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Theme Changer

 Topic: Raising secular children

 (Read 9000 times)
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  • Raising secular children
     OP - May 27, 2012, 03:07 PM

    Not that I intend on having kids anytime soon, but reflections on my childhood along with my desire to keep my apostasy a secret from my parents has got me thinking - how would you raise your children in a secular way while still keeping it a secret from your religious parents? I know first hand what religious indoctrination can do to you and it goes without mention that I would never allow for my kids to go through that - but at the same time I would (ideally) like to maintain a good relationship with my parents. What are your thoughts?
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #1 - May 27, 2012, 03:18 PM

    I think the best way to do it is to simply teach your kids to think critically, always demand evidence, and give them a very good explanation of how evolution works. My parents never talked about religion, and even though I went to a Catholic school where we'd get indoctrinated a few times per week, I ended up figuring out that religion was made up when I was 11. So I'd just recommend to trust your kids to figure t out by themselves, the way kids figure out that Santa is not real.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #2 - May 27, 2012, 03:27 PM

    Make them aware of the basic tenants of Islam, and the etiquette and mannerism in Muslim environments.  That should integrate them into the family who expect them to be Muslim.  But on their own, I'm sure you'll teach them that all religion is false and that they should question and have a critical mind.

    .
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #3 - May 27, 2012, 03:32 PM

    Make sure you don't end up making them live double lives, pretending to be a muslim etc, one of the crappiest things. Let them be young and free and if your parents ask then just say they're young, probably 'going through a phase' or something.

    ^Also, yeah, teach them rational thinking and show them how to question things, even most simple things like a toy. What's it's function? Why is it coloured this way? What material is it? Why those materials? etc etc.

    "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl

    'Life is just the extreme expression of complex chemistry' - Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #4 - May 27, 2012, 04:07 PM

    How old are you Mohamed? The reason why i ask is because, most likely by the time you are ready to have kids you will live in your own home, and possibly even in a different city away from your parents.

    Since joining this forum I am beginning to understand why ex-Muslims need to keep their apostasy secret from their families for a while and I totally respect that, but to perpetuate the lies to a whole new generation, that just seems so wrong to me. Remember that they will be your children, not your parent's children.

    From my own perspective, I am planning to have kids too and my wife is from a Catholic upbringing. She doesn't really care what her dad thinks because he is a bit of an arse anyway and the days when he used to dominate over his family are long over. But I know that making her mum happy is very important to her. Which means that when stuff like Baptism and First Communion come up for our kids, that is going to be a battle for me. My plan will be to use the Dawkins argument, that indoctrinating children into a religion is child abuse. I will argue on morale grounds that if a child wants to be Catholic then they can get baptized when they are 18 years old and they are old enough to make that decision for themselves. Let's see how that goes  whistling2

    By the way, I think if a child gets both sides of the story, i.e. the religious one and the skeptical one from a young age. Then I think that the skeptical one will win anyway, because it just makes more sense. Just focus on the fact that there is 0 evidence to back up the Abrahamic religions and teach your kids the importance of evaluating an idea based on evidence.

    I.e. this book is what your grandma believes in, but what it says here and here, well there is no evidence for that, etc. etc.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #5 - May 27, 2012, 04:27 PM

    Thanks for the excellent advice everyone.

    Quote
    How old are you Mohamed? The reason why i ask is because, most likely by the time you are ready to have kids you will live in your own home, and possibly even in a different city away from your parents.


    I'm 24 and still in school. My wife and I are both Agnostics and live away from our parents (in the same city).
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #6 - May 27, 2012, 06:49 PM

    Teach your kids to be open minded and expose them to reading about all belief systems. This is one of the ways to at least show them that Islam isn't exclusive. There are a couple of books you might want to read as well. Try "Raising Freethinkers" and "Parenting Beyond Belief"
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #7 - May 27, 2012, 06:54 PM

    Good for you Mohamed  Afro

    It's a good thing you're thinking about this now, but a few years down the track you might find that the whole apostasy thing might have come out of the closest on it's own, or you might decide that living a double life yourself is too hard, etc...

