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Some years ago while I was delivering a lecture on faith and reason at a secular university, I informed my audience that I had taught the Apostles' Creed to my daughter, who was four or five at the time. I then noted that as a family we recited the creed every day during our family devotions.
As I expected, the audience appeared to be disturbed by my revelation. One of the students spoke for many when she insisted that children should be raised without "religious dogma". Instead, they should be free to "make up their own minds" about what to believe. Parents could certainly inform them of the various options, but they should not be partisans for a particular view. Instead, she opined, the conscientious parent should sit back and let their children make their own decisions unencumbered by undue parental influence.
Commonly - Ideal - Dispassionate - Parent - Movement
One commonly encounters this ideal of the dispassionate, objective parent in the free-thought movement. Consider, for example, this passage from Catie Wilkins's essay "110 Love Street":
Wilkins believed her father's pedagogical advice provided an empowering and non-dogmatic way to instruct a small child by dispassionately and objectively providing the range of views on a given issue and allowing the child to make her own decision. In short, Wilkins's father provided a precise contrast with my dogmatizing bequeathal of the Apostles' Creed to my unwitting progeny.
Wilkins - Anecdote - Ideal - Parent - Tensions
If Wilkins's anecdote exemplifies the ideal of the free-thought parent, it also exemplifies the inherent tensions, and even contradictions, with this ideal. We can begin to illumine those problems by changing up the scenario. Imagine that instead of posing a question about life after death, the child posed a question about the nature of the good and the right. After overhearing a disturbing murder story on the evening news, the child turns to her father and poses...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
It is time to put away the our toys and propaganda we've been taught as children and think for ourselves.