Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids


    Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking childrenWith advice from educators, doctors, psychologists, and philosophers as well as wisdom from everyday parents, the book offers tips and insights on a variety of topics, from mixed marriages to coping with death and loss, and from morality and ethics to dealing with holidays Sensitive and timely, Parenting Beyond Belief features reflections from such freethinkers as Mark Twain, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, and wellness guru Dr Don Ardell that will empower every parent to raise both caring and independent children without constraints."/>
  • Paperback
  • 290 pages
  • Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion
  • Dale McGowan
  • English
  • 04 August 2017
  • 9780814474266

10 thoughts on “Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion

  1. Books Ring Mah Bell Books Ring Mah Bell says:

    When I was in a college childhood psychology class, the subject of teaching children morals came up. My professor basically said that's what church is for, how else can you teach kids about right and wrong unless those rules come from a higher power. Frozen with disbelief, I was unable to call bullshit or express my toughts at all. Here I was, a young woman who was not raised in a church and somehow managed to not murder anyone, steal, or behave like a jerk in general. I also found time to volunteer all without a church encouraging me to do so. Hmmm.

    I wish I would have had access to this book then. The author combines several essays on ethics, morals, holidays, (yep, he even covers Santa) as well as death. He does this in a fashion that does not slam religious thinkers.
    He encourages people to teach their kids to think for themselves, show some empathy, and use common sense. I was particularly fond of the chapter on giving thanks. Give thanks for the farmers and the sun that grow your food. Be thankful for the animal who lived and died to provide meat. (skip that, veggies!) No diety required!

    Do the right thing. Not because it's scripted by your religion or for fear God's wrath... do the right thing because it is just that. The right thing.

    A church in my neighborhood has this on the sign this week:
    Good without God is just O
    (Is that like zero or oh, like who cares?)
    Either way, I will call bullshit on that.


  2. Lori Lori says:

    I was not exactly the right audience for this book, not being an atheist. But it filled a definite gap for me, being a parent who does not feel comfortable raising my child in an organized religion. As one who is neither religious or atheist I am part of a growing segment of society who checks off Other when queried about religious belief. This was always a non issue for me in the past. Most of my closest friends are secular. My family is hands off about matters religious. And, as an adult, I have never really had to confront my lack of a chosen faith.

    However, children bring along a variety of new issues: People often automatically assume you are raising your child as a church going Christian. They send religious cards and gifts. They begin to indoctrinate your kid into their belief system before you have had a chance to have certain conversations with your child about the wide variety of belief systems that are present on this planet.

    I am looking for a few tactful tips on handling potentially sticky situations. I would love to have a few more resources for my daughter on world religions, so that she can learn, at an early age, that not everyone has the same concept of the Divine, the origins of the universe and all of the Big Questions she has started to ask us. I do not want to put more weight or value on one set of beliefs over the other. Instead, I would like to stress what these various religious and ethical groups share: common tenets about honesty, respect, non violence and love. (Later on we can get into all the ways the organized groups mess this stuff up with messages of intolerance for others, 'righteous wars' and damnation!)

    Mainly, I want to raise my daughter in an atmosphere free from the toxicity of Hell and 'eternal suffering and torture for people who, misguidedly, joined another team'. In my view, this has always been child abuse. I was thrilled to read, in Parenting Beyond Belief, that others feel the same way. If my little girl never has to lie awake at night, terrified of angering a fierce and vengeful god through some childhood infraction...and preoccupying herself with visions of hellfire and other perversity, I will feel I have done my job on this front.

    Conversely, I am dedicated to raising a child with sound morals, good judgement and compassion and respect for others. I have no real concerns about accomplishing this feat without involving organized religion. However, I want to be armed with sound arguments and reasons when religious people, inevitably, accuse me of being weak on morals and ethics due to my lack of church going.

    Books like this one are rare and they do not offer 'all the answers'. Non affiliated people are hard to pin down. They are not attracted to groups. They do not feel they even HAVE all the answers. They desire a lot of proof before declaring something in a categorical way. The closest thing I have to a body of like minded fellows in a spiritual sense are the Unitarian Universalists and the Buddhists. Thus, I am hungry for books on this topic. And I am finding the footnotes and 'additional resource' sections of this book to be most useful.