    Everyone else here has said that teaching your kids to think and to use their brains and develop critical thinking is important, and I totally agree with that. It is seriously the best immunization you can give them from rigid regurgitated thinking.

    Critical thinking is good for pretty much every aspect of life, and helps develop emotional intellegence and empathy in kids, 'cause they learn to think through problems and how to fix them in ways that are healthier/more constructive, rather then being taught, "That's bad!"

    It probably depends on how strictly your parents follow Islam, but if they don't follow it strictly, then you might be able to get away with more frequent contact and involvement in your kids lives. For some people mid-low contact with their parents work, and if you are thinking of never telling your parents about your apostasy then that could work, especially if when your parents bring up the issue as to why aren't your kids practicing islam, why aren't they doing x,y,z, or why don't they understand/ know about this that or the other, you could say, "They are young, they are still babies, let them have some fun, etc..." or, "well, I'm so busy, I don't have the time to teach them such and such."

    For some people they can't go low contact, but rather cease all contact, or only contact on majour holidays, like Eid, etc... I have no contact with my parents since my apostasy come out, so there's no issue any more with the whole religion and kids thing with my parents, but when I was in contact with my parents, it was a constant issue with my parents and was very frustrating.

  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #8 - May 27, 2012, 06:58 PM

    Oh, buy them Lego! (Even though it's turned into a sexist company -.- ...that's another topic)

    Lego can develop their creative and spatial thinking as well.


    "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl

    'Life is just the extreme expression of complex chemistry' - Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #9 - May 27, 2012, 07:03 PM

    my house is full of nature, space, earth documentaries.. dvd's .. and a bunch of books... a great kids book i like reading to my lil ones is "The Emperor Penguin's New Clothes" .. "dinosaur train" is a great tv show ..
     i plan on taking them on a museum/zoo and science center  road trip in the summer.. (of course wonderland too)...
     when religion comes up (usually when my mother is over).. i make it a point to compare all the religions and not put islam or any other religion on a pedestal...  i will always point out the silliness in it.. or the alternative, (because it's knowing you have options that opens your mind to possibilities)
    i use the words humanist and agnostic .... a lot!..
    religion is a non-issue now in my house...
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #10 - May 27, 2012, 07:15 PM

    Reading about other religions helped me as a kid. Or not necessary religion but mythologies. Mythologies have some pretty cool stories.

     But educating them about it is good because you don't a reverse instance where a preacher (of whatever religion) goes to then and say well your parents didn't teach you about 'the truth' here let me enlighten you. I think most converts fall into that trap later down the road because the only information they have been told about a particular religion is by the people trying to convert them, and of course making it very appealing. point is don't completely ignore the subject of religion because it may backfire when they grow up.

    ***~Church is where bad people go to hide~***
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #11 - May 27, 2012, 08:34 PM


    Most children don't need to be taught how to ask questions. They will ask questions from the coming of the morning til their eyes close at night. The challenge is to not shut them off.

    My children were raised religious. One continues to be one does not. Both will say it is the best religion. I thing I always say while raise them was," You have got to make it your own. It is not so because I say it is." I really don't think it works best to tell children things are false especially if it is something that someone they love like their grandparents are doing. It takes a lot of diplomacy to negotiate the very emotional territory. 

    Encourage thinking skills, how to work things out and what the end result of actions are. Also tolerance of individual choices.

