Non-Religious Parenting Groups Proliferate

Family Matters on 11.13.12
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Photo: Loz Pycock/Creative Commons

"Daddy, Zoe is on a farm with some cows because she was three-years-old and she was tired. That farm is called heaven."

That's how my daughter, Lilia, explained to me where Zoe - her grandparent's deceased cat - now resides. I confess I was a little taken aback. After all, I've been fairly open about my own atheist approach to parenting. I just didn't expect to be confronted by detailed discussion of the afterlife so soon - and I certainly wasn't prepared to start poking holes in my daughter's rather charming depiction of where Zoe is now. After all, I tell my daughter my own share of stories, so who am I to object when others do the same? 

Yet it was a stark reminder that these topics will come up, and at some point in the not-too-distant future I will need to be ready to discuss my views with my kids, and also to prepare them to respectfully but objectively consider the views of others. (I remain convinced that atheist and religious parents can find common ground.) Luckily, alongside the long overdue books on secular parenting, there seems to be a growing movement of atheist, agnostic and non-religious parents. The Daily Camera has an excellent article about how non-religious parents in Boulder, Colorado, are getting together for advice, mutual support and companionship in answering life's tougher questions - including a workshop with Parenting Beyond Belief editor Dale McGowan

In his workshops, McGowan will also discuss topics such as how to balance the belief systems of in-laws, grandparents and other family members with nonreligious parenting practices. For example, some nonreligious families still decide to baptize their children in respect to the religious beliefs of their own parents or grandparents.

Malcolm said she wished there had been nonreligious parenting classes when she was raising her children. Today, there are several Boulder-area meet-up groups of parents who trade ideas and tips."It's a small community, but we're out there," she said.

I'd love to hear from secular and non-religious parents about resources or support groups in your area. I don't want to be blindsided by the next theological discussion with my three-year-old. 

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