We’re Ignoring Parents At Our Movement’s Own Risk

Regarding the topic of how to use our skepticism in more diverse ways, Dren Asselmeier at the Center for Inquiry offers a list of topics that atheist parents might find very relevant to talk about, but we rarely discuss them as a group:

Why do the atheist, freethought, and skeptical movements seem to completely ignore the fact that adults frequently procreate? I have heard that college-educated and non-religious persons tend to have fewer children and to have children later in life, but why is parenting a topic that is almost entirely left out of discussion and consideration in most freethinking communities? Why don’t any of the most well-known skeptics and skeptical sources of information seem to be tackling any of the following topics (and what is stopping them?):

As Dren says, these aren’t just women issues, either. They’re issues parents have to deal with regularly *cough*circumcision*cough*, and we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not talking about them at local meetings and national conferences.

I’ve been to waaaay too many gatherings swamped with college-aged students and senior citizens. It’s great to have both groups represented there but it’s crazy that we don’t have the same turnout from people who are middle-aged (and have young children). Discussing these topics — and providing free day care — is one way to get them to come. Even if you don’t have children, don’t want children, or think children are made of pure evil, these are still worthwhile topics to get educated about because someone in your life is going to have babies and they need to be set straight when they do something crazy (e.g. not get the babies vaccinated).

Go read Dren’s piece in full. And if you have suggestions on other issues that don’t get a lot of airtime in our movement, feel free to raise them in the comments.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • DawnellC

    Perhaps
    it is because so many of these topics are talked about, studied seriously and published
    about in the scientific community. It seems logical to me that freethinkers, humanists,
    skeptics, and other godless folk turn first
    to the scientific community for information and ideas about these topics.

     

    And
    for those topics that are more “squishy” and don’t lend well to scientific inquiry
    or perhaps someone drags some god or another into the fray, we just make up our
    own minds and ignore the naysayers.  Without
    a lot of discussion. Just my opinion, mind you.!

     

     

  • DawnellC

    Perhaps
    it is because so many of these topics are talked about, studied seriously and published
    about in the scientific community. It seems logical to me that freethinkers, humanists,
    skeptics, and other godless folk turn first
    to the scientific community for information and ideas about these topics.

     

    And
    for those topics that are more “squishy” and don’t lend well to scientific inquiry
    or perhaps someone drags some god or another into the fray, we just make up our
    own minds and ignore the naysayers.  Without
    a lot of discussion. Just my opinion, mind you.!

     

     

  • http://carpescripturum.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    As a parent and a contributor to my local CFI blog, I’ve often had things relating to child-rearing that I’ve wanted to talk about, but I’ve held back because there aren’t many of us at that “sweetspot” age and I don’t know how interested the rest of our members would be.

    Perhaps I should blog a bit more about parenting issues…

    • Allison Collins

      “Liked,” and now pulling up your blog.  I’m past the pregnancy/childbirth/baby phase, but still would love to read more related to kids and developing skepticism.  My 3-1/2 year old son seems to be a natural skeptic, but my 7-year-old daughter has quite a fanciful desire for the fantastic in her life.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com/ Mara

    I write about many of these issues and plan to hit many of the rest of them in my copious free time ;)

    That day care would give me a chance to come to a meeting and discussing these parenting issues would be a big ol’ draw to a mommy like me. I would love to see the atheist/humanist movement get interested in these issues and pushing people to understand the science.

  • http://twitter.com/oihorse Chris Gohlinghorst

    As an atheist parent raising four kids without religion (6-4-2-0 years of age)  dealing with many of the topics raised in the blog post, the reason I’m not at these conferences is I’m too damn busy raising my kids! That’s great that the idea is being put forth about having childcare at these events, but that doesn’t take into account the cost of traveling with kids and paying for 3+ meals a day while on the road for each kid. It’s a huge, huge money issue.

    • Allison Collins

      This, this, this. Mine are 7 and 3-1/2, and I hit the same issue.  TAM9 was kind of my dream 40th birthday present, but with a husband traveling (for Science!), the logistics make it impossible.  Even just having activities for younger kids at these sorts of conferences would make it possible for me to become involved.  When I think of a dream career, I’d love to be involved with some sort of skepticism for kids initiative (especially within public schools), but without support, I can’t even get a foot in the door, much less make a career of it.

  • Lance Finney

    The Parenting Within Reason podcast used to hit this sweet spot, but it’s been dormant for a few months. Does anyone know if it’s dead? http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/fbbpodcast/

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622166576 Colin Thornton

      Yes, it’s pretty much dead. The burden of producing a weekly podcast eventually caught up with us and our demands as parents. Thank you for listening.

      Many of us still blog at http://sciencebasedparenting.com

      • Lance Finney

        :(

        I guess I’m not surprised (I wouldn’t have time to do it myself), but I was glad to have the resource while it lasted.

        Thanks

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

    As an atheist and a parent, I think the topics that matter to me the most are those involving raising my daughter as a freethinker. Like another commenter said, I look to science for issues like C-sections, nursing, and nutrition. It’s the other issues that bother me. How do I discuss religion with my child? How do I explain that we don’t think the way others do, that we are different? How do I raise my daughter without a church community to support us? Because I love the secular community, but I’m not feeling much support for atheist parents working on raising their children. The skeptic community is good for being able to be open and talk about things, but not for bringing a meal to the atheist mother of a newborn, offering a listening ear to an atheist mother who is overwhelmed with her toddler, or coming over to help when someone is sick. These are the things that a church community does. Being an atheist mother is challenging, let me tell you. I really wish parenting were more embraced by the skeptic community. I’m glad the local secular alliance lets us bring our toddler to movie nights and that atheist happy hour is held in a room where children are allowed (children are not allowed within sight of the actual “bar”). But that’s not the same as feeling supported in my parenting by the skeptic community. In many ways, I’m going at it alone.

    • Glowickie

      I highly recommend looking into your local Unitarian-Universalist congregation. Yes, there are Pagans, Buddhists, Jews and a dozen other belief systems represented, but every congregation our family has attended has had a very sizeable number of people who consider themselves Atheists, Humanists, Freethinkers or Agnostics.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K5KGZH6OZGNABUMZRJA46XUMXE Brad

        I’d like to second this suggestion. You do get your fair share of crystal-gazers at a UU church, but most people are tolerant of the different worldviews. And if you truly want your children to make their own decisions about these issues when they’re older, it’s a great environment to expose them to different traditions.

        • BrentSTL

          I would also suggest, if you live near one, an Ethical Culture Society (or Ethical Society). I’m a member of the Ethical Society of St. Louis and we have a great Sunday School in our Society, plus an outstanding youth group and a pre-Platform discussion group called Parent Talk.

          Google American Ethical Union for the site and more information. Most of the Societies are located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, but there’s also Societies in St. Louis, Chicago and Austin, Texas, as well as an on-line Ethical Society Without Walls.

