Tug Of War With A Child’s Mind

Richard Wade regularly provides wise advice to readers with issues related to socially engaging the world as an atheist.  Today he deals with a really interesting letter from an atheist struggling with his religious parents over the ability to raise his daughter as he sees fit:

It’s no secret that my family is discouraged and disheartened by our change of religious views.On several occasions they have made remarks and at one point even gave us a letter stating that they thought she should be raised in a church.

Now for the issue at hand. When my family gathers for dinner, regardless of location, they pray. This is perfectly fine with us and even encouraged in our own house. We respect other’s views and want our home to feel welcoming to all beliefs. We obviously do not pray ourselves but we remain quiet and respectful while they pray.

For quite some time now my family has been making a huge deal about the act of prayer at the dinner table and even going so far to slapping our daughter’s hands together into a praying position. At first we were somewhat alarmed by the situation and even remained passive towards them not knowing how to handle it. Recently we have started instructing our daughter in front of the family to remain quiet and respectful during the blessing, telling her that she wasn’t required to put her hands together or bow her head.

This has resulted in some rather unsettling looks from family members, especially my dad. It’s been very uncomfortable to experience, because I’ve always been so close with my family, and it makes the moments immediately following the prayer even more awkward.

Check out the full letter and Richard’s excellent advice here.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.