    I hope that Dr. McGowan will consider another compendium on the topic of non religious parenting. I will also be on the hunt for more titles that deal with 'Spirituality rather than Dogma.

    As our population continues to shift, I am certain there will be more demand for titles such as this one and I applaud the effort.


  3. Obscuranta Hideypants Obscuranta Hideypants says:

    Parenting Beyond Belief is made up of a wide variety of views. The common thread is parenthood, with a mostly-common thread being atheism. So far my favourite essay is by Julia Sweeney (of SNL fame) about her daughter and their discussions on faith as it relates to Big Things like death. Her honesty with her daughter, and her frank writing style are warm and engaging. It is interesting to see not only what she says to her daughter (what happens when we die? Frankly, darling, we decompose.) but how she follows this up in regular life. As she notes, some people look aghast at the idea of telling a child such a truth. (Horrible truth is the actual phrase used).

    I wonder, though, about the horror voiced by people about telling kids the truth. While I agree that the truth should be put into terms the child can understand, I also think that many times the intelligence of children is underestimated. I am not saying my child is a genius and so all children are, or anything of the sort. I do say, though, that they understand a lot more than we think. Their capabilities are often given short shrift.

    Also given short shrift is the effect of white lies meant to comfort. Santa Claus, Heaven, and the Easter Bunny all spring to mind. Most of us have come to terms with the non-existance of Santa Claus. Many people remember the disappointment in finding out that no, indeed, there is no such person. I don't think anyone has totally lost faith in their parents on finding this out, but some sense of betrayal might well be there. We do get over it.

    But what is the point in the first place? Why do we choose Santa Claus and Heaven to put forth as truth, and not, say, Sleeping Beauty?

    The thing about Sweeney's presentation of the truth is not just the words she uses, it is also the attitude with which she speaks those words and the way she lives her life which will teach. A bird dies in their back yard, and they watch it for days, every day a little bit less of it remains. They talk about the breakdown of the material, what happens to the material. It is done without fear. It is presented as fact (and it is), but not as a warning, nor as a means of keeping the child in line.

    Sweeney's father, who had been very close with the child, dies. Sweeney illustrates to her daughter how he lives on in their memory- in things they do either consciously remembering him, or as a result of his influence on their lives.

    It is very clear in her writing, that Julia Sweeney loves her child, has an open and honest relationship with her, and thinks deeply about her welfare. It is her clarity which convinces.

    Her atheism is presented without condemnation of religion (her family is religious, Catholic) or excoriation thereof. It is what it is. Clearly, she is at peace with letting go of god. This peace is transmitted to her child.


  4. Erin Erin says:

    This is a phenomenal book. It is at once inspirational, educational, humorous, and enlightening. I read it straight through in the first two days I had it, and I've gone back to re-read many of the essays over and over again. I think this is going to be one of those books in my library that will be dog-eared and have notes in the margins.

    I grew up and spent most of my adult life in regions where Christianity is not just the norm, but if you are anything BUT a Christian (let alone identifying yourself as an agnostic, atheist [gasp!], or naturalist) you are looked down upon and regarded as downright EVIL. When my children were born, I started wondering if I was somehow depriving them of something by raising them without religion. The many authors in this book have answered my question with a resounding NO!

    What a wonderful resource for parents like me (and my hubby) who want to raise our children as free-thinking individuals! One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the ability to make up my own mind and explore my own individual sense of spirituality without the guilt that often accompanies being raised in an environment of organized religion. I'm happy to give that gift to my boys as well. This book really helps to provide some tools and reassurance in our journey.

    This book also provides tips for creating a sense of community and structure for our children (the one thing I DO think I missed out on as a child in the only non-church-attending family in the entire town), and points out the importance of religious education and teaching our non-religious children how to thrive in the very religious culture in which we live.

    Like a previous reviewer pointed out, I'd recommend this book to anyone...not just non-religious parents. I think the essays help others to see that those of us who do not subscribe to a particular religion are not angry or lost or devoid of a sense of sprituality or wonder!


  5. Stina Stina says:

    This book was not a page turner, but the information it contains is important enought to slog/skim(?) through the whole thing.

    I'm often interested in religious debate and anecdotes from people who knew all they needed to know about God when they were six or ten or fifteen. Granted, I can't remember ever believing in God, but I do feel that I take time to consider the option and the facts and other people's feelings on the matter. I'm curious about how they got there, but the curiosity doesn't seem to be mutual.

