Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, the first comprehensive title devoted to the unique joys and challenges of raising children outside of religion. Newsweek called Parenting Beyond Belief “a compelling read,” while the Library Journal called it “engaging and down-to-earth…highly recommended.” Contributors include Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Mark Twain, Dr. Jean Mercer, Dr. Donald B. Ardell, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, and over twenty-five other doctors, educators, psychologists, and secular parents.
It's not only refreshing to see a book on the "joys and challenges" of raising kids without religion, but I found this book to be enormously helpful. As the father of a 4 1/2 year old, I'm becoming increasingly aware that it's only a matter of time before we have to start dealing with "those" questions, and Parenting Beyond Belief provides some very good insight for all manner of issues around raising children outside of religion. Particularly useful this time of year are the essays on dealing with the holidays, which I found particularly helpful. Especially the essay by Dr. McGowan regarding making use of the Santa myth to teach critical thinking and skepticism.
One of the few disagreements my wife and I have had about parenting was about the Santa myth. I had been struggling with lying to our daughter and teaching her about something that was utterly false, but that essay changed my mind. I do admit that doing the whole Santa thing is pretty fun, and after reading that essay, I'm much more comfortable with it. Our daughter is a born skeptic though, and we probably only have a couple years left of keeping up the illusion. After she figures it out, though, I'm actually hoping that she'll want to keep doing the Santa thing just for the fun of it.
If you're a secular parent, this book is a must have. I'm also looking forward to Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide to Parenting Beyoned Belief, Dr. McGowan's next book, due out in February.