Author Topic: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home  (Read 7807 times)

dividendman

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #50 on: January 23, 2017, 06:48:52 PM »
If you really want a religion but don't want to be religious just pick Buddhism. I'm an atheist myself but Buddhism doesn't seem to be against atheism really.

I also like this quote from Buddha:


Quote
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

KBecks

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #51 on: January 23, 2017, 06:58:28 PM »
My situation is not exactly the same, but I want to offer you some encouragement.

Just teach your children to understand that the world is bigger than themselves, and to be considerate of others, to be helpful, to be kind, etc.
Practice thankfulness, teach them generosity, do not let them become self-absorbed and self-driven.   The world can be a very consumerist, me-me-me place, and popular culture will try to teach them to be selfish, rude, vulgar, impatient, and money-driven.  The popular culture will get them if they get no other guidance, so guide them toward being connected to and caring toward their fellow men and women.   You do not need to talk about God to do that.  But you need to be active about teaching something and not letting the kids learn aimlessly.  Give them a grounded purpose and sense of service.  It's not easy!  Hope that helps.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #52 on: January 23, 2017, 07:17:29 PM »
I particularly wanted to hear from people who are now secular but think at least somewhat fondly of their religious upbringing...

I would say this is me-ish.

I was raised super religious, and have had a big and long journey in relation to (multiple forms of) religion. Now I'm nothing, have great affection for some aspects of what I grew up with, and some repulsion for some aspects of what I grew up with. My primary point of "repulsion" is in an appeal to an external authority...but I land there in relation to government, limited science, "experts", any education system, etc, as well. i.e., This reliance on authority is not specific to religion. I prefer direct experience, thoughtful conversation, integrity, etc, in most matters.

As a kid, I LOVED some aspects of religion, and experienced it as personal, supportive, grounding, affirming, and helpful. In my late teens, I chose another religion and am pretty sure that choice saved my life, my life being in a pretty precarious place by then. I don't think all people need it, but I think *I* needed the ideas, guidance, rules, structure, and people of that group, perhaps because I had nothing/no one else helping me. So, I look back on that one too with respect and affection, even though I ultimately left.

I'm now raising my kid with exposure to many belief systems and practices (atheism, Buddhism, progressive Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc), and ongoing discussion of all of these as well as of conservative Christianity and some other systems. While he's being raised in a secular (or perhaps "spiritual but not religious") home, we engage with a variety of cultures and discuss it all freely. For me, the lack of avoidance, criticism, omniscience, or adoption is the sweet spot.

I'm confident he's a moral, compassionate, empathic, open-hearted, caring, "good" person.

sol

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #53 on: January 23, 2017, 07:31:40 PM »
If you really want a religion but don't want to be religious just pick Buddhism.

Buddhism is only a religion in the loosest sense of the word.  It isn't predicated on a belief in the supernatural.  It's a series of teachings designed to help people find happiness by thinking through your place in the world and reflecting on your circumstances and choices.

Like all religions there are many variants, and some of them certainly do espouse magical beliefs.  Those beliefs are not central to the religion, though.

frugaldoc

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #54 on: January 23, 2017, 08:25:36 PM »
I'm interpreting this thread as one more data point to avoid family on Facebook...

In all seriousness though, I have not noticed a correlation with religion and morality, ethics, altruism, honesty or and other positive value. I know wonderful atheists and horrible fundamentalist Christians, and vice versa. Raise YOUR kids how you want to as long as you are not harming them. All kids need is love and attention. Religion is not required.

You SIL sounds like a person to be avoided whenever possible. She is trying to force her morality upon you, perhaps because she feels insecure about her own faith. Who knows, people are complex. Instead of being angry at her however, you should feel sorry for her. People that behave like that are usually not truly happy. There is usually some deeper struggle they are wrestling with.

Empathy, love and kindness are the greatest weapons.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #55 on: January 23, 2017, 09:40:40 PM »
Following because I have thought about this a lot since the birth of our kids. We also have pressure from family re: religion and church.

I'm just not that into it. Had enough to last me a lifetime as a kid. Don't want to subject my own kids to the same experience. If they choose it for themselves, then I will support it. But I will encourage a good amount of questions/deep thinking around all topics that have anything to do with religion. We don't want them to get sucked into the kool-aid gulp.

They have been exposed to religion in tiny bits - Wed night kid classes with cousins at church, a Christmas service, a few weddings, etc. Still too young to have any meaningful lasting impression, but we will be turning that corner soon.

Thanks for starting this thread. It has been interesting to read.

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ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #56 on: January 24, 2017, 09:49:58 AM »
If you really want a religion but don't want to be religious just pick Buddhism.

Buddhism is only a religion in the loosest sense of the word.  It isn't predicated on a belief in the supernatural.  It's a series of teachings designed to help people find happiness by thinking through your place in the world and reflecting on your circumstances and choices.

Like all religions there are many variants, and some of them certainly do espouse magical beliefs.  Those beliefs are not central to the religion, though.

With Buddism, there is a spectrum between theistic and atheistic varieties. Some worship the Budda; others consider him merely a wise man. In Asia, there are whole monastic villages comprised of men who have abandoned their families and children to pursue a life of poverty, begging, and prayer. They adorn the their temples with gold while their faraway families starve. In Burma, they relentlessly persecute the Muslim minority, leaving many to flee in boats. They have taken this destructive path in the false expectation of supernatural rewards.

The atheistic Buddists may seem harmless enough, but as you slide down the spectrum toward the theistic side, the old universal problems with religion emerge. Also, many of these theistic Buddists were initially atheistic Buddists, and ended up in their detrimental positions with just a few tweaks to the beliefset.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #57 on: January 24, 2017, 10:01:36 AM »
There are heaps of people on the planet (various religions, no religion) who believe in a god, gods, things unseen by many, things unseen by any, an after-life, etc, who don't do stuff like leave their families. So, I don't think theism is what triggers that kind of action; something else inside a given person does.

I realize no one here said theism = jerkism, but I felt this was worth noting. I get nervous when I see things correlated, or a correlation implied, when a correlation is absent.

I like what frugaldoc said. Any jerk can pin their jerkness on whatever they want—theism, atheism, other. The theism/atheism/whatever isn't the problem, the jerkishness is. And yes, avoid jerks, whatever excuse they use for that trait :)

liberteEgalite

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #58 on: January 25, 2017, 07:41:30 AM »
I really do appreciate BBC's "Together" podcast for ages 7-11. I suppose in the U.K. they listen to it in school to help foster a baseline, shared sense of values.

They do mention God, but not in a provocative way. He figures in as a vague, benevolent force out there. I don't think it's done in a way that would offend those who do not believe, unless you're really staunch. Each episode includes a cheesy song; skip past that if you have to, and check out the radio drama portion. The one about Irena Sendler was utterly moving. (I cried!) It's exactly the kind of message I want my kids to hear: true faith (or true humanity, you could say) sometimes involves bucking the system and taking great risks to help those who are vulnerable.

This series has definitely sparked some great conversations for our family.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03g64pp/episodes/downloads

Edit:  There is sometimes a prayer at the end, set up by saying "so-and-so is going to pray now; if you want to make the prayer your own, you can say "amen" at the end."
It's really simple stuff like "thank you, God... help us to be kind to others..."
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 07:44:39 AM by liberteEgalite »

independence

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #59 on: January 25, 2017, 08:14:19 PM »
These are my jumbled together thoughts on this topic. It's something I've thought about a lot because I've had some associations with very religious people in my time. Some of them thought it was impossible to be both an Atheist and a good person and it infuriated me but really made me think too.

