Non-religious families are creating a new landscape for teaching their children to navigate life without faith, according to an article from NPR.
For many parents who don’t believe or practice on a personal level, there is still a consensus that children need religion in order to be compassionate and moral. That’s what these families are trying to change.
People often, as you may expect, would leave religion during the rebellious teenage years — [Professor Christel] Manning says the baby boomers were the first generation to do this in fairly large numbers. But about half of them went back after they got married.
In addition to the spouses themselves, there are often parents and other family members who want influence, and kids who want answers. These are some pretty big questions — kids are asking about life and death, right and wrong, and who are we?
The answer to these questions was often found in religion. But this isn’t holding true for the current generation of parents. They aren’t returning to religious affiliation — or affiliating in the first place.
For some parents such as Emily and Nathan Freeman, featured in the article, there is power in teaching children to live with a degree of uncertainty. It fosters curiosity about the world, as opposed to shutting it down and having God be the answer for everything.
“They don’t spend all day wondering why zebras have stripes. We just look it up on the phone. And boom — wonder, done!” laughs [Emily] Freeman. “So I love this idea of giving them open-ended, unanswerable questions. And saying, who knows? And people you love can believe different things than you do, and that’s OK.”
And Freeman says helping her kids find their way through the wonder of it all — even when it’s uncomfortable — is part of the job of parenting.
The Freemans are not alone in their approach. The Pew Research Center now claims that roughly a quarter of Americans don’t identify with religion at all, and that number is increasing every year. That means there will be more resources for parents seeking to raise children without faith and, eventually, enough parents doing it that it won’t even be considered a big deal.
You don’t need religion to teach ethics and morality. It’s about time that option became more understood and commonplace.
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