Book Review: “Secular Parenting in a Religious World” by Be-Asia McKerracher

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.

 

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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.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: “Secular Parenting in a Religious World” by Be-Asia McKerracher

  1. A similar topic just came up between me and my husband this morning. He works at a homeschool-charter school. It is a public charter and so secular as well. But as it is a homeschool-charter school, there are a lot of religious Christian families who’s children attend and there is always some pressure from those parents to try and get the school to conform or adhere to their belief system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment.

      It’s all too common. I’m all for accommodating student’s different personal rituals as much as possible, as long as they don’t distract or destroy their’s or other’s educational experience. But the drive to “religionize” a common space is something a lot of believers can’t resist.

      I wish you and your husband the best in dealing with these types of issues (my wife and I come up against them from time to time too) and if you all ever want to talk about a specific issue related to this please feel free to give me a holler (or a honk!). 🙂

      My Best,
      Greg

      Like

  2. Looks like an interesting read. I was unexpectedly thrown into this issue when we discovered that the only french immersion school in our district was Catholic. It was tough, but we ultimately decided that having our children be fluent in a second language was more important than shielding them from religion. But it’s been tough. This book would probably make things a bit easier. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lesley,

      You make an excellent point – it’s tough to give your children the things you want for them when they are packaged with things that you don’t want.

      Every faith school is different, some hammer their beliefs and others are extremely lax (I hope yours is one of the latter). I’ve heard from people who received awful educations from faith based schools and I’ve heard from people who received excellent educations from the same type of institution.

      Also I think it’s great that your children are learning a second language, I hope they are enjoying it. 🙂

      Greg

      Like

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