Book Review: "Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion", by Dale McGowan

Search for "secular parenting" and the majority of the results are for Christian books that preach against secular parenting. Fortunately, the list also includes an actual book supporting secular parenting: Dale McGowen's Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion

"Parenting Beyond Belief" is a wonderful resource for secular parents. It combines personal reflections and practical advice, while exploring the values and virtues behind morality.

Especially helpful are the sections on raising secular children in the midst of religious neighbors and on the value found in wondering and questioning. There is a wonderful section exploring holidays, including the pros and cons of teaching children to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Chapter two, Living with Religion, deals with the challenges that face secular parents when children have questions about religion or are faced with pressure from religious zealots in their schools or communities. In our society, it is helpful for non-believers to become religiously literate. Ideas are given for exploring various religions with children to understand both the good and the harm that can come from religious institutions.

Chapter eight, Jaw-Dropping, Mind-Buzzing Science, explores the wonder and meaning that is found through scientific discovery. An essay on evolution clears up some popular misconceptions and puts evolution into terms that are easy for anyone to understand.

The heart of the book discusses morality when it comes to being and doing good. There are explorations of the process for developing emotional empathy and moral reasoning, as well as discussions about what values are at the core of human ethics.

While "Parenting Beyond Belief" is largely a collection of essays from contributing authors, the editor, Dale McGowan, introduces each section and weaves the themes into an enjoyable and thoughtful read. For more information, you can visit the Parenting Beyond Belief website or Dale McGowan's secular parenting blog, The Meming of Life.

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