Jul 30 2014
My 16-year-old daughter is an atheist. You can’t imagine how many people–both Jewish and non-Jewish–this seems to bother more than me.
She’s been an atheist for a long time, years perhaps. First, we forced her to have a bat mitzvah–at least that’s what she says. She still resents having to say a bunch of words she didn’t agree with, though I don’t remember her complaining at the time. She seemed to enjoy the DJ, dancers, food, friends, and gifts at her party. And she did an excellent job reading her Torah portion and leading the service. It was a proud day for all of us.
But now she tells everyone she is an atheist; her religious grandparents who attend services every Friday night, her friends, and my friends. Most of the adults generally look at her in horror. They look at me in horror, too. What am I doing, raising a godless girl? It doesn’t matter if the adult she’s talking to is Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It just seems awful to them. Check off their “this mother sucks” box. Read the rest of this entry →
May 14 2013
This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.
When our daughter, Hot Shot, was 4, we followed the advice of the Gospel according to Anne Lamott and sent her to a Jewish day school for kindergarten. See, Anne Lamott says, if you’re going to be an atheist, then fine, so be it, but don’t take it out on your kids. Give them spiritual mentors, she tells us. Allow them the opportunity of faith!
We figured we better listen, because, you know, what did we have to offer our little girl but an ambivalent pragmatist and an atheist Jew? Anne Lamott was raised by pragmatic atheists and she became a Born Again. We couldn’t have that! Read the rest of this entry →
May 10 2013
The good dessert.
This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Elizabeth Hunter, one of the winners of our writing contest.
What does an atheist say to her kids about God?
Nothing, if she can avoid it.
At least that was my plan. Before our first baby was born, I gave my husband the job of discussing religion. He’s an atheist too, but he came out of Catholicism with a much more detailed view of the Bible than my liberal protestant upbringing gave me. In spite of my Sunday school teachers’ best efforts, I never absorbed much beyond God wants your dad to slit your throat (Abraham and Isaac anyone?) and be nice. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 26 2013
I remember our first night as a family of three. We were in a small hospital room, just large enough to hold a bed for me, a cot for my husband, and a small bassinet for our daughter. I had been in active labor for days, and we were all exhausted from the birthing process. We carefully swaddled our new baby just as the nurse had shown us, and as we laid her down to sleep (HA!) between us, Josh suggested we sing the Shema.
I cried once more, yet another stream of endless tears of gratitude, but this time it wasn’t for the arrival of a healthy daughter. It was for my husband, this man who had been my rock for most of my adult life. Now, in just a few brief words, he had managed to help me find some stable ground once again, if only for a minute. By suggesting that we sing the Shema, Josh took me out of that tiny room, beyond the fear and exhaustion, and reminded me that we are part of something bigger. We had family, community, and the wisdom of an entire history and tradition supporting us. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 22 2013
Weeks before I met my husband, I went to Israel on a Birthright trip and pranced down twisting streets belting out Hebrew songs, swept up in the fervor of the group. I shared my feelings in drum circles and slipped a note into the Western Wall expressing the hope that I’d find love that year.
When my wish came true, the trip was so fresh in my mind that I could recount to Josh in detail the spectacle we’d made of ourselves, dancing through the desert in some proto-flash mob. When he joined me in rolling his eyes, I loved him even more. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 7 2013
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
– When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic to your child for an ear infection, they may be doing so without cause. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait out the infection, instead of ineffectively treating it with drugs. (But no word on exactly how you should deal with a kid in agony.) (Slate)
– One mom reflects on what it’s like to move through a few religious identities and end up with nothing, raising her children without religion. (Boston Magazine)
– The parents of the two Manhattan children murdered by their nanny in October have spoken out on their Facebook page about their loss and living with their one living child. (Yahoo news)
– Teens on sports teams and teens who exercise have a more positive self image and greater self esteem than their less sports-oriented peers, but it’s unclear if this is causation or correlation (i.e. are more confident teens more likely to join sports teams, or does being on a sports team make teens more confident?). (NPR)