Raising Critical Thinkers Means Letting Our Kids Criticize Us

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 16, 2012

We’ve all heard the cliche about letting kids rule the roost. Countless books, TV shows, teachers (neighbors, in-laws, airplane passengers…) repeatedly instruct us to set strict rules, limitations and boundaries for our kids. They tell us this is the key to good parenting. They insist we demand courtesy and respect, and not allow them to display anger, disappointment or frustration “inappropriately.” Largely because of these influencers, we start putting our kids in time-outs for talking back, or being unkind. We become infuriated when they speak to us in voices dripping with sarcasm and defiance. We […] Read more – ‘Raising Critical Thinkers Means Letting Our Kids Criticize Us’.
“You Worship the Devil!” “You’re Homophobic!” … Um, Guys?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 29, 2011

A Tempe family appeared on a billboard this month promoting the Freedom From Religion Foundation in the hope of dispelling some of the myths about nonreligious free-thinkers. The Schinellers — Freddie and Holly and their four children — are pictured alongside the slogan: “Love + critical thinking = open minds.” Sometimes I realize what a bubble I live in. I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family and to live in an area of the country where people don’t talk much about religion, much less judge each other for it. But in a place like Tempe, […] Read more – ‘“You Worship the Devil!” “You’re Homophobic!” … Um, Guys?’.
10 Commandments for Talking to Kids About Religion

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 21, 2011

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When you’re not religious, talking about religion with kids can be a serious challenge. The words don’t come naturally. Little things can freak you out. And, about the time your kids learn to ask questions, you begin to notice how much of our society is informed by religious faith, and how many people around us believe things we don’t. Panic has a way of setting in. Hopefully, you aren’t like me. Hopefully you’re less anxiety-prone, more level-headed. Good for you. But, for the rest of you: […] Read more – ‘10 Commandments for Talking to Kids About Religion’.
Bonus Blog: Responding to a Reader About the ‘M’ Word

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 18, 2011

A friend told me recently that the people who read my blog are really smart. Don’t worry, I thanked her on your behalf. She noted that the comments I receive are always so articulate and thoughtful, the commenters composed and respectful. And it’s true! Last night, was a great example. A reader named Derek offered his thoughts on our ongoing debate over whether we should call religious stories “myths.” I’ve written about this twice so far (Should Kids Be Told Religious Stories are ‘Myths’ and Respecting Things We Don’t Believe). And, although controversial, I stand […] Read more – ‘Bonus Blog: Responding to a Reader About the ‘M’ Word’.
‘I Love God, Even Though God Is Not Real’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 10, 2011

The best part about writing a parenting blog? Sometimes your kid composes the blog for you. Remember the time she drew a picture of God, and it turned out looking like a yellow cyclops with male pattern baldness and a handlebar mustache? Good times. Well, it happened again this week when Maxine walked into my room while I was getting dressed and showed me this little goody. If you’re not familiar with kindergarten composition, it’s meant to say: “I love God, even though God is not real.” See what I mean? Silver platter. So here’s the […] Read more – ‘‘I Love God, Even Though God Is Not Real’’.
Church Is Fun! (Or Is It?)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 26, 2011

Several months ago, I interviewed Dale McGowan, an atheist dad and the author of two books, Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, and its followup, Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyond Belief. Among other things, McGowan is an advocate for exposing children to a variety of religions first-hand so that they might feel free to draw their own conclusions. He told me that, over the years, he has schlepped his own three kids to a host of temples, mosques, churches and synagogues — all to help them understand what religion […] Read more – ‘Church Is Fun! (Or Is It?)’.
Religion Doesn’t Kill People; People Kill People

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 19, 2011

It’s hard to be a nonreligious mother writing a blog about kids and religion without acknowledging Christopher Hitchens’ widely publicized view — or implication, rather — that religion may be akin to child abuse. So I’m acknowledging it. But that’s about all I’m going to do. It’s not that I dispute any of the major points Hitchens puts across in of his 2007 bestseller, “God is Not Great.” And that includes Chapter 16 (“Is Religion Child Abuse?”), in which Hitchens recounts the horrors of genital mutilation, priest abuse and sexual repression of young boys, among other things. But […] Read more – ‘Religion Doesn’t Kill People; People Kill People’.

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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