As a mother and Atheist ( for over 20 years) I've found the hardest aspect of being an Atheist and a parent - is finding community. Not just for myself - but for my children. Community and socialization are crucial in a child's development. I feel this in one of the most significant reasons there is less women in Atheism -  because there is less family in Atheism. In meet-ups, they are predominately male - and usually at libraries. 

They discuss philosophy and science ... Not child friendly. 
As you read statuses and updates by fellow Atheists- you'll notice us wives and our children omitted. Very rare - is the admission of wives, children, our family life. Women are the backbone of church -  they are what keeps 'faith' alive...But not faith in God, instead faith in family and community. If we want reason to grow - then we have to find a way to include the atheist family - to offer support and community for our growing families. To organize social groups that are centered on family life and provide that crucial social development and bonds through friendship and community that are for now , found mainly in church. We have to supply an alternative...This is what keeps many people I know from outting- fear of losing community and the bonds they've built. 

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I went on meetup - the usual group shows , 78 members , monthly meet up at library , 4 attend. When I searched your area - The nearest is 85 strong, founded in early 2009, has had a total of 20 meet-ups. The rest around the state are similar. This is the end of 2010... There is no way that 20 meetings are ever going to fill that gap. This is why I said women are most likely not going to leave their community, where they've been in most cases their childhood; where daycare and all activities are structured for ease of access and ease family ability.  Have you developed strong, sincere, bonds in motherhood and friendship within those 20 meetings? Has your children acquired solid, meaningful relationships, friends for spend the nights and weekly interaction with the children in the group? Do you take turns doing daycare ? Do you bake together and hold big meals or something- every week? Do they come to your home, you theirs,  and break bread together in friendship ?This is why I say you see less mothers willing to leave community, provided by church to one that offers either nothing - or scant. I see mothers in atheism - just not many. I see women atheists - just not many mothers. Generally all the mothers, you're an exception, agree with the 'elephant ' in room no wants to admit to.  I think the majority of them have experienced church community and see the difference between the two groups as I do. Atheism prides itself on its independence, on it not being organized- however it is that organization for family, socialization and friendship, that I suspect- more than theology, that keeps women in church.  Harvard released their study that says the same.

 

It's always been noted women are not as vocal in Atheism as men - I had to post the top women in atheism on my page  - after polling and no men could name one! Not even Hirsi came to mind for them. They got very defensive and gave many excuses , including women suck at science & math.

 

I don't think the solution is saying, ' hang in there!'...Nothing gets resolved. There is going to have to be a change - a new understanding of Family & Atheism. A serious attempt at someone bringing them together, for regular interaction and development.

 

I don't expect my meetup to fill my entire need to connect with humans in general.

That's the point in the post and discussion on church and community vs without church and community. On your needs or known theists :The theists or claimed that I know – especially ones who hold the idea of not mixing yoke or have become very close within the congregation– do specifically do all the majority of all activity through church. They attend 3-4 times a week. This is the point of the post. Most women do and have gotten dependent on that service – that support. This is what is being missed by people replying – well a few, in the post. Rather than discussing – some attempt debate, when there is nothing to debate or to prove existent. The point of post is to posit why women are less willing to leave their community – and my own experiences. Had I known people would get so defensive, I'd still have posted this *laugh*. It's been the same as if in fellowship and you bring up morality or ethics – the whole room gasps... How dare you question ! This has been the typical response- even by women , who feel it's an attack on Atheism.

 

If i was looking to ONLY socialize with other atheists, well, i imagine i'd have some lonely times.

Being that I'm an atheist , raising my children atheist – it is logical to seek like minded people and friendships. After all it's a prevalent behavior in animals and is exampled by most all species. It's the reason you joined T/A ,as has I presume everyone else – other than those out of curiosity or to argue. You sought to have rational discourse and mutual exchange of ideals with fellow Atheists. Why would you then assume it's less so for me or other other Atheist mothers seeking like minded families ? I'm not seeking primarily Atheists to socialize with – my photo albums( FB) depicts our activity , I'm referring to community as in people who share an intimate commonality.

 

 

 //"Do you bake together and hold big meals or something- every week?"//

If your point is, atheists are not as organized as theists, you can save the ink, we'd all agree.  I have baked and had big meals with my local group, but every week, no!  I have no interest in seeing htem every week.  I DO have a life.

I have a life as well – or try. Once again you missed the point. In church they do, several times a week , have interaction and build bonds. This is why I asked you several questions. The fact so many women belong to churches – and are the back bone – unarguably, of their congregation and facilitate these socials events – speaks largely of what the majority of women seek or need. This is, once again, the point of post... For some – this is their life. This is what they love, breathe and come week , after week for. This is why- not theology, that faith has retained numbers. It may be what causes Atheism to not... To relate, to grow , to connect, to bond – is very biological and a natural desire. To not – to me, is foreign. This group alone shows the need...

