Tag Archives: parenting

Parents: Support Your Children

This seems to be something that a lot of parents fail at. I spend a lot of time with people who identify as LGBT to one degree or another, and they all receive different levels of support from their parents. I personally don’t receive much support from my parents. The atheists that I know also receive different levels of support from their parents. Many of the people I know were raised in secular families, so they have no issues, but this is not the case with all the people I know. Even some of the people who prefer not to label themselves aren’t always supported. As such, I know a lot of people whose love for their children is very much conditional. I find this very sad.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. When your children turn away from the beliefs that you hold, or when they do something that goes against your beliefs, it is understandable to be afraid for them. But abandoning your children, or neglecting them, or making them feel as though they can’t rely on you, is not a solution to this problem. Be afraid for your children if you must, but love them unconditionally regardless. Hurt your children as little as possible, even if you feel hurt by them. You are their roll model. You are the person that your child should be able to turn to in times of need. I don’t remember the last time I was able to rely on my parents for anything. And I know a lot of people who don’t have the support of their own parents.

As a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I refuse to allow myself the possibility to love them conditionally. I want to be there for any children I have. I want to be the first person they turn to when they need support. If they choose to become theists, or they get into a lot of trouble (these are the only two things I can think of that would genuinely bother me), I’m not going to let that get in the way of my relationship with my children.

How Are My Surveys Going?

I haven’t done an update on my surveys in a while. Here is how I’m doing so far:
Religion Surveys:
This survey deals with various situations that may be considered discrimination towards Atheists:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=vvaqodd0equ2y21474850 – 2%
This survey deals with various situations that may be considered discrimination towards Christians:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=pi387nzvmo8dklc474867 – 2%
This survey looks at whether or not the respondent feels they have been discriminated against for their religion:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=3zolzpi3k1lwc7s470898 – 8%
This survey looks at whether or not people feel that Atheists are discriminated against:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=t2k9uo23mlnmklk470896 – 7%
This survey looks at whether or not people feel that Christians are discriminated against:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=85koff95iqwpme3470893 – 6%
Feminism Surveys:
Situations that may or may not be considered Feminist issues:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=xxiz033c05yo72v472614 – 2%
Are various Feminist causes helpful or hurtful for the Feminist movement?
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=i8d3kq6z73ems49471695 – 7%
How do you perceive Feminism?
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=4p48z0rwjwooxpf471689 – 6%
Does Feminist have a bad reputation?
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=r4t8nurh0tyxvqt470762 – 11%
Please help me out by doing my surveys, if you haven’t already, so that I can write my posts on the responses. And please share my surveys as well.

What Do You Teach Your Kids About Religion?

I came across an article today about what people teach their kids about religion. So what are you (or will you) teaching your kids about religion?

I would like to teach my kids about the history and beliefs of the worlds major religions. I want them to know where the religions came from and when they were started, as well as the most prominent beliefs held by the religions followers. I want them to feel safe to talk about religion with their peers, and I want them to know about the possible beliefs that their peers may hold before they start school. I’d also like to teach them the religious myths from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt as well as First Nations tribes. Possibly others as well, but it all depends on what we have time for. I loved hearing ancient myths as a kid, and I want my children to enjoy them as well.

Of Large Families and Religion

As a culture, we have a fascination with what we see as odd. We can see this fascination with a lot of the shows on TV. One channel, TLC, likes to focus on families. The Duggar family has had a show on TLC for years, and the Bates family had a show on their for a short time. Those are the largest families featured on the network, but there have been many similar shows with 8 or more children per family.

There are many different opinions held about these families. Most people worry about whether or not the family is on welfare and whether the children are properly cared for. Some care about the issue of over-population and pollution. However, many also praise these families for their religious convictions and good parenting.

For the last few months, I have been quite fascinated with these families myself. I grew up with one brother, so the idea of having many brothers and sisters is odd to me. But I’m more interested in the religious convictions. I can’t say whether or not the Duggars are good parents, but some of their religious convictions bother me. For one, I don’t think it’s healthy to teach a girl to rely on her father when it comes to picking a future spouse. Her father will not be marrying him. He will not have to spend the rest of his life with this man. The daughters should be given the information necessary to decide without parental guidance who  they wish to spend the rest of their lives with. I also don’t like the idea of courting. In the case of the two Duggar girls, one only courted her now husband before getting engaged. They got married in under a year and are now expecting a child. The other Duggar girl courted for 5 months before getting engaged. She will be getting married in three months. While courting they weren’t allowed to be alone, they can’t kiss or hug (Christian side hugs only), and they were expected to keep their thoughts pure. I can’t help but wonder, with all that pressure to remain pure, and with no privacy, how well either girl really knows her partner.