      • Rieux

        It’s worth looking, but I would warn you that there is a considerable amount of anti-atheist bigotry in the Unitarian Universalist (BTW, there’s no hyphen) Association.

        I was a UU atheist for seven years, but I left when the atheist-bashing got to be too much to bear.

        I’ve written a fair amount about the problem here, here, and here.

        There are certainly congregations and people within Unitarian Universalism who are friendly toward atheism, but there are others (powerful others, alas) who are very much not. Proceed with caution.

    • Beijingrrl

      Religion never came up when I was part of MOMS Club with my first.  And while I haven’t maintained close friendships with any of those moms, we did look out for each other when our children were little.  MOPS is a whole different story.  I have lots of atheist mom friends I met through our secular homeschooling group.  I met one through an online playdate site.  If you’re willing to put in a little effort and you don’t live in an area where being an atheist is a huge stigma, it’d be fairly easy to start up a support group of your own.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Zack/100002112399954 Robert Zack

      Hey man, if you want advice from atheists about parenting, make an account at http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism and make a post and ask your questions.  Parenting is a topic that comes up every now and then, but the most frequently given advisement is “Raise your kids to become critical thinkers… never discourage them from asking ‘Why?’.”

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

    As an atheist and a parent, I think the topics that matter to me the most are those involving raising my daughter as a freethinker. Like another commenter said, I look to science for issues like C-sections, nursing, and nutrition. It’s the other issues that bother me. How do I discuss religion with my child? How do I explain that we don’t think the way others do, that we are different? How do I raise my daughter without a church community to support us? Because I love the secular community, but I’m not feeling much support for atheist parents working on raising their children. The skeptic community is good for being able to be open and talk about things, but not for bringing a meal to the atheist mother of a newborn, offering a listening ear to an atheist mother who is overwhelmed with her toddler, or coming over to help when someone is sick. These are the things that a church community does. Being an atheist mother is challenging, let me tell you. I really wish parenting were more embraced by the skeptic community. I’m glad the local secular alliance lets us bring our toddler to movie nights and that atheist happy hour is held in a room where children are allowed (children are not allowed within sight of the actual “bar”). But that’s not the same as feeling supported in my parenting by the skeptic community. In many ways, I’m going at it alone.

  • deedee

    There are a few groups on FB, but not many. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Parenting-Beyond-Belief/77773055518?ref=ts 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535286477 Roxane Farrell Murray

    I don’t expect atheist groups to handle general child-rearing issues (other than the problem of raising freethinkers in a world full of woo) any more than I expect my knitting group to deal with atheism or my book club to deal with cooking.  It’s not as though there is any shortage of information about the topics listed above in plenty of other easily-accessible  places.  And frankly, as the mother of adult children, when it comes to this stuff, I’ve been there, done that, and have no desire to revisit it.  

    I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens’s comment on motherhood:  “Is there anything so utterly lacking in humor as a mother discussing her new child?  She is unboreable on the subject.”  The same can’t necessarily be said of the rest of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719095026 Zach Johnson

    As an atheist parent, only that last one (raising your children without superstition) is really of interest to me personally.  Under the more general umbrella of skepticism, the other main interest of mine is the peddling of woo – vaccines causing autism, the amber teething thing (which I’d never heard of before, but man is that stupid!) – things like that.  All the others on the list are things that either I just don’t care about or aren’t all that interesting to me.

    I wouldn’t say that I feel at all ignored as a parent by the atheist movement.  I expect it to be generally more about stuff pertaining to atheism than anything else.  I do find that atheists as a whole are quite supportive of anything that falls under skepticism (including any parenting issues) – it’s just not the main focus.

    • Anonymous

      THIS!  I read through the list and there are few items in that list that I would be interested in hearing about without my blood pressure going through the roof.  Amber teething necklaces (with analgesic properties no less)??  Alt medicine is the biggest scam out there and does not deserve recognition in any serious manner.  Science has proven that over and over again.

      That last item is the only thing I’d like to hear about at a freethought/atheism type conference, and while I only have 1 child who is nearing teen age, I really just can’t afford to do this as a family event. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719095026 Zach Johnson

    As an atheist parent, only that last one (raising your children without superstition) is really of interest to me personally.  Under the more general umbrella of skepticism, the other main interest of mine is the peddling of woo – vaccines causing autism, the amber teething thing (which I’d never heard of before, but man is that stupid!) – things like that.  All the others on the list are things that either I just don’t care about or aren’t all that interesting to me.

    I wouldn’t say that I feel at all ignored as a parent by the atheist movement.  I expect it to be generally more about stuff pertaining to atheism than anything else.  I do find that atheists as a whole are quite supportive of anything that falls under skepticism (including any parenting issues) – it’s just not the main focus.

  • http://twitter.com/morganducks Paul Morgan

    No idea why you link to the post about raising kids without superstition. Her thesis is that we shouldn’t deny kids the “magic” of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. It’s complete bunk. I have always told my son those are mythical characters, and that revelation hasn’t hindered his appreciation for storytelling and imagination. I doubt you’ve seen a kid with a wilder imagination than my son.

    When you encourage your kids to believe in something that’s not real, you’re hurting them. You’re lying to them.When my son asks where we all came from, I’ll explain evolution. If he wants to go deeper, I’ll just have to say we don’t know. Because the science isn’t there yet. But we’re learning more and more every day, and he should keep his mind open.

    But how can he trust verifiable truth if I’ve lied to him?

  • http://twitter.com/morganducks Paul Morgan

    No idea why you link to the post about raising kids without superstition. Her thesis is that we shouldn’t deny kids the “magic” of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. It’s complete bunk. I have always told my son those are mythical characters, and that revelation hasn’t hindered his appreciation for storytelling and imagination. I doubt you’ve seen a kid with a wilder imagination than my son.

    When you encourage your kids to believe in something that’s not real, you’re hurting them. You’re lying to them.When my son asks where we all came from, I’ll explain evolution. If he wants to go deeper, I’ll just have to say we don’t know. Because the science isn’t there yet. But we’re learning more and more every day, and he should keep his mind open.

    But how can he trust verifiable truth if I’ve lied to him?

    • Anonymous

      You know, I’ve heard this argument time and time again, from both sides of the fence.  The fundies that I know locally do not endorse Santa and the Easter Bunny for the same reason you’re mentioning… if the kids find out they liked about those two being realy, the kids might feel the same about Jesus and God.

      I disagree… kids get it if explained right.  My son left Santa a note every year (which hubby “answered” with a note from “Santa” on the reverse), along with cookies and milk.  The glow from my son when he saw “Santa’s” note was incredible.  By age 7, he had figured it out but we still do a stocking and gifts “from Santa” for each other.  We gradually explained that Santa is the idea of generosity toward others but that when kids are young, we use the person of “Santa” at Christmas because that’s easier to understand.  He totally got it and he said he never felt lied to at all.

      As for the Easter Bunny, he knew  by age 4 it was us when he saw in his Easter basket some stuff I’d bought the day before… that, and he knew the “map” to the Easter eggs hidden around the house was done by Dad.  LOL!  He even stood up for another kid who still believes in the Easter Bunny when some little turd at school was running around saying the EB is not real.