I was raised secular but went to a very relaxed church school for several years. We had a very small amount of religious education and went to church a couple of times per year. I think in total, two children out of 60 in my grade went to church on Sundays. There were multiple Muslim children in my classes over the years because the school was so welcoming. I loved the small community feel of the school but I never believed in God.

I'm still a good person and I'm confident of that. I believe everyone should be able to believe in whatever they want as long as they don't infringe on other people's lives. That goes both ways in my mind: let gay people get married and don't require a Jehovah's Witness to donate blood. I do lots of other 'good person' things too. I donate a huge chunk of my income, sponsor children, support charities, donate to food banks, sign petitions for things I believe in and fight for other people's rights.

I think most of being 'a good human' is not being selfish. I think that would be easy enough for you to teach based on the fact that you're even thinking about this topic. As your son gets older, talk to him about things in the news. Show him how other people live their lives differently and often in worse circumstances than his. Take him to food banks and to volunteer days. Don't let him live in a bubble. If you're comfortable with it, teach him about different religions and expose him to those too. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable taking my child to a church that I had an affiliation with but no real belief in on a regular basis and lying to my child about what I believed. What about taking him to different places of worship when he's old enough and learning about their beliefs with him? He might decide that a different religion is what calls to him and he might find it's none at all but I can't see it having any kind of negative affect on him.

I do think every religion or lack thereof has a spectrum of people. Some will be good, some won't. I'm guessing your sister in law was raised in a way that she considers ideal. Has the upbringing really done her any good? Would you be glad if you heard your son talking to people the way she does?

For the record, I'm actually the same age as your sister in law and as others have said, our brains haven't finished developing. However, she is more than capable of being a decent human being and I really wouldn't write off the way she's acting as her still growing up.

spookytaffy

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #60 on: January 26, 2017, 02:46:01 PM »
I was raised by a very Catholic mom--it never took!  Now I've gone between non-Catholic Christian church, wicca, Buddhism, atheism, etc.,  I think I've finally settled on a combination of Buddhism and Humanism.  Humanism makes the absolute most sense to me--the motto is "Good without a God" which is exactly what you seem to be looking for! 


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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #61 on: January 28, 2017, 06:36:12 PM »
OK. Religious people are kind of icky, per the board. But church attendance in the United States is associated with doing better at a lot of stuff. Not a lot better, but somewhat. It is hard to tease out the exact magnitude, because human studies have drawbacks (the primary one being that people organized enough to "get themselves to church on time" are going to do better).

Life expectancy is probably the most robust result.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.2307/2648114 "Religious involvement and U.S. adult mortality" estimates around seven years.

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2521827 "Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women" uses the Nurses' Health Study to give a 33% lower chance of death over the time window,with some confounding factors that are also ones themselves positively associated with church attendance.

Lower depression and anxiety associated with church attendance:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13674670903352837 "Anxiety, depression and students’ religiosity"

Decreased risk of suicide associated with church attendance:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395610003407 "results suggest that religious attendance is possibly an independent protective factor against suicide attempts."

Immune system

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00648.x/full "An Increase in Religiousness/Spirituality Occurs After HIV Diagnosis and Predicts Slower Disease Progression over 4 Years in People with HIV" being one of the more interesting examples.

Church attendance associated with delays in adolescent sexual activity

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brian_Wilcox/publication/247721621_The_Impact_of_Religiosity_on_Adolescent_Sexual_BehaviorA_Review_of_the_Evidence/links/54eb89ae0cf2082851be17fb.pdf  "The Impact of Religiosity on Adolescent Sexual Behavior:
A Review of the Evidence" (metastudy)

Church attendance associated with more education

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2004.00221.x/full

Fertility impacts:

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2012/06/education-religiosity-and-fecundity.html "Education, religiosity, and fecundity" Data from the GSS, with no control variables attempted and IQ loosely measured by WORDSUM. But the raw difference among the high IQ who do not attend church (1.5)  and those that do (2.5) is very large. (The General Social Survey is close to my favorite dataset and I can talk more about this if anyone is interested.)

Anyway, using Google Scholer to look for church attendance and (whatever) gives you oodles of studies.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2017, 06:38:09 PM by farmerj »

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #62 on: January 28, 2017, 06:40:45 PM »
We started with a new therapist today, and when she asked about church (any affiliation/culture/etc), I was like, "Oh boy..." because I got to try to explain how it is that I'm not religious yet hang at churchy stuff a LOT. lol. She seemed to get it, though :)   

I like that a person can go ahead and enjoy church (if they want) without having to be a religious person. Not necessarily a direct correlation. Even so, many of us are very surprised to find how many others of us there are in the same building, hee hee.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #63 on: January 29, 2017, 08:19:55 AM »
OK. Religious people are kind of icky, per the board. But church attendance in the United States is associated with doing better at a lot of stuff. Not a lot better, but somewhat. It is hard to tease out the exact magnitude, because human studies have drawbacks (the primary one being that people organized enough to "get themselves to church on time" are going to do better).

Life expectancy is probably the most robust result.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.2307/2648114 "Religious involvement and U.S. adult mortality" estimates around seven years.

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2521827 "Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women" uses the Nurses' Health Study to give a 33% lower chance of death over the time window,with some confounding factors that are also ones themselves positively associated with church attendance.

Lower depression and anxiety associated with church attendance:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13674670903352837 "Anxiety, depression and students’ religiosity"

Decreased risk of suicide associated with church attendance:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395610003407 "results suggest that religious attendance is possibly an independent protective factor against suicide attempts."

Immune system

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00648.x/full "An Increase in Religiousness/Spirituality Occurs After HIV Diagnosis and Predicts Slower Disease Progression over 4 Years in People with HIV" being one of the more interesting examples.

Church attendance associated with delays in adolescent sexual activity

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brian_Wilcox/publication/247721621_The_Impact_of_Religiosity_on_Adolescent_Sexual_BehaviorA_Review_of_the_Evidence/links/54eb89ae0cf2082851be17fb.pdf  "The Impact of Religiosity on Adolescent Sexual Behavior:
A Review of the Evidence" (metastudy)

Church attendance associated with more education

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2004.00221.x/full

Fertility impacts:

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2012/06/education-religiosity-and-fecundity.html "Education, religiosity, and fecundity" Data from the GSS, with no control variables attempted and IQ loosely measured by WORDSUM. But the raw difference among the high IQ who do not attend church (1.5)  and those that do (2.5) is very large. (The General Social Survey is close to my favorite dataset and I can talk more about this if anyone is interested.)

Anyway, using Google Scholer to look for church attendance and (whatever) gives you oodles of studies.

I've also seen religiosity negatively correlated with drug abuse, depression, and other outcomes. However, if you replace "religiosity" with "having a wide social network of friends" you find the same results. So religious is just a proxy for socially active. Religion is also positively correlated with some negatives, like child abuse, misogyny, etc.

Unfortunately, secular people tend to spend more time interacting with media than socializing, and we see the expected results of that lifestyle. Not only does it lead to bad health outcomes, but it also leads to political marginalization.

Bottom line - if you're secular, you need to be proactive about joining or building a supportive, physically-meeting community around yourself. Your well-being depends on it.

Living a lie as a churchgoer is unlikely to leave you feeling secure with your social network, friendships, etc.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #64 on: January 29, 2017, 10:03:18 AM »
Bottom line - if you're secular, you need to be proactive about joining or building a supportive, physically-meeting community around yourself. Your well-being depends on it.

I think this is true for some people (people who thrive with those elements) and not for others (natural hermits, etc). Human community can be painful, destructive, eroding for people who don't thrive with it, who are overwhelmed or exhausted by it. i.e., Different strokes for different folks.

Living a lie as a churchgoer is unlikely to leave you feeling secure with your social network, friendships, etc.