Of course, those aren’t my only concerns, but they are some of my biggest concerns. I’m also concerned with how the children are always surrounded by like-minded people. I get that the parents want their children to stay pure and be good Christians, but is it healthy to keep them away from other world views? In the book written by the oldest 4 girls, they say that they were encouraged to avoid unGodly people and to turn conversations with strangers into missionary work. So they were basically taught to only value people who are Christians, and particularly those who are their type of Christian. How will they handle the diversity in the world?  How will they deal with the fact that the entire world isn’t Christian, and never will be, and they will have to work with non-Christians?

The last big concern that I’d like to bring up pertains to the quiverfull lifestyle and the mother. She had 19 kids. The human body is not built well for child birth. What kind of damage has she done to her body to have so many children? How much damage has this lifestyle caused? What is the purpose of having so many children when it does so much damage? And what damage has this lifestyle done to her views of her self? Does she view herself solely through her children? These are all scary thoughts.

Personally, I don’t really care how many children a person has. It’s their choice. But I do worry about the effects that religion has on families. Everything from the shame focused on sexuality to the way religion encourages parents to raise their children effects society. So long as the children aren’t abused, then the family can parent however they like. But nobody should be ashamed of their sexuality. Nobody should be shut away from diversity in the name of religion. And nobody should feel that they are solely responsible for repopulating our already full world.

Tomboy and Gender Non-Conformity

I recently watched the French film Tomboy. If you’ve never seen it, I would highly recommend it as it is about a gender non-conforming child trying to navigate life.

It has gotten me thinking about how parents react to their children when they don’t conform to stereotypical gender roles. The mom in Tomboy annoys me. She is fairly accepting of her child, Laure, but she seems to make no attempt to understand Laure. Laure is biologically female, but lies to some new friends and claims to be male. When Laure’s mother finds out, she makes Laure wear a dress and tells everybody that Laure is a girl. There are a few things that disturb me about this. The first is that she never tries to ask Laure why Laure lied. If my child lied about some aspect of themself, I’d want to know why. After all, most people are proud to call themselves what ever gender they were labeled as at birth. Second, what if Laure isn’t a girl? The mother didn’t try to figure out if Laure felt more like a boy than a girl. She could have done serious psychological damage to her child by forcing Laure to be someone that they aren’t. And finally, Laure’s mother never explained anything to Laure. Just dragged the kid around trying to fix everything herself. How is Laure supposed to learn anything if nobody explains the moral implications of Laure’s actions? And how is Laure supposed to learn to solve their own problems if they are always fixed for them? Isn’t that one of the most important things for children to learn?

All of that got me thinking about what I’d do if I had a gender non-conforming child. Since I myself am gender non-conforming, I would be thrilled if my child was the same. However, I’m also worried about what that would mean for my child. But, if I do find myself in that position, I want to let my child lead. They are the ones who have to decide what their gender is. They have to navigate the world as a gender non-conforming individual. I can guide them. I can let them know what their options are. But I can’t tell them who they are. I can’t force them to be someone they aren’t. As such, our children will wear gender neutral clothes until they’re old enough to tell us what they want to wear. If the look silly, who cares? They’re kids. As long as they’re happy, that’s what matters. I will never force any of my kids into a dress. And if they lie about their gender, we’ll talk about it. And it will be up to them t tell the truth. After all, who am I to say they are actually lying?

There are so many examples of parents raising gender non-conforming children. So many of them do wonderful jobs, but they get so much criticism from people who have no way of understanding their situation. I hope that one day gender non-conforming children will be accepted as normal. But, in the meantime, I idolize the parents who raise this children with so much love and acceptance.

If your child was gender non-conforming, how would you react? How would you deal with a situation like the one in Tomboy?

Here is a link to a poem that I think does a great job of describing what it’s like to be gender non-conforming: http://stonetelling.com/issue5-sep2011/lipkin-changeling.html

On Purity Pledges

Earlier today, Withteeth pointed out a post written by a man who said he’d never teach his daughter about safe sex. This got me thinking about the purity culture among certain religious groups.

We’re constantly hearing about abstinence only sex education, and little girls making purity pledges, and courting instead of dating. We hear arguments like “there’s no such thing as safe sex,” “teaching kids about sex will cause them to want to have sex,” “waiting until marriage makes it that much more special,” “you should save yourself for your future husband,” and so forth. But there are so many problems with these arguments.

“There’s no such thing as safe sex.” So it’s better to leave kids unaware of how to protect themselves so that when they have sex they get into trouble? Even if you don’t want your kid having sex, don’t you at least want them to be able to protect themselves if they do? Are you also going to avoid teaching them how to drive because they might get into an accident? Yes, sex can lead to negative consequences, but those consequences are easier to avoid when you know what they are. And what about the future? You expect people to grow up, get married, and have children but never actually tell them what to expect when it comes to having children. There have been cases where doctors have had to explain intercourse to people because neither partner realized that the man had to put his penis in the woman’s vagina in order for her to conceive. In other cases, the couple was having sex in the woman’s urethra because they didn’t know that there are two holes. I new a girl who didn’t realize that you didn’t have to remove your tampon to go to the bathroom during your period. All of these mistakes have nothing to do with premarital sex, and they can all be avoided with comprehensive sex education.