      He’s got plenty of time in his adulthood to be surrounded by reality and facts.  We decided to give him Santa and Easter Bunny for a few years as a child.  Oh, and he also knows that Batman, Spider Man, and Iron Man aren’t real as well.

      • Sclayton

        In reading your post, I realized that I have sometimes come off as the turd running around saying God isn’t real to my friends and family who haven’t figured it out for themselves yet.  I need to remember that there can be times when it’s honorable to defend another’s right to faith or at least refrain from yelling “The emperor has no clothes!”, allowing people to discover reality for themselves when/if they’re ready to do so.  Yes, even as adults who I think ought to know better by now.

        • Sclayton

          (As long as they’re not bullying others into believing!)  :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1034366850 Erin Jones

      Parenting Belyond Beliefe is a wonderful collection of writing about raising freethinkning kids, and two pieces deal with the Santa issues, each on a different side of the fence. Here is Dale’s take on the issue, http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=4982

      I was raised a moderate xian(now atheist) and never had santa, as my mother wanted Christ in christmas, and wanted us to appreciate do for others more then for ourselves. Now with a 3 year old my partner and I decided that we will go ahead with santa, while encouraging kiddo to think critically about the issue(travel time, magic, all that) each year at an age appropriate pace. We can then draw comparisons between that myth and the religious myths still out there today!

      • Anonymous

        YES!  It was the critical thinking stuff… time travel, etc., that made our son realize Santa couldn’t be real at an early age.  He was a numbers fanatic and once we did the math with him, it was an impossibility.  Thanks for the reminder!

      • http://twitter.com/morganducks Paul Morgan

        Thanks for the links. 

        I’m still not understanding the benefit of the original lies. What do the kids get out of it? My son understands that Xmas is about family giving, caring, sharing. He still says hi to Santa at the mall. But he knows it’s no more real than the mascot at the college football game.Kids don’t need our silly mythical lies to develop or use their imagination. If your child said, “Hi! Meet Jimmy. He’s invisible and lives in my eyebrow!” Would you confirm for your child that Jimmy was real, just to keep the fantasy alive? To me, pretending Santa is real is the same issue.My take on the free-thinking community is that at its core it’s honest about reality, the pieces of the universe we can test and verify, always striving for knowledge. There’s plenty of mystery and wonder without creating or perpetuating false myths.I’m not here to be a critic of anyone’s parenting. To each his own. Hemant linked to an article supposedly about raising children without superstition, which actually proposed raising children with superstitious beliefs in faeries, the Easter bunny and Santa Claus.  I was merely surprised to see it promoted on this blog.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1034366850 Erin Jones

      Parenting Belyond Beliefe is a wonderful collection of writing about raising freethinkning kids, and two pieces deal with the Santa issues, each on a different side of the fence. Here is Dale’s take on the issue, http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=4982

      I was raised a moderate xian(now atheist) and never had santa, as my mother wanted Christ in christmas, and wanted us to appreciate do for others more then for ourselves. Now with a 3 year old my partner and I decided that we will go ahead with santa, while encouraging kiddo to think critically about the issue(travel time, magic, all that) each year at an age appropriate pace. We can then draw comparisons between that myth and the religious myths still out there today!

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Daycare at atheist meetings would be awesome. Having no where to place the youngster is a real block in the path to being able to go out and meet others of like mind.

    Plus, there’d be more atheist parents there which means the kids would get to know each other and BAM! They have their own community too.

    Or is it starting to sound too much like atheist church now?

  • Anonymous

    Disclaimer: I don’t have children.  I don’t want children.  I don’t particularly like them. Especially the ones raised by parents who are completely and utterly unable to grasp that their child might actually be misbehaving (or worse, who get it, but still refuse to discipline their child and instead just apologize over and over for it breaking something expensive I own, but not being able to afford to replace it, instead of stopping the child from the destructive behaviour in the first place).  I am a crotchety old crone.

    That being said, I do strongly feel that children are precious and should be protected and encouraged to fulfill their hopes and dreams and abilities.  We need safe places for children, better resources for parents, teachers who are paid the fortunes they’re worth, nurses and doctors who practice based on science, and loads of fighting the asinine misinformation out there.  I am completely comfortable with the idea of doing physical harm to people who do physical or emotional harm to children, up to and including death in especially egregious cases (but I suppose that’s a discussion for a different time).

    One of the reasons this is hard to discuss is because of how totally batshit insane parents (in general) are about their darling offspring. While it is certainly possible for an individual parent (or pair of parents) to be logical and base their parenting decisions on science and reasoning, bloody few of them actually DO that.  And FSM forbid should ANYone even DARE to suggest that they might be making a decision on anything less than stellar information.  Because that almost invariably gets turned into  (in the mind of the parent) a claim that one is saying “you’re being a bad parent” or “you don’t adequately love your child” instead of any sort of reasoned suggestion or *GASP* legitimate criticism of a choice they’re making. 

    They are perfectly fine with discussing parental methods in the abstract, but the moment one of them gives birth, or they run into something that is actually about their specific child, their brains seem to get checked at the door and they make life-changing/threatening choices based entirely on how something feels or looks to them, rather than, oh, reality.

    I got in a discussion once with a parent who said she bought a Ford Explorer because it made her feel safer driving her baby around in the larger vehicle.  I pointed out various studies that show SUVs in general (and Ford Explorers in particular) were more dangerous and LESS protective if there was an accident, and that there was a greater chance of her child dying in an accident in the SUV than in a safer and smaller economy car.  For her it had nothing to do with reality, and everything to do with how she FELT safer in the SUV.  That she and her baby weren’t ACTUALLY safer, and were, in fact, LESS safe, didn’t matter a bit.

    I posit that parental freedom is way more of a sacred cow than religion is these days.  There’s no room for even good friends to make gentle suggestions for how something might work better (let alone actually flat out say “this is a mistake, please really rethink this, letting your child play with knives is not ‘allowing him freedom of expression’ it’s DANGEROUS”). 

    Maybe that’s just for me, though.  Because I’m childless by choice, I don’t get to say a word.  Even when you’re endangering not just your dearest, most important thing in the world by not getting it vaccinated, but you’re endangering every OTHER PERSON that your precious bundle comes into contact with (not just other people’s precious bundles, but adults, too).

    • Anonymous

      Love how you refer to the children as “it.”  I was never supposed to have children (medicine = not an accurate science) and I felt much the way you do… could have written parts of this myself.  It would drive me nuts to have playgroup at my house because we didn’t “childproof” the house… we trained our son to not get into the things we didn’t want him into.  The other kids were into EVERYTHING!  A religious friend of mine has 3 boys and they are not allowed in anyone’s house for just that reason.  They are destructive but she “let’s them be kids.”  My child is not perfect and I’m never going to say he is… I do believe he behaves better than most kids his age, but it took years of training and repetition to get here.  I’m not into that touchy-feely parenting (don’t even get me started on attachment parenting). 

