Is it possible for an atheist parent to not force the same belief on their children?

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posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:28 AM
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As a child I feel that I had Christian beliefs forced onto me. I was never presented with the idea that I could choose otherwise...these Christian beliefs were hard facts as far as my parents were concerned and there was no other way to live your life without being damned or lost. Somehow I don't think my upbringing was successful to them, me being an atheist by 13 and all.

So, now I have kids and don't want them to feel like I'm forcing my beliefs on them. They frequently ask questions about god and such and I try to always say thing like "many people believe so-and-so...I believe so-and-so ...etc." But how can I be impartial when I can't find a logical answer to their questions? For example...

"Dad, how did that guy on the boat keep tigers and alligators alive for 40 days? Don't they eat zebras?"

Without and answer I looked online and found this answer on a www.answersingenesis.org... a site aimed at kids:


One possible answer to your question is that God could have miraculously stopped animals from eating each other. There is another possibility. We know that before sin, animals only ate vegetation. By the time of the Flood, a number of animals may have become vicious because of the effects of sin. But we notice today that even with animals like wolves—which are of the dog kind—there are other dogs that are not vicious. So God could have chosen the more friendly ones to represent a kind. God could also have supernaturally caused the animals to hibernate much of the time.


So, it was either vegetarian tigers or magic? How can I tell my kids people believe things like this without telling them that those people are delusional? If I send them to a priest (which isn't happening) I'm afraid they will get the same answer I did when my mom sat me with one with my questions..."put logic aside and have faith, we can never understand fully, trust in God..." in other words "just believe what I say, because that's way it is"
edit on 9/7/2012 by RedParrotHead because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:33 AM
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reply to post by RedParrotHead
 


It's easy for an atheist parent to allow their children to dabble in spirituality.

It's not easy for a spiritual parent to allow their children to refrain from spirituality.

An atheist parent will think it doesn't matter, they'll learn eventually. Kind of like drugs and bad music. A spiritual parent will fear for the soul of their child.

So yes, an atheist parent has a lot less to fear in letting their child have free reign as regards religion, because they have a lot less to lose. Sure, they might never be able to discuss the topic, but life is full of stuff like that. And really, if a parent can't love their child despite the child's beliefs, then they never should have had children.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:40 AM
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i would consider myself atheist maybe agnostic, but i would definitely let my children find god/jesus if they felt the need to. They need to figure it out for themselves. If they decided to check it out i would go with them and let them decide what path they want to head down.

However i can see my beliefs coming out in conversations and causing them to second guess it just from my thoughts. It would be a tough one but I think we could work it out. Her old day care lady started teaching her religious music and making her say prayers before lunch which i wasn't to pleased about, but if i was the one to hold her hand thru it, i would support her. On the same hand im not going to force her to go to church either.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:40 AM
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My father is an atheist, my mother a theist.

Boy where there some fights growing up.

My father always told me to keep an open mind, that not to discount anything out right.

He told me that his beliefs came from years of his own personal life experience and that the only way for me to know for sure was with my own.

He let my mom take me to church and he practiced what he preached, he only told me what he believed and let me find my own path.

As a result for a long time I was atheist, but just like him I let my own life experience guide my path.
edit on 7-9-2012 by benrl because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:47 AM
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reply to post by RedParrotHead
 

I am highly impressed you are not looking to force your beliefs on your kids. I almost fell out of my chair. Good on you for letting them figure it out for themselves.

As for the "why didn't the animals eat each other?", if it was me I would go with something simple. Kinda like cats & dogs. Everyone says dogs chase cats, yet sometimes they live together in harmony.

I have two nieces that have come up with some whoppers, so I wish you the best of luck!!!! Kids can really catch us off guard!
edit on 7-9-2012 by OneisOne because: ugh... blah



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:50 AM
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reply to post by RedParrotHead
 


First of all, your kids have a great advantage that was never afforded to you. You are being very wise and loving by letting them explore their own paths.