+1. In my experience, a lot of us feel compelled to leave such a situation sooner or later. It's important that one's network aligns with one's internal values, etc. (In my case, I found a church that aligns with my non-religious internal system, so get the best of all worlds.)

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #65 on: January 29, 2017, 01:16:24 PM »
Thanks so much for all this participation.  I love reading about everyone else's experience on this topic.

+1 To the idea that receiving the ancillary benefits of church (primarily feeling a part of a network and community) can be achieved without actual church-going but will require a lot of hustling and extra effort on our part to make that happen.  I am naturally an introvert and shy around new people, so when I was younger, going to Bible studies and church camps were great because I was always surrounded by kind, supportive people who wanted nothing more than the awkward newcomer to feel included.

I have mostly overcome this for work purposes, but my personal life outside my husband, son, and a couple good friends is sorely lacking because every time I go out of my way to meet new people (e.g. going to a Meetup thing), my body and mind revert to fight-or-flight mode and I just want to make a run for it.  The Navy and Marine Corps family community is low-hanging fruit that I haven't tried to take advantage of, either.  It just feels so incredibly uncomfortable to me to reach out to people unless we have been forced together (e.g. work, standing in line for a long period of time, etc.).

If the following deets were unclear before:
-I am still fairly young at 26 and my SIL is super-young at 21 or 22. 
-I am definitively Atheist but have mostly Christian friends who don't know that about me because it simply doesn't fucking matter.  We (the people in my life and I) share similar values and enjoy each other's company- are there any other requirements to building a friendship?  According to my SIL, there is.
-Parenting has come fairly naturally to me and I have a good idea of the values I want to transmit to my son and the vehicles with which to do it.  I was just concerned about bringing him up in a secular manner, which is foreign to both my husband and me since we both grew up in the church.

FB Transcript, notes in bold mine
ME: I know by default you should probably hate me... We might actually get along really well if we lived closer and got to know one another better.

SIL: I'm not going to pretend that I feel close to you two (She means my husband and me). You know J (her husband) and I are religious (as are the rest of the family), and it is painfully hard for me to know that you aren't. I feel hopeless, and I wish you could feel blessed with our faith too. I don't know if I could feel close without also feeling sad for you. The thought of my nephew growing up without knowing religion as a core part of his life the way we did makes me sad. I pray for you every day. I know you're a lovely person. My mom wouldn't love you so much if you weren't (thanks...?).

To remind everyone, this response fell out of the clear blue sky.  We were resolving an incident where I called her out on being a bitch to her other sisters and were just reaching a point of reconciliation.

It's been like 3 weeks and I haven't responded to her.  I left the family chat because of her, which is our primary form of keeping in touch with the rest of the family and being apart of everyone's lives.  No one has tried to reach out to mend the rift. Where before everyone was perfectly happy to be ignorant/in denial about how I felt about God and such, because of her bullshit it's now a Thing that needs to be Dealt With.

I don't know how she did it since, again, she has spent such little time with me, but she has correctly deduced my Atheism and has essentially "outed" me to my husband's (deeply religious) family.  I don't know where to go from here- I'm angry and they're sad (presumably).

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #66 on: January 29, 2017, 01:54:52 PM »
Maybe you should send her a lovely little card:

"You don't have to worry about our children growing up without religion anymore. Thanks to you profound advice, we have been thinking and praying and seeking council from our local religious leaders, and we are happy to announce that we have found a wonderful community in our neighborhood mosque. We have converted, and [child] will start Quran School this Saturday. Looking forward to seeing you after Ramadan, and hope Allah will bless you all, S.S."
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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #67 on: January 29, 2017, 01:59:05 PM »
Maybe you should send her a lovely little card:

"You don't have to worry about our children growing up without religion anymore. Thanks to you profound advice, we have been thinking and praying and seeking council from our local religious leaders, and we are happy to announce that we have found a wonderful community in our neighborhood mosque. We have converted, and [child] will start Quran School this Saturday. Looking forward to seeing you after Ramadan, and hope Allah will bless you all, S.S."

I will donate $20 to a charity of your choosing if you do this.

#epic
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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #68 on: January 29, 2017, 02:39:12 PM »
Maybe you should send her a lovely little card:

"You don't have to worry about our children growing up without religion anymore. Thanks to you profound advice, we have been thinking and praying and seeking council from our local religious leaders, and we are happy to announce that we have found a wonderful community in our neighborhood mosque. We have converted, and [child] will start Quran School this Saturday. Looking forward to seeing you after Ramadan, and hope Allah will bless you all, S.S."

I will donate $20 to a charity of your choosing if you do this.

#epic

And I would simply ask that you not. If actually expressing love to your fellow person is a very real value you support, doing such a thing makes you a hypocrite and no better than the person you intend to mock. An eye for an eye of this nature, even jokingly, leaves the world blind. Why? Because it's a lie, it's insulting and it's mockery.

I cannot and will not bribe with vainglorious offers of money to charities to get anyone to do the right thing, but I will simply point out that this is not the right thing. Two wrongs don't make a right, and it's not as funny as you think.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 03:12:20 PM by I.P. Daley »
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sol

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #69 on: January 29, 2017, 03:57:42 PM »
Two wrongs don't make a right, and it's not as funny as you think.

Oh come on, it's a little bit funny.

The alternative here is to try to explain to the SIL that her "concern" is misguided and hypocritical, unless she would be happy to have a Muslim relative.  Which she obviously wouldn't be, but you can't exactly call someone out for being a raging bigot on facebook so this proposed alternative is a much kinder way of making the same point.

In general, I think that responding to such hatred, especially when it comes from a person's faith, is better done with love and compassion.  I certainly wouldn't have left the family chat, because that's exactly how discriminatory religious communities flourish, by isolating themselves from the rest of society. 

Rejoin the chat.  Tell the SIL she can pray for you all she wants, and if she pushes the issue you can point out to her that prayer has been empirically proven to be a waste of time by about a hundred peer reviewed journals, but if it makes her feel better to waste her time she should continue to do so.  If she doesn't push the issue, just tell her that you will still love her and respect her choices, because that's what a good and moral person would do.  Ask that she does the same, in the future.  You don't even have to make explicit that she has done neither (love nor respect), because she is neither (good nor moral).
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 06:13:48 PM by sol »

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2017, 04:08:37 PM »
Oh, S.S., I can understand how you'd be feeling sad and angry. I'm embarrassed to say I did a version of that to people when I was 19, so while I'm sad now when it happens, I remember that place. If she's like I was, it's definitely not personal, just an idea some of us get locked into sometimes.

Our own beautiful network lost someone very dear to me this week because of our group not being "religious" (our church group is a mix of atheists, agnostics, progressive Christians, pagans, and so on). She is correct; as a group we are not religious, and the members that do happen to be religious are not her Very Specific Brand. But, for the rest of us there, our differences are moot. We were all blown away, and so sad.

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I am definitively Atheist but have mostly Christian friends who don't know that about me because it simply doesn't fucking matter.  We (the people in my life and I) share similar values and enjoy each other's company- are there any other requirements to building a friendship?  According to my SIL, there is.

I hear ya. That was pain I felt when this came up in my circle last week. i.e., It is not enough that we love and care for each other and hold shared values for living, and work hard to live out our beliefs? We must also agree on semantics and sources, too? Darn :(

Yes, lots of loss there.

I do think it's very cool, though, that your relative is being so honest. I like that she's being responsible for her own feelings/experience, and also not hiding who she is. I do like that. That actually gives me hope that quite a positive relationship could be formed between you, when you both feel keen on that.

In my case, that's where my dear friend and I have landed so far and, while I'll sure miss her at our group's gatherings because she is opting out of all of those, I'm happy and relieved that we'll still hang out elsewhere.