      Anyway, I agree with you.  :-)

    • Heidi

      You know, this reminded me of the many stories I hear from a friend of mine.  She often  gets the disapproving looks, and whispered-behind-the-hand comments directed at her son, when he appears to be acting out. But you see, her son is autistic, and also has sensory perception disorder. Just being in the grocery store can be overwhelming for him. Since the other people in the store have no way of knowing that, they make uninformed assumptions about his behavior. Which, I’m thinking you might have in common with them.

      • Anonymous

        I know, how about you just try to keep thinking further instead of reaching the least pleasant conclusion possible?  No, it’s a whole lot easier to just assume I’m an awful person with no compassion or empathy available.

        The child and parenting situation I described above happen to be a child and parent that I know, quite well, and I -know- said child is in no way disabled or autistic.  And he has broken things that belong to us that his mother has no hope of ever being able to restore or replace, and come close to breaking other things. While she sat benignly ignoring his behaviour instead of stopping him (this is NOT a case of us having a lot of delicate glass around, either. He manages to break or damage things that are SUPPOSED to be played with).  Because *I* don’t feel comfortable trying to get him to stop, I now only have him in my house in small doses and in controlled circumstances.

        When I see a child acting out in public, like at the store, I might be annoyed by it, but I’m far more likely to give an encouraging smile to the harried mother and assume the child is just over-tired than anything else.   I certainly don’t sit there giving people dirty looks or whispering behind my hand.

        And really freeking great job ignoring the whole bloody point of my post and picking on ONE thing that has precious little to do with what I was saying.

        See, it’s all my fault. It’s all me.  Y’all see what Heidi did there?  She turned this into being ABOUT ME and what a horrible child hater I am, instead of being about how we’re not ALLOWED to discuss parenting issues with parents.  Jesus, I can’t even talk about parenting issues with people who have friends with kids, because *I* become the bad guy when I point to people THEY DON’T EVEN FREEKIN’ KNOW that *I* DO and say “this was poorly handled”.  She didn’t even know the situation, and *I* was the bad guy.

        • Heidi

          Hit a nerve, did I?  You know how you said you’re “a crotchety old crone?” I wasn’t actually asking you to demonstrate it.  

          I was, OTOH, totally polite to you.  I simply suggested that you may not have all the information in every situation, and that you may be overreacting.  According to my friend, many people do this in her son’s presence, and most of those people react negatively.  But then what did you do?  You went and got all drama-queen diva, overreacting, hauling out the strawmen and lighting them on fire, and then YELLING IN ALL CAPS LIKE A LITTLE KID HAVING A TANTRUM, WAAAH!  Congratulations. You win the Internet Award for the Biggest Overreaction Ever.

          If this is how you react to someone who questions you, I suspect that your smiley encouragements are quite possibly not coming off the way that you think they are.  And I suggest that you reevaluate your somewhat less than charming personality, Madam Protests Too Much.

          • Anonymous

            You weren’t polite at all.  What you were was passive aggressive and snide.  And I chose not to just sit by and smile benignly while you recast my original point into your terms.

            You set yourself up with plausible deniability so you could make precisely this response when I got irked at your blatant insinuation that I’m an awful person who makes snap judgments without sufficient information. 

            I don’ t know you at all.  I don’t know how you treat any pets you may have.  I don’t know how you treat your coworkers.  I don’t know how you talk to your family.  I have no idea how much you give to charity, or what volunteer work you do.  I don’t know what music you like, what books you read, or anything else about you.  It is entirely possible that you’re a decent human being who might even quite like me if you actually bothered to get to know me.  My friends seem to like me, but I suppose even Cheney has friends. I guess my friends are just poor abused souls that I’ve managed to gather around me using coersion and threats of some sort, rather than people who find me interesting, fun, intelligent, and caring.

            What I do know about you, though, is that you are passive aggressive and deflecting when you post in replies to comments on this blog.  I never claimed to have a charming personality, in fact, I pretty much said I didn’t right up front.  I guess I also know you’re pretty stupid for deliberately being snotty to someone who openly admits to being crotchety.  Unless you were just looking for a fight in the first place, then bravo on baiting the she-bear.  Well played.

            How about you actually respond to what my original comment was about, instead of just sitting there calling me thinly veneered names?

            • Heidi

              OK, I don’t know if you are deliberately misunderstanding me or what. But your interpretation is wrong.

              I never meant to say/imply/suggest that you were an awful person, or that you hate children. How would I even know that? I don’t think I’ve ever even talked to you before this.  Nor would I have a problem with it if you actually did hate children. I have friends who are wonderful people, and yet they wouldn’t have let any kid into their house in the first place.

              My thought process on reading your original comment, was “hmmm. this reminds me of what Ann is always talking about happening to her and Christopher.” (not their actual names) “Ann is hurt when that happens. She has said many times that she wishes there was more public awareness.  This may be an opportunity for that.”

              The people Ann meets, who are not you, presumably, do the whispering thing, and the sneering thing. That is not what I said or meant you may have in common with them. What I said and meant you might have in common with them is that “they make uninformed assumptions about his behavior.”  It was not passive-aggressive or any such thing. I did not set up anything.  I said exactly what I meant.

              I absolutely got snippy at you in my second post, because you unloaded a giant, unwarranted rant on me. I was not veiling any insults. In my second post, I meant to say you
              were acting like a drama queen, and I meant to say it was childish, both of which you are doing again by saying you’re taking your ball and going home. (Admittedly, I have also done that, and it was probably childish and melodramatic when I did it, too.) Any
              other insults were in your imagination. If I mean to call someone names,
              believe me, I will.

              I have ADD.  I hyper focus, and I am easily distracted. The part of your post that reminded me of Ann and Christopher distracted me from the rest of your post, about which I had no comment anyway. Thus the not commenting on the rest of your post.

              • Anonymous

                I know I said I was leaving the thread, but I can’t seem to figure out how to unsubscribe to comments yet. *embarrassed grin*  As it happens I’m glad I didn’t figure it out.

                I accept your explanation for your intent, as you know your own mind and I couldn’t possibly.  I can see how what you said before relates to what you’re saying now.  However, I disagree that I completely misunderstood you.

                Your clarification says:
                “What I said and meant you might have in common with them is that “they make uninformed assumptions about his behavior.””

                It is certainly true that I thought you were saying that I whispered about “misbehaving” children in public.  But it is also true that I thought you were saying that I make uninformed assumptions.

                So I was half right, and half wrong.  You weren’t saying I was rude enough to whisper about a child right there in front of it and its parent. 

                But you =were= saying that I remind you of people who make uninformed assumptions about the behavior of a child they don’t know.

                Really, it was the latter I found more insulting.  Nothing in my original comment suggested that I was talking about strangers (who, for the sake of this conversation should be taken to mean “people and children I don’t know at all”).  None of the examples or conversations I alluded to would reasonably have taken place with strangers.  Yet you assumed that my disapproval of a failure of discipline would be directed at strangers.

