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u/J0NNYquid · 3 pointsr/atheistparents

EDIT: Had some time to A. Wake up, and B. Get my shit organized.

So my first recommendation is to read these 3 books.

These are all geared more towards the parents, but it sounds like that will be just as beneficial to you. I've worried about the same exact stuff you're worried about ever since my wife told me she was pregnant. These books have been a fantastic resource. The first 2 help you prepare for the inevitable questions (which it sounds like you're already getting) children ask in regards to our origins. There's nothing I can say here that will really improve upon what's contained in these books, so my #1 suggestion is to just pick them up and read them. "Relax, It's Just God" Is a quick read, so I'd probably start there.

I'll just say, for anyone that hasn't read them, or doesn't intend to, the most important thing I took from these books is this:

Please don't shield your children from religion. It's played an incredibly important role in the founding of civilization, and it continues to be a dominant force in society (particularly if you're in the US). By shielding your children from all things religion, they will have no defense against it when they are inevitably confronted with it. To a child, the easy answers and flimsy logic of religious dogma can seem persuasive. By refusing to talk about it, or not engaging them honestly in discussions about it, you're essentially sending them out into the world unarmed.

Now, once you've sort of amassed this collection of tips and strategies for talking about it with them, you need to build an understanding of the concepts that ACTUALLY govern our world. There's a lot of great resources out there nowadays that introduce complex things in a very approachable way. If your children are on the younger side, I'd recommend these books:

I buy these 3 for every single one of our friends that has a child (provided I'm cognizant of their beliefs, wouldn't want to step on any toes)

I think one of the things religion has going for itself, that science and reason kind of lag behind in, is instilling a sense of wonder in people. It's easy for adults to marvel at things like quasars, black holes, the process of DNA replication, etc., etc., but it's a bit harder to instill that sense of wonder in kids without getting into some really dry science. That's why religion (in my opinion) is still so successful, it offers easy answers to really difficult questions, and doesn't really require you to think too hard on it. "I'm scared of dying" is easily answered by "Well don't worry, God loves you and will bring you to heaven with him."

There's also some great videos on youtube I'd recommend (though they vary a bit in regards to age appropriateness): (evolution) (Astronomy) (evolution)

Kids, even very young kids, are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Knowledge of the way the world actually works is the best insulator against religious dogma, so give them as much as they can handle. When that kid at school tells them God created everything, instill values in your child that will lead them to ask "why" instead of just accepting that at face value. And if your child comes home and says, "Jimmy said god created the world" you can respond with, "Well yes, that's what Christianity says, do you know what Islam says? Hinduism? What about the Greek Myths, those are pretty cool huh? Most civilizations have a story about how everything got started, but none of them really agree with one another, and we've never been able to prove it. Scientifically we have a pretty good idea, but there's a few things we don't know yet, and that's perfectly fine. It's ok to say 'I don't know' when it comes to big complicated stuff like this. Let's see if we can't find out more! (insert books/videos/research here)"

My son is barely a month old, so I'm a ways off from a lot of these conversations, but I'm doing my best to prepare myself. I hope to teach him how to tell whether a source is reliable or not, how to be skeptical (particularly of those in power) and how to think critically, and not stop digging just because the answer he arrives at makes him feel better. Luckily, there's a plethora of information out there nowadays from secular sources that is geared towards people like you and me and our non-religious offspring.

EDIT: The other book I will recommend that's not a parenting book and isn't geared towards kids is "Your inner fish". There is a series of youtube videos based of the book if you prefer that. Basically, it makes evolution really cool, and in a way that (in my opinion) you can tell your children about easily. Things like why our skin is the way it is, why we look the way we do, etc. All stuff kids will probably ask.

u/bedsuavekid · 7 pointsr/atheistparents

I recommend this book: Raising Freethinkers.

It's less of a practical guide and mostly a series of essays by atheists parents sharing their experiences, but I got some incredibly useful things out of it.

The most useful of which was this. You don't say, Santa isn't real. You say, right from the outset, let's pretend that there's a fat man who flies around the world on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and he brings presents to children.

In so doing, you invite your child into the game from the get go. They understand, as does everyone else, that this isn't real but that we all pretend it is. Santa thus becomes a far more useful real-world analogy than painfully coming to terms with the fact that you've been lied to. Because really, a large number of people who profess publicly to be Christian (or any other faith, really) don't literally believe, but they go along with it because it's just how the game is played.

If you're subversive, like I am, you start celebrating the holidays of other faiths too, and you give similar preambles. For example, "let's pretend that a man in the sky created the world, and on this day, thousands of years ago, he gave us humans a special book, like a handbook. That's why your Jewish friends at school are having a party." And then you do all the cool holiday stuff associated with it.

