I did have some expectations about this book. I was looking for a book about raising kids with independent thinking. Information is flooding in today’s world. Our kids have to be able to think on their feet while facing waves of contradicting information and filtering them independently.
I searched amazon and found Raising Freethinkers. The book’s description emphasized its focus on “raising caring, ethical children without religious guidance.” It is very close to my expectation.
The first half of the book showed the authors as open-minded parents eager to offer every opportunity to the children to learn in their everyday life by giving them three things they needed – time, opportunity, and practice.
Young children like asking questions about anything. I strongly believe curiosity is a momentum to drive our children to explore and improve our world. I particularly like the recommendation of not answering their questions immediately as it may extinguish their curiosity at the same time. The book recommended parents to join the children to find the answers. In the process, the parents should let the kids catch them being curious and be a facilitator instead of a teacher. Teaching the children how to learn is more important feeding them with the correct answers.
The children can also build up confidence through the exploration and learning process. Confidence is built at the moment when the kid accomplished a task he could not do it before. No matter how trivial it is. Confidence starts with autonomy.
I particularly like the phrase “Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
The above is what I like about the book.
Started at about the middle of the book, the authors started to show the slightest bias against Christianity and the bias became more and more significant. Though I am a secular parent, I found the bias quite awkward in certain extent.
“If it became a point of contention with your husband, going to church would not be a positive experience for the children no matter how wonderful the experience itself might be.” To me, in a harmonious family, no one should tense the relationships among members to such a sharp contrast – wonderful experience of the kids vs contentious spouses. I think the authors are trying to cast an impression that it does not worth to damage a family by going to church no matter how wonderful the experience could be.
The more I read the book, the more I felt the authors were trying very hard to convince me to raise my children avoiding religious guidance.
The effort of the avoidance is abnormal and sometimes at the cost of unnecessary sacrifice.
In order not to taking part in any religious celebrations, the authors made up many weird events for celebrations as the supplements. Though they claimed it was the use of creativity, the ideas are just too strange to me. E.g. celebrating Spring, celebrating the shortest day of the year, celebrating a tree at the backyard. While everyone is celebrating the Christmas, how strange is it for a family to deny it and make up a celebration for a new plant in the backyard?
Talking about religion and childhood, the authors stated “Many freethinkers had negative experiences with religious indoctrination in childhood and understand that the best way to turn a child off to an idea – any idea – is to force-feed it to her.” Given the their general avoidance of Christianity, I suspect the authors might have had such negative experiences.
While the authors are casting a negative shadow on Christianity, they put some scent of preference over Buddhism in the book. In the chapter about death, the authors suggested the readers to address the death of a family pet as it would be transformed into something else. The pet could never die. It just became something more wonderful. It is the idea of no-birth-no-death in Buddhism.
Though the authors quoted there are over 2,800 gods in the world, the book focused only on Christianity and had a very light touch on Buddhism.
Following the guidelines of the book one may successfully raise the children free from Christianity. However, the children are far from being freethinkers. Their development are being steered to a biased route with unnecessary detouring.