                So here’s my clarification.  I wasn’t talking about children I don’t know or situations about which I have no information.  I was talking about people I know, and know fairly well, who have been to my home on several occasions or with whom I have spent considerable time over the years talking on various fora.

                My comments about parents failing to control their children, or failing to make parenting decisions based on reality rather than how they feel were not based on uninformed assumptions. 

                You may have made some connection to such situations in your mind because my tone wasn’t entirely pro-child or pro-parent.  That, however, is not my fault, and has nothing to do with what I actually said in my original comment.

                So I return to my impression that you have have unfairly characterized me as someone unpleasant (uninformed assumptions aren’t pleasant where you come from, are they?) as a result of, perhaps, skimming instead of really reading my original comments and responding to an over all “feel” instead of content.  It is based on this that I took offense.

                As I said when I started this, I accept this was not your intent because you have so stated.  If that matters at all, at this point. Unfortunately, our intent doesn’t always shine through our words.  As for the charge of over reacting, I accept that. I did. I do at least somewhat regret that and wish I’d allowed myself some time before responding, because certainly a more calm approach would have been better received.

    • Red

      Parents, in general, are totally batshit insane about their kids?  Do you have evidence to support this claim? I have anecdotes that refute your anecdotes.

      I believe you when you say you’re a crotchety old crone, you don’t have to spend six more paragraphs proving it.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t have any studies to cite specifically.  I don’t have time to find them for you. 

        I had a longer reply but I started to realize I’m adding nothing to the discussion, and this is becoming about how unpleasant a person I am.  Thank you for taking the time to point this out to me.

        • Red

          Very good.  It seems we’ve made progress today.

  • Zachary Moore

    The Fellowship of Freethought in Dallas (fofdallas.org)  provides childcare and on-topic lessons for children during our monthly gatherings. And the kids are typically made a part of the program, where they’re brought in at the end to report on what they’ve learned that day. More local organizations should follow this model if they want to be more family-friendly.

  • Annie

    As  a parent, one thing that I would love to learn more about is how to help set up a secular student alliance group at my child’s future high school. 

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    As some others have already said, people raising children have to be very selective about what they spend their limited free-time doing.  For most of us, drinking at the local pub with fellow atheists or going to conferences will probably just not happen because we are doing things in the evenings like helping our kids with homework.
     
    People do what people have time for.  People without children and people with grown children have more available free-time and will always be over-represented at these kinds of atheist-themed social events.  People like myself who are actively raising kids will mainly be limited to doing things on-line.  That is just the way it is.   I have found things like “Ask Richard” very useful and helpful.  A certain percentage of those posts are about the interplay between parents and children.  Its good to see that from both sides (parent and child).

    It would be a bit unrealistic to expect the leaders of the free-thought movement (if the majority of them are not actively raising children) to try to cater what they write about to people actively raiding children.  Perhaps when Hemant (and others in the movement) are so inclined to get married and have rug-rats crawling around (and they continue to find time to run their blogs) they will have more child-raising related posts.  You have to post about what you know.

  • Greg

    You forgot to mention which condiments go best with babies, Hemant… ;)

    I’m not a parent, but I wonder if this is the kind of thing that needs to be brought about by any parent who thinks this is a good idea themselves, rather than an atheist group trying to create it in order to attract new people to the movement.

    The thing about atheism/scepticism etc., is that there is no dogma saying how kids should be brought up. We don’t have any text saying that ‘god wants you to do this or that’. As a result, the things that get brought up tend to be the ones which people want to talk about rather than mentioned because a head priest thinks a holy book talks about them.

    People who talk about – say – the evolution and creationism ‘debate’ are going to be people involved in the battlefield: so scientists, advocates for separation of church and state etc. The same with homoeopathy and all the rest. Similarly, for all the things you suggested, you need speakers in those respective ‘battlegrounds’.

    The reason these things don’t get talked about, is probably simply that there aren’t the people who want to speak about it. Probably because current parents are up to their eyebrows in work/family related things, and don’t have the time to devote to this kind of thing. I doubt there’s any real taboo about it, just practicalities.

    My personal opinion is help anyone who wants to do this kind of thing anyway you can, but I don’t think we want “any of the most well-known skeptics and skeptical sources of information … to [tackle] any of the [above] topics” unless they are coming both from a position of knowledge, and personal experience of the subject they are talking about.

  • Toasted Rye

    I am an atheist parent of two children and the biggest drawback for me in attending conferences is lack of childcare. That being said I think at least one person addressing issues with atheism and parenting in conferences would be swell. They don’t have to go into detail about specific woo but offer resources for parents where they can access the latest research on hot button issues. They could also discuss books and methods that helped them raise sexpositive well adjusted critical thinkers. They could also offer resources for addressing various violations of church and state issues with their childrens schools as well as advice for tackling such issues without making a big scene. Just some of my opinions.

  • Toasted Rye

    I am an atheist parent of two children and the biggest drawback for me in attending conferences is lack of childcare. That being said I think at least one person addressing issues with atheism and parenting in conferences would be swell. They don’t have to go into detail about specific woo but offer resources for parents where they can access the latest research on hot button issues. They could also discuss books and methods that helped them raise sexpositive well adjusted critical thinkers. They could also offer resources for addressing various violations of church and state issues with their childrens schools as well as advice for tackling such issues without making a big scene. Just some of my opinions.

  • Pchagala

    I found Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief to be a really good resource.

    Product Description

    ” Praised by Newsweek as “a compelling read” and Library Journal as
    “accessible and down-to-earth,” Dale McGowan’s Parenting Beyond Belief
    offered freethinking parents everywhere a compassionate introduction to
    raising caring, ethical children without religious guidance. Now, for
    the more than 40 million people in the United States who identify
    themselves as nonreligious, Raising Freethinkers offers solutions to the
    unique challenges secular parents face and provides specific answers to
    common questions, as well as over 100 activities for both parents and
    their children. This book covers every important topic nonreligious
    parents need to know to help their children with their own moral and
    intellectual development, including advice on religious-extended-family
    issues, death and life, secular celebrations, wondering and questioning,
    and more. Complete with reviews of books, DVDs, curricula,
    educational toys, and online resources relevant to each chapter topic,
    Raising Freethinkers helps parents raise their children with confidence.

    http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Freethinkers-Practical-Parenting-Beyond/dp/0814410960

  • Kelli Smith

    I don’t understand why anything on that list would be considered a “woman’s issue” by default.  It would be great to have a place to go (virtually or otherwise) to discuss some of these issues.  We’re not raising our son to be an atheist, but we will actively discourage organized religion if he does choose to believe in a higher power.  Is that the right way to go about it?  No idea.  Would bringing him to these conferences be fair since we’re trying to be careful to not make his mind up for him?

