2 articles Tag Humanism

Raising Pragmatists – Parenting Without God

It’s pretty safe to say that religion is not something which factors very highly on mine and Husband’s list when it comes to parenting our girls. We’ve taught them the basics about what each of the major religions involve and have told them that, if they choose to, they’re welcome to explore faith if it appeals to them, but we certainly don’t follow any religion ourselves and usually strive to separate the girls from these kinds of teachings. While this may seem like our household is “lacking” in something because of our aversion to faith, I actually think that it makes our jobs as parents a lot harder, in two specific ways.

Firstly, there’s the issue of death. When Husband and I have broached this subject in the past with Sausage (BB is still far too young and is mostly only concerned with cake and Mr. Tumble), we don’t have tales of fluffy white clouds and angels with harps to pass on. Husband and I feel that humans have energy and that energy is reabsorbed into the earth when we die, but beyond that there’s nothing. It’s really hard to look your child in the eye and tell them that we won’t live on together in eternity, as much as I would love that to be the case. Expecting a child to be pragmatic enough to deal with the thought that, one day, we won’t be together anymore and we won’t be skipping around in Heaven together is really quite tough.

When my stepmum passed away in 2011, Sausage was just three. Lorraine was another pragmatist and had a Humanistic funeral, presided over by a minister who talked not about God but about people and life and living as a good person. When we spoke to Sausage about her passing, we were careful not to say “Lorraine has gone to Heaven”, both as a way to respect Lorraine’s wishes but also to convey our own views on the situation, but whenever anyone else mentions death around the kids, they tend to soften things by saying that the person had gone to Heaven. While I respect people’s views, I can’t help but wonder if they’re making things easier for themselves because they don’t have to broach the subject of nothing after death, just as much as they are softening things for the kids.pragmatism

The other issue, whilst still Heaven related, is the issue of morality. Husband and I can’t teach our girls that if they aren’t “good” then they won’t go to Heaven or that bad people get their comeuppance in Hell. They don’t have the looming threat of eternal damnation keeping them in line, they simply have to self-moderate and apply what we’ve passed on in terms of ‘how to be a good person’. Anyone who knows our girls knows that they’re both really decent little people, with kind hearts and mindful attitudes (again, I’m talking about Sausage here more than BB, she’s still a work in progress!), both of which have been achieved without religion. It makes me really proud of Sausage to know that, when she’s being a good person, it’s not for the sake of a Heavenly trade-off, it’s because she’s a genuinely good person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing people who’ve got faith and pass it on to their children; I’m all for personal choice and as long as people respect my right to live without faith, I’ll respect their right to have it. All I’m saying is, religion must make certain aspects of child-rearing a lot simpler.

What do you think? Are you raising faithless pragmatists? How do you broach the difficult subjects without making things seem too stark or scary? Do you use the phrase “going to Heaven” even though you don’t believe it? I’d love to hear your views, please leave me a comment below.

The Humanistic Approach? – An Alternative Christmas Post

If you’ve read this blog or know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m a worrier and an innate over-thinker. The slightest thing can set off a tangent in my brain and I’ll be going over it for days. Hey, I’m sitting here awake while the rest of the family sleeps because my brain just won’t switch off.

This year, we lost my step mum to cancer. I’ve blogged about my anger, sadness, grief etc, but just lately I’ve had another prevailing emotion: fear. You see, Lorraine had a Humanist minister speak at her service and while it was a very nice funeral (I fucking hate saying that…what the hell is a ‘nice’ funeral? Sadly, my vocabulary fails me on this one as I don’t know how else to describe it) it’s left me feeling adrift.

I don’t know if you’re aware, so please forgive my explanation if you are, but Humanism works on the principal that we should focus on human action rather than that of a deity and has no mention of an afterlife. We all just cease to be.

I suppose until this point, I’ve never been able to come up with an explanation for my own spirituality. The majority of my brain is science-driven, believing in evolution, the big bang, impact events and since becoming a huge Fringe fan, I even like to ponder the whole multiverse theory with Husband every now and again. But mixed in with all of this is still a belief in the afterlife and something a big bigger and badder than us, floating around in the ever after.

Maybe it’s a comfort thing, I’ve told you all before that I’m terrified of my own mortality, I always have been, I remember being scared of it as a small child as I’d have to be away from my Mum and Nan, which was the worst thing in the world to me back then. All I know is, I want to believe in Heaven. I want to believe that my Nan is up there in her pinny, having a good old chat with Lorraine and looking after her. That I’ll get to see all of the people I miss. A minute logical part of my mind tells me that this is just the human way of dealing with grief, but I can ignore that.

I suppose it’s Christmas that’s made me think of all of this, I’ve always felt like a hypocrite for celebrating when I don’t go to church, but as I’ve got older and started to formulate some firm ideas of my faith, I think it’s okay for me to celebrate because a) I think if there is a God, he’s in everything, not just in very expensive, man-made buildings and b) even if I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, I still think he was a lovely man who tried to teach people to be nice to each other, and I can still celebrate his birth.

I suspect I’ve got to the rambling stage now, this is probably one of those posts where I just needed to get everything out of my brain and let it sit in the ‘Drafts’ section forevermore. But I’m going to publish it, mainly in the vain hope that someone else can organise my thoughts for me. All I know is this: I miss Lorraine terribly and I hate the thought that we won’t get to see her at Christmas. I am, and will continue to be, gutted.

My thoughts are with anyone who lost someone this year and I hope you’re able to have as fantastic a Christmas as the ones we’ve lost would want us to have.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Jesus. You had some nice ideas.