The other day I got an email from an atheist couple who have two kids, one 9 and one 10. They asked me for information regarding websites or literature that might deal with "god pressure" for kids at school. This would be the 4th and 5th grade. Apparently kids at their school are proselytizing and mocking these 2 kids for not believing.
The parents don't want their kids to feel like freaks and also want to help them counter the exasperated 'you don't believe in god!' remarks. Sam, the father, admits that it can be lonely to not believe in god sometimes. I understand. I feel that way too, although not as much as before I belonged to Morgantown Atheists.
Diane, the mother, says they are open to ideas and suggestions. She says they have friends who aren't religious but still believe in god. It's not the same thing.
Seeing as how only about 10% of the population would go so far as to actually use the dreaded A-word, it can be isolating to be godless in a sea of believers. As I've mentioned, I still keep my atheism to myself when around Butch's family. Some of them know we're atheists but it's never been brought up or mentioned. This means that a huge part of what I spend my time thinking about and being an activist over can't be talked about when I spend time with others. It's kind of lonely, in a way.
For Sam and Diane, I suggested they join a local atheist/humanist/freethinker group to get some community support. There's nothing like simply hanging out with like-minded people to feel more connected. In my personal experience, the benefits of belonging to a local organization are numerous. I have felt much happier since joining. Just knowing there are others who think like me is a great relief, in a way.
I know, many atheists are loners and not into joining. I used to think I was like that too. Then I realized I am just picky. I don't want to belong to a group that has wildly different values than me. But having a coffee and talking to someone who is also a godless heathen is, well, liberating and intellectually stimulating.
I have to say something now regarding children and atheism. One of my friends, I think it was Dan, recently commented ( I can't remember if it was here on HDC or Facebook. And I think it was Dan... or Steve. I'm sorry, my friends, I am not positive. Please feel free to correct me) about a conversation he had with his 9 year old daughter. She asked her dad about god. Dan gave a good answer about what god is, and said something along the lines of that's how a lot of people believe. His daughter asked him what he believed, if he believed in god. Dan explained he is an atheist and that no, he doesn't. Then he asked her what she thought about god. She said the smartest, most amazing thing, which told me he's a wonderful dad. She said, "I think I'm too young to decide."
What that tells me is that Dan is raising his daughter, not to be an atheist, but to think for herself. I think the most important thing you can ever do for a child is to teach them critical thinking. Let them figure things out for themselves. Let them reason and make mistakes. Teach them how to think. Not what to believe.
I'm still thinking about what to tell Sam and Diane's kids, in how to deal with other kids who are brainwashed with religion already. Do you have any suggestions, websites, or books that might help them?