    Yes, discussion is needed although I don’t see us bringing him to TAM.  Unless Penn will babysit, of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001294252319 Robert Ray

    My Humanist group is trying to start a youth group aimed at the chilren of Atheist and Humanist parents.  We already address some of these issues.  So far response has been slow but we are doing fairly well

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500408861 Shana West

    Hmm…I do think that these topics have a place in skeptical discussion. It’s not far afield (contrary to one commenter above, I don’t think it’s at all like expecting a knitting group to discuss atheism), though I don’t know that it demands its own separate conversation. 

    I don’t have children myself, but I may someday and I definitely dedicate some thought to it–the same with women’s health in general. The other day, a friend mentioned going to a midwife to get an annual exam and I totally balked. It took me a minute to figure out and explain why I thought it was a bad idea. And there are a number of things in a similar vein–from home remedies like cranberry juice to whether you should induce labor. As a woman, I find these are all pretty relevant to me! I’m always surprised at the ignorance out there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670884306 Amy Mann Lewis

      Why is midwifery a bad idea?  For the most part, it’s better science than obstetrics because it doesn’t rely on the opinion of the practitioner, but instead much more on the human body.

      • Anonymous

        You had a good first question but then you said:

        “For the most part, it’s better science than obstetrics because it
        doesn’t rely on the opinion of the practitioner, but instead much more
        on the human body.” 

        This exposes a rather glaring bias on your part. 

        First off, what do you think obstetricians are working with when they work with a patient? A rubber doll?  Do you think they never touch an actual patient for an examination?

        Second, midwives are no less prone to biases than obstetricians, and there is nothing that is inherently more science-based in midwifery than in obstetrics. 

        One -could- argue that obstetricians are more likely to base their decisions on science and objective data than midwives because they have more extensive medical training, but even that ignores the fact that there are plenty of doctors out there promoting idiocy disguised as science and making absurd claims and expecting you to just accept them because THEY went to MEDICAL school!  Some of the crap I hear about midwives promoting and convincing their “patients” to do is frightening.  But again, that’s not the whole profession.  There are certainly SOME midwives who are more competent than SOME obstetricians, and vice versa.

        Another point, Shana didn’t say anything even remotely like “midwifery is a bad idea” in the way you’ve responded.  She was given pause by the suggestion that she should see a -midwife- for her annual exam. 

        A midwife is -not a gynecologist and is not trained or licensed to give gynecological care-.  Just because a midwife may be capable of helping a baby through the birth canal and a mother through the birthing process and can identify when things are going badly enough to call in higher level professionals, that doesn’t mean she knows everything that can go wrong with a woman’s plumbing or that she’s even remotely qualified to do an annual gynecological examination.

        • Anonymous

          That’s interesting. In the US a midwife isn’t a medical professional? I live in Spain, and being a midwife here (called “matrona”) is extremely demanding. First you have to become a nurse and only then can you specialize to become a midwife. Getting into the speciality happens only after an exam and you have to do very well on it, since it’s a very sought after specialty so there’s an incredible amount of competition for entry.

          • Anonymous

            In the US, how rigorous the training for becoming a midwife is varies greatly from state to state.  I didn’t say they weren’t medical professionals, I said they aren’t licensed gynecologists (and implied they were also not  obstetricians).

            In nearly all cases the training required to be officially recognized as a midwife is less extensive than for an obstetrician.  That doesn’t mean they’re not medical professionals.  Physicians Assistants also go through less extensive training, but they are also medical professionals, as are nurses, etc. 

            What they are not, in most cases, is doctors.  And they’re no more or less subject to the biases that everyone else has than anyone else.  They are not specially in tune with women or women’s needs in a way obstetricians aren’t or anything like that.

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        For anyone considering using a midwife at home instead of going to the hospital and having an obstetrician oversee your delivery, I would strongly recommend waiting until your 2nd baby.  That way you will have known from your 1st baby if your pelvis is wide enough.  We don’t want anybody dying here.

        We have a family friend who has had 4 home deliveries with midwifes.  Her body is just built for it.  My wife, though, has fairly narrow hips and would have died if not in a hospital for her deliveries.

        That is two anecdotal stories anyway.

      • Annie

        I get what you are saying, Amy.  I had incredibly thorough care under a midwife, and when compared with friends who went the OB-Gyn route, I think I had a lot more one-on-one time with my practitioner.  Birthing is not a medical condition, it is a very natural event.  There is really no need to be in a hospital (and around all of those germs) if it isn’t necessary.  Of course, some people have complications or enter into pregnancy while not in optimal health, and so it’s wonderful to have hospitals.  I gave birth a mile away from a hospital under the care of a midwife who was ready to whisk me there at the earliest sign of distress.  Midwives generally seem to really push breastfeeding, which has been proven, time and time again, to be a healthier option for a baby than formula.  The only negative experience I had with my midwife was when I had mastitis and she first recommended to my husband that we try a homeopathic therapy.  My husband simply said, “She has 104 degree fever and is hallucinating, we need antibiotics now.”  She called in a script immediately. 

        • Anonymous

          “Birthing is not a medical condition, it is a very natural event.  There
          is really no need to be in a hospital (and around all of those germs) if
          it isn’t necessary. ”

          Dental cleaning isn’t a medical condition, and plaque build up is completely natural, but I’d still rather have a dental hygienist working with up to date instruments cleaning my teeth twice a year than not.

          • Annie

            Well, of course you would, but I don’t really follow your analogy.  The woman who oversaw my labor was a labor and delivery nurse for 20 years before becoming a midwife.  To imply that midwives are untrained and inexperienced is a bit silly.  It isn’t too difficult to check the credentials of anyone these days. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500408861 Shana West

          Your post reminded me of another issue that requires some skepticism: breastfeeding. It’s interesting to me what gets thrown around in that arena. My understanding is the same as yours–that it’s better for the baby’s health. But I was dismayed to see those La Leche League punks asserting that women who don’t breastfeed won’t be as close to their babies (there’s no scientific support for that to my knowledge). My mother couldn’t breastfeed me due to medical complications, but we were very close. Even so, statements like those of la leche really hurt her feelings and made her feel like a bad mother.

          • Heather

            Atheist, La Leche League Leader poking her head in here. First of all breastfeeding isn’t “better” for babies, it is the biological norm, anything less is sub-par. Yes, sometimes we need formula and yes it has saved lives. The women I know personally, have worked with in my role as a Leader, the books, articles, and studies I have read all state that the biggest obstacle to breastfeeding was lack of support and proper education. True medical reasons for not being able to breastfeed are rare, but they do exist. 

            La Leche League is a organization of volunteers. La Leche League has changed over the years too. What LLL says is breastfeeding is the norm and breastfeeding is an important part of bonding. This is not just what we “think” we know there are chemical reasons. If you don’t breastfeed that does not mean you are a bad mother or won’t bond with your child. I know mothers who did not breastfeed who are wonderful mothers some of them are better mothers than some breastfeeding mothers I know.