 

HOwever, you never answered my question earlier, if you offered to ORGANIZE a child friendly event.  You told me you had suggested one, but, that is different than offering to organize one yourself



I'll correct you – saying suggest does not remove an offer of organizing. I suggested I could organize one to minimize the anxiety they may feel at the task...

“Angela, you have a passion about this, and i hesitate to to argue with you much, because you mentioned earlier you felt you were being put on defensive, but, some of your remarks are sweeping generalizations, which detract from your very valid point, (that atheist groups should consider luring in families.”



Which ones? When someone uses sweeping and generalizations – I prefer they list them , so I can reply. If I didn't one could easily claim whatever they wanted.

 

//"It's always been noted women are not as vocal in Atheism as men - I had to post the top women in atheism on my page  - after polling and no men could name one! Not even Hirsi came to mind for them."//

I don't know i'd agree with your sweeping statement ( how so – name me women who have reached hero status as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris , Dennett, Rorty and the list of men goes on …) "it's been noted women aren't as vocal as men about athesim"!Have you tripped across Greta Christina? ( who I know as females is irrelevant – I'm a women.) I am fairly mouthy female atheist....lol.<-- you're not well known or a name likely to be written about... I'm as well – and I blog, but I'm not well known and certainly not hero status, certainly not televised and in cable sponsored debates. Women have been pivotal in Atheist activism- but not well heard and behind the scenes. An editor is not as recognized as the writer.



You didn't discredit my statement.



Many of the men here on T/A could name women atheists. Since we atheists are so few, and NOT organized, we should fight the temptation to generalize the bulk of us by the reactions or limitations of a few.

But you just did … you're using your limited experience with T/A to conclude the bulk of male Atheists do know prominent female Atheists. You haven't shown were I made a generalization. It's not disputed by the atheist community the lack of 'herofied' females in Atheism. Women, they exist – surely. Are they at equal status, as the men enjoy ? No.

Also – T/A is a good size community( I hope it grows) – however I belong to forums and groups that have over 30k or more. On two of my pages I have over 15k. So when I look at issues – I look in a broader sense. This here has been a drop in bucket. I liked the fact it's smaller and more intimate. Generally when I write – I post to several communities, forums and etc to look at responses for comparison.

So, I will disagree with you using 'generalizations'...

We DO have many atheist mothers on this; site, have you looked at Parenting group?



Yes, 129 members. Petite group – but good to see one on here.







//"I don't think the solution is saying, ' hang in there!'...Nothing gets resolved."//

 

“nothing gets solved by those who give up, either, Angela”



Who said giving up ? Not with my nature.



sorry, i'm just not in a 'get pissed off' mood today.

Who wanted you to be ? I'm quite happy.



I hear you, but, i'm just not pissed off about it.  But, i think your point, atheism is not as organized as churches is valid and true.  STill, the atheist women that i know could not belong to any church (except possibley UU) jsut to have bake sales with other women who have dependent children.  nope, they couldn't/wouldn't.  Gag.



Bake sale is an 'x' , used as an example of an event. Women at church who don't have children actively take part in the lives of the families and children .. .It's called community; socialization for a reason. Why wouldn't atheist women do such things and with women with dependent children? I have prior to having my two youngest. I do things on a regular basis that have no direct connection with my own life and I certainly wouldn't dismiss a person from the desire of wanting to help or be involved in another's life due to it being unrelated to theirs. Children need nurtured by many different influences. So am I to agree that atheist women wouldn't ? No. I'm an Atheist woman , and I certainly would. I'm sad the women you know are so limited in their regard for other atheist women – which is kinda the point. You just lent my post an agreement.



I'd bake the best damn cupcakes they ever ate...

 

//"There is going to have to be a change - a new understanding of Family & Atheism. A serious attempt at someone bringing them together, for regular interaction and development."//

 

YOu make a good point, Angela. Feel free to pitch in, like i said, it IS up to us atheists to cause the changes we want to see happen.  Offer to do the work to organize a child friendly event at your local group, if they flat out refuse to allow you to do this work, well, consider starting up your OWN local atheist family group.

