September 24, 2015

Atheist Mama: The Anxieties of A New School

Our older son is a third grader. The past three years he attended the same school--kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. With our recent move, however, he's at a brand new school in a brand new district.

The area we are in is more rural than our former home base, and with a more rural community comes a higher degree of religiosity.

We confronted this when we went to register him. At his former school, we didn't receive a note about the Good News Club until the second half of last year--nearly three years into his scholastic career. This time? He hadn't even started class yet. We turned in the paperwork, and  the lady looked over it and said, "Everything looks like it's in order. That's the Good News Club table. You should take a look!" in a really chipper voice.

For the first time, I had to really consider what my atheism means for my kids.

Don't get me wrong, I've encountered absolute horror stories before. I've just never given them much thought because our community seemed more inclusive. Our neighbors were Christians, but they didn't seem to care we weren't. There were staff members at his school involved in our local Freethought Society.

And it's not that anything has even happened, besides one chipper mention of an after school activity. It's just this specter.

You spend so much time as a parent trying to give your children a good life, a stable life. You want to prevent as much pain, emotional and otherwise, as possible. The thought that my beliefs could negatively impact my kids...it's definitely a new one, one that I never had before my deconversion.

It taps into a fear that I had long before I had kids--the fear that my kids would be as socially awkward as I was growing up. A weird fear, but a fear nonetheless. My awkwardness still dogs my heels today, and I hated the idea that my children could grow up feeling what I did.

I don't have any answers, and this isn't a complaint. It just struck me that I never considered this possibility when I was a theist. It's a wholly unique perspective.

I hope it doesn't become an issue, but I look forward to exploring it.

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