I encourage you to reconnect with the family (because I think you like the rest of your family?) and to just keep being who you are, and sharing honestly and peacefully with SIL your own "I feel [sad/angry/hurt]" statements. Just, staying present and letting things develop as they will.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #71 on: January 29, 2017, 06:01:40 PM »
When people come out as atheists, they are often rejected by friends and family (i.e. "don't ever talk to me again" kind of rejection). This is why life in the closet is so hard. You cannot know if the people who love you would still love you if they actually knew who you are.

Atheists often come out to a handful of confidants first, and then decide from there. Sometimes, one or more of these confidants reject them. The pain of this rejection leads some to flee back into the closet, and others to vow that they will create a new circle of authentic relationships and live in the open.

There are many parallels to the LGBTQ community. The fear of rejection leads many to live a lifetime in hiding. "Coming out" leads many to the shocking loss of their entire family and friend circles. The percentage of trans people who have attempted suicide is 40% for a reason - being disowned by your Christian family is brutal. Even worse, they will blame you for forcing them to reject you.

I've tried living both ways. To me, life in the closet is agonizing beyond the value of the conditional friendships or family bonds propped up on false assumptions. As you find your way into the open, you should be prepared to lose more than you ever expected, and be pleasantly surprised by the loved ones who stick with you. You should also be prepared for the things people will say. The assumption that you have no ethics, no hope, or that your kids will grow up to be criminals are among these claims, and only you will be there to debunk them.

Do your homework on secular ethics and philosophy, and find your tribe so to speak, so that you have people to fall back on who will not reject you. The happy middle ground of not mentioning it can only be maintained for so long, but you can at least vow not to treat others as you would not want to be treated. Let your religious family know that you love them unconditionally. If they want to shun you after that, it will not be your fault.


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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #72 on: January 30, 2017, 09:47:18 AM »
One option is a Unitarian universalist Church. They are very big on "you can believe or not". I think a typical congregation is a mix of mixed religion families , agnostics, and atheists. It gives a nice social group, a framework for morality education (I don't know the details on their Sunday school program but I've heard the sex Ed program for older kids is spectacular) and a community.

I'd like to echo MayDay here.  My wife and I have been to a UU, and I loved it.  It was mostly atheists, and the sermons were a nice mix of religious and secular stories.  They do a great job of discussing all religions in a fair manner, without making any judgement about them, positive or negative.  If we lived closer, we'd likely still attend.

My parents consider themselves Catholic, but haven't regularly attended mass throughout my life.  This peripheral position allowed me to observe religion, participate in religious cultural Holidays, while lowering the chance of indoctrination.  This led me to accepting that there was a God, until I was maybe 13 and actually thought about it.  Then I was able to educate myself, and make my own decisions.

My wife considers herself Deist, but doesn't attend church regularly either.  Most of her family are regular church-goers, and they pray at all meals, etc.  However, if they know about my lack of faith, they don't bring it up.  I'm fortunate there.

Her Brother married us, and provided a very Christ-heavy ceremony script.  I responded with some changes, so that it touched on God, but didn't make it sound so much like we were marrying Jesus, rather than each other.  He accepted the edits without comment, and was clearly unaffected by my choice.  He did great.

My advice, and what I intend to do as my son grows up, is to just be a good example.  Always be kind, and the kids will do the same.
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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #73 on: January 30, 2017, 09:56:46 AM »
My wife and I have been to a UU, and I loved it.

+1.

In my case, mine isn't UU, but it sure acts like one :)   So, if one seeks this particular experience, but doesn't have a UU locally, check out other spaces too. The name of a space doesn't always tell who and what is inside it.

...didn't make it sound so much like we were marrying Jesus, rather than each other.

:))))

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #74 on: January 30, 2017, 11:54:23 AM »
Your SIL is 22 and doesn't know anything.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #75 on: January 31, 2017, 08:35:12 AM »
Thanks so much for all this participation.  I love reading about everyone else's experience on this topic.

+1 To the idea that receiving the ancillary benefits of church (primarily feeling a part of a network and community) can be achieved without actual church-going but will require a lot of hustling and extra effort on our part to make that happen.  I am naturally an introvert and shy around new people, so when I was younger, going to Bible studies and church camps were great because I was always surrounded by kind, supportive people who wanted nothing more than the awkward newcomer to feel included.

I have mostly overcome this for work purposes, but my personal life outside my husband, son, and a couple good friends is sorely lacking because every time I go out of my way to meet new people (e.g. going to a Meetup thing), my body and mind revert to fight-or-flight mode and I just want to make a run for it.  The Navy and Marine Corps family community is low-hanging fruit that I haven't tried to take advantage of, either.  It just feels so incredibly uncomfortable to me to reach out to people unless we have been forced together (e.g. work, standing in line for a long period of time, etc.).

If the following deets were unclear before:
-I am still fairly young at 26 and my SIL is super-young at 21 or 22. 
-I am definitively Atheist but have mostly Christian friends who don't know that about me because it simply doesn't fucking matter.  We (the people in my life and I) share similar values and enjoy each other's company- are there any other requirements to building a friendship?  According to my SIL, there is.
-Parenting has come fairly naturally to me and I have a good idea of the values I want to transmit to my son and the vehicles with which to do it.  I was just concerned about bringing him up in a secular manner, which is foreign to both my husband and me since we both grew up in the church.

FB Transcript, notes in bold mine
ME: I know by default you should probably hate me... We might actually get along really well if we lived closer and got to know one another better.

SIL: I'm not going to pretend that I feel close to you two (She means my husband and me). You know J (her husband) and I are religious (as are the rest of the family), and it is painfully hard for me to know that you aren't. I feel hopeless, and I wish you could feel blessed with our faith too. I don't know if I could feel close without also feeling sad for you. The thought of my nephew growing up without knowing religion as a core part of his life the way we did makes me sad. I pray for you every day. I know you're a lovely person. My mom wouldn't love you so much if you weren't (thanks...?).

To remind everyone, this response fell out of the clear blue sky.  We were resolving an incident where I called her out on being a bitch to her other sisters and were just reaching a point of reconciliation.

It's been like 3 weeks and I haven't responded to her.  I left the family chat because of her, which is our primary form of keeping in touch with the rest of the family and being apart of everyone's lives.  No one has tried to reach out to mend the rift. Where before everyone was perfectly happy to be ignorant/in denial about how I felt about God and such, because of her bullshit it's now a Thing that needs to be Dealt With.

I don't know how she did it since, again, she has spent such little time with me, but she has correctly deduced my Atheism and has essentially "outed" me to my husband's (deeply religious) family.  I don't know where to go from here- I'm angry and they're sad (presumably).

Since this is your husband's side of the family: would it make sense to have him talk to them? Like in: explain why you have left the chat and how hurt you were by the criticism of your parenting and telling them that he has no interest in an estrangement of his and the rest of the family? If MIL loves you I guess the others want you in their chat and their life? Even if not: dear son clearly siding with his wife can work wonders even for atheists...

Don't let SIL frame the issue and make you the bad guy. You can obviously not go back to your husband's family not knowing but maybe a few of them care enough about you to learn that being an atheist does not make you a bad person and that there is no reason to pity your kid?

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #76 on: January 31, 2017, 10:14:19 AM »
I did not grow up in a religious household, although when we moved to the "Bible Belt" my Mom tried to get us all involved in church, so I may not fit your criteria of people you were asking input from in your OP I do feel like listening to people outside of your situation provides substantial insight (occasionally).  I believe in karma, actions/consequences, maybe a little momma nature (although this could just be karma), and when you die you are simply dead (if there is a soul, it is recycled). 

