Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parental Responsibility

A dear friend and I had a bit of a discussion recently about a parent's responsibility to his kids. His position was that a parent has a responsibility to expose their children to a wide range of viewpoints, even if the parent disagrees with those views. Specifically, we were speaking of religion and spirituality.

As you may know, I am an atheist. I don't believe in any gods or ghosts or higher powers or collective consciousnesses or what-have-you. I have been and intend to continue raising my children to believe the same. Or not believe, as the case may be. He felt, however, that even if I do not believe in such things, I have a duty to teach my children about them so that they may choose their own path.

So, if I am to teach my children Christianity, without any disparaging commentary on my part, should I not also teach them other religions? Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism, Scientology? Where do I stop? Should we go visit Warren Jeffs' "family" when Sara comes of age? Should I teach them that some believe that the sun revolves around the earth and that there's nothing wrong with that point of view?

What about the KKK? Should I teach the kids, at their tender age, about the Klu Klux Klan and tell them there's nothing wrong with their beliefs and, while we're at it, those nazis that killed their great-grandparents and great-aunts were a-okay too? For that matter, perhaps I have a responsibility to introduce them to recreational drugs and the fun of getting drunk?

Now, my friend argued that bring up such extreme analogies only served to prove the insanity of my position, but I disagree. The way I see it, it is my job to teach my kids right from wrong. That includes teaching them that what the nazis did was not okay and that what the KKK promotes is wrong. It includes sheltering them from people like Jeffs and scientologists. It means I teach them that recreational drugs and drunkenness are -- as I believe -- not a good idea.

It also means that I teach them that we know for a fact that the earth travels around the sun (not the other way around), that those "whoooo-ing" sounds are caused by wind blowing across the top of a chimney (not a ghost), and that the Magic God Guy is a myth made up by people who didn't understand the scientific nature of the universe.

As I have said before, I want my kids to know about religion, not to know it.



Journal Description

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.

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