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Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

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Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

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Perhaps one of the most difficult questions atheists have to tackle is both one of the most practical and one of the most significant when it comes to long-term consequences: how to best raise children in an atheist household. One of the benefits religion can provide is a set of traditions, practices, and answers for raising children. Not all those answers and traditions are good, and raising children isn't easy for anyone, but religion provides a map to help. What do atheists have?


Title: Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief
Author: Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, Jan Devor
Publisher: AMACOM
ISBN: 0814410960

•  Not just theory, but lots of practical advice and projects you can start doing right away
•  First and best resource available for this kind of material

•  None

•  Guide for atheist and freethinking parents on raising children
•  Answers many common questions
•  Provides many practical, age-appropriate projects


Book Review

Frankly, atheists don't have anything that is quite comparable to what a traditional, organized religion provides but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although the map or guide which a religion provides to parents may offer a lot of comfort and reassurance, it can also create restrictions and problems which inhibit parents' ability to raise children as well as they might otherwise. This is where irreligious, atheist, freethinking parents have an important opportunity: they can structure the raising of their children in whatever manner is best suited to their goals rather than in whatever manner is prescribed by religious authority figures and religious institutions

That's fine in theory, but raising children depends upon a great deal more than just theories and wishful thinking. Raising children requires a lot of work, so where are atheists to go for practical advice and ideas about how to go about a process that will take years to finish? There aren't a whole lot of resources out there, but the good news is that there's quite a lot more out there now than there was just a few years ago and it's growing every day. As the secular population of America grows, so are the resources available to them, including parenting resources.

Right now, the single best book of practical advice is Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, by Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, and Jan Devor. Atheist parents will of course need more than a single book, but this is easily the best place to start and will probably be a resource consulted over and over. Raising Freethinkers is basically a sequel to Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, a book that dealt far more with theory, principle, and ideas. This new book is an attempt to carry through on those theories with practical advice, thus the subtitle: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief.

And practical it is — every inch of the nine chapters is devoted to offering practical, real-world advice on what atheist parents can do with their children. To start with, each chapter is taken up primarily by a question-and-answer session featuring some of the many questions atheist parents have when dealing with a variety of issues like religious families, teaching science, and introducing religion.

Each chapter is accompanied by a substantial section of even more practical advice: other books to consult, web sites to look up, many age-appropriate activities to do with children, and more. Raising Freethinkers doesn't merely provide good theory and principles, but a tremendous amount of strong, workable ideas that can be used on a daily or weekly basis.

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

Parenting isn't easy — nor should it be — and this book won't suddenly make it easy. It should, however, give parents and prospective parents something to help them find their own path. Do you need ideas on how to teach ethics? It's in here. Looking for ideas on how to deal with death and mortality? It's in here. Worried about the inevitable questions regarding the body and sexuality? It's in here, too. Not everything is in here of course, but for the first book of its sort there is more than enough to get started with.

Several parenting magazines refused to review Parenting Beyond Belief out of fear of offending religious readers and some retailers refused to stock it on the excuse that there wasn't a market for it. I wonder if they will make the same sorts of vile excuses with this book or if they have learned that there is a market for books aimed at secular, freethinking parents — even though the very existence of such parents continues to offend some Christians.


Editor's web site: Parenting Beyond Belief

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