This is my experience and I am not trying to imply this happens in all organized religions/churches.  As I said, I have never been religious, when Mom tried to get us to church I was actually the family member that continued going the longest. I also attempted attending 3 different churches with friends to see if maybe we just picked the wrong denomination.  The longer I went the more I noticed that some of the most outspoken followers of the church were also some of the people that would do exactly the opposite of what they were preaching about as soon as they walked out the door.  I found that my definition of morals and ethics had nothing to do with what the Bible said.  I also found that there were some in the church that did things only because they were told to by the church, and that they would not choose that same option on their own.  I found that some people in the church and sometimes the church itself would pick and choose what in the Bible they wanted to follow/read/respect and what they didn't.   

I feel that treating people with respect is the right thing to do, not because the Bible said to "love thy neighbor as thyself".  I feel that all people judge others actions but it is our moral duty to try to understand that not all people will make the same choice as you and that is what makes the world so awesome. I judge people to determine if they are open to hearing what I have to say, I judge people when they do not use their blinker to turn, I judge people to determine if I think we can create a long lasting friendship.  For the Bible to say "do not judge, or you too will be judged", it is against our human nature (which God supposedly created) so why set your people up to have to continually ask for your forgiveness.  I feel that if somebody is pro-life they should be contributing the the foster care system in some way here in the US and that they should care just as much about the fetuses as they do about a human when they are 5,12,18,30, or 65. I also could not get behind the thought that if I was not able to follow all the rules/guidelines/commandments/etc laid out in the Bible I would be punished (Hell) if I did not ask for forgiveness and proclaim unending love, that seemed a little to narcissistic to me. 

I could go on but I really just wanted to show you some support.  People should not practice morals simply because they are religious and the church/Bible/God told them to or they will be punished.  People should determine what their morals are and practice them because that is what they believe at a core level is right. 

In response to your SIL I have responded both the civil way and the b*tchy way in the past, depending on my mood and the goal of the response.  Only you can understand the dynamics of your family and determine the best way to respond. 

All that said, if my child determines at some point in her life to join a religion I will support her decision.  I may encourage her to look into several different religions, including non main stream American religions, before she fully commits to one but I will support her choice.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #77 on: January 31, 2017, 06:02:57 PM »
Lyssa, for some reason on this day, at this particular time, I was spurred into action by your comment.  After over three weeks of radio silence, I finally responded to her just now.  No I don't want her being the one to frame the issue to make me look as bad as possible to the rest of the family.  You all indirectly helped me craft a good way to sidestep the religion landmines she lobbed at me while addressing the most insulting part of her message (and the inspiration for this post)- that my son should be pitied because he is being raised without God.

I accidentally hit "send" before I was ready.  I still wasn't sure if I had the balls to tell her what I was thinking after all this time, but my butterfingers made the decision for me.  We'll see what she says.

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I did not grow up in a religious household, although when we moved to the "Bible Belt" my Mom tried to get us all involved in church, so I may not fit your criteria of people you were asking input from in your OP

I enjoyed your contribution, NicoleO.  Thanks for caring enough to comment.  I feel as you do.  The inconsistencies and hypocrisy of organized religion is ultimately what turned me off to the whole thing.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #78 on: February 22, 2017, 02:56:14 PM »
I was taught the fruits of the spirit in 7th and 8th grade confirmation class and it was really powerful, especially at such a vulnerable time.  I'm not religious now, but I do plan on talking about the fruits of the spirit with my kids!
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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #79 on: February 22, 2017, 03:13:43 PM »
I guess my take is to ponder whether it isn't actually easier to raise moral kids in a secular home.

Having a sky fairy as a scapegoat that steals credit for the good, and "works in mysterious ways" for the bad is a really line blurring concept for little ones to wrap their head around.  Attending church also exposes kids to a large dose of utter hypocrisy.  The nice middle eastern man preached about helping the poor, yet you are often surrounded by piles of families who would not give a dime to him if they encountered him on the street.

I agree.

We were raised "Methodist," which in my family meant my parents got married in a church, then never showed up again (Thanks Mom and Dad!).  They never came out as atheist, because "coming out" back then was fairly rare- it was just easier to get along in the USA if you pretended to believe in the Sky Fairy.  They were decent, hard working people who were always willing to help others.  So straight laced that most consider them dull as dirt.  Didn't drink, didn't carouse, didn't philander, didn't even cuss.

Our neighbors were "good Catholics."  All 6 of them went to Church every Sunday. 

They went to Church, did their "confession," said their "Holy Mary's" or whatever, then spent the rest of the week RAISING HELL.

Drinking, partying, philandering, fighting, cursing.  Never a dull moment.  Probably the only time they weren't raising a ruckus was that 2 hours they spent in church every Sunday.

And they NEVER helped anyone.  I learned early on to just walk past their house when fundraising for charity, they would never give a penny (their money was, apparently, better spent at the local tavern than giving to the sick or poor).

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #80 on: February 22, 2017, 04:21:00 PM »
I'm the daughter of a minister. That said, The rumors about the pastors' kids being the hellions? It's true... at least in my world. When it comes to being moral or ethical, it really didn't matter in the long run as we are all ethically and morally sound. None of us has committed a heinous crime, none of us judge others for their choices... Though we may not understand those choices, we all just accept. Kind of strange, but family comes first for us, and part of that is faith... not faith in a points system, but faith in forgiveness. We've all fucked up and we've all needed forgiveness. And we've all given forgiveness.

That said... OP, as to your SIL -- This is purely anecdotal. There was a young woman, in her freshman year of college who went a bit wild. She hadn't "been a teenager" when she was still at home. To my knowledge (I was the RA who heard her drunken confessions... oh joy), she arrived at school a virgin who'd never been kissed, who'd never had a sip of alcohol, or smoked, and on and on. Straight A's in school, the works.

What had happened was that she didn't already know her limits, for anything, including alcohol. Luckily she hadn't been raped or otherwise assaulted, but in her quest for "experiences" she'd blown through a ton of boundaries that she didn't even realize she had possessed.  She left that school (small private christian school by the way) after her freshman year to study closer to home. She married by the time she was 20, and is now around 25 with 5 kids, and ULTRA Religious. I believe, from conversations with her, that she's chosen to hide in religion because she doesn't trust herself, and can't forgive herself.

I'm not saying that this happened to your SIL, but there may be a grain of insight. People who are guilty by their own reckoning are usually the ones who try to find guilt in everyone around them. Just love her from a distance if you can, and someday she may come around. She may not. But she may end up needing to hear forgiveness at some point. Please just forgive her and move on.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #81 on: February 23, 2017, 11:13:31 PM »
Hello to the people who resurrected the thread.  Thank you for your contributions.

SEAKSR and libertarian, if only this were my SIL (i.e. someone who parties her ass off Mon-Sat and makes penance on Sun)- would be much easier to like her and sympathize.  Instead, she's a very boring, narrow-minded asshole.

If anyone is interested, shit hit the fan and my husband and I are no longer on speaking terms with her (or the rest of the family, really).  Instead of discussing the initial conflict (me thinking she acts like a bully to her other sisters), she was hell-bent on the religion angle.  My husband got involved and she started getting on his case about why he "threw their religion in the garbage, etc."  She mentioned during the argument that on her wedding day she noticed our (3 year old) son didn't know how to pray as proof my husband was full of shit when he tried to explain to her that we are spiritual in our own way.

She's dead to me now after mentioning my kid again in such a shitty context.  I am angry and upset this has caused a rift with my in-laws, who (I thought) I got along great with.  In addition to her, I'm a little mad that no one has tried to call or reach out to us after hearing about all this second-hand from the scorned SIL. 