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #12 - May 27, 2012, 11:21 PM

    Thank you all very much for the excellent suggestions, all are greatly appreciated! Nice to know that I'm not alone in this - it's easy to forget that sometimes having to constantly interact with the overly-religious Toronto muslim community. Smiley

    Teach your kids to be open minded and expose them to reading about all belief systems. This is one of the ways to at least show them that Islam isn't exclusive. There are a couple of books you might want to read as well. Try "Raising Freethinkers" and "Parenting Beyond Belief"


    Thank you for the recommendations, I will be sure to check them out.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #13 - May 28, 2012, 01:39 AM

    Create a family youtube account. Have that account logged in constantly. Subscribe to nature and secular channels. Once in a while your kids will stumble across these videos.

    Youtube is the reason I left islam.

    Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense. - Voltaire
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #14 - May 28, 2012, 08:15 AM

    Not that I intend on having kids anytime soon, but reflections on my childhood along with my desire to keep my apostasy a secret from my parents has got me thinking - how would you raise your children in a secular way while still keeping it a secret from your religious parents? I know first hand what religious indoctrination can do to you and it goes without mention that I would never allow for my kids to go through that - but at the same time I would (ideally) like to maintain a good relationship with my parents. What are your thoughts?


    I think really at some point you gotta stop living the lie, if at all possible. It's difficult and requires a significant amount of courage and moral fortitude, but at the end of the day I think it's the only valid way to set an example for one's children. Being a closeted apostate, and showing explicit outward as well as more subtle forms of hypocrisy will negatively affect the character of your children and personally is something I couldn't do.

    Bite the bullet and hope that your parents can respect your decision as an adult. Over time I think most soften in their attitudes after any initial backlash.

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #15 - May 28, 2012, 09:23 AM

    Bite the bullet and hope that your parents can respect your decision as an adult. Over time I think most soften in their attitudes after any initial backlash.

    As many Christian parents have come to accept their openly gay children, unthinkable a generation or two ago.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #16 - May 28, 2012, 02:28 PM

    I think really at some point you gotta stop living the lie, if at all possible. It's difficult and requires a significant amount of courage and moral fortitude, but at the end of the day I think it's the only valid way to set an example for one's children.


    I definitely don't disagree with you, and in an ideal world I would tell them in an instant, but at least for the foreseeable future, I don't know how feasible it would be to tell my parents. My parents are NOT moderate - to them, islam is literally their whole life. Add to that the fact that my mom is sick, and would likely die from a heart attack on the spot if I were to ever tell her, lol.

    Perhaps the only solution is to move away and minimize contact with my parents? Sigh...
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #17 - May 28, 2012, 02:47 PM

    Oh, buy them Lego! (Even though it's turned into a sexist company -.- ...that's another topic)

    Lego can develop their creative and spatial thinking as well.



    best advice

    "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."
    - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #18 - May 28, 2012, 03:25 PM

    Oh, buy them Lego! (Even though it's turned into a sexist company -.- ...that's another topic)

    Lego can develop their creative and spatial thinking as well.



    I love Lego!!!! My brother literally had THOUSANDS of them and we used to build little Star Wars' ships. dance

    Self ban for Ramadan (THAT RHYMES)

    Expect me to come back a Muslim. Cool Tongue j/k we'll see..
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #19 - May 28, 2012, 03:51 PM

    I love Lego!!!! My brother literally had THOUSANDS of them and we used to build little Star Wars' ships. dance


    Chepea was allowed to play with Lego  and loved them. Is this why she is questioning Islam now?  Lego their effect on the securitization of world must be carefully considered. The mind altering effect of these small interlocking plastic cubes may be changing the time space continuum. 
     grin12 mysmilie_977


    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #20 - May 28, 2012, 04:09 PM

    I've been very puzzled by this one as well.

    For one thing, I don't think there is anything wrong with teaching your kids to be socially smart.
    There was a time in my life I would have thought that was wrong and we should all be open about who we are...

    But then I think to myself, what a silly attitude.  I go to work and I don't share every detail of my life nor am I the same person I am at home. 


    The big issues of course come when the kids are very young.  If you want to maintain a good relationship with your family... As much as it would pain you, I would suggest you teach them the basics of Islam.  How to pray.  How to greet people.  Don't openly drink or be too atheist in front of them...  But keep your distance from the Islamic community.