            I don’t know you or your mother or anything about her experience but I know *I* and all the other Leaders I know would never say such a thing to a mother who was unable to nure her child. I am not saying it wasn’t said to her or that she didn’t feel that way but know we are human, we make mistakes and we have biases. We actually have to have training to understand and help overcome those biases and it is not always easy.

            I think LLL gets something of a bad rap because we say what is true, human babies should have human milk. Breastmilk is species specific and anything other than breastmilk (usually) is inferior. People get upset at that truth. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500408861 Shana West

        I didn’t say that midwifery was a bad idea, just that I didn’t want an annual exam from one. In my experience, midwives can be anything from certified nurses or physician’s assistants to ladies with certificates (or less) from hippie schools.

        The thing is, I wouldn’t go to a nurse or a physician’s assistant for a pap in my regular doctor’s office–I would expect my doctor to do it because she has the most thorough training. I know what her degree means, and that’s a fairly consistent standard. We’re talking about specialized tests that need to be done under specific, consistent conditions. And I’ve had cases where even my doctor referred me to a specialist based on the results of an annual exam. Why would I then rely on someone with even less training than her to do these tests? I just wouldn’t.

        And to be honest, I would be unlikely to have a baby with a midwife because my family has a history of difficult births and I have a bleeding disorder. But I know that plenty of women give birth outside of hospitals just fine and I don’t find any problems in that. And I’m skeptical of ob/gyns, too–I wouldn’t as a rule of thumb go for induced labor or circumcision, for example.

        But all that said, your reasoning is flawed. What does it mean that a midwife relies more on the human body than on the opinion of the practitioner? It all comes down to the opinion of the practitioner, and so I want the most informed one.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    That Free Range Parenting blog is a joke. They take valid studies and blow them out of proportion, using hyperbole and exaggeration to make their point. Free range parenting works if one is privileged enough to live in a safe small town where you know everybody who lives there. For the rest of us, it just isn’t an option.

    • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

      Bullshit. The author lives in New York, and it’s perfectly possible to bring children up to live in a city. You might think that it’s far too dangerous, and that your children are simply incapable of coping with the outside world, but that just means that you’re a victim of the paranoia that FRK sets out to debunk.

      The truth is that children used to be brought up with much more freedom than they are now, were quite safe doing it, and the world has only got safer since then. You can go with your gut feelings of fear, or you can go with the facts.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        I just don’t see what’s so safe about letting a 7- or 8-year-old walk or ride around a city on their own, miles away from help (and if they have a cell phone, is that truly free-range? — it might be, I’m just curious). As a parent, I just keep thinking about the worst-case scenario, and how I would feel if I allowed my son or daughter to roam freely in our city at such a young age, and something happened to them.

        I know the statistics don’t agree with my paranoia, but I’m not willing to let statistics determine whether my children will roam without being harmed. It’s possible, and very easy, to raise children in a safe environment under their parents’ watchful eye, without being smothered or coddled. It’s just simple supervision. The possible harm far outweighs any possible advantages to FRP.

        What’s the benefit? Your child will grow up to be more confident? You can facilitate that without putting them at possible risk. That’s just where I’m coming from with this whole FRP thing.

        • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

          I just don’t see what’s so safe about letting a 7- or 8-year-old walk or ride around a city on their own, miles away from help

          You’re never miles from anything in a city; they’re full of people. Most of whom will help a child that needs it, rather than taking any opportunity to rape them and chop them into little pieces.

          if they have a cell phone, is that truly free-range?

          Of course it is. This isn’t supposed to be some sort of medieval ordeal, it’s about learning to cope in the real world. Even independent grown adults need a bit of support occasionally, and one of the life skills that people need is knowing how and when to ask for it.

          As a parent, I just keep thinking about the worst-case scenario, and how
          I would feel if I allowed my son or daughter to roam freely in our city
          at such a young age, and something happened to them.

          A lot of people think like that, but it’s not rational, and it has consequences.

          I know the statistics don’t agree with my paranoia, but I’m not willing
          to let statistics determine whether my children will roam without being
          harmed

          That’s pretty much the antithesis of a skeptical approach though, isn’t it? Do you apply the same logic to other things? “I know the evidence doesn’t support homeopathy/prayer/crystal healing, but I’m not willing to let evidence determine my childrens’ medical care.”? If you don’t follow the evidence you’ll get the wrong answers, and you’ll do the wrong things as a result.

          It’s possible, and very easy, to raise children in a safe environment
          under their parents’ watchful eye, without being smothered or coddled.

          Really? And you know that how, exactly? Children know when they’re constantly under surveillance and respond accordingly. I’d be interested to know how you think you can teach a child to cope independently without them ever having to be independent.

          • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

            A more accurate comparison to homeopathy, et al, would be if it was known to kill people once in a while, but could also help people, would I take that risk and use it on my children? The answer is no, if there are alternatives that are much safer.

            Regardless, I plan on researching the evidence behind free-range parenting and whether it’s the only method in existence to raise children without smothering/coddling them. You act like if a parent is around watching their children, they’ll grow up with something wrong with them. They’ll grow up afraid of the world or of being on their own, or of being independent or something. And you also make it seem like free-range parenting is the ONLY way to raise children, and nothing else is good enough to bother with.

    • Rich Wilson

      I couldn’t disagree with you more.
      I’m too tired for a detailed rebuttal, but I hope people will just go read the blog a bit.  I don’t always agree with Lenore, but she’s for evidence based thinking, not hyperbole and exaggeration.  As for ‘privilege’, often free range is the only option for poorer families.  zero or one car?  Kids take the bus.  Both parents work?  Kids fend for themselves after school.  etc etc.
      The biggest mistake I see is people trying to pigeonhole FRK into a political ideology, or socioecnomic class, or just about anything.  It is none of those.  Quite simply it is about giving your kids an appropriate amount of responsibility, which is likely to be closer to what you or your parents had than what is considered ‘normal’ today.
      ok, that was longer than I wanted.  If you don’t like the blog, find.  But everyone else, parents and others, go check it out.  It gets a big thumbs up from me.

  • Reggie

    As a 34 year old father of a 1 year old, the current Skeptical movement offers me very little incentive to be personally involved for the very reasons stated above.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit I’m impressed that there’s no comment yet proclaiming that “We shouldn’t by trying to get any particular group” and that parents are just not going to come and that it’s not really a problem anyway.

    Free childcare is awesome. Youth activities for children too old for childcare but too young to be left home alone for 4 days and/or too young to be interested in lectures would also be good. Alternative celebrations after events that happen in child-friendly restaurants and end early (as opposed to alcohol-infused “see you at the bar!”) and actually include a few of the well-known atheists would also be nice. Why not have dinner with the families before heading to the bar?

    Beyond that as I see it focus needs to be in two places (with the disclaimer that I’m not a parent).

