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Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion Paperback – April 25, 2007
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“Parents on both sides of the culture war will find this book a compelling read.”
-Newsweek, July 16, 2007
“…Parenting Beyond Belief provides engaging anecdotes about the challenges of raising children without religion.” Humanist
“Parenting Beyond Belief serves not only as a guide to families who choose not to make that identification, but it also made me feel that those of us who are struggling with these issues are not so alone.”
“The editor, Dale McGowan, a writer, educator, husband and parent of three, has pulled off the difficult task of weaving together diverse parts into a very cohesive whole. It sure helps that most of these parts (the individual essays) are simply terrific! … Parenting Beyond Belief is not only an interesting and enjoyable read, it is also stuffed full with good information and pointers to other sources.”
--John Logsdon, "Sex, Genes, & Evolution" and the Iowa Secularists Newsletter
Foreword by Michael Shermer, Ph.D.
Contributors include Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, and Dr. Donald B. Ardell
It’s hard enough to live a secular life in a religious world. And bringing up children without religious influence can be even more daunting. Despite the difficulties, a large and growing number of parents are choosing to raise their kids without religion.
In 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 children.
With 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
In our society, it is helpful for non-believers to become religiously literate. Ideas are given for exploring various religions with children to understand both the good and the harm that can come from religious institutions. There is also a wonderful section exploring holidays, including the pros and cons of teaching children to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
The book is not entirely focused on religion or philosophy, but rather on raising free thinking children. For example, chapter eight, Jaw-Dropping, Mind-Buzzing Science, explores the wonder and meaning that is found through scientific discovery. Also in this chapter, an essay on evolution clears up some popular misconceptions and puts evolution into terms that are easy for anyone to understand.
The heart of the book discusses morality as it applies to both being and doing good. There are explorations of the process for developing emotional empathy and moral reasoning, as well as discussions about what values are at the core of human ethics. While this book is largely a collection of essays from contributing authors, the editor, Dale McGowan, introduces each section and weaves the themes into an enjoyable and thoughtful read.
For example, in one of the essays the author explains when the child asks about Santa Claus that Santa Claus is someone people pretend to believe in for fun. That, to me, was a very clever answer for someone trying to seek a way to enjoy Santa without lying about Santa or crushing the fun of the lie.
Not all of the stories may be of direct use depending on ideas you may already have, but even the ones I do not agree with have given me some food for thought.
I planned to teach my children the wonders of science and reason without ever mentioning religion. The more I thought about it, I realized it's probably better to be prepared since we live in a country that is mostly Christian. This book was everything and more to guide me with some of the questions I had regarding parenting.
Chapter 3 Holidays and Celebrations was the only chapter that was not useful to me. I will still celebrate secular Christmas and Easter, but I would like to add Darwin Day. Chapter 1 Personal Reflections was worthwhile and an enjoyable read. I have read an extensive amount from free thinking scientists and philosophers like Bertrand Russell, so I'm really glad this book included their insights and listed the historical smart people who were atheist/agnostic or deist. This book is a must for anyone that wants to raise educated children who believe in reason, empirical evidence and science.
My favorite and the most applicable chapters for me were:
5 Values and Virtues, Meaning and Purpose
7 Wondering and Questioning
8 Jaw-Dropping, Mind-Buzzing Science