Jennifer Hancock: Humanist parenting creates courageous adults

January 12, 2013 

Not only am I a Humanist, I am also a parent. Humanistic parenting comes naturally to me because that is how I was raised. My parents are both freethinkers and highly ethical individuals. They taught me most of what I know and pretty much all of the life skills principles that I now teach to others.

The thing about Humanist parents is that we don't set out to raise Humanists. Our goal is to raise ethically courageous adults who are capable of thinking for themselves. We understand that critical thinking is the key to success in all aspects of life.

For instance, who should you date and/or marry and/or have sex with are decisions that are vastly improved when you take the time to think before you decide how you want to act.

When our children are young, we make a lot of decisions for them. What clothes should they wear? What school should they go to? What food should they eat?

Making decisions for our kids becomes a bit of a habit. But like all habits, it's one we need to break if we are going to prepare our kids to survive and thrive in the real world.

Why? Because when our kids grow up and become adults, we aren't going to be there to make those decisions for them. Nor should we! They need to know how to make good decisions on their own.

As well-meaning as I might be, I need to respect my child as the individual he is. Instead of insisting that he do things my way, I serve him better when I teach him how to make the right decision for himself.

This doesn't mean I don't discipline him. I do. Learning that there are rules and that those rules need to be followed is important.

What I do, however, is make sure that my rules aren't arbitrary. Kids not only have a right to know a particular rule exists, they need to know why. There is no way for a child to learn why certain behaviors are considered good and others bad if we don't share the reasoning behind those rules.

As a Humanist parent I try to avoid the words, "because I said so." I want my son to know why. I want him to question my reasons. I want him to understand. In short, I want him to think.

Yes, it would be easier to just issue an order and demand compliance. But then I would be depriving my son of an opportunity to practice critical thinking. And thinking well is a skill he is going to need when he becomes an adult.

Jennifer Hancock, is a Humanist life skills educator. To learn more about Humanistic Parenting visit:

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