    This book helps to point out all that one goes through in a world where youth groups and church camps turn out believers that can't wrap their head around the fact that someone who is not living their life for God could also be moral and good.

    I remember hopping in a guy's car in college to head off for our first date and on our way to the canyon we were hiking, he asked what religion I was. I explained that I wasn't religious and that I wasn't raised that way and he exclaimed, BUT DO YOU STILL HAVE MORALS??!?! I couldn't tell if he was asking because he wanted to get laid in the desert or if because he was worried that he might have been going hiking with a carefree murderer... I didn't put out, didn't kill him and never heard from him again.


  6. Kurt Pankau Kurt Pankau says:

    Ugh. This suffered badly from anthology bloat. Too much fluff went in to fill out the page count, for my taste. Now, buried in there was some brilliant stuff: a list of notable atheists/agnostics/deists set to the tune of I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General, or a poignant piece on the history of discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America, and one of the keenest observations I've ever come across about the difference between conservatives and liberals*. And, speaking as someone who agrees with the substance of this book, I just got bored. Most of it was you're non-religious and that's okay and it's going to be hard sometimes but you'll be better off for it. It reminded me of a lot of the pro-vegan propaganda I've read that, in retrospect, really rubs me the wrong way.

    And I have to complain about the formatting for Kindle. I imagine that in the print edition, important quotes and talking points from the text would have been offset in a box with large type and with a different-colored background. In the ebook version, you just get random text stuck in the middle between two paragraphs. Very bizarre reading experience.

    So, I don't think I can really recommend it, at least not all of it. At best, it's worth thumbing through and taking notes.

    *For the curious: the philosophical difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives believe there is a best way to do things and everyone should do things that way. Liberals believe there are lots of good-enough ways to things, so why get upset about it? Brilliant, right?


  7. Karen Karen says:

    I didn't think that I needed a guidebook for raising kids with no religion - because that seems to suggest it is a difficult or unnatural thing to do. However, I read every other kind of parenting book, so I gave it a shot, and enjoyed it. I think anyone, even spiritual people, will get plenty out of this. Unless you're the sort of person who will answer because God said so, (basically ducking the question with a non-answer), when your kids ask difficult questions, then you might find some of these essays useful someday.
    I also have to admit that I was chastened some by a few of the essays on tolerance. I realize I'm quite intolerant of religious views, and there were some good reasons here to adjust that. The most compelling one is that it is clear that humanity seeks spirituality, for whatever reason. So, if you don't understand the draw of religion, then you can't understand human nature.


  8. Stephanie Stephanie says:

    I was skeptical of the value of this book -- my secular parents did fine without it, for example, as my brother and I are ethical, caring people. But I heard an interview with McGowan on the radio and was so impressed by what he had to say that I ran out and bought the book. What an incredible resource! From Richard Dawkin's loving letter to his little daughter, to handling questions about death, to the admonitions to raise secular kids to be religiously literate (do read the Bible to them) and tolerant of religion (don't teach them to sneer at religion), to the section on To Easter Bunny or Not to Easter Bunny? there's a wealth of information here from outstanding contributors. Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, and Dawkins are just a couple treasures. Raises excellent points for religious and agnostic parents as well.


  9. Kendra Kendra says:

    Happy to have found this resource and the author's blog The Meming of Life - it encourages me to find such thoughtful authors as McGowan, as well as other thoughtful humanist/atheist/non-believers/skeptics such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Phil Plait. Although I am not comfortable pasting a particular label on myself, this book and several passages in the author's blog have made me comfortable coming out as a non-believer and minority and as a parent - putting a face on a minority that others may generalize (and perhaps dismiss or fictionalize or even demonize) is important, just as it is important to stand up for other minorities, particularly in the face of a majority who might dismiss, fictionalize or demonize them. In the past, the discourse between the believers and non-believers has left a bad taste in my mouth as it just seemed a whole lot of shouting. Dale McGowan transcends this with a thoughtful approach to nearly every situation with the goal of hearing and being heard. Very refreshing...very helpful for thinking about how 99% of people will interact with my children around holidays, talking about the tooth fairy and santa claus and, yes, god. This has come up over the past few months for me as I have seen in a documentary about Pat Tillman, read about certain laws that affect non-believers and have come to understand how certain groups (like the Boy Scouts) make assumptions and judgements about who I am based upon a group that I belong to or a label that I wear. Suddenly, being out there seems important to right a wrong that is doubled by silence.

