by Karen Loethen
I’m not sure why most people start blogging; I assume it has something to do with feeling they have something they need to say. My own reason for starting my blog was fairly unclear to me in the beginning, though I knew that it had alot to do with my disappointment with Facebook.
On Facebook, I found it impossible to post my real beliefs about our family’s lifestyle. I got so much negative feedback on Facebook and, yet, I felt the need to be honest about my beliefs.
I do not debate. If you have a differing opinion or point of view, I generally reply “Oh, ok.” But that’s not always enough. My Facebook “friends” were putting me in positions where I had to explain what they would never be capable of even considering.
In February of 2010 I started blogging for peace of mind. I needed it, the peace, the accepting white page, the welcoming expanse of freedom on blogspot. As time went on, I realized that I actually did have a larger mission for my blog: to confront the ridiculous stereotypes of atheists in this country. I felt the need to join the few, brave voices with the courage to stand proudly in this atheist lifestyle.
These days I have made it my mission to blog and broadcast about secular parenting. Celebrating the liberating secularity, encouraging those blazing new trails, and exploring the little niches of our lives. It matters to me, and I hope my voice means something to someone out there — both on my blog called My Own Mind blog and my YouTube show called The Secular Parents.
Being an atheist parent is, in some ways, like blazing a new trail. The Christian parenting books are piled high, while secular parenting websites and reading materials are still in their infancy. In fact, atheist authors are seldom welcomed by larger publishers and are self-publishing… support them! Happily, the road is widening and getting easier to find. More and more, secular parenting groups and entities are online. And the content is less and less about debating or insulting believers and more about the wonderful journey of secular parenting.Atheist and secular families have the exact same struggles as every other family in the world, with an addition of several others.
First, we have no religious stories to feed our children or with which to comfort ourselves in our distress. Instead, we have truth and questions and natural explanations. Very often, we are first-gen freethinkers and have nothing from our past to build on. No wonder we often feel so alone and unsupported.
Second, we deal with having our families and our small children being treated with derision, hatefulness, intolerance and anger. I mean, how often have you had to explain cruel “hell” comments to your children… without passing along a similar intolerance to them? Who, among us, hasn’t had to face our sweet children after someone dared tell them that they are “of the devil” or “going to hell”? I don’t know how long this particular battle will be so culturally sanctioned, but I know some wonderful Christian families who openly and courageously fight this intolerance.
And third, atheist and freethinking parents are blazing trails in ethics that make me proud to join them. I have never been a black-and-white thinker. The world is astonishingly complex and fruitful and requires the ability to appreciate all of those lovely smoky oyster shades of grey. Yes, we are free and inspired to view the known and unknown facets of the world with awe and unabashed wonder.
These days, unlike in my old Facebook days, I don’t feel much need to thrash around in frustration about how atheists are treated — though I feel it deeply. Instead, I’m here to celebrate being an atheist and to, hopefully, inspire my viewers and my blog readers to let their own lights shine.
Karen Loethen is celebrating her fifth year as a secular parenting blogger. She co-hosts a broadcast show called The Secular Parents, which runs on YouTube, and lives in St. Louis with her husband and two children.