As far as trying to justify crazy stories that you don't even believe in yourself, I would just tell the truth. For the Noah's ark example, I would tell them "Well, the people who believe in that legend also possess a religious faith that allows for miracles so those sort of problems that you presented can be justified"

That's neutral and doesn't force their minds into anything. From what it sounds like, you are doing it right. Good work.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 11:51 AM
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The smartest thing to do is discourage religion and teach them what we have discovered as a race. Regardless of how closed minded and arrogant it sounds, the fact is the Bible is just as credible as a Dr Seuss book, and any evidence of it being true always conveniently exists inside peoples minds in the form of dreams and whatnot, which are created by one's own brain. There is no reason to believe fairy tales, "faith" is a reason often given, but that's just an easy answer and it means nothing. Religion will slowly die out as we advance scientifically and technologically, but right now it's potentially holding us back. I'm really surprised at how much of America don't believe in Evolution, which is purely down to lack of education on the matter, and/or refusal to consider something that questions their beliefs. So I think you should teach your kids what we know rather than what a book says.

I know how close minded I sound on this matter, but that is not the case. My conclusions are often mistaken for close-mindedness, but I've deeply considered this from a non-biased view point and realized this. Everything I've said in this post is a fact, but widely denied.

The thing is, the idea of a creator doesn't contradict a scientists beliefs, because a scientist studies the world around us and strives to understand it. Science contradicts most religions however, which means a scientific approach to the world cannot be biased or closed minded, the other however, can.
edit on 7-9-2012 by SpearMint because: (no reason given)
edit on 7-9-2012 by SpearMint because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:14 PM
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I was born into Christianity but today my beliefs have changed a little. I'm not sure if today I would call myself a complete Athiest, but my husband definitely is. We have always given our children who are now teenagers, the option to believe or not, in a religion of their choice. Believe it or not, my eldest is Catholic and my youngest is just like me. Believes in God or a higher power without all that Jesus and virgin Marie stuff.



edit on 7-9-2012 by Xquizit because: Grammar



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:19 PM
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For sure! I wouldn't call myself a non believer but I surely do have my disbelieves. But with my children now (4 & 1) I for sure want them to believe until they are old enough to make an opinion on their own. I have left the door open both ways for me. I want to believe but reality tells me something else. We'll see and someday we'll find out.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:41 PM
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Personally I think it's impossible for an Atheist not to very strongly contribute and shape the mind of a child they are raising. The child may not ultimately be Atheist, but will certainly have that belief system as the core they started by.

What's wrong with that though? The thread would seem to imply there might be a problem? No one has any right whatsoever to say Boo about a Christian, Jewish or Muslim family raising their children deep in the Faith their traditions dictate, so why not the same for Atheist? I see no harm as it's certainly not a harmful set of beliefs in any way. No one is hurt or killed by it.

So, to each their own and I wish the Atheist home the best! Current Census puts the number of them under 5% of the overall population in America as estimates are roughly similar world wide. It makes them a Super-Minority, in the true definition of that term. No need to pile on to that situation by making their beliefs something less than accepted. Again...why not? Atheism does no harm, hence, no one else's business at all, IMO.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:47 PM
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Just tell your kids the truth. Those stories are bullcrap. As a matter of fact, you dont even believe in them yourself. Just make it clear that many imbecile adults out there believe wholehartedly in this nonesense. Also, explain to them that if they decide to believe in religious tripe, you'll support and love them regardless. Your kids will respect you far more when they discover the truth about religion(s) for themselves.

I mean, what will you say when they come to you and ask if Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are fake? You know there's a point they'll question these stories by themselves or friends will tell them the truth. It's tough to confess it was all a lie to make them happy with presents and fit in with society, trust me Im a dad and been in that position. You cant continue the myths forever. Besides, at least the aforementioned characters serve a purpose in making your kids happy during early childhood. To that effect, what purpose does a bloodthirsty, 24/7 judging, peeping tom of a God serve? What about an all-seeing devil and Hell? Why instill fear, trauma and fill their heads with life damaging beliefs?

When they're a bit older, buy them these books and let them reach their own conclusions:

Lego Bible

Good luck!



