It’s Day Ten of Religious Literacy Month here at Natural Wonderers, and today we get to hear from secular parent extraordinaire Dale McGowan, co-author of Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief and the managing editor of the Patheos Atheist Channel.
My daughter Erin was 10 years old when she approached me just before school one day.
“Daddy,” she said, “I want to wear something to school tomorrow, but it makes me feel weird to wear it. I don’t know if I should.”
I can’t say I was surprised that she would be puzzling over the morality of her clothing choices. She wouldn’t have been the first girl to ponder the implications of spaghetti straps or a too-short skirt. But this time, there was a twist.
“What are you thinking about wearing?” I asked.
She slowly revealed a pendant necklace, with a cross of pink plastic beads dangling at the end of it. She had bought the necklace for a dollar on vacation a previous summer.
“Why does it make you feel weird?” I asked, though I assumed she was feeling out the reaction of her secular dad. To be sure, there was a time when I would have frozen like a moose in the headlights at such a question. But this wasn’t some church-state issue. This was about letting my child explore the world for herself. It wasn’t about my views; it was about her ability to guide the development of her own views.
“I feel weird wearing it when I don’t really believe in God — like I’m not being honest,” she said. “But I just like to wear it.” [Read more...]