Resources for Atheist Parents

Successful Parenting Is All About Tools

Parenting starts out with figuring out the buckle configuration of an infant car seat without an engineering degree and knowing how to change the diaper of a floppy, mushy little creature who has absolutely zero interest in contributing to his/her own personal hygiene. It begins with learning how to fall asleep at your work computer without drooling, snoring or otherwise drawing the attention and ire of your peers or employers after feeding and rocking the floppy, mushy creature six times between 9pm and 6am.

The skill set for parents of young babies is generally limited to meeting their survival needs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a time of major angst, confusion and a million questions – most of which are leveled at Google sometime between midnight and 3am EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (apparently, in the first year, my daughters had scurvy, leukemia, rhinitis, pancreatitis, enlarged prostate and went through menopause and miraculously survived). But most newborns aren’t asking questions like “what happens to your eyeballs when you’re dead?” Most newborns don’t require an explanation for why people go to war, what drugs are or how to recover from a broken heart.

New parents quickly learn that they better become equipped with increasingly sophisticated tools for parenting and educating their offspring. Making one’s own decisions is one thing but making decisions for another human being makes the responsibility suddenly feel heavier. How do we anchor our children in a moral foundation? How do we insure they won’t go on knifing rampages at 15? How do we help them choose friends who will bring out the best in them? How can we help them stand up for their convictions? How do we prevent our kids from becoming bullies? It’s dizzying. This is when we (wisely) turn to books and the internet (I would suggest however that you remain skeptical of a medical article diagnosing your three-month-old daughter with testicular cancer).

Thankfully, there are many fabulous resources available both for parents and for kids to navigate this world without religious guidance. Here are some resources the Atheist Republic community has turned to.

For Atheist Parents

There are about 5 million parenting books out there (seriously). When my kids were younger, I read three of them and I think all three were read when I was either breastfeeding or having five minutes of “me time” on the toilet while my toddler pounded on the door (that I had wisely locked). Even now that my kids are in school and I have more time to read, I generally turn to the internet and read articles about specific issues or situations I’m interested in or address issues. This is not to say YOU shouldn’t read parenting books. I’m sure your child is angelic and follows a strict schedule allowing you a minimum of three hours of uninterrupted reading time each day. However, if you’re like the rest of us, here are the few books I have read that speak specifically to atheist parenting that I think are worth at least having on hand for the time when you can rely on YouTube to keep your progeny entertained long enough to get through a chapter.

Raising Freethinkers Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, Jan Devor

Check out the book on Amazon

Parenting Beyond Belief Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion by Dale McGowan (Editor), Michael Shermer (Foreword)

Check out the book on Amazon

The magic of reality

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

It is a beautifully illustrated book, written for children but readable by all, that magnificently explains a vast array of issues from physics, biology, and genetics to mythology and the origin of superstitions (among others)

Check out the book on Amazon

Recommended by Cory Markum

For Atheist Kids

Anyone who has been a parent more than a few years knows that kids generally want nothing to do with anything you say. Books and websites are a great way to help kids learn and to instill values while continuing to be the object your child’s constant and enduring affections (yeah right!). Here are some resources that have been tested and approved by my kids who are now 11 and 7.

Kids Without God Website

This site is relatively new and my kids have expressed limited interest in it but I’m hoping it expands into something more substantive.

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong: A Guide for Young Thinkers by Dan Barker, illustrated by Brian Strassburg

Our family loves all the Dan Barker books. These are best read together and provide great discussion fodder.

Check out the book on Amazon

Maybe Yes, Maybe No

Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics by Dan Barker, illustrated by Brian Strassburg

Check out the book on Amazon

Great Without Religion

Great Without Religion by Lance Gregorchuk

Check out the book on Amazon

Big Questions

Big Questions from Little People, compiled by Gemma Elwin Harris

This book is a really fun read. Short answers are written by specialists in the related fields in response to questions from actual kids. My seven-year-old scientist is especially fond of this book.

Check out the book on Amazon

One World

One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship by Mary Pope Osborne

Sheltering our kids from religion is not a smart approach. Religions exist. Religious people exist. Good religious people exist (I promise). We live in a global economy and a highly interactive world and religious education is vital. Written by the author of the Magic Treehouse series, it’s highly engaging and informative.

Check out the book on Amazon


Many Beliefs

One World, Many Beliefs: A Family Book for Nonbelievers & Their Children, written and illustrated by Kelly Mochel

This book creates great discussion fodder. Less a book JUST for the kids, it’s a book to be engaged together.

Check out the book on Amazon


The Belief Book

The Belief Book by David G. McAfee and Chuck Harrison

No matter how old or how young you are, this easy-to-read book can help you learn more about religions and gods and beliefs in general. It will also teach you about something called The Scientific Method, which is how we learn new things about the world!

Check out the book on Amazon

Recommended by David G. McAfee

I Wonder

I Wonder by Annaka Harris (Author), John Rowe (Illustrator)

Good children book about understanding that there is a lot that you dont know about the world and you shouldn't pretend to with religion.

Check out the book on Amazon

Recommended by Sherif

For Teens and Young Adults

Born again Atheist Born Again Atheist by Lance Gregorchuk

Check out the book on Amazon

Godless Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan Barker and Richard Dawkins

Check out the book on Amazon

This is, in no way, an exhaustive list. But I have at least thoroughly skimmed those I have provided here and feel I can personally vouch for them with some degree of confidence.

So parents, get out there and bulk up your parenting toolbox. Or at least tell your nanny to read one of these books, tell you about it and then you take credit for it. Good luck!

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