I have never been a parent, but I know parenting is a big responsibility to shoulder. Parents are responsible for fulfilling needs of their childre, from tangible things like nutritious food,sanitation, health care to intangible things like affection, attention, education, etc. One of the biggest responsibility of parents, if not the biggest, is to teach value and discipline towards the children. In the earliest period of a lifehood of a human, a child has to rely on their parents to teach said child values and shape their attitude. In order to do so parents are demanded to be role models, a main source of informations, and the authority that decides which is good and wrong. When your values are in line with the rest of society, it will be easier to implement it to your children. The rest of society will be role model for the children and will encourage the childen to follow the value you teached, even you’ve got many to ask for advice when you got lost in raising your children. For those whose value differs with the majority of the society however, things got to be more tricky.
Dale McGowan and the other writers in Parenting Beyond Belief realized that secular parents have little to no materials to help raising their kids with their value and that’s basically why they wrote this book. However, like what McGowan said in the preface, this book is not intending to instruct parents to do things authors have done nor it wanted to be a prescription of a best parenting. Instead, we have stories, advices, suggestions of people who have embraced and experienced the secular parenthood. I think the different approach and persepective of each author is one of appealing value this book has. Like in chapter one we can see how Norm Allen talked about his gratefulness for his childhood environment that encouraged critical thinking and positive thinking, even when he’s in a Baptist family and later we see an essay from Emily Rosa who talked about how grim it was when secular parenting was not handled well. This kind of reminding us that while secular parenting can turn out to be a good childhood, the not desired result might happen as well.
So what exactly will you find in this book? In here you will see how to handle things you most certainly face with your children as secular parents. For example, in chapter two this book talks about living with religion. Surely when you as non-believer live in a society whose majority is religious the contact of your children with these religious values is unavoidable. This books will talk about how to prepare your children to face the difference they have with the rest of the society out there. One of the most memorable story in this chapter is when Margaret Downey told her story about how she still fought and stood on her principle against negative stereotyping in BSA even when their family was discriminated for doing so. The rest of the contents are interesting too, there’s a talk about morality as secularist, accommodating lack of community non-believers usually face, science and my personal favorite, about children’s wondering and questioning. Throughout the book, I honestly say that there’s hardly any dull moment reading this.
Reading Parenting Beyond Belief was an exciting journey for me. I might not be able to implement what the book is advising in raising children, but the idea in this book still fascinated me very much. Atheism and agnosticism have no place and are heavily condemned in my country, Indonesia, so it’s easy to misunderstand people who reject the idea of God and something along that line. But if you read Parenting Beyond Belief, the idea to live from moralities that doesn’t necessarily come from supernatural being and to thinking freely from indoctrination are actually a good value for children growing up. For you guys who want to look for guidance to raise ethical children in secular family or wanting to know more about life and values of humanist, atheist, agnostic, free-thinker, I believe this book is a good source to look up to.