A while back Be-Asia McKerracher, who I met years ago when I first became active in the Midwest atheist community, asked if I’d review her book “Secular Parenting in a Religious World.” I told her I’d be glad to and so she sent me a copy. I read it and loved it. I posted this review at Amazon in August, I also posted it at Goodreads.
Here’s my review of “Secular Parenting in a Religious World” by Be-Asia McKerracher.
In case you hadn’t heard, raising children can be difficult. The endless stream of decisions to be made, the second guessing of not only those decisions but the manner in which they were addressed, can take its toll.
Now take all the usual pressures of raising a child and add the challenge of raising a secular child in a culture saturated with religion.
How do we raise children with a healthy sense of skepticism and the necessary critical thinking skills? How do we bolster their courage while encouraging respect for the rights of others to their own opinions? How do we equip children to withstand aggressive proselytization from loved, respected, or feared adults and peers?
Religious groups regularly send children into the world to spread their various messages. Secular children must be able to recognize and withstand these often high pressure sales pitches at a surprisingly young age.
“Secular Parenting” offers strategies on handling and communicating with children about school settings, holidays, media, sex, family, and family gatherings (including a long bit on funerals), and more.
The author writes at length on dealing with religious family members, an important topic as many if not most secular parents come from religious families or have religious in-laws. She stresses seeing the situation through the eyes of loved ones (not agreeing with but rather empathizing) who can’t imagine children raised without the light of whatever god belief they hold to.
Holidays are an important part of our lives and our children’s lives. Mrs.McKerracher outlines several strategies for dealing with holidays and some strengths and weaknesses of those strategies.
She uses plenty of examples from her personal experience, which adds a comforting and personal touch to the narrative (many of my favorite passages are her family anecdotes). The book is easy to read and understand, and grounded in compassion and good sense.
Young people must be able to explore the world, including the world of faiths, in a safe and sane manner at their own pace. Our job as parents is to enable, as best we can, our children to become decent, confident, independent adults. The ideas and strategies presented in “Secular Parenting In A Religious World” are worthy tools to get started on that project.