    Once they're a little older, you can talk to them a bit more about things.

    Changing things is very difficult.  I would only suggest rather than take a 'no double life' stand, just make sure that you make life easier and better on your kids.  As long as at the end of the day, you can look yourself in the mirror and say... my kids are having it better than I did, you've done a good job.
    Life handed you a certain deck of cards, make the best of it.
    If you were born poor and uneducated, you would consider yourself a success if you managed to get your kids educated and a decent middle class job.  There's no need to demand that they be completely financially free and wealthy.  Look at where they came from.

    You were born into an Islamic family, just make sure the next generation is less strict and less Islamic.
    You turned out okay, your kids will turn out better.


  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #21 - May 28, 2012, 05:14 PM

    Thank you scamper for the suggestions Smiley

    Quote
    But then I think to myself, what a silly attitude.  I go to work and I don't share every detail of my life nor am I the same person I am at home.


    But that's different. You don't lie about who you are either in order to satisfy the people you work with.

    Quote
    As much as it would pain you, I would suggest you teach them the basics of Islam.  How to pray.


    I wouldn't mind teaching them this stuff, but I would have to tell them that it's all based on lies and speculation - i.e. teach them to think critically, as was previously mentioned. Otherwise this is child abuse in my opinion.

    Quote
    If you were born poor and uneducated, you would consider yourself a success if you managed to get your kids educated and a decent middle class job.  There's no need to demand that they be completely financially free and wealthy.  Look at where they came from.


    While I agree that it's important to remind them where they came from, I don't agree that this situation is totally the same, for I think I have a choice, whereas if I was born poor and uneducated I may not have much wiggle room.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #22 - May 28, 2012, 05:57 PM

    But that's different. You don't lie about who you are either in order to satisfy the people you work with.


    I'm not sure what you do, but I lie all the time at work.  I work as a professional.  I don't bring up partying or drugs or anything else at work.  There's some people I talk to about things, but its just unprofessional for me to bring up my private life to that degree.

    I wouldn't mind teaching them this stuff, but I would have to tell them that it's all based on lies and speculation - i.e. teach them to think critically, as was previously mentioned. Otherwise this is child abuse in my opinion.


    you can call it child abuse for the word impact... and some nutty people can call circumcision mutilation as if they're cutting off a person's arm or something.  It doesn't change the reality that most circumcised people go on to live regular lives like anyone else, where a person who actually suffered mutilation like a cut off arm will not.  And a child who is taught a few harmless fairy tales as a kid like so many kids will grow up perfectly normal and healthy, whereas a person who actually suffered real physical or emotional child abuse will not.

    But you're being rather dishonest if you're going to use that word and the impact it carries for teaching a child fairy tales.
    Babies and toddlers don't think critically.  Hate to break it to you, but for the early years of a child's life, a child is barely more intelligent than a dog.  You're going to end up making a million and one choices for your child.  You will be imposing your worldview and culture on them.  They're not going to have 'free-thought' in any of it.

    As the child grows up, you can teach them to think critically and make rational independent choices.  But I don't think it reasonable to openly teach a 5 year old to pray, but not believe it.  Kids are pretty stupid when you get down to it.  They're going to blab about it unaware of the consequences or really give it much thought.

  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #23 - May 28, 2012, 07:10 PM

    Babies and toddlers don't think critically.  Hate to break it to you, but for the early years of a child's life, a child is barely more intelligent than a dog.  You're going to end up making a million and one choices for your child.  You will be imposing your worldview and culture on them.  They're not going to have 'free-thought' in any of it.