“Teaching kids about sex will make them want to have sex.” Yeah, and teaching them about food will make them want to eat. See, there’s this thing called puberty, and it makes this point mute because it makes it so that kids don’t need to be taught about it to want it. And if you don’t teach them about it, they’ll get their information elsewhere while you’re not around. Porn is usually where they’ll turn. Would you prefer that your children learn from porn? Because those certainly aren’t the lessons I want my future offspring to get. And what’s so wrong with wanting sex anyway? It’s how we all got here after all.

“Waiting until marriage makes it that much more special.” The people who say this have either not had sex or must not remember it. Sex isn’t special. It’s slimy, and smelly, and it looks funny. It’s weird. But it feels wonderful. At least, it does if you do it right. How many first timers do it right? Do you really want that on your wedding night? I’d much rather remember good sex with the person I love than fumbling and embarrassment. Then again, if you’ve never learned what good sex is, how will you know what to expect? How can you have good sex if you don’t know how to make the sex good?

“You should save yourself for your future husband.” Will he do the same for me? These expectations lie a lot more heavily on girls than they do on boys. Take purity balls for example, they teach prepubescent girls that their desires are bad and they should suppress them. But how often do you hear about purity balls for boys? Sure, many are told that masturbation is sinful and sex is for married people, but they aren’t told that they need to suppress their desires. They aren’t told that they have to control their actions and the actions of others. This is a huge burden to put on a child who doesn’t even fully grasp what’s going on. What if the girl doesn’t want to get married? What if the girl has a high sex drive? What if she gets into a relationship that turns out to be bad because she entered it thinking she had to? What if her husband beats her? What if they don’t know how to communicate and their relationship ends up being nothing but fighting? What if they divorce? What kind of pressure is this girl going to feel in those circumstances? Will she know how to deal with them? She’d be a lot more prepared if she had other relationships to build from. And, of course, if she’d actually been educated in what to expect.

I’ve heard a lot about how my relationship will never last because my partner and I live together without being married. But the whole point of moving in together was to see if we could make it. How would we know what to expect from each other if we didn’t live together? I’d rather find out that we can’t stand living together before we had a legally binding contract making it more difficult for us to leave each other. We know how we’ll deal with tough times, we know how to communicate before we start to fight, we know how to navigate things like cooking and cleaning and errands together. And we know how to navigate sex with one another. We’ve been together for a few years, and we’ve been living together for just short of a year. We still love each other and we are now more committed than ever to spend our lives together, and to have children. We haven’t destroyed our relationship, we’ve strengthened it. That’s not to say that everybody is the same as us. People will respond differently. But, if you break up because you moved in together, I highly doubt a wedding would have changed anything.

For all of these reasons, and more, I’m critical of purity culture. I believe that it causes more problems than it solves, and I don’t believe that anyone should be made to feel ashamed of their sexuality.

Growing Up

Today was my cousin’s 8th birthday. It’s hard to believe how old he is: I was a teenager when he was born, now I’m an adult and he’s going into 3rd grade. It’s been awhile since I was last here for his birthday. I live 9 hours away by car, so it’s hard to get down here.

The party was nerf themed. We ran around shooting each other with nerf guns for hours. And of course my cousin got many a nerf guns as presents. It reminded me of when I was a kid. I wasn’t allowed to play with weapons, and I was always jealous of those who were. My cousin also played COD while I was here, which I definitely wouldn’t have been allowed to play. I couldn’t help but wonder about children and violence. I don’t think that children should be sheltered from violence, but their parents should definitely talk about violence with them. Children should be told what is acceptable and what isn’t. I think nerf guns are fine for children. The violence isn’t realistic and neither is the way the guns operate. But I will not be allowing my 8 year olds to play COD. 14-16 year olds, fine, but not 8. That’s because I don’t want my children to become desensitized towards real violence.

This led me to think about different beliefs among parents. The different ways that people raise their children. When I have kids, I want to raise them to be secular critical thinkers. They will not be raised in a religion, but they will also not be hidden from religion. I intend to teach my children about different religions before they go to school. I want them to know that their classmates will have different beliefs from their own, and they should respect those differences and try to get to know their classmates as individuals. I will be allowing my children to attend different worship services that they are invited to, but only after I have researched where they will be going. And my partner and I will be telling our children what we believe and why. We will also tell our children that it is their job to decide what they believe, but not until they are old enough. We will also be teaching our children to appreciate science, history, and philosophy from a young age. We want our children to know how to think before they learn what to think. That way they will understand what they are told and they will be able to decide whether or not what they are told should be believed. These are the most important aspects of child-rearing to my partner and I (well, that and the health and happiness of our children).

What do you consider the most important aspects of child-rearing? What do you want to teach your children? Why?

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