Written for secular parents from a nonreligious perspective, this guide explores methods of teaching youngsters about God, religion, and spirituality.
Russell is the polar opposite of secular writers such as Richard Dawkins. Avoiding an in-your-face style, she emphasizes the golden rule and tolerance. She suggests incorporating religious trappings—places of worship, holidays, books, prayer—into family regimens; she even flirts with the possibility of sending a child to a religious school. For the skeptical, some of this may seem a tad too touchy-feely. “Make a collage using pictures of famous religious leaders—and non-religious ones—and then leave it up for a few months in your child’s room. See if it sparks conversation.” However, while Russell at times seems to be out-Flandering Ned Flanders, this is, after all, a book about dealing with children, and Russell is skilled at relating to kids on their own terms. For her, the God discussion has supplanted the dreaded “birds and bees” talk for secular parents. In fact, the inspiration for the book was when her 5-year-old blurted out, “Mommy…you know what? God made us!”—a statement that made Russell feel “like a cartoon character being hit…with a frying pan.” Her own investigations to address the situation resulted in this well-written, thoroughly researched work that mixes advice, humor, and history. It also includes footnotes, an appendix of major world religions, recommended readings, and facts and figures on atheism in the United States. Chapters deal with a variety of topics such as reactions of grandparents and other relatives, mixed-faith marriages, kids being harassed at school, and how to handle discussions of death. At the same time, her easy-to-read style is down to earth and conversational: “When it comes down to it, ‘tolerance’ is just a way of asking people not to be total dicks to one another.”
Contains a wealth of information for secular or mixed-religion families preparing for the God talk with kids.