Or, "let's pretend that lighting a giant bonfire in the back yard and running around it helps the crops to grow." Beltane is a hilariously fun time.

And so on. Your child is going to encounter religion no matter what, but if they can appreciate all of the different kinds that there are, they'll be in a much better position to see that no single one is more likely to be literally true than any other, and they all involve a large amount of make believe.

u/AfroTriffid · 1 pointr/atheistparents

Copying my response to a similar post from 2 months ago.

I have a 4 year old and a 7 year old and I am mostly trying to focus on inoculating my kids against cult thinking by giving them a broad scientific knowledge and a love for mythology. (We spent a holiday with religious family and it was their first time exposed to dinner prayers and heaven talk and it was quite confusing for them.)


Books we currently read:


Gods and Heroes Popup book

The kids love choosing which flaps we'll open and read and we return to this book often. The hercules trials flip book and pantheon of the gods has them enthralled almost every time.


The Story of Life

Amazing illustrations and easy to read both linearly or by choosing random pages. The pages on bacteria and lif moving onto land


The Story of Space

The subject matter here is slightly more conceptual and I'll be honest the 4 year old gets a bit bored. My seven year old like to listen because he has learnt about the planets at school and has a rough recollection of words like black holes and super giants.


Christian Mythology for Kids

Lukewarm reception here. I tried to read a few of the stories but they were a bit too gory for my personal preference. The pages explaining angels, heaven and similar things were a bit more useful to me personally as it gave me simple terminology to help me explain what other family might believe.


Magical Myths and Legends

Book of short stories. The BEST telling of hercules trials I've ever read for kids! It is so engaging and brilliantly told.





Finn MacCool and the Giant's Causeway

The Giant of Mont Saint-Michel

The Lambton Worm

Legend of Robin Hood

Thor and the Stolen Hammer

Vulcan and the Fabulous Throne

Hercules the Hero

Gawain and the Green Knight



Books I've looked at for the future (slightly older kids) :

The Bacteria Book: Gross Germs, Vile Viruses, and Funky Fungi


How to Be a Scientist


Secret Science: The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes

u/[deleted] · 10 pointsr/atheistparents

You begin by discussing death. Read newspaper obituaries at breakfast. Discuss what people valued in their lives, and how they live on in the people who remember them, and the good deeds they performed while alive.

Next, explain why religions exist. They attempt to answer:

  1. Where did we come from? (stellar and biologic evolution, and we are still learning)

  2. Why are we here? (there is no inherent meaning to life, except the meaning we choose to give it. Share your meaning to your life.)

  3. Where are we going? (We die when our bodies die, which makes our life so much more precious. Don't waste the time you have. Enjoy life, and help others along the way.)

    At age 5, you could truncate it to only a discussion about where we're going. Most importantly, religion exists because of peoples' fear of death. They want to live forever, so they invented gods. They also didn't understand anything about the world around them, why storms came and ruined their crops, what the lights were in the sky, etc. So they attributed these things to gods.

    As we've begun to understand the universe through scientific discovery, religious people have redefined their gods continuously throughout human history (the 'god of the gaps'). We understand weather, so we don't blame drought on gods being angry or good weather on gods being pleased with us.

    If the 8-year-old knows the truth about Santa Claus, it's a learning moment. Gods are Santa Claus for adults. They believe because it comforts them, so long as they don't think too deeply about the absurdity of their beliefs.

    For the 8-year-old, discuss the various major religions, and at the same time, ancient religions (both given equal legitimacy, which is to say, no legitimacy).

    Explain that almost all of their friends believe in gods. Most importantly, explain that people don't want to be told their gods aren't real. Explain that people feel so passionately about gods, like little kids feel passionately about Santa Claus, that they will treat you badly if you reveal you don't believe in gods. Religious friends might choose to not be your friend anymore if they know. Teach them to smile and change the subject, not to engage religious people in a religious discussion. Their lives will be hell if they don't because kids can be very cruel.

    Check out these books:

  4. Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children. It's intended for kids who know the Santa secret, but I found it too simplistic for my 8-year-old. I read her the text and expanded on it, because it would otherwise be talking down to her. Use the book as a general approach to the subject.

  5. Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

  6. [Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion](]( This one is great, but the least important, a collection of essays from prominent atheists on various parenting topics.

u/Ohthere530 · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

When my daughter started hearing religious stories from her aunt, I bought R. Crumb's comic-book-style illustrated version of Genesis. I treated Noah's Ark and the talking snake just like other fun stories, you know, like Curious George and The Hungry Caterpillar. (You might want to dodge the part where Lot's daughters sleep with him.)

