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4.6 out of 5 stars
Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief
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174 of 178 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read extensively, including many parenting books, and although I do nearly all of my reading from library books, I am very glad I purchased Raising Freethinkers, as I know I will be referring to it repeatedly over the years I'll be raising my children.

As a nonreligious parent among a largely religious extended family, I both appreciated the sense of community I felt (I'm not the only one!), but also the sense of respectfulness for religious folks evident in the book's tone. All the chapters come from a place of deep regard for children's capacity to learn and think for themselves, and highlight how exciting an adventure it can be to raise kids free from indoctrination. I love the ideas for encouraging scientific reasoning and critical thinking, as well as ethical living.

Since reading this book, we've modeled the scale of our solar system, read creation stories from around the world, found a way to support our daughter in her quandary with the Girl Scout pledge, discovered new ways to answer questions about death, found ways to handle interactions with religious family members, and uncovered a vast new list of kids' books we plan to read as a family. And this is just what I can remember off the top of my head. There are extensive resource lists and activity ideas at the end of each section.

Raising Freethinkers is simply fantastic, and unlike anything else I've found out there. I most strongly recommend it.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I cannot say enough good things about Dale McGowan and the books he has written for nonreligious parents. This book didn't disappoint. The extensive list of resources and suggestions in Raising Freethinkers is invaluable. How to really give your child religious literacy without indoctrination, how to deal with death, handling the stages of moral development-it's all here.
This and Parenting Beyond Belief will now be in every baby shower gift I buy for my nonreligious friends.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Although the primary target for this book is atheist or secular humanist parents, I do not fall into that category, but still found this book very valuable. I consider myself 'spiritual but not religious', and therefore am confronting many of the same themes as secular parents, in terms of trying to help my children navigate the social and cultural forces often tied to religion, and trying to build a sense of community and family rituals without organized religion as a guide.
This book offers lots of parent questions, exercises, practical advice, and resources for fostering religious literacy, developing an ethical foundation not tied to religion, dealing with relatives and friends with traditional religious beliefs, and developing family rituals and frameworks for helping kids deal with the life passages and death outside of a conventional religious framework. It is not a dogmatic atheist book, and is more oriented around developing tolerance and curiousity regarding religion and spiritual issues, so I was very comfortable with most of it.
In addition to the topics already mentioned, I liked the first 'Inquiring Mind' chapter, which I think any parent should read, in order to more deeply consider the ramifications of feeding your kids your own answers to life questions, and how to best foster a sense of curiosity and 'freethinking' in them. I did have issues with some of the themes and exercises that seemed to equate freethinking automatically with rationality or current scientific thinking, as for me these too have their limitations, but I think the message on those can be tweaked.
So, if you are grappling with unconventional spiritual beliefs, and how to parent your child within those, and/or how to best prepare them for dealing with a religious society, this book is worth a look.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a good guide with some sensible, practical advice. The only issues I have are the chapters written by the guest authors which really seem to promote unitarian universalism and other organized "non-religious" churches as bases for community. Most of us who are non-believers also have no need or use for such organizations and to base so many solutions in them is not really very helpful. Even if I were so inclined to find such places, there aren't many choices in my area. This is not to take away from what is otherwise an insightful, helpful book, but it does overshadow the book so I wish I had known. Others had mentioned it, but I would want any prospective buyers to really be aware.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is fantastic! Like many nonreligious parents, I'm always on the lookout for resources and activities for my kids that reflect my world view. They are so rare! Now these resources are collected, arranged, and sorted through in this very handy book.

And it's much more than just a listing. The resources are buttressed by practical, thoughtful writing on navigating kids through a religious world with grace, humanity, kindness and respect. What's not to like?

I recommend it as highly as possible. Get it for yourself, get it for your local atheist grandma, get it for that lonesome nonreligious parent in a religious family, get it for your local humanist society! Just get it, you'll love it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a mother of two young children who is proactive in their moral development, and who was herself raised outside a church setting, I found this book enlightening, encouraging and very practical. The take-away lesson I most appreciated was to encourage my kids' biblical literacy, as well as their understanding of other religions and mythologies. I was encouraged by the promotion of non-theistic communities for families around the country, as I'm involved in one in the Atlanta area called The Fellowship of Reason.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
For 2 years we felt very alone in our approach to raising our children without religion. We feel empowered now that we've read these books! Both books are A MUST HAVE for secular parents.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I first checked this book out of our library, and before I finished the first chapter, I knew I had to buy it. This book is a wonderful resource for secular parents. Full of ideas, activities, resources and more to help non-religious parents raise their children. Already it's changed the way I think about parenting as an atheist.

My only wish is that it had more activities and specifics for the preschool set, as that's the age my kids currently are. But otherwise, this book is fantastic. A must-have for secular parents!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Despite such a large portion of our population not being religious, it is a shame not enough of these books have been published for the secular community. This book has proved to be touch a wide variety of ethical concerns and I recommend this product for anyone wanting to offer a positive variety to their child's education without getting into a dogmatic "do as you are told" mantra.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you haven't already, buy Parenting Beyond Belief with Raising Freethinkers (you will probably qualify for free shipping!) I read the latter first. Raising Freethinkers has been just as informative and inspiring.

This book is filled with wonderful advice based on rational thought, balanced with love and humor. It touches on almost every subject most non-religious parents will face with their kids.

To the parents out there who may be nominally religious, give these books a try. It may make you realize that good, kind, moral kids can be raised without religion.
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