The somewhat okay thing from this dumpster fire of a situation is at least my wallet can take a rest if we're not speaking to each other.  We're the only ones in the family who are on decent financial footing so we (happily) footed the bill for meals and activities when one of them would visit or we would spend the money to fly out and see them and (again) pay for food and activities.  Eff that noise.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #82 on: February 23, 2017, 11:28:30 PM »
So sorry, S.S. :(

I can hear all the anger, hurt, and pain in your post. So sorry about what has transpired so far, and where things are at now.

Sometimes, we do have to let some people go, even family members. Even when it seems necessary for our sanity and joy, the pain and grief can be a lot.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #83 on: February 23, 2017, 11:48:20 PM »
When it comes to people with blinders on, it's best to just not cross their paths. I'm sorry your son doesn't have a better aunt. I hope you and your husband, as well as the rest of his family can find peace.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #84 on: February 24, 2017, 12:16:11 AM »
Hello to the people who resurrected the thread.  Thank you for your contributions.

SEAKSR and libertarian, if only this were my SIL (i.e. someone who parties her ass off Mon-Sat and makes penance on Sun)- would be much easier to like her and sympathize.  Instead, she's a very boring, narrow-minded asshole.

If anyone is interested, shit hit the fan and my husband and I are no longer on speaking terms with her (or the rest of the family, really).  Instead of discussing the initial conflict (me thinking she acts like a bully to her other sisters), she was hell-bent on the religion angle.  My husband got involved and she started getting on his case about why he "threw their religion in the garbage, etc."  She mentioned during the argument that on her wedding day she noticed our (3 year old) son didn't know how to pray as proof my husband was full of shit when he tried to explain to her that we are spiritual in our own way.

She's dead to me now after mentioning my kid again in such a shitty context.  I am angry and upset this has caused a rift with my in-laws, who (I thought) I got along great with.  In addition to her, I'm a little mad that no one has tried to call or reach out to us after hearing about all this second-hand from the scorned SIL. 

The somewhat okay thing from this dumpster fire of a situation is at least my wallet can take a rest if we're not speaking to each other.  We're the only ones in the family who are on decent financial footing so we (happily) footed the bill for meals and activities when one of them would visit or we would spend the money to fly out and see them and (again) pay for food and activities.  Eff that noise.

Sorry to hear, I had hoped for a different outcome.

Kudos to your husband for backing you.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #85 on: February 24, 2017, 12:00:54 PM »
You can rest well at night knowing this confrontation was not your fault. Still, it's hard being a person whose mere existance is offensive to others.

Is it coincidental that cult indoctrination destroys relationships just like addictions do?

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #86 on: February 26, 2017, 12:43:02 PM »
This thread is actually a surprizingly good read. Even in spite of blanket explanations from both extremes, there's a lot of really good compassion in here, and it's probably in the top 10 most civil and thoughtful discussions of it I've seen on the internet.

I may marry a devout Catholic girl. I am probably most easily described as a Deist, and worked through a lot of my own philosophy learning a lot about many religions, many of which respect extra those atheists who are virtuous, for not having felt the command of God to act virtuously, yet doing so anyway. I am skeptical of any religious authority, and the hubris or even reckless disregard with which, like any human institution, they are sometimes administered by some leaders. But it's false that you give up all power to your religious leaders - you acquire a lot as well.

The great loss of society via its flight from religion, a loss which society has yet to largely notice, is its failure to put something in its place. My best advice for anyone who wants to raise a good child without religion is to put something in its place. St. Augustine once asked who could possibly offer a command, what philosopher or wise man, that would be greater than a command from God? What self-interest would be more obvious, what command would come with more authority? The answer, at least to a large, functional extent, can still be your parents, but it requires a commitment to a pride in good deeds, whatever virtues you would like to teach, and a life lived well, and a discipline to hold fast even (and especially) when it's most difficult to do so. It's the toughest example you could try to be a role model for. And unlike your SIL, you have to show kindness - not vengeance - in response to deviation.

Many concrete advantages can be gained and lost via religion. The discipline of "one way" is a powerful thing, and it can be used for good or ill, but there is no discipline in the most common response I hear from any of my peers, which is "I'll teach him a bit about a few religions and if he wants one he can pick one." That saccharine approach leaves out all the challenges and the sense those challenges must be faced. Ala carte religion has neither the same benefits nor the same drawbacks. It's just not a method that imparts determination, steadfastness, confidence, thoughtfulness, or a sense that one must always confront one's self when looking in a mirror, that good and bad deeds have effects greater to the self than simply whether anyone notices.

A metaphor stops being a metaphor once you describe it. Part of the power of the "one way" roads and living that way is the strength and reassurance one finds on them, but people all have flawed perceptions, and varying capacity for understanding and nuance. It can be easier to live a habit than to explain its value. Your SIL can't hear you because she has used her duty to the one-way road to blind herself to her unkindness to your family. Think of it as a person speeding fearfully down their one-way road at 90mph, who doesn't know how to slow down, who is afraid to slow down, who is angry at anyone who endangers her on this dangerous route, or seems to suggest people go the other way on it. Then consider people who get out and walk down their one-way roads, giving kindness to passers by headed in any direction, but continuing on their own way, in just one direction. These are two extremes of people who try to adhere to religious life.

Someone posted the Jewish tenet on kindess. Jesus said something very similar, roughly that if you remember nothing else, remember love (in all its forms, from charity to brotherly to filial to romantic), and give it freely. It's hard to live that example and forge it without the cultural additions that religious communities offer, but religious communities vary as much as any communities. Atheists can be virtuous as surely as the religious can be without virtue, but religion has no monopoly on cruelty or oppression. A book is not responsible for the actions of the people who believe in it. The people are.

You can do this, and hopefully one day your SIL can come to her senses, and you can forgive her and be on good terms again, too. Good luck to you.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #87 on: March 01, 2017, 10:02:43 AM »
Hey S.S.
I am so sorry about the falling out with the in-laws. Like you I've grown up in a very religious house (different religion though lol) and I would never dare admit that I have my doubts about religion to anyone of my in-laws. My sisters know and though they are all still praying regularly, they never judged me or questionned me when they visist and notice that I don't pray that often. But I haven't given up on it and I want my kids to be exposed to the religion. However I would not be sick if they chose to not follow. I think that kids can have values in a secular home. In general most of the values I received from my upbringing were here before this religion. I joke sometimes by saying that religion is another kind of cultural colonisation.
The funny thing is that whatever 'coping' mechanisms or let say lying methods (telling people what they want to hear) I learned it indirectly from religion. I know how to dress as it is expected, say the correct words and even preach to little kids when we are with family. I always do this when I visit but I like the sense of community that is associated anyway, so it is not hard. As for your SIL, she's young and might be much more accomodating after she goes through some life experiences. My young sister used to be the same (though she would have never been such a jerk sorry), but she's grown-up and been so much more open-minded now. She's 26.
Hope you'll find a way to reconcile with the INL. I couldn't support it (mostly for the sake of DH) but I'd probably give them some time to miss me and then talk to who ever is the most sensible and try a reconciliation without giving up much of my values. You will never see eye to eye on this topic unfortunatelly. Family relationships can be messy but I see it as necessary evil as it can also be fulfulling. We have a saying 'you chose your friends but you support your family'. YMMV.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 02:21:42 AM by GeekyGirl »

hoping2retire35

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #88 on: March 03, 2017, 07:41:45 AM »
Sounds like your real problem is your SIL is a 22yo who just got married and graduated so her head is huge.

Ignore her and just talk with the rest of the family when you see fit. Give her 5 years and she will be tolerable, but probably never your bestie.