I also started telling Greek myths, like about how winter was caused because Demeter's daughter Persephone went into the underworld, and that made Demeter (goddess of all growing things) sad. I looked up a few so that I could tell them as bedtime stories.

There are so many silly, harmless, fictional stories we tell kids. Throw religion right into that mix and it dilutes it. Don't make it scary or different. Make it part and parcel of the rich fantasy life that kids have. Then when you bring reality in on all of those stories, as your child gets old enough to think about story fiction versus real and true, religion will wash away with the rest.

That's my theory anyway, and I feel it's worked well on my now seven-year-old.

u/Powered_by_Whiskey · 20 pointsr/atheistparents

My advice is to keep on keeping on. The kids are young and impressionable, but will take long term cues from the people raising them. If you and your wife do not feed them bullshit but continue to use reality to explain things they'll come through okay. My oldest (now 10) bought all that stuff when he was under five. Now he will reject grandma's explanation of "god bowling" when talking about thunder and give an approximate scientific answer about lighting, rapid heating and cooling of air, and the sound waves generated thereby. First time he did that (when he was eight) I was ecstatic and my wife and MIL could only give me disapproving looks since he was right. Now they don't even bother with the stories anymore.

Edit: I'd recommend The Magic of Reality by Dr Dawkins. It's a book aimed at children that discusses myths from many cultures and explains them in simple to understand terms. I was lucky enough to get a copy signed by Dr Dawkins when he was speaking at Northwestern University a few years ago and I use it as a reference now and then to help explain things to my kids.

u/BetsyDeVille · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

Welcome! A book we really found helpful for our children is:
What Do You Believe
it provides neutral information about different religions of the world, customs, holidays, etc. it also includes non believers. I like this book for two big reasons, the tone is neutral, often books about religion are christian-centric or focus heavily on the Abrahamic religions. This book treats all of them evenly. And, it includes non believers. I also like my kids to have a basic understanding about different religions because they are part of the fabric of our society and there are many expressions, etc. that are based on religion. I believe Mary Pope Osborn, author of the Magic Treehouse series, did some nice retellings of Greek Myths. That might be worth checking out as well.

u/noluckatall · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

That seems like a good start, and it is excellent that he has the alternate perspective of a Muslim friend. Just bear in mind that religion is very effective at spreading itself, and I think one owes it to their children to give them as much knowledge as possible. I'd recommend the book One World, Many Religions for starters.

u/SixgunSaint · 5 pointsr/atheistparents

My son is still an infant so I haven't put this into practice yet. However, once my son is inevitably exposed to christianity and has questions, my goal is to teach him about christianity right alongside other world religions. If he asks, I plan to tell him that dad does not believe in any of these religions but many people do. I have purchased this book which looks like a nice survey of world religions, aimed at children, which does not advocate for any one religion. Hopefully the takeaway will be that people believe many different things, but that christianity does not deserve any less scrutiny simply because he will encounter christianity more than other faiths.

u/Callmequirky · 3 pointsr/atheistparents

This one is actually about evolution, but it's wonderful, I've been reading it to my daughter silver she was 18m. It's called Grandmother Fish. Like a previous poster said, it introduces new ideas of how life happened. At one point I used to have to read it several times a day to keep her happy.

u/Mr_Monster · 3 pointsr/atheistparents

Have you read the book Relax, It's Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You're Not Religious? In the book she talks about steps to take for kids in different age groups. One of the options is to tell them to tell others they aren't allowed to discuss private family matters like religion and church.

I never lie to my kids. Ever. I explain things to them like they're adults. Sometimes that means exposing them to uncomfortable topics. Other times that means teaching them to defer.

Also, have you looked into Jewish schools? Perhaps a Jesuit school? We faced the same issue when we were looking for schools, but we chose a montessori school in the end because they are non-religious and provide excellent education. We kept them there until they were middle school aged (and we made more money) then we moved them to a more exclusive private school (also secular) to take advantage of the networking opportunities.

Another option is to find a universalist unitarian church nearby and provide an answer they can use.

u/lynn · 8 pointsr/atheistparents

Ask questions and answer hers honestly. If you don't know, say so, and then help her look it up. Teach her about science -- real science, especially if she's learning about creationism in "science" class -- and especially the scientific method.

If you haven't already, there are a number of books on raising freethinking and atheistic children (or raising children to be freethinkers and/or atheists, though I'm not sure about the distinction). Dale McGowan wrote a couple of good books: Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief. If you look at the Amazon page for the second one, the suggested list has a bunch of books aimed at kids that you could read to her or simply have in your home depending on how much she's been affected by that church.

