Thursday, February 26, 2009

Raising Freethinkers A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

I was recently asked to review the book Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas and Jan Devor. I absolutely loved Dale's other book, Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and couldn't believe I would get a copy of his newest book to actually review. When you are a non-religious family, you sometimes feel very alone. My husband and I are actually Atheists, so there really aren't many resources for us. I have found tons of great Atheist blogs and websites, but they usually don't deal with actual parenting. I cant' even explain how good it felt to me when I stumbled on Parenting Beyhond Belief. To read essays from other Atheist and Agnostic parents reassured me as a parent.

Raising Freethinkers ~ A practical, hands-on guide for raising independent, caring kids without religion.

Praised by Newsweek as “a compelling read” and Library Journal as “accessible and down-to-earth,” Dale McGowan’s Parenting Beyond Belief offered freethinking parents everywhere a compassionate introduction to raising caring, ethical children without religious guidance. Now, for the more than 40 million people in the United States who identify themselves as nonreligious, Raising Freethinkers offers solutions to the unique challenges secular parents face and provides specific answers to common questions, as well as over 100 activities for both parents and their children. This book covers every important topic nonreligious parents need to know to help their children with their own moral and intellectual development, including advice on religious-extended-family issues, death and life, secular celebrations, wondering and questioning, and more.

Complete with reviews of books, DVDs, curricula, educational toys, and online resources relevant to each chapter topic, Raising Freethinkers helps parents raise their children with confidence.

I have gotten so much out of this book and will be turning to it all the time for ideas, tips and just to feel like I am on the right track. Even though, my husband and I are Atheist, I have tried not to label my girls that way. I want them to decide for themselves when they are older what religious path they want to take. At this point, neither of my girls believe in God. My oldest did believe for a few years. She had some very religious friends in our old neighborhood. She felt left out not believing. When she asked questions, I answered her the best that I could. I would tell her what I believed and what others believe. After a few years, she stopped believing.

My youngest has never believed, even though this summer she decided she believed in Heaven because she likes angels. I try to spend time with the girls reading them mythology, religious stories, studying various religions. Every holiday I take the opportunity to talk about what various religions believe and do for that holiday. I am trying to install in them knowledge and free thought. This is exactly what Raising Freethinkers talks about.

While this book is geared towards non-religious families, I think many open families can get something from the book. This book is not anti-religion in any means. Actually, it encourages that everyone should be knowledgeable in all religions. Because knowledge and understanding of the world is crucial, in order to be empowered in making informed decisions. There is a ton of advice on teaching religion to kids. The chapters are broken down into subjects including ~

  • Helping children achieve religous literacy without indoctrine
  • Explore life's meaning & purpose
  • Promote a healthy perspective on sexuality and body image
  • Encourage ravenous curiosity
  • Help kids come to terms with death & loss
  • Find and create community
Each chapter is written by a different author. The majority of the chapters are broken into question and answers, making it very easy to read a little bit at a time or go back to find some help on a topic you are struggling with. At the end of each chapter are tons of resources. Includes activities that pertain to the chapter topic, books/movies to read/watch with your kids, websites to visit and more.

If you are a nonreligious family, this book is an absolute must. Even if you have to request it from the library, read this book! If you are religious person, you might want to give this book a read as well. You might come to find out that even those of us that do not believe are still good people. We live moral lives, we want our children to lead moral lives. We care about other people, other cultures, the land we live on. This book also encourages education, knowledge and curiosity. All kids can benefit from that!

You can read Dale's blog The Meming of Life and join in the Parenting Beyond Belief forum. You can purchase Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief at Amazon.

About the Authors

Dale McGowan (Atlanta, GA) is a writer, editor, and parenting educator. He edited and coauthored Parenting Beyond Belief (978-0-8144-7426-6).

Molleen Matsumura has been a humanist activist and writer for more than 20 years and has contributed to Free Inquiry and The New Humanist.

Amanda Metskas (Albany, NY) is the Executive Director of Camp Quest, Inc.

Jan Devor is Director of Religious Education for the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

Huge Thank you to the Family Review Network & Parenting Beyond Belief for this review opportunity!

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1 comment:

Kiy said...

Thank you SO much! We have the first book and I can't wait to add this one to our home library. It sounds wonderful, as was the first one. you are right, we non-religious families need all the help we can get.

Thanks again, Kiy

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