    Toddlers do think critically actually. Children are naturally inquisitive. From my own experience with my nephew, if you don't want him to do something it is much more productive if you explain why rather than just saying no. For example if you tell him not to climb onto the back of the sofa, he will keep doing it. But once you explain that he might fall off and hurt himself then he understands and stops doing it.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #24 - May 28, 2012, 07:30 PM

    my house is full of nature, space, earth documentaries.. dvd's .. and a bunch of books... a great kids book i like reading to my lil ones is "The Emperor Penguin's New Clothes" .. "dinosaur train" is a great tv show ..
     i plan on taking them on a museum/zoo and science center  road trip in the summer.. (of course wonderland too)...
     when religion comes up (usually when my mother is over).. i make it a point to compare all the religions and not put islam or any other religion on a pedestal...  i will always point out the silliness in it.. or the alternative, (because it's knowing you have options that opens your mind to possibilities)
    i use the words humanist and agnostic .... a lot!..

    religion is a non-issue now in my house...


    yes, same as Ness  yes  I find it the best way to tackle it without coming across as a hater.  I point out the similarities, differences, the mistakes, I get them to question what makes one belief more valid than another and its really going well since they are not generally inclined towards religion at all now.

    I've been very puzzled by this one as well.

    For one thing, I don't think there is anything wrong with teaching your kids to be socially smart.
    There was a time in my life I would have thought that was wrong and we should all be open about who we are...

    But then I think to myself, what a silly attitude.  I go to work and I don't share every detail of my life nor am I the same person I am at home. 


    The big issues of course come when the kids are very young.  If you want to maintain a good relationship with your family... As much as it would pain you, I would suggest you teach them the basics of Islam.  How to pray.  How to greet people.  Don't openly drink or be too atheist in front of them...  But keep your distance from the Islamic community.

    Once they're a little older, you can talk to them a bit more about things.

    Changing things is very difficult.  I would only suggest rather than take a 'no double life' stand, just make sure that you make life easier and better on your kids.  As long as at the end of the day, you can look yourself in the mirror and say... my kids are having it better than I did, you've done a good job.
    Life handed you a certain deck of cards, make the best of it.
    If you were born poor and uneducated, you would consider yourself a success if you managed to get your kids educated and a decent middle class job.  There's no need to demand that they be completely financially free and wealthy.  Look at where they came from.

    You were born into an Islamic family, just make sure the next generation is less strict and less Islamic.
    You turned out okay, your kids will turn out better.





    This has got to be the most terrible advice ever.

    Lie to your kids, trick them to practice basic Islam, and then spring on them after that they shouldn't believe it.  This just keeps the cycle going and the lies going.




    Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #25 - May 28, 2012, 07:34 PM

    Toddlers do think critically actually. Children are naturally inquisitive. From my own experience with my nephew, if you don't want him to do something it is much more productive if you explain why rather than just saying no. For example if you tell him not to climb onto the back of the sofa, he will keep doing it. But once you explain that he might fall off and hurt himself then he understands and stops doing it.


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/5994583/Dogs-as-intelligent-as-two-year-old-children.html

    Kids think more critically as they grow up.  It's great your nephew thinks about a basic human instinct to not get physically hurt.  That's a certain level of thinking.  Do you think he understands social constructs?  Do you think he is able to think of consequences years down the road?

    For example, lying is something kids learn as they grow up.
    http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/the-truth-about-lying

    The human brain is in constant development and learning in the early years of a child's life.

    It's a gradual process and almost all science will show you the gradual development of the brain and the ability of the child to think.  That's my only point.  Your exposure to the child to the complex social structures of Islamic community is not something that you can just explain to a 5 year old and expect them to handle it correctly.  Most of us struggled with it well into our teens.

  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #26 - May 28, 2012, 07:43 PM

    yes, same as Ness  yes  I find it the best way to tackle it without coming across as a hater.  I point out the similarities, differences, the mistakes, I get them to question what makes one belief more valid than another and its really going well since they are not generally inclined towards religion at all now.

    This has got to be the most terrible advice ever.