You might also look into a Unitarian Universalist church, see if there's one near where you're going to be moving to. They don't have a doctrine (there are seven principles that are generally kind of hard to argue with, but you don't have to believe in them to be a member), they welcome everyone, and their Religious Education program is excellent. They teach about all different (major) religions, which turns out to be a nice vaccine for the kind of hardcore stuff she's probably been exposed to by her mother.

At 11, also, I think she can understand that there are some things she might not want to discuss with her mother, but be very careful how you approach suggesting that. Obviously if you go about it the wrong way -- and there are probably a ton of wrong ways and very few right ones -- you'll get her clinging to what she knows and running from you.

u/Acetaminotaur · 16 pointsr/atheistparents

and books.

The main stressed point to raising secular children is teaching them HOW to think rather than WHAT to think.

Focus on giving them tools of skepticism, on questioning authority, on doubting claims without proof, etc.

but most important: just be there for them. Love them. Respect them. and they will follow suit

u/carolina_snowglobe · 4 pointsr/atheistparents

Ah! I can relate to this thread. I have bought a lot of parenting books and mean to get through them when I can. My favorites so far have been

u/BCRE8TVE · 4 pointsr/atheistparents

I've been told that Richard Dawkin's "The Magic of Reality" is a good book for children, but I haven't read it myself so I cant really say much more than that. The Amazon reviews of it certainly seem positive!

u/dave_hitz · 1 pointr/atheistparents

I think it's important for kids in our culture to be familiar with Jesus. He is an influential figure.

Even though I am an atheist, it doesn't bother me that religious family members tell my daughter about Jesus and God. In fact, I bought R. Crumb's Illustrated Book of Genesis because I thought it would be a fun way for her to learn about Bible stories. I also read her a book of Greek myths. And Harry Potter.

But that doesn't mean you need to pretend to agree with those stories. When my daughter asks me to tell her about Jesus, I start with, "Some people believe...." Sometimes she asks what I believe. I tell the truth.

I'd be upset if my wife (now ex) had objected to me sharing my beliefs. Likewise, I can understand why your husband would be upset that you don't want him to share his beliefs.

u/LowPiasa · 7 pointsr/atheistparents
u/classypancake · 4 pointsr/atheistparents

Maybe Yes, Maybe No could be a good place to start and the suggestions Amazon gives from there are great!Edit to add that this looks like a solid source.

u/EatYourCheckers · 1 pointr/atheistparents

I just stumbled upon this a minute ago online and have never read it myself, but you might like to check it out. It sounds cute at any rate:

u/Lyon14 · 1 pointr/atheistparents

My daughter (5) and son (7) both enjoy this book I Wonder. Also, Older Than The Stars is pretty decent too.

u/Online_Again · 1 pointr/atheistparents

> to be fair

I had to look up what Bibleman was. It's being described as "influencing young children into practicing Christianity". I don't think you have to let him watch anything that pushes the practice of a religion in a fairness attempt. Kids are impressionable, as you mentioned. I'd just go with the educational, comparative-religion route.

> books on evolution

My child is the same age and I have this one so far. It's very much like a school textbook, though. I either need to switch from reading it at night to reading it when my child is fresh and awake, or get something lighter and quicker for bedtime, or both.

u/undercurrents · 15 pointsr/atheistparents

I am a nanny and have seen this situation play out a few times. It works far better when the parents are on the same page. You need to set your boundaries prior to the birth. Tell the parents there will be no baptism and that is final. Also, this is your child and they are not to interfere with what you chose to (or to not) them him/her. That you live in a country that does not openly encourage religiosity like the US is a good start. But if it's like what I see in the states, baptism might be a dealbreaker for whether they actually want anything to do with the grandchild in their life. This is where you have to hold firm. I have also been see posts of atheists who were baptized at birth and are now resentful it was forced on them, so might be another angle to consider.

Fill your child's room with books about science. As your child ages, if any of the books contradict was your in-laws have said to her in private, your child will most likely tell you and that is when you can explain what the grandparents said is not true. I once posted a list of books for kids on here that are good introductions to science but I can't find it, I will keep searching, but offhand I can tell you Grandmother Fish, Older than the Stars, and any book by Chris Ferrie.

