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Austin Cline

Forum Discussion: Atheist Parenting & Religious Holidays

By July 11, 2012

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For religious believers, religion usually plays an important and even fundamental role in raising their children. Irreligious atheists don't have this, so what are the alternatives? How do atheist parents even deal with religion and religious questions?

Family Bible Lesson
Family Bible Lesson
Photo: Orlando/Three Lions/Getty

The usefulness of religion shouldn't be dismissed or underestimated. Religion can provide social structure, connections to the past as well as a larger community, explanations for the way things in the world are the way they are, and so forth. All of this has good and bad aspects, of course.

If you are going to go without religion, it's important to come come up with ways to either replace or make up for the loss of such functions. It's also important to be able to explain and discuss other people's religion with children.

A forum member writes:

I talk about the pagan origins of such festivals and also the Christian stories attached. Some people believe this, some people believe that, etc. We enjoy the presents, chocolate and family time. ...

I intend discussing religion with them and teaching them critical thinking skills as they grow up. If they become religious as adults, I won't really have a problem with that. My priority is to give them a good foundation. Where they go from there, is up to them.

If you have children, how have you addressed religion with them? Are there any approaches that you've found from personal experience to to be more or less successful?

Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.

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