Here’s an interesting dilemma: Atheists spend a lot of time poking fun at religion and its many irrational beliefs. If you have kids, you want them to be critical thinkers… so what do you do if they end up making fun of the same things you do? Do you let them do it? Or do you stop them because they’re being little punks?
Atheist parenting guru Dale McGowan raises this very scenario and then proposes one great way of handling it:
In addition to clarifying the two different levels of respect about which I’ve written before — that ideas themselves have to earn respect, while people, as people, are inherently deserving of it — the best way to approach this is (if you’ll excuse the phrase) by inviting him who is without sin to cast the first stone.
I watch the odd bit of televangelism now and then. My son Connor (then 11) caught a few minutes of one program in which some outrageous thing was being foisted on a nodding throng
My boy reacted not to the idea itself, but by sneering at the people: “I just don’t understand how those stupid people can believe stupid things that make no sense!”
“Hmm, yeah.” I thought for a minute, then said, “Hey Con, could you go get me a Coke from the basement?”“What?”
“A Coke. From the basement.”
“I… but…” he stammered. “Why?”
“I’m thirsty. Please.”
“But…I can’t go into the basement by myself.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“I… I just can’t!”
“Oh,” I said gently. “And… does that make sense?”
Religious people aren’t the only people with irrational beliefs. Hell, I dislike stray hairs. And all things smaller than me.
Dale adds later on that “reasoned critique” is a wonderful thing but “eye-rolling arrogance” is not. The former is what you want to teach your kids.
Has anyone else had to deal with children who acted in that arrogant manner toward religious people… when you may have been thinking the exact same things?
How did you handle it?