    The essay by Stu Tanquist is a good guide for the parenting issue that came home today - the Boy Scouts are recruiting my child, yet the BSA explicitly says in their bylaws, The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the **best** kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are **necessary** to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. (Emphases mine.) I was actually shocked and saddened to read this - who knew (a la, then they came for me) that my family could be discriminated against?

    The answer to this issue to me is not to have an outraged theology lesson with my 6-year-old, who is oblivious, but rather to keep integrity in mind, to find another outlet for our scouting behavior, yet to also not feel that I have under-addressed this issue by letting this slide in favor of all of the other activities we have going on right now. I didn't *need* Stu Tanquist to tell me this, but appreciate the affirmation of the possible alternatives juxtaposed with the totality of the individual situation. Mostly I'm just sad for the lost opportunity. GSUSA is not so picky about this. but I *really* digress...

    I think there is something in this book even for believer parents, even if to understand how points of view among believers differ, and also to understand (on the off chance you might meet one) how non-believers might act and react and think and feel about things. Indeed, as a non-believer, one of my favorite parenting books is The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, a Jewish approach to parenting - perhpas it is surprising to know that a non-believer might look to guidance from a book based in religion.
    Even if the idea challenges you, Dale McGowan is a steady craft in the stormy waters at the intersection of believers and non believers, and has chosen essays from a wide range of interesting individuals. You might be pleasantly surprised.


  10. David David says:

    This is a good book, on a wide variety of topics relating to religion and children. In fact, it's quite worth reading even if you haven't got/don't want children. It's a mind-sharpening task, trying to distill the essence of your ideas to something a child could understand, and explaining things with the weight of responsibility upon you (small kids, unlike college students, believe everything you say).

    Like any eclectic collection, there are less successful moments. In the middle of an otherwise good piece on the need for Humanist community, the author suggested that a Humanist replacement of the Bible be created. Apparently he didn't quite get the fact that the Bible isn't popular because it's well-written, or insightful, or instructive, because it's none of those things. It's popular as the Word of God, whether literally or psychologically true. Humanists can read Gilgamesh and the Illiad, but nobody will agree that those are the only old stories our children should know. When you look at the stories as fiction, you have to admit there's been good, probably better, fiction written since. And you can't put in all the real explanations of the world, because scientific knowledge is both vast and ever-changing, unlike Biblical knowledge. It just wouldn't work to replace a holy book with something that goes through new editions every couple years. The very concept of having a single, central book, no matter how diverse, is anathema to most Humanists.

    Anyway. The parenting book's pretty good.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion❰Read❯ ➮ Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion Author Dale McGowan – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk Foreword by Michael Shermer, PhD



Contributors include Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr Donald B Ardell



It's hard enough to live a secular lif Foreword by Michael Shermer, Belief: On PDF/EPUB ¶ PhDContributors include Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr Donald B ArdellIt's hard enough to live Parenting Beyond PDF/EPUB or a secular life in a religious world And bringing up children without religious influence can be even daunting Despite the difficulties, a Beyond Belief: On PDF/EPUB ä large and growing number of parents are choosing to raise their kids without religionIn Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan celebrates the freedom that comes with raising kids without formal indoctrination and advises parents on the most effective way to raise freethinking childrenWith advice from educators, doctors, psychologists, and philosophers as well as wisdom from everyday parents, the book offers tips and insights on a variety of topics, from mixed marriages to coping with death and loss, and from morality and ethics to dealing with holidays Sensitive and timely, Parenting Beyond Belief features reflections from such freethinkers as Mark Twain, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, and wellness guru Dr Don Ardell that will empower every parent to raise both caring and independent children without constraints.


About the Author: Dale McGowan

DALE McGOWAN, PhD is Belief: On PDF/EPUB ¶ a committed atheist, a devoted husband and father, and a recognized expert on raising caring, ethical children Parenting Beyond PDF/EPUB or without religion He is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, a collection of essays by and for loving, thoughtful nonreligious parents hailed Beyond Belief: On PDF/EPUB ä by Newsweek as “a compelling read,” and Raising Freethinkers, the first comprehensive resource addressing the unique chal.