Bryan M

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #89 on: March 03, 2017, 10:45:21 AM »
Sorry to hear this S.S.  It sounds like your SIL has been very close minded on religious views.  For what it is worth, I am in the same boat as you, and I have 4 kids (5, 3, 1, Newly Baked).  I grew up in the church and my views have changed dramatically.  In short, yes, you can raise your kids to be moral outside of the church.  That said, secular people will agree on many things the Bible teaches (kindness, truthfulness, generosity, etc..).  A bonus, Ecclesiastes is VERY mustachian if you haven't read it.  While I have distanced myself from church traditions, I will still teach my kids the wisdom that is written down in the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc..) because I believe it is sound even outside the religious veil.

sol

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #90 on: March 03, 2017, 10:53:56 AM »
,secular people will agree on many things the Bible teaches (kindness, truthfulness, generosity, etc..).   

Just don't forget that those values were recognized virtues long before the bible was ever written.  Some people seem confused on this point, and tend to think the bible is the source of virtue, rather than a codified and magical retelling of virtues (with some horrible evils thrown in).

We should all strive to teach virtue to our children.  I find the bible to be a very ineffective way to do that, incomplete, contradictory, misleading, dishonest, and in some cases outright wrong.

S.S.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #91 on: March 05, 2017, 11:27:23 AM »
My husband thinks this is about my SIL being insecure.  She said growing up she thought her brother (my husband) was more loved by their parents than any of the other kids (only boy of 6).  When he started bringing me around, the whole family immediately took to me.  She thinks Mom likes her brother and me better than her and her husband.

Maybe this whole thing isn't an important debate about the place of God and the church in my family after all.  Maybe it's silly high school bullshit.

Thanks everyone for continuing to share your experiences.  As someone else previously mentioned, I, too, appreciate how this hasn't devolved into a Reddit-esque clusterf***.

I can tell that a few have very negative feelings towards Christianity and religion in general, but I do not.  I will never begrudge a person their faith if that is what gets them through.  Life is bleak and rife with pointless suffering otherwise.  Then you die.  For some absurd reason I am okay with that. 

That being said, I can't help but throw in again (this is the MMM forum after all), that a good amount of my husband's family don't seem to make savvy life decisions (particularly when it comes to money), always citing the ever-enduring platitude, "God will provide".  So very annoying.

asauer

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #92 on: March 06, 2017, 01:35:00 PM »
We're in the same boat.  Not opposed to the whole God thing but not subscribed to it either.  We don't go to church, read religious texts etc.  What we do is teach based on our chosen philosophies.  We both lean Stoic so that's what we teach.  Honesty, not seeking approval outside of yourself, not trying to control things/ people outside of yourself, duty to help others, enjoy intellectual pursuits etc.  I feel like those teachings will keep them grounded, knowing who they are and what their purpose in life is. 

BlueHouse

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #93 on: March 07, 2017, 06:16:13 PM »
I am not at all religious, but was raised Catholic and went to catholic school for a few years and Sunday school and catechism from age 3 thru high school. I think an understanding of the worlds religions is invaluable and it seems that you are in a perfect position to expose your child to various teachings. Why not take him to different services every once in a while and talk about the differences?  Maybe even let him decide how to celebrate holidays?  Learning the similarities of religious teachings can certainly be helpful later in life. Don't forget Buddhism and Shintoism as they are fascinating subjects. Even some of the ancient religions have stories in common with Judeo-Christian teachings.
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Goldielocks

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #94 on: March 07, 2017, 11:41:46 PM »
I (26F) recently got into a big argument with one of my SIL (22F) over FB messaging, which culminated in her saying she "is sad" for me every day and "deeply sad" that her nephew (3 yrs old) will not grow up with God at the core like she did.  .... My husband grew up in a deeply religious household (father is a Lutheran pastor). 

I am starting to feel insecure about my ability to raise my boy to be a moral, well-adjusted, and loving human being without the church-going background. 

I read this part, and (being lutheran, myself) interpreted a completely message.

Having God at your core, for me, is knowing that there is someone out there in addition to your parents, who will provide your unconditional love, forgiveness, and strength when you need it.   This is pretty powerful, but only comes into play when you go through a troubled time.   For example, I can't help thinking that my friend's daughter, who tried to commit suicide at age 16, would now benefit from placing trust in spirituality of some sort.

For me, who went to church on most sundays -- I did not really "catch" this message until I needed it, in my 30's...It just was not relevant to me as a child, and I would not have missed it being not there....  but the core of practicing faith  when young made it easy for me to reach out and grab it now.   When I go to church now, I often don't bring my kids.  I go because I get something out of it, not to force something on my kids.

My case is maybe a reverse of what you ask -- I went through childhood being told about God, but only believing in a shallow way, and am starting to learn the powerful difference as an adult.

So, I too, would be sad to think of someone going through life without spirituality of some sort, awareness of a larger purpose and beauty in life, and the trust that we are not alone even at our worst moments.

----------
This has nothing to do with morality or "good" or anything else.  As a parent, you may be much better at instilling morality than many that are going to church each sunday, you know!  I don't see any conflict with being moral and not attending church.

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #95 on: March 08, 2017, 01:28:01 AM »
Amazing thread so far! This has been something I've thought about a lot over the years. I see you've tilted in a certain direction already but will add this anyway!

I would say it's closer to the truth that you can't be truly moral if you are religious. Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree rooted in the power and authority of a deity rather than in adaptable reason. Necessarily, this moral ideology is stagnant and unchanging. But any reasonable pursuit of knowledge must involve possible falsification and revision of belief, so a fixed moral system is profoundly wrong at a meta-ethical level--even if (as Christianity does) it embraces a fair amount of reasonable moral ideas by happenstance.

I was raised in an agnostic household with no pressure to believe anything in particular. Nevertheless, I recognize Christianity does encapsulate some moral truths and overall can be viewed as a sort of beautiful mythology (it's popular for a reason, after all).

Regarding Vindicated's comment in the UUs, I have gone to a few of their meetings and found their talks (as well as strong coffee) invigorating in comparison with tired regurgitated sermons at more traditional religious institutions.

farmerj's post on better outcomes for religious people (aside from mixing causation and correlation) misses the broader point: even if religious people are happier and live longer because of religion it doesn't make their system of beliefs valid. If you're seeking an instrumental way of achieving social involvement and the concomitant benefits for your kids, pretending to believe could be a way, but ultimately at the highest level, it cripples achieving further moral progress as discussed above. Moreover, if religious notions of sacrifice and suffering for the sake of illumination are to be taken seriously as ideals to strive for, the harder path of no moral authority (other than what reason can determine) is the more "pure" path in that regard. Religious authority is the cheap way out of embracing the actual complex universe we live in and if the blue pill is what you choose, you might as well chase it with the Soma of false enlightenment that religion offers.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 01:29:56 AM by lost_in_the_endless_aisle »

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #96 on: March 08, 2017, 05:28:24 AM »
I would say it's closer to the truth that you can't be truly moral if you are religious. Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree rooted in the power and authority of a deity rather than in adaptable reason.

This is both awful and inaccurate.

Quote
Necessarily, this moral ideology is stagnant and unchanging.

"Being good" should change often or else it's "stagnant"...?

Quote
But any reasonable pursuit of knowledge must involve possible falsification and revision of belief, so a fixed moral system is profoundly wrong at a meta-ethical level--even if (as Christianity does) it embraces a fair amount of reasonable moral ideas by happenstance.

Religion isn't a piece of bread you eat and then are done with. There IS revision of belief among many religious, just like there's revision of belief among philosophers, and there is rigidity and inflexibility among BOTH groups as well, because both are made of PEOPLE. The efforts of 2000 years of philosophy and 2000 years of religion did not come upon moral ideas "by happenstance."

