July 31, 2014

Atheist Mama: Sometimes I question my decision to parent secularly

The scariest part about parenting, for me, is the idea that I might not leave my kids prepared to meet the world around them. I might fail them. It's terrifying.

Secular parenting is more terrifying even than before, when I was just plain parenting. Why? Because we live in an area where religion is so rooted that I know people are beginning to think of my kids as weird.

We've finally made it through Vacation Bible School season, and I've made a mental note to line up sources of secular activities next summer: a local museum and our zoo both run programs that get good reviews.

We've managed to make it through repeated invitations for my eldest son to attend church with his best friend, which get significantly more difficult to turn down without having our kid look weird.

Then there's Boy Scouts. Last year, we were able to participate without reservation. I still believed in God, or at least, was able to pretend that I did. Now? Not so much, and we are fast approaching the time when our son will be asked to earn a badge for participating in his religion. I doubt they will count reading philosophy towards the requirement. And yet, there's no equivalent program for kids being raised secularly in our area.

It's difficult to face these opposing forces. On the one hand, I know, from my own experiences, that religion can be highly harmful to an individual's psyche, and I know, without a doubt, I am making the right decision for my children.

On the other, though...part of me still wonders if it's worth the ostracizing they may face. Couldn't I just fake it?

The trade off, of course, would be that my children would be raised with the same influences that I consider to have been damaging. And that would never do.

This is the back and forth that goes through my head. From sure and secure to wondering if I'm doing what's best for them.

So I suppose the best I can do is trek on, arming myself with the tools that I can find and looking for ways to do it better. Like every parent, still hoping that it all works out in the end, and I have kids that are happy, healthy and well-adjusted, that hopefully see that I've done my best and don't hate me.

Anything less would be to compromise the values of transparency, of honesty and integrity and being true to one's self, that I hold dear. Anything else simply isn't an option anymore.

Wish me luck.

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