my favorite topics that were discussed in the book were the following: Raising religiously literate children Morality and evil Seven Secular Virtues-humility, empathy, courage, honesty, openness, generosity, and gratit This was an excellent guide for parents who are raising children in a secular home. I really enjoyed the Personal Reflections chapter where I read several essays from real parents who are raising their children without religion and what that looks like for different families. Some of my favorite topics that were discussed in the book were the following: Raising religiously literate children Morality and evil Seven Secular Virtues-humility, empathy, courage, honesty, openness, generosity, and gratitude Death and consolation Seeking community I also loved the chapter "What Your Kids Won't Learn in School" where it lists historical figures who were non-religious. There were many American revolutionaries, novelists, reformers, and scientists that did not align themselves with any religion. I was surprised with some of the people I found in that chapter. I had no idea. Very interesting. Altogether a great read and a good resource for secular parenting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book highlights something I have always thought--teaching your children WHAT to think is child abuse. Teaching them HOW to think is what all good parents should do. Do not indoctrinate your children. Do not force your religion down their throat. Teach them about the various religions and ways of life, teach them how to think critically (and if you can't think critically, perhaps it would be best if you do not procreate), teach them about evidence and science and literature, and let them mak This book highlights something I have always thought--teaching your children WHAT to think is child abuse. Teaching them HOW to think is what all good parents should do. Do not indoctrinate your children. Do not force your religion down their throat. Teach them about the various religions and ways of life, teach them how to think critically (and if you can't think critically, perhaps it would be best if you do not procreate), teach them about evidence and science and literature, and let them make their own decisions about religion when they're old enough to understand what religion is. This book is a terrific selection of essays on secular parenting, ways around the religious crap surrounding a lot of holidays, ideas for how to teach your kids about religions without indoctrinating them, etc. A must-have for any parent's bookshelf.

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