Quote
Regarding Vindicated's comment in the UUs, I have gone to a few of their meetings and found their talks (as well as strong coffee) invigorating in comparison with tired regurgitated sermons at more traditional religious institutions.

You are conflating an experience at one church with one group and the entire religion. This is like viewing a painting and then making a declaration on painting as an artform. You could view a hundred paintings and not really be great at making declarations about what it means to paint.

Quote
farmerj's post on better outcomes for religious people (aside from mixing causation and correlation) misses the broader point: even if religious people are happier and live longer because of religion it doesn't make their system of beliefs valid.

Of course it does. Your value system seems to be one of truth-as-fact. There are many unknowable things about which we can only have correct or incorrect opinion, and if in that gap religion improves your life, it's obviously better for you to believe. That's Kierkegaard's whole thing.

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If you're seeking an instrumental way of achieving social involvement and the concomitant benefits for your kids, pretending to believe could be a way...

Pretending to believe would be as beneficial as pretending to be married.

Quote
Moreover, if religious notions of sacrifice and suffering for the sake of illumination are to be taken seriously as ideals to strive for, the harder path of no moral authority (other than what reason can determine) is the more "pure" path in that regard. Religious authority is the cheap way out of embracing the actual complex universe we live in and if the blue pill is what you choose, you might as well chase it with the Soma of false enlightenment that religion offers.

I am not a Christian. And I have done study groups with some good friends of mine who are Catholic. I can assure you that examining a moral authority with an honest, emotional openness is not "easy" or "cheap." Existentialism that leads to religion requires significant courage. I don't know why you assume reason has a unique call on "purity." Embracing the universe is not an embrace of only calculations.

farmecologist

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #97 on: March 08, 2017, 08:11:52 AM »
I saw a great meme on this that said:  Morality: Doing what is right regardless of what you are told.  Religion:  Doing what you are told regardless of what is right. 

My kids are 11 and 13, never gone to church, not baptized, never raised to believe in supernatural beings, superstition or the like.  I routinely get complimented on what nice/polite/caring children they are from people like teachers, nurses, other parents, etc.   We also associate with a lot of freethinkers/humanists and their kids are pretty nice/moral/kind too. 

Follow your instincts on this.

This hit the nail on the head.  Our kids (18 and 15) were raised pretty much the same way.  We also get compliments on how polite/caring they are. 

However, when they do come home with questions, we encourage them to look at all religions and consider the good *and* bad side of each of them.  We are also fortunate to live in a smaller city that does have a wide mix of cultures and religions, etc... so that tends to get them thinking.

I think the greatest gift of raising your kids this way is it encourages empathy towards others...something I find severely lacking in may people these days.  I see this empathetic nature in our kids frequently. 

I can certainly see the value of religion for many people at a personal level.  On the other hand, I see religion causing many of the world's problems...not only throughout history..but also today.  It is yet another thing that causes 'tribal' tendencies in people...which leads to a lack of empathy...and causes bad things to happen. 

Also, every religion has a dark side.  Some folks tend to gloss over that fact.  A recent example is the catholic priest sexual abuse scandal...enough said.  I have a hard time understanding how people can gloss over things like this and still rationalize that their religion is providing a moral environment, etc.. I think it has to do with the 'forgiving' nature of their beliefs, and hats off to them if they can do that.



sol

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #98 on: March 08, 2017, 08:41:49 AM »
I think it has to do with the 'forgiving' nature of their beliefs, and hats off to them if they can do that.

Don't worry, Jesus died for your sins.  Your sexual abuse of innocent children is forgiven, and you get to go to heaven!  Your sixty year long cover-up of systemic pedophilia in your organization is also forgiven, and you also get to go to heaven! 

But your lifetime of moral behavior motivated by a genuine desire to be a good person, well, you get to burn in hell for eternity for that because you weren't baptized.  Sorry!

Laura33

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #99 on: March 08, 2017, 09:43:05 AM »
FWIW, my money is on HS bullshit.  You should mentally thank your SIL for demonstrating that being raised religious is no guarantee of becoming a good person.

Honestly, the question itself is insulting.  There are billions of people on this earth who have grown up without religion of any sort, much less evangelical Christianity.  The implicit assumption that they therefore must be inherently immoral, barring some sort of miracle, is narrow-minded, sad, and offensive. 

My opinion on this is formed from my conviction that if God didn't exist, we'd have invented Him anyway.  In order for humankind to populate the earth and become the dominant species, we needed to learn to work together in larger and larger communities.  That requires generally-understood and -followed codes of conduct, empathy, shared sacrifice, doing unto others, and all of that.  These rules can be conveyed and enforced by secular rulers or by religious ones, with equal effectiveness.  The universality of many concepts across many religions underscores this for me:  they are, at heart, the very foundations of our society.  The difference today is that religions make it easier to accept a pre-selected series of rules and behaviors, if you are so inclined; if you do not subscribe, you must develop your core principles yourself.  Both ways have pros and cons, and neither is a guarantee of success.

FWIW, I was raised atheist, joined the Episcopalian church in HS, faded away over the years, married a Jewish man, and now take our kids to a Reconstructionist synagogue.  I like our synagogue because the main tenets are strikingly similar to those I was attracted to as a teen, minus the Jesus bit.  I have known both good and bad people, in both religious and unreligious categories.  I would currently classify myself as agnostic -- at heart, I don't have the faith the truly religious have, but I wish I did; I don't really believe but would love more than anything to be proven wrong.  My vision of God is that, if He exists, He is far, far greater than any human mind can comprehend in full, and so all of the various religions represent individual humans seeing and interpreting their own little sliver of the whole.  Which means, by definition, each interpretation is inherently limited and fallible, just like those humans who first envisioned/interpreted them.

With respect to the SIL, as an old fart who has been through the younger know-it-all relations phase, I would advise to simply ignore her and don't engage.  I have a SIL, whom I actually like quite a bit, but who sometimes is breathtakingly condescending and unaware of her own presumption.  She also feels like the "overlooked" sibling, so I assume these two behaviors are connected -- it is so important for her to be right, to know best, to prove/establish her place in the family.  I mean, at one point, she told me I needed to have a second child so my first wouldn't be lonely (guess which one of us decided to stop after one kid?); at another point, she got ridiculously angry at my DH when their mom was in the hospital, because he showed up for a visit on "her" shift.  WTF?  The problem is, people like that are literally unable to see their own shortsightedness; they are so wrapped up in their view of the universe that they don't have the maturity or perspective to really understand that other people may be different from them, and that that is ok.  But, you know, when I get past the insecurity, she is still a decent person, and the family as a whole is awesome.

So why give someone like that the power to control your interactions with her whole family?  She's basically having a tantrum.  What do you do when kids have tantrums?  Do you engage, argue, try to persuade the they are wrong?  Of course not!  You pat them on the head and say "there, there, let's talk when you've cooled down," and go about your business.  Which, of course, only pisses them off further, because you are not giving them the attention and power they crave.  My mental image comes from 1-2-3 Magic, where the guy talks about being the horse in the field, enjoying the sunshine, calmly chewing on some grass, while this horsefly buzzes around, poking, poking, trying to get attention, and the horse just periodically swishes his tail and goes on with what he's doing.  When you respond to the bullshit she's throwing around, you're giving her the power to control the relationship.  OTOH, if you just ignore the taunts and hypocrisy and condescension and metaphorically pat her on the head and go on talking to her and everyone else as if it didn't happen, you take back your power from her.  It's hard, because you have to let a lot of wrongheaded and insulting stuff go.  But if it got my 4-yr-old in line, it can work with a 22-yr-old know-it-all.  :-)
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