    1. In terms of conferences and addressing parent issues, I think the impulse has to come out of the skeptical blog community. I’ve seen a worrying large number of lectures from skeptical meetings and the topics usually perfectly mirror “what’s hot” on the blogosphere, and that usually has to do with science, atheist rights, GLBT rights or sheer strategy (growing the movement, increasing visibility etc.). It gets a little repetitive after awhile. If the bigger blogs (Pharyngula, Friendly Atheist, Blaghag, Skeptichick, RichardDawkins.net etc.) made a concious effort to start talking about a wider variety of topics (like those above as well as others that interest more people of color etc.) they could start moving things so that those topics became a “topic of interest” in the community, and thereby made it onto the conference list, in addition to bringing more people in online (how many people go to these things without being at least a lurker online first?).

    2. We have to start concentrating on more local projects. Conferences are great, but they’re not for everybody. The SSA makes it their business to try to get safe spaces for nonbeliever students in as many places as they can. Secular organizations and blogs should dedicate at least as much energy to promoting and extending local secular groups that meet at least once a month. Many atheist parents may never be able to go across the country to a conference, but they can sure make it to a Sunday pot-luck with the kids at the park. Actually creating a community of like-minded people on a local level will bring people in and maybe get them involved. Trying to organize a national community, particularly a minority one, without local branches is not going to work very well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670884306 Amy Mann Lewis

    I’m totally on it.  I’m a parent, have a forum that I turn to for most of the above, but they are avowedly not into discussed non-religious parenting.  Any suggestions on domain names?  ;-)

  • Halley

    I do not yet have children, I’m 18 years old, I plan to wait until after college to have them, but topics like these are of great interest to me already. I would love for these to be addressed, and when I have children I don’t plan to leave them at home to go to these events, it would be wonderful if there were activities for them as well.

  • debaser71

    The biggest obstacle for me as a parent and a stay at home dad is that I don’t like 20 something college aged childless people that much. And being surrounded by parents and kids isn’t all that fun either. 

    And it’s not all about day care or child care during the event. There’s the whole issue (as other parents would know) of travelling with kids. Feeding them. Making sure there’s a pool. etc etc etc. What to do with the kids while at the actual event is the easy part. 

    And so I’m not just all mr. negative there’s a site that I like. 

    http://www.parentingscience.com 

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    We can’t be expected to do everything, can we? I don’t know about you, but as someone who neither has nor wants children, I’m perfectly content to let atheist parents handle these topics. They are going to know far more about it than I’d care to know anyway. I’d be glad to offer them a platform (via guest posts), but this is expertise I’m content to pass up.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leia

    As an atheist parent of two freethinkers, I would love to hang out with like minded people.  It’s true my time is precious, but considering my entire family disowned me when I walked away from Mormonism, I find myself ‘alone’ with my children and husband, wishing I had a group of freethinking people to surround us with.

    I would love to find other adults for my children to look up to, adults who I know wouldn’t try to brainwash them behind my back. Even adults without children, because I want my children to see that having children is a choice. I would love my children to be surrounded by children of other atheists.

    I am not saying every atheist get together should be at a park, but it would be nice to feel included in the ‘movement’.  It would be nice to find a community to belong to. It’s tough raising freethinking children in a religious country and it’s difficult to find a secular/atheist group that isn’t 99% college student. (Plus the freethought group at the local university doesn’t seem to be active.) It’s an hour drive to the local CFI, which includes families.

    I know a bunch of families find a community with their own family and activities, but some of us could really benefit from having other atheists to bounce ideas off of.

  • Beanie

    Oh My Dog! Do we have to worship babies in Athiest meetings now, also! To my mind, parents/sacred offspring/families are focused on enough everywhere in our society already. I sure won’t come to any athiest site or meeting if the subject is teething or breastfeeding. Pulleeze!

  • Kat

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I’m going to be a parent in January and I’m already freaking out because my husband and I live in Kansas and are surrounded by religious parenting resources but not much in the way of humanist or secular parenting resources. I’ve read Dale McGowan’s books and visit his blog frequently, but it’s refreshing to know that this is out there as something important.

  • Skippy

    I’m a mother to an 18 month old and the other day came across an advertisement for amber “teething” bracelets that other moms were raving about. I know a few moms who have them, but, I’ve also read no definitive evidence (beyond, “these worked for me and my kid and my mother’s elbow pains and the water on my knee” etc.,) that these magical necklaces are at all effective yet, when I mentioned that, while they were pretty, listing them as possessing some sort of healing properties was misleading I was largely ignored (which is fine) but, two women took offense, and started getting a bit hostile toward me for having said *anything* to slight these wondrous potential strangling hazards! 

    I honestly believe the easiest way to scam someone is by threatening the health/well-being of their children and other loved ones. It’s a shame.  

  • Julieannmullen

    Hemant, I sent you many links on your old blog to our blog http://www.sciencebasedparenting.com.  Many of these topics were covered there.

    What’s hilarious is that I do not even have time to write this comment, as my kid is currently politely demanding, “More grapes please!” 

  • Nicole Hulst

    I’d love for there to be more parenting topics from a skeptical viewpoint. I babywear, still nurse a 15 month old, and cloth diaper, so I have many people think that I also don’t vax my kids and/or believe in woo like those stupid amber teething necklaces.  I’ve mentioned my misgivings a few times, but I always get the “oh, but I/my friend had such good luck, so it must work.” And homeopathic cures run rampant.

    I love my local A group (Corridor A-Team), but there just aren’t enough parents with kids of a similar age to do much and since my daughter was born, I have only gone to a handful of gatherings. So I tend to bite my tongue at many outings with other parents as they talk about the dangers of vaccinations, food dyes, food allergies, and hospital births. 

    Thank you to whoever posted about the Science-Based Parenting blog. I will definitely be checking that out.  I also have read both of McGowan’s PBB books and enjoyed them.

  • Neurolover

    I don’t have kids yet, but as the original post said, “I would like to know some of these things before my 9-month cram session.” Keep ‘em coming!

  • Rob

    Dren?  Like the character from the movie Splice?

    http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0196763/

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Chimera or not, she’s BEAUTIFUL!

  • Jonni

    Interesting subject. I myself have 3 children, all home schooled. The subject of religion has come up, mostly from my 12 year old, who has some friends from religious families.
    Because he has a very scientific mind I told him I felt that religion was a bit like trying to understand quantum physics using newtonian physics principles. It’s great to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and the infinite, but watch out for those who think definite answers are possible. They are applying the wrong method to what should be an interesting and exciting science.
    Anyway, that’s my geek approach to raising freethinking kids!

  • Katie’s mom

    Our local humanist group tried something new this year. We organized an information booth at our local fair. It is pretty big with high attendance. We had a fair amount of interest and quite a few people with kids signed up to get our newsletter and more info about our group. Most of these had never heard of us, probably being busy with life and taking kids to the fair. Anyway, we had a followup picnic and some families came and had a great time.
    For myself, we have a 10 year old and it does cause a bit of a problem with child care if we both want to attend our monthly meetings. Once you add the cost of a sitter and dinner, it can be quite an expense. Hopefully with the new families there might be more interest having topics such as those listed above.


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