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:54 PM
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reply to post by RedParrotHead
 


You sound like you are doing a great job. You obviously care about your kids and their development, and that will always translate well. Even if you think there are a few hiccups along the way, your care and devotion will always be the thing they remember, so don't stress too much... and great work btw!

The other replies have had some brilliant advice so far, so I'll try and offer another side-point:

Allow your kids to be aware of the mystery in life.
Sometimes there just aren't cut-and-dry answers to everything, and the explanations other people give just don't fill that inherent thirst for knowledge every human craves.

That is very exciting for a child. They are the adventurers landing on a new island, ready to investigate and discover their own world. When we don't have all the answers it's great, because we are able to spend some time with our kids, discovering these new truths together. Remember that being an adventurer on a deserted island is only scary if you are alone, but if your dad is there with you then it's the most magical thing ever.

For example, the ark question: Maybe explain the concept of metaphors, and have a discussion about that. Say that personally you haven't thought about how the Ark story could relate to our lives, and invite them to join you to try and find a meaning together.

Even if it ends up with a simple explanation; something along the lines of always protecting what is precious in a time of crisis, it will be a conclusion which you have all reached together.
When that happens maybe your kids won't even bother about the meaning at all, because they will remember their dad, the adventurer, who is always ready to join them.
edit on 7-9-2012 by adrift because: spelling



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:54 PM
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reply to post by Snoopy1978
 

Personally...I have taught my Son a bit about my OWN faith....but more importantly, I have insured he understands that upwards of 90% of the people on Earth hold one religion or another to be dear to them and define the values and morals they live by.

I've also been careful to educate my Son that whatever his feelings may come to be one the choices of other people, be that Sexual, Religious or other major personal issues which come to be known, it is their right to have made those choices...and NEVER his right to ridicule or belittle others as a result of them.

I.E.... I make sure my own son knows how truly ugly it is to be among those who would make fun of the vast majority who take religion as the most serious topic they know in life. After all, on some subjects, the casual insult can become downright deadly. Ask some folks who have drawn the wrong cartoon...



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 12:59 PM
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Well, yeah, anything is possible... But with that said, a substantial portion of the atheists I've come across aren't exactly passive in their beliefs... They not only don't believe in a God, they despise the idea, and think of it as a disease, and behold believers to be sick in the head.

I don't think all or most atheists are like that, just like most real Christians are not the stereotyped intolerant jackasses that atheists hate so much. I think its just a matter of the loud, arrogant, braying jackasses in any group making themselves noticed much more than the majority which is peaceful and minding their own business not hurting anyone. And yet, the loud and obnoxious minority on both sides of this division still serves to inflame tempers and recruit more, on both sides, to express their beliefs in this extremelly aggressive and assaulting manner.

As for your situation with your kids... It's ok to say "I don't know." I think you might be trying to be Superman in their eyes when you "struggle" to give them answers to every single thing, even those which nobody knows the real truth. And that perception does not fit with the "realistic, hard science" attitude taken by many atheists. Although I suppose its possible... Do you believe you are Superman? Or perhaps, while you refute the belief in a God, you find it perfectly fine to "play God" with your kids? Maybe you find that the role of an all knowing, omnipotent being suits you quite well. After all, you did "create" your kids, in a sense... Who am I to deny your divine right over them?
edit on 7-9-2012 by 3n19m470 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:01 PM
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As an atheist, I had a talk with my son when he was about 5 or 6. He asked, 'if god made everything, who made god?' and I told him, that's the problem. Bingo, he nailed it. A religious person would attempt some emotional sleight of hand at that point and come up with an answer, any answer, to stop the discussion. A rationalist sees through the con. Faith is an excuse for irrational thought.

When I was about 55 or so, I had a very intelligent 75 year old man tell me that not raising my kids up with a religion was the most wonderful thing possible. He said he spent most of his life trying to throw off the irrationality and guilt feelings accompanying dismissal of his parent's religion and he was still angry about it! He felt he had wasted a lot of emotional and mental energy on the subject, to the detriment of more important pursuits.

