Don’t Label Me, Man

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 28, 2012

We humans are all about labels. From such an early age, labels are so central to our identities. We’re constantly looking for ways to divide and unify, divide and unify, divide and unify — starting with gender and age, and then blossoming into 150 million other identifying marks. It’s all so, well, annoying. When I decided to write a blog for nonreligious parents, my belief system suddenly became central to my life and work. I’ve felt I had to label myself as nonreligious — atheist, if pressed. But prior to a year and a half […] Read more – ‘Don’t Label Me, Man’.

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Why Secular Parents Should Do the Santa Thing

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 25, 2012

Does it seem a bit weird to talk about Santa in July? Probably. But that’s the chapter of my book I’m working on at the moment, so that’s the subject you’re getting today. My apologies in advance! I’m not sure how many of you have read Parenting Beyond Belief, edited (and partially written) by Dale McGowan, but it’s considered sort of a must-read in some nonreligious parenting circles. The essay-driven collection is a hodgepodge of ideas set forth by famous and not-so-famous atheist/agnostic parents on a whole range of topics. My favorite bit in the […] Read more – ‘Why Secular Parents Should Do the Santa Thing’.

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12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part II)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 21, 2012

I’m back with again with my Grim Reaper friend. I like that little guy. Just wish he were more cheerful. Anyway, in my last post I described six mistakes parents make when talking death with kids. Well, apparently, we screw up A LOT because here’s a whole other six: 7. We yada-yada over the science part. Talking about decomposing bodies may seem a ghoulish proposition, but the actual science of death is not only fascinating to children (particularly preschoolers), but can be comforting, too. It’s true that adults tend to focus their worry on the emotional aspects of death […] Read more – ‘12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part II)’.

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12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part I)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 19, 2012

Let’s face it, talking about the Big D with the little humans we love more than anything in the world ain’t easy. All we want to do is protect our kids — is that so wrong? — and here comes Mother Nature to screw it all up: Hey, guess what, darling? I’m going to die! But don’t worry, because you’re going to die, too! In fact, everyone you’ve ever loved or will ever love is going to DIE! But don’t mind that. Let’s go get some ice cream. Yeah, it pretty much sucks — and […] Read more – ‘12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part I)’.

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Heaven Doesn’t Help Us: Talking to Kids about Death

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 14, 2012

Religion just comes in so darn handy sometimes — and never more than when someone you love dies. Picturing our grandmother in God’s beautiful kingdom, happy and joyful, and awaiting our arrival, is just, well, nice. It’s a fantasy so many of us would love to believe, which is precisely why some nonreligious parents feel guilty about not being able to “give” their children the solace of heaven. “It’s hard to see a 5-year-old struggle with mortality,” one mom told me. “Part of me wishes I had the ‘heaven’ out — if only to comfort her.” “I […] Read more – ‘Heaven Doesn’t Help Us: Talking to Kids about Death’.

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Images of Faith (and Non-faith)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 11, 2012

It’s funny what you see when you start paying attention. I don’t consider my city particularly religious, but there was a two-day period recently when religion seemed to pop up everywhere I looked. Maybe it was because I had been thinking about religious imagery through the eyes of children — about all they must see in the world around them that they don’t understand. I took all three of these pictures after randomly happening upon them. I wonder how many of you could take similar pictures in your neighborhoods — or if you already have. […] Read more – ‘Images of Faith (and Non-faith)’.

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How to Tell if Your Child is ‘Ready’ to Talk about God

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 7, 2012

I wish there hard-and-fast rules about when to have the “tough talks” with our kids. Like how preschool teachers do Kindergarten-readiness tests and then let parents know when their kids are ready to advance. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could give us a sign when the time for these conversations is right? “Yes, Mrs. Russell, feel free to discuss the 9/11 attacks; your daughter is mature enough to handle that level of evil.” “No, Mrs. Russell, she needs a more few months before she hears about the difference between vaginal and anal sex.” It’s […] Read more – ‘How to Tell if Your Child is ‘Ready’ to Talk about God’.

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Is a Lack of Vomit the Best We Can Offer?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 4, 2012

Did I ever  tell you about the time my husband told me hated the word tolerance? I was sure I’d misheard him. I was all, like, what? Huh? You can’t hate the word tolerance! Everybody LOVES the word tolerance. Simon Wiesenthal and the Museum of Tolerance and all that. Remember? Yes, he assured me, he did remember. But he still hated it. See, in my husband’s view, tolerance was a word used to relate something bad, not good. A guy ate a piece of rancid beef but was able to tolerate it; that is, he was […] Read more – ‘Is a Lack of Vomit the Best We Can Offer?’.

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You Don’t Have to Be Religious to Sing about God

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 31, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, as you may recall, my daughter cut me off midway through a sentence to inform me that we wouldn’t be talking about religion anymore. Her justification: “Religion is boring.” The statement stopped me in my tracks, mostly because I’d been under the impression she enjoyed our little talks. Since then, I’ve realized that what we had there was a failure to communicate. As it turns out, Maxine doesn’t find religion boring in the least. She’s still as fascinated with God and heaven and faith as she was nearly two years ago, […] Read more – ‘You Don’t Have to Be Religious to Sing about God’.

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Where’s an Omniscient Policeman When You Need One?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 24, 2012

Whenever my daughter starts talking about God, I try really hard to treat it like any other ordinary subject. But, inside, you can be sure I’m doing one of those Napoleon Dynamite “yesss” fist pumps — because, chances are, if one of our God conversations lasts more than a few seconds, I’ve got myself a blog post. You know where I’m going with this. On Friday, Maxine had a playdate with a good friend of hers (who I love dearly and whose mother happens to be a good friend of mine). Both girls are in […] Read more – ‘Where’s an Omniscient Policeman When You Need One?’.

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Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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