    Lie to your kids, trick them to practice basic Islam, and then spring on them after that they shouldn't believe it.  This just keeps the cycle going and the lies going.



    No it doesn't just keep the lies going.  Each generation gets better and more capable of being freer.
    The poster isn't even willing to proclaim his own apostasy to his parents.
    Should he impose a greater burden on his children than he is willing to make himself?

    If the poster wishes to remain part of his family and extended family/community without major upheaval and possible cutting of ties, then he has to teach his kids to navigate that system.  As the link above shows, kids aren't really able to lie properly until about 10-12 years old.  If you want them to live somewhat of a lie, you have to wait till they are in their teens to explain that aspect to them.

    Teaching kids about santa clause and then revealing the truth to them later isn't the worst thing in the world.



  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #27 - May 28, 2012, 07:47 PM

    No.  Why are we even arguing about the optimum time to get children involved in your lies?

    What sort of joke parenting would even set out to do that?  Trick your own kids into a religion until such an age as they grow old enough to lie as well as you do. That's just insane.

    My kids have screwed me over with their honesty so many times, and still, I would rather than were honest no matter the consequences to me.

    I won't teach them to lie on my behalf. 

    That is the only real debate here, does the OP actively want to be the sort of parent who teaches his kids to lie from young to protect himself?


    Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #28 - May 28, 2012, 07:50 PM

    Not that I intend on having kids anytime soon, but reflections on my childhood along with my desire to keep my apostasy a secret from my parents has got me thinking - how would you raise your children in a secular way while still keeping it a secret from your religious parents? I know first hand what religious indoctrination can do to you and it goes without mention that I would never allow for my kids to go through that - but at the same time I would (ideally) like to maintain a good relationship with my parents. What are your thoughts?

    You mentioned you were Egyptian. Would you want your children to be connected to their Egyptian roots? Because perhaps their culture could fill that religious void.

    So yeah, keep 'em cultured and I doubt it'll be bad. But for connecting kids in the West to their culture, you generally have to associate with family, so....not sure how you would manage that.....

    And if you teach them the importance of reading and keep books lying around your house, then I bet they'll learn a lot and then think critically and all that stuff. What my parents used to do was treat books like other parents treat PSPs: when we did something good, they'd promise us a book as a reward. Once we all got past our fiction phase at around 11 years old or so, we moved onto nonfiction, which is of course what you would want your kids to be reading. So you might want to try that approach. yes

    Self ban for Ramadan (THAT RHYMES)

    Expect me to come back a Muslim. Cool Tongue j/k we'll see..
  • Re: Raising secular children
     Reply #29 - May 28, 2012, 08:01 PM

    What sort of joke parenting would even set out to do that?  Trick your own kids into a religion until such an age as they grow old enough to lie as well as you do. That's just insane.

    My kids have screwed me over with their honesty so many times, and still, I would rather than were honest no matter the consequences to me.


    If educated, reasoned, balance, and scientific choices are a joke.... then we're on different levels.
    Honesty is only one of a thousands parts of life.  For me and many others, a little lie is worth social harmony and good relations with people.

    I don't see anything wrong with teaching kids a very cultural version of Islam.  Eid, funerals, weddings... prayer.
    I plan to keep them away from religious people who might scare them with thoughts of hell...

    I've come out to my parents, but not to the greater community.  I don't plan on handicapping my kids and preventing them from having good relations with their relatives.  

    I'd be making as much a choice for my kids brandishing my atheism around, that they'd pick up and thas cause them to have poorer ties with relatives... as I would by indoctrinating them with religion.  In both cases, I'm making choices for the child.

    By teaching cultural Islam at a young age, you leave the child open to pursue whatever family relationship they want at a later stage.  If they want to keep being a cultural muslim, they can.  If they wish to proclaim their atheism at that age... they can do that to . I won't make that choice harder for them by distancing them when they're young... just because "I want to keep it real"
    It's easy to just be 'less religious' than be part of an atheist family.


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