The judgement is inevitable but you can judge them right back. Parents can weigh on on the family dynamics better than I can, but from the atheist families I have been with, what helped the most was having the parents on the same page as well as myself since we were the three then children were most likely to come to with questions and eventually they just began ignoring the grandparents.

u/SirBuckeye · 6 pointsr/atheistparents

My wife is a believer. I've never been much of a believer, and I "came out" as an atheist about 5 years ago. She was kind of devastated for a bit, and I was confused about how she could possibly not know I didn't believe for so long. We basically don't talk about it now. She doesn't try to convert me and I don't try to de-convert her. It works because she basically lives a fully secular life except for 2 hours on Sunday mornings. She doesn't pray at home, or talk about Jesus and God doing things in her life. She just gets up on Sunday mornings and takes the kids to Sunday school at her church, then comes home and doesn't mention or do anything religious until next Sunday. I'm open with my kids about what I believe and why and I tell them that they can believe anything they want and change their minds any time they want. I tell them to ask questions about things and not to believe anything that doesn't make sense for them. I think just being a good role model for them is enough to help them figure stuff out on their own.

If you want to read more stories, a new book by Dale McGowan came out a few months ago that deals exactly with this situation. It's a great read and I highly recommend it.

u/prettyhelmet · 1 pointr/atheistparents

Our 10 year old enjoys this book.
It introduces readers to the many religions of the world and its equally numerous philosophies, from global religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, to lesser-known faiths, and from ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, to modern thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kant, and Sartre.

u/fotoman · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

Check out In The Beginning: Creation Stories From Around The World. My son loved the stories, and wanted me to read more and saw how they all sort of sounded alike. We checked it out from the library

u/xenomorphgirl · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

Our oldest is 6. We are starting to get into that territory, too. She actually came home from school back in December and said she wanted to be Jewish like her friend... so Christmas could last 10 days face palm.

Two books we have liked thus far:

Me & Dog

Annabelle & Aiden: The Story of Life

u/amoralnihilist · 1 pointr/atheistparents

The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb. Seriously, this is a real book, and he treats all the subject matter literally. It's a great read and the literal interpretation highlights how strange some of the Bible stories are. I just wish he had done the whole Bible as a set.

u/OrionSuperman · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

I would recommend In The Beginning as a way to bring up religions. It is a book that explains the creation stories of many different cultures around the world. The Christian version is in there too, called 'Yaweh the Creator'. This is a way to not give any one religion special significance, but show how there are common themes across them all.

u/sleepyj910 · 18 pointsr/atheistparents

The most important thing you can do is promote critical thinking, which will undermine anything dad does.

Stress the following:

  1. It's okay to believe whatever you want.

  2. You can change your beliefs whenever you want.

  3. Every culture came up with separate creation myths, there are books for children that discuss them: In the Beginning

    Also pick up the books 'Parenting Beyond Belief' and 'In Faith and In Doubt' by Dale McGowan

    What she think about Jesus is her choice, not daddys and not mommys. So long as you allow her to express herself, and experiment with beliefs, and question everything, and you expose her to science, you'll probably be okay.
u/midnightagenda · 6 pointsr/atheistparents

Christian Mythology for Kids

Also, edit:

I am also looking for similar books as I'd like my 3 year old to understand cultural references. According to the linked discussion, an illustrated children's Bible should be fine if used as just a source for the stories as they were told.

u/RuhRose · 3 pointsr/atheistparents

I'd suggest Christian Mythology for Kids. Does a good job of explaining everything in a non-believing way: Christian Mythology for Kids

u/dysprog · 1 pointr/atheistparents

This is the best one I've seen so far, thanks.

But you posted the mobile link, so I will post the fullsite link for the lazy:

u/RansomPowell · 5 pointsr/atheistparents

When my wifes grandmother passed away about two or so years ago, we got this book for our kids to help them understand death.

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children

It explained it pretty well and seemed to answer their questions at the time.

We lost our dog a year ago to cancer. Then, they wanted to know more, and the movie Coco helped us with that one. We explained that part of the movie was made up for the cartoon, but the part about people and pets in this case, live on in our memories seemed to help.

u/clint_l · 2 pointsr/atheistparents

I like "Me & Dog" a lot. Hits the right skeptic notes without being overtly anti-religious.

u/morebeansplease · 1 pointr/atheistparents

My worry is that Christianity would somehow seem clever or would appear as unique. I always take extra steps to dilute its viral concepts, most were repackaged anyway. Usually by bringing in other religions to compare it with. Or labeling it as one of the Abrahamic religions so its idea is less of a monolith.

u/RussNP · 1 pointr/atheistparents

Having lived through similar from both sets of grandparents I cannot recommend the books by this author enough. Let them know about Christianity but also about every other religion out there .

The Belief Book

u/hazyharpy · 13 pointsr/atheistparents

Get the book "lifetimes" it explains life and death as a natural process and leaves out any magical ideas. It helped both of my kids understand death when our dog died.