raising my 7 year old daughter as an atheist (in the bible belt south, mind you)

interested in feedback/morale support in my being honest with my daughter about (the fact that) there is no god.  i live in south carolina, where even not going to church causes one to be labeled a 'heathen' , and parents are giving a good deal of flack about it also.  now to really introduce a wrench: i am also going through a divorce, where my lack of religious views were exploited and used to demean me.  perhaps i thought the group may have some advice to a n00b such as myself. 

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I think you and your wife would be doing a serious injustice to your kids by not discussing what you believe and why you believe that way.  She should tell the kids about her religion.  As a counterpoint, you should tell your kids about why you don't believe.  Your kids deserve to know who their parents are.  That way, they will know a little about were they come from.  I think it is important for children to know how different everyone is from each other.  I'm pretty sure they won't feel so much pressure to conform to some mold that is not of their choosing.

Don't tell them what to believe.  By doing so, you will only make a fool out yourself.  Or worse yet, you could hurt your kids by asking them to take sides.

This is just what I was thinking.  When it comes to politics and religion, I just let my son know how I feel about things and why.  I also go over why other people believe differently.  Letting him know that he can believe whatever/wherever his heart and mind lead him keeps him from having to hide things from me in fear of disappointment, and allows open discussions which we both can learn from.

You and your wife are the only one that can make your kids to attend church.  Neither forcing kids to go to church will make believers of them, nor will forcing them to attend an atheist and skeptics meeting will make nonbelievers of them.  You will have to love and accept them as they are with only a few exceptions (these vary from person to person).

Had that children being invited by friends to a "God is gr8" experience with my son, a girl he was interested in had invited him to an evangelist youth function, supposedly just for music and fun at a squash center purchased by the Pentecostal loons to use as a church.  All was fun and games until suddenly the music stopped and pastors stood at the court doors and suddenly my son's friend and a couple of her comrades started telling how their lives were made great and enriched by God.  My son had many times been warned by myself and my daughter about using fanciful stories to snare people into thinking god or any other non-existent hero is wonderful, though what spiked my son's skepticism is that he had known this girl since they started pre-school and the story she was telling, he knew well and her version was nothing like he remembered it.  He left in a hurry and ceased contact with her completely, he was horrified at the once sweet girl had become a religious, conniving and lying bitch.

Oh, BTW, that girl is now a pastor in that church, continuing with her lie telling and false tales to reap an income from the church.  Yes, she is lying for God, to earn easy money without having to work for a living.

Honestly dude, I wouldn't risk it.  You can hypothetically say what ever you want to, but when it comes down to it, the vast majority of people try to teach their children to think like they do, whether consciously or not.  But the issues you encounter with divorce while childless are much less than those you encounter with children. 

Mathew, on the learning about evolution bit, there's lots of fun dinosaur games and some humorous children's books, which helped our children understand evolution, plus comedy concerning God and creation myths.

I've always found humor to be the best method of enlightenment.

It's how I was un-indoctrinated as a child, my uncle used to tell me dinosaur stories as well as many jokes that ridiculed God and creation in a very funny but not attacking way, just subtle enough to make me think.  I wish I could remember some of them, though my uncle died when I was 12, so I cannot ask him.  He and my aunt would buy me adventure books, she got me every Biggles book ever written by the age of ten ( started reading them at 6), and no, they did not make me racist like those that banned them from schools used against Biggles books, in fact they made me more racially tolerant.  I'm the most racially tolerant member of my entire family.  

The blatant stupidity of "Political Correctness" and censorship has been obvious to me ever since.  They are examples of irrational, dumber than doggy doo, MINORITIES enforcing their blind stupidity onto the majority.

Humor, exciting stories and challenging their minds is the only way to wrench them out of indoctrination, pushing your values directly bears little fruit, often only creates contempt from those targeted.

I agree w/SB.  Kudos and good luck!  Fortunately, there is a wealth of books, magazines (see the "Junior Skeptic" section of Skeptic Magazine) and Internet material aimed at teaching kids atheism and humanistic values.  I urge you to check it out.  Buy atheist books for kids and leave them around the house. 

Be strong.  Emphasize the benefits of a god-free life.  Do not let religious believers demean you or call you amoral.  Learn all the counter-arguments and be able to express them in 7-year-old terms.

Your daughter is at a very critical age (the "age of reason," according to the Church -- you are now responsible for your actions) -- this is when kids form their image of reality.  Be careful and patient as you teach her the difference between "imaginary" and "real."  This is the age when kids are first capable of understanding the difference. 

If anyone makes this a problem, contact the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or Americans United for Separation of Church and State and they may be able to help.  I wish you well.  You are not alone.  Religion will be flaunted and flouted where believers find advantage; after all, there are many more God people than us heathen. Some parents might claim you were putting your child through torture if she is ostracized by Christians or other believers in her midst, and it is the vampiric proselytizing groups that do most damage.  I do not envy you.  I am just glad that the mother of my sons did not brainwash them in the Big Lie.  What you are doing may be akin to a labor of Hercules.  Good luck!

Ouch! Sorry, I have no advice, and yet I can recognize how much you love your daughter, and important it is to stand firm in your honesty with her. Others may be successful in brainwashing her and I hope that is not the case. Expressing your love her, frequently, sincerely, hearing her when she talks with you, affirming her as a valuable person, may plant seeds that develop as she develops. If you turn your back on her, it is highly probably she will interpret that as your rejection of her. Even if you only are able to send letters, that is something she can touch. Good luck! I will be thinking of you xhuman! One more thought, use affirmative language; xhuman puts you down. Can you think of a positive term for yourself and think using empowering words? 

I don't have children but you are not alone.  There are many hurdles for all of us as an atheist in America.  No one person has the solution that works for everyone because everyone has there own issues.  I believe it is best to seek support for your views in social areas like this one or other.  The more you read about the things that are relavant to these things the more answers you may get.  I am reading Sex and God by Darrel Ray presently.  I think it really helps to find others dealing with the struggles we encounter.  Be safe.

BTW, a good point of entry for secular/rational evaluation of the Bible is the Noah story: scientifically impossible, morally repulsive, and ghastly to contemplate (all those bloated, dorwned bodies, including children).

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