A question for Atheist parents.

Those of you that have kids how do you deal with the subject of religion with them? What I mean is do you teach actively against it, ignore it entirely, or do something else? Also, why did you decide on that particular course of action?

To mods: I wasn’t sure in which forum to post this, but finally decided on this one. If I posted this in the wrong forum please move it.

This is in the wrong forum, I think. It belongs in IMHO, as it is a poll and does not have a factual answer (except for individual responses). In this case, a ‘factual answer’ would be some sort of study, poll, or statistical analysis we could cite to give information on how most atheist parents raise their children as regards religion.

Email a mod to have this moved (or if it is closed, reopen a it in IMHO).

This might get move to IMHO, cause each of us will do this his/her own way…

I am not actively atheist so much as areligious/agnostic, but we just never really bring up religion. We do celebrate some “religious” holidays as cultural events, like Christmas, St. Nicholastag and Easter. When we lived in Thailand, my daughter had a neighbor friend tell her about God. Since we’d never discussed the concept, she heard this as “Guard” (there are a lot of security guards around the complex where we lived there). One day she told me she believed in “Guard”. I tried to correct this to God, but thought it was kind of funny and fitting. “Guard watches us and makes sure nothing bad happens to us”, she told me in earnest. Can’t really argue with logic like that.

More recently, as we’ve moved back to the US, our kids have been more expose to more active discussions of religion and beliefs, both on the street and in school. When she asks I explain to her what different people believe. I don’t disparage anyone’s beliefs to her just as I wouldn’t disparage someone’s beliefs to them. FTR I also have a son and this discussion has not come up with him. He believes in Batman (okay, he knows Batman is not a real person, but he still has a sort of hero worship there).

I would be happy to chime in. But first some background. I’m married with 11 yr old stepkid. Wife is christian but doesn’t go to church. We put kid in Catholic school because our public school sux.

I’m am very much for my child learning as much about christianity as possible. I was happy to put her in the catholic school and have no reservations against it. She would like to go to church on Sundays (something I will not do). Essentially, I wind up asking/suggesting that the wife and kid go to church on Sunday, but all good intentions on Saturday night evaporate on sunday morning.

Why do I feel this way. Because religion is a very important and personal thing, and my daughter would be shortchanged if she grew up without knowing about religious ideas. I’m glad she has an interest in it and I will be happy if she decides to explore other religious values too. I enjoy talking to her about it, because religion has historically been one of my favorite topics.

Is that enough info?

This is a question my wife and I have spent a tremendous amount of time discussing. She’s the daughter of a Baptist minister, she went to a Baptist college, and she is violently atheistic. I was raised high-church Episcopalian, I converted to Buddhism in high school, and I’ve since become an agnostic who believes that there might be a supreme being, but if he wants worship from me, he can go take a holy fuck at a rolling donut.

Despite this, I want our (at this point theoretical) children to have a religious upbringing. Why? Because I think it developed my critical thinking skills at a young age when I had to figure out what God really was. Because I actually read the Bible. Because I can tell you the difference between an apse and a nave. Because I know what makes a cathedral different from a church.

And, most important, because I think the odds of my kids becoming insane cultists is probably lower if they have a religious upbringing laced with their parents’ own skepticism.

GQ is for questions with factual answers. Since this is more of a survey, I’ll move this to IMHO.

Well, I’m an atheist, and my husband is an agnostic. We don’t have children yet, I don’t know if we ever will, but I’ve put a lot of thought into this.

Every Sunday beginning as early as possible I’m going to read myths to my kids and teach them about various world religions. Christian mythology will be taught the same way as Greek mythology, or Scandanavian, etc. I want my children to be aware of religion, the various beliefs and cultures, practies, and rituals, but there will be a skeptic bent to it. No church though. When they are old enough they can decide which religion, if any, they believe in. In the meantime, we’ll celebrate holidays as purely cultural events. (I will explain the various traditions behind the religions though.)
Bottom line, I want my children to be educated in religion, however, the vast majority of their education will deal with science and critical thinking. I want them to be wellrounded.

Well, I don’t have kids but I have dealt with this a little bit.

My sister has three kids. My sister and I are both atheists. My sister is pretty hardcore about her atheism. Anyway, a couple of years ago my niece, who is a very smart girl, asked me about religon and what I thought about it. I told her that I didn’t believe in god and outlined the reasons. At the same time I suggested that she should read the Bible, the Koran and other religous books and then think about what she believes. I told her that if she has questions about any particular religon to find someone who believes in that religon and ask away. I also pointed out that just because someone believes in a particular religon does not mean that they are the stereotype of that religon. The example I used, IIRC, was David Koresh vs. my parents who are Christains. (So I don’t piss anyone off, what I mean is that most Christains are not like Koresh)

After a while she came back to me and said that she is basically an agnostic.

I guess my point is that encouraging them to explore and think critically about the issue is probably the best way to go. But if the kid gets into religon make sure you accept the kids belief unless it is some wacky cult thing.


My son is only two-and-a-half, so he’s not asking any deep questions about religion yet (but he sure knows how to demand things :wink: ).

Nonetheless, my current plan is to use a combination of ignore it (since our family doesn’t do any religious activities), explain it in faith-neutral terms (“Who was Jesus?” “Well, some people believe that he was the son of god…”), and explain my personal disdain for it if he asks. All depending on the context and the question, of course.

I’m not planning on actively shoving my atheist beliefs down his throat, but I’m not going to soft-pedal around the issue, either.

My parents didn’t discuss religion with us, and it never came up. Until I was 7 years old, I had never heard of God, Jesus or praying. When our school offered religious education, my mother signed us up for it, reasoning that we should make up our own minds. When we asked her any questions about our religious education classes, she told us that she didn’t believe in any of it, but lots of people did and we needed to decide for ourselves.

If you’re not looking out for signs of religion, they’re pretty easy to ignore. I just never noticed religion, even though I saw churches and things, they were no different than the thousands of houses in my town that I’ve never entered - they just weren’t a place for us to go.