Children by definition have to believe whatever an adult tells them; especially if that adult is a parent. Their very lives depend on obeying and believing, whether it's 'don't run into the street' or 'our particular god sent his only son down to earth to be tortured and murdered for YOUR presupposed, hasn't happened yet, 'sins'. Throwing off that brainwashing takes an enormous amount of effort, it's tantamount to treason against your parents. In the old days this could get you shunned by all of society and even now I'm sure some parents kick their children out of the house for not believing in whatever fantasy they're peddling. Add in all the 'stone this person for...' crapola in the bible and it's pure insanity and it sets people up for a lifetime of cognitive dissonance.

It was one thing when the bible was the only book in most people's possession, the only book they would ever see, where people died for seemingly no reason (the gods are angry at us!) and life conditions were brutal. It's a whole 'nuther thing now. We will not achieve a true civilization status until we dump the fantasies and stop lying to children.

One point I would like to make; even though I consider myself an atheist, I still 'know' that we survive physical death, and that our consciousness is something apart from our physical bodies. I have had enough personal proof to know or 'believe' this. There's still so much we don't know about how our minds work, what they CAN do, especially if they're not clouded by superstition. We are in the infancy of our development, and religion is one of the big reasons we're being held back. It doesn't take much insight or awareness to realize that the most religious nations are the least informed and the least tolerant, as well as the least happy.

You're doing good, dad. Feel free to discuss this all with the kids as they get older. It will help them put into perspective all the delusional people they're going to encounter during their lives, especially if you're in some parts of the United States



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:07 PM
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I pity the child with atheist parents.

/sarcasm//: That'll give those kids the ethic/moral background they need. /end_sarcasm



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:07 PM
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reply to post by RedParrotHead
 


First an answer to your childs question.

It should have been obvious, or at least is was to me. How do we keep the bears from eating the monkeys at the zoo? We corden them off in seperate stables,n so they don't get at each other. This is the answer I gave my children when they asked me a simliar question.

As for the premise of your thread.

I am not religious at all, as any GOD would have had the forcite and wisdom to make this world a place where suffering was not necessary. The fact he didn't, means he isn't GOD at all, or loving, as nobody would intentionally set out to force hardship on their children.

Having said that, my children attend church regularly, and believe in GOD, just because they have a nonbeliever for a father, does not predetermine what their beliefs will be. As my mother was quite religious, and took me to church as a child. I just couldn't ever even at a young age manage to make the leap of logic it takes, to have a all powerful GOD that can do anything, yet make the world such a # hole for people that never asked to be born in the first place.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
reply to post by Snoopy1978
 

Personally...I have taught my Son a bit about my OWN faith....but more importantly, I have insured he understands that upwards of 90% of the people on Earth hold one religion or another to be dear to them and define the values and morals they live by.

I've also been careful to educate my Son that whatever his feelings may come to be one the choices of other people, be that Sexual, Religious or other major personal issues which come to be known, it is their right to have made those choices...and NEVER his right to ridicule or belittle others as a result of them.

I.E.... I make sure my own son knows how truly ugly it is to be among those who would make fun of the vast majority who take religion as the most serious topic they know in life. After all, on some subjects, the casual insult can become downright deadly. Ask some folks who have drawn the wrong cartoon...




I agree, the notion of the massive amount of violent zealots that will lash out in anger when confronted with reason must be made clear. Not fear, but caution. These fanatics could be your every day christian. I live in the south, btw.

As my mom would say, "when in public, never discuss politics or religion".



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:12 PM
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reply to post by signalfire
 


Your post should be a thread of its own and pinned indefinitely.

Beautifully said.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 01:15 PM
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Thanks for all of your advice and opinions. I guess in some cases its near impossible to be totally impartial, and in time these kids will decide for themselves, one way or the other ... or another - regardless of my beliefs.

I just hate sending them mixed messages. We celebrate Christmas and Easter - leaving out the religious aspects, which some would say is the most important part (although the kids are aware of the origins of the hoilidays). But, we celebrate Halloween without much thought to the pagan roots. As my wife says, its just fun.
edit on 9/7/2012 by RedParrotHead because: (no reason given)






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