I'm a divorced atheist mother of 4 young children and I live on the bible belt.

They're still young, but the oldest 2 are in school now, and already I'm feeling frustration at the constant presence of religion. It's a public school, so it's not nearly as bad as it could be, but it's still there. And maybe that's a good thing? I sometimes feel that automatically expecting my little boys to adhere to my same beliefs is just as bad as religious parents raising their children that way. I want them to come to their own conclusion, and of course the best way to come an educated and conclusive decision is by research and experiencing all sides of said argument. Hopefully by experiencing a (hopefully) small amount of the hypocrisy and idiocy that is religion they'll be able to realize that it is indeed all bulls**t. So I suppose I'll have to endure the occasional flyer from the boys scouts with their oath about god and them learning christmas carols about baby jesus, but where will absolutely draw the line is a) any hint that someone is trying to refute scientific facts and trying to teach them any sort of creationist "evolution is a myth" crap or b) anyone trying to use god or heaven or the fear of hell as a means to try and influence them, whether it be to get them to behave or to buy cookies, I will. not. stand. for. it. I just want them to be good, decent people, not because they think that's what god wants them to be, but because it makes them feel good inside. Am I on the right track?

p.s. I don't plan on hiding the fact that I'm a non-believer from them, but I do worry that if it comes up with classmates or teachers ( I learned long ago that no one will blab your business as much as your own child lol ) that they'll face discrimination for their mother's beliefs. The thought saddens me, but I suppose I'll just have to deal with that when and if it comes.

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Nothing really critical to say of your post-- you seem to have good intentions and even better critical reasoning-- not to mention a clear understanding of the situation at hand, and what is to come. Good luck? lol, not much else can be said. I'm no father, yet. I'll let the more procreationally experienced comment... I think I just made a new word.
I think every situation is different. I was a single dad. When I divorced my baby girl was one yr. old and I got custody. I left it alone for the most part and just asked her a question about her opinion here and there. I encouraged her to go to different churches. She liked one called Slam or some such crap. It's for kids and parents aren't allowed in. They make you wait in the lounge, lol. They play christian rock and give door prizes like Ipods. Guess you gotta buy the next generation.
I think the first step is evaluating there intellegance. My kid was maybe not the smartest but she was sharp enough that I didn't worry. The questions I asked here and there let me know she had a grasp of the ark's story problems and other things she questioned I liked as well. It made it hard to raise her but I didnt worry about her religious orientation. At twelve she finally asked me what I believed and I felt she was ready to here my take. She is an Atheist now also. I have three daughters all told and two are Atheists. One is outspoken about it (very)!
You souldn't worry. I live in the belt too. It's fine just ask questions here and there to make them think. Try to do it if they ask to go to church (do it after church). Ask what she learned and what she thinks about it.
Hi Amy!

I see you are in the southern U.S. and I offer you my condolences. I'm in the Mid-West and am also surrounded by religiosity, although it is a bit tempered here in St. Louis. My daughter is too young for school yet, but I have given thought to how I will handle the insidious presence of religion that permeates our culture. There's no doubt that I, or she, can avoid it. Let's face it, we live in a religious culture and some things we will have to tackle head on. Honesty is key in this and I think also exposure, too. My wife and I plan to expose our daughter to many religions and myths so that she can see how similar they are and not become enamored with one over the other. Hopefully this will inoculate her against any religious indoctrination from schools, friends, or family.

ALso, make sure you stop by and join Parenting Hellions, T|A's premier parenting group for heathens!
You seem to be on the right track.  The arrogant bastard in me would come up with some cruel example of how god isn't really there ("Can't see him? it's because he's not there.", "I'll believe in him if you introduce us, but only  if he's willing to talk to me- oh, he's not?" and so on) but this would be far and away outdone by showing what an amazing place the universe is without a god.  I don't have any idea about the practicalities of this, but if it's possible to get involved in your children's education in any way, I'd suggest inviting (atheist) physics professors or biology professors to come and teach your child's class for an hour or so, so that the kids can have an introduction to the big bang theory or the theory of evolution by natural selection from somebody who actually understands the topic and can answer any question a child would have.
Augh! Get your son out of there, or they'll teach him to believe in God as a default, and he'll have exactly the same problem you had for 30 years but with the added barb that he didn't have to have it!
Teach them how to think, And they will probably find there way to atheism. You don't have to push atheism, you just have to push critical thinking.


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