You state it as if I haven't – wrong. I've tried several options. But maybe these atheist's are as you and wouldn't come bake with me, sew with me( which I don't do – just an 'x') or share my triumphs, failures and the joys of my life – perhaps they wouldn't or don't have interest because they've already raised theirs and feel no obligation to help me raise mine … perhaps this is the crux of issue with atheists. There is no obligation , want or desire for community – it goes against the grain of having no organization. If organization is what on large the populace seek – as exampled with theism and has helped make it so successful – then perhaps atheism needs to rethink the position.



You ever heard the say saying 'It takes a( village) community to raise a child ?” …

Certainly nothing wrong with checking them out - I'm a little piqued in curiosity as well. I'm open ! Not so open I'll sit in a sermon:) 

I'm trying to get a group together for a mud run - a bonfire and some filthy family fun. I'm going to do so outside my county!

So what are you going to be ? Just cass ? I'm just Angela most times. Socialization and organization - is highly sought out in most animals. We like to hang out and kill stuff together, eat together ...all sorts of vile stuff together. It's nature.

'it's important for religion to be a topic, otherwise it's nothing but a group of friends meeting to talk with no meaningful purpose.'

To be honest - once away from the pastor and etc - we never talked religion. We shared our lives; laughed, told on our husbands... silly shit. It was just friendship. I'd like to hang out and pick fleas.

I disagree with you saying "it's pointless without religion" - I don't want the religion. My ethics are such that I couldn't abide that. Youth need a place to belong too - a place where they can exchange and find commonality - other than porn. 

 

I do see the lack of community an issue. A lot of my theist friends network for jobs through church - they help one another out with keeping employed and usually exclusively use fellow Christians. If it weren't for the fact I fear I'd snap and burn the building down - I'd go for the networking. A friend of mine has a boy up in Ohio - he sought out the biggest church he could in his locality- started going there... he told them his parents were Atheists, they took him right in . He has a very lucrative business now and is 23.  He is an Atheist. He needed to network his area and so he did.

 

He goes to church, fellowship and can wicked debate....Smarter than us ?

I also feel it's important for kids to have that sense of belonging to something especially when they're surround by one major religion. that's why I may try out the local UU congregation as my son gets a bit older like four or five. So he can mingle with other kids and have opportunities for activities and comparative religion outside the home.

Feel sad for American atheists when I read exchanges like this. The problem barely arises in most of Western Europe, or SE Asia (Thailand). There is simply no stigma attached to atheism. A majority of people I meet are atheist or apatheist anyway. I can honestly say that in France, Spain, Italy, UK and Thailand where I've lived it's a non-issue.

What annoyed her greatly, from my reading, is you blithely telling her to do things she has already done or attempted to do and posted, right here in this thread, that she has done or attempted to do. I'm impressed that she continued to try to engage you rather than just ignoring you after about the second time you figuratively patted her on the head.

This would by why I discontinued discussion - when one surrenders a free mind to adhere to a ideology , they no longer are of relevance. I'm a free thinker - which led me to Atheism. However being atheist does not call for my defense of non belief to the point of irrationality or dissonance. If I have to lie, ignore or treat all claims against Atheism- even from Atheists as an attack, regardless of merit - then I have failed at being a free mind. Yes, she ignored the bulk of what is in thread - and repeatedly posted what I felt was patronizing replies for the most. However it also serves as an example to others that atheists can also irrationally defend or be guilty of cognitive dissonance. I truly felt as if I was in discussion with a theist... But with an atheist exhibiting same attributes. 

 

'such passion for the topic' 

 

Every atheist should have passion for this topic ... It is one of the of the most damning hurdles we face as a group. Those who realize it , are ahead of the game. 

Angela, early in my atheism I attended a few services at the UU church and found them extremely welcoming and accepting of atheism.  In fact the one I went to celebrated Darwin's birthday like a holiday!  You do need to put up with some religious dogma, but they vary and along with Christian, Jewish, Native American, and Buddhist talks/sermons there are plenty of humanist and atheist speakers and messages as well.  It's a safe haven for homosexual Christians to serve also.  Granted it's not necessarily atheist, but it's really nice.

I also take my daughter to a MOPS group, where other moms visit and drink coffee while the kids play.  I've found a lot of secular activities and groups in our community.  I take my ten year old to volunteer at an animal shelter, she gathers towels and blankets to donate to them. We attend family events that are open to the public.  Our kids are in city sports, I've met a lot of parents there and we've had plenty of playdates. Again, it's not atheist but it scratches the itch for me.

Another idea is to start your own atheist/agnostic meetup for families or for moms who are at home with little ones.  If you boast coffee and playtime for kids, I'd sure come!  You could also attend one of those library atheist meetups and suggest your ideas for a more family friendly meetup in addition to the one they're running.

I started a support group here in my hometown because there was a need.  I've been fulfilled and enriched by it, I think you should consider starting your own group.  They aren't there because no one bothered to get it going. 

I def have tried - the problem is , is that most are interested in low key educational enriched activity - such as library or social drinking meet ups. There are some suggesting opening centers for family enrichment that are similar to church.  I also attend charity events and etc - I do mostly the same things as you , however - this does not build lifelong relationships and stability in a child's life through bonding , or in mine... consistent involvement is why women stay in church - even if a non believer. imply sitting or standing aside strangers , even if in good intent - is not making the connections children would otherwise receive in church . it is a wholly different type of community - and very hard to grasp if you've never had this. I have community - of strangers in an concerted attempt to bring change or help to someone ... I don't have intimate community. There is a difference. 'intimate' community is what keeps women in the church and what make sit so hard for women to walk away from... Atheism can't do this because atheism is geared toward autonomy - for now. In order to survive or be adopted wide scale - it will have to realize human needs for bonding, community and intimacy within a group. 

 

Until such a day, I will do what i do , or must - and hope one day my daughters/sons will be a free minds. My hope is they have intimate community for themselves and their children.  The topic seems to get - strayed into other areas and not comprehended fully in its context. it can't be solved by saying - take your kid to public events - because public won't satisfy the need for long - it's our mature to find like minds.  I've been an Atheist most my life - and I've raised two adult atheist children , and now have two toddlers... the issues are the same.  Maybe most new atheist mothers haven't given it great depth of thought - or they misunderstand that need of children , and even themselves , to have deep meaningful relationships with like minded people. It can't be found on forums & etc.  It's a tough topic and many are defensive of Atheism or anything that casts a shadow on Atheism - whereas people such as myself see it as a respect and continuance of our free minds. 

 

Thank you for the responses - do continue your journey. It is my hope you find the enriching bonds of motherhood and womanhood with like minds. 

I haven't read the posts here past the first page so maybe this has been addressed already but I don't have time to read all of them so I'll just go ahead and post this.

 

I totally understand the lack of community and I see this as the number one factor as to why there aren't more women active in the atheist movement and why more women stay in church. It is our evolutionary instinct to find community and since so many of us were raised in religion it may sometimes be easier to just join a church to find that community than to do the work that it would take to create that community in a non-theistic environment. Women are usually responsible for a greater variety of responsibilities and adding the responsibility of creating community from scratch is probably too much for most Mom's who are juggling work, babies, school, home, etc. 

 

There are few alternatives available but it might be worth looking into and, even if you aren't a parent or your children are grown, it might behoove those interested in supporting the atheist movement to consider supporting, financially and with you volunteering time, some of these alternatives in order to make more of them available for those busy Mom's who are raising our next generations of non-theistics.

 

  • Unitarian Universalism-this alternative is easy and fairly common. It may not be the solution for all but it's a great way to find community. Yes, some are churches but UUism is more like a civic organization than a religious community and you and your children can learn about different religions without dogma or doctrine. A great educational opportunity and they do great social justice work as well.
  • Atheist/humanist sunday schools-I have no idea how common they are but I have heard they exist. Another great educational and community opportunity if you are lucky enough to have something like this.
  • Secular parenting groups-I was inspired after reading Dale McGowan's books, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, to start a secular parenting group here in the babble belt. We have regular play groups for the preschoolers, picnics, workshops (Dale McGowan is doing a seminar here next month! Yay!) and discussion groups. I started this even though my children are now grown. I want something like this to be available to my kids when they have kids!

 

I'm sure there are many other options as well. Hopefully these alternatives will become available for families because if we don't support young families, we will remain in the dark ages!

 

If you are interested in starting a group in your area please feel free to contact me. I'm happy to share my ideas. 

 

I could also use your financial help to support this cause if you are able. You can see some of the things we are doing (I'll be adding more but our website is new-if you blog about secular parenting let me know!) you can visit our website. http://secularfamilynetwork.com

 

It's fine to say that parents should just create a secular community but in reality, it's not easy! But it can be done. 

way late to the discussion, but I joined a UU church for the community and religious education/protection for my kids. Most of our congregation are atheist/agnostic/secular humanists, as are at least 50% of UUs. Even those who call themselves pagan tend to be more skeptical of the supernatural and magic than mainstream Christianity.

 

There is a reason why there is an old joke of new UUs being "atheists with kids" .

 

Seriously, before we started attending church, we got pressure all around us to come to this or that church event. Once I joined the UU church, so many needs were met- friendship, ethical and moral instructions for my kids and discussions with adults that respected my and my husband's belief, and "cover" for my kids - we were now "churched" so the pressure was off from the well-meaning christians around us.

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