|Traditional Father's Day ritual in some areas of America.|
I was on the Huffington Post's religion section and read saw this title: Faith and Fatherhood: How Does Spirituality Affect Your Parenting? Well, fellow Purgatorians, this question was right in the strike zone for me so I felt like I had to take a swing.
Here is my extended answer to the question. As many of you know, the comments are limited to 250 words, so I had to cut out the last paragraph (if I can comment to my own comment I'll add it on).
My non-faith has greatly influenced my parenting style for my two children Will and Ali (ages 10 and 7). One of the things I like being an atheist father is that I don't have to tell them all the horrible stories Christians, Jews and Muslims tell children. For example, the Flood story is a genocidal tale on how God exterminates 99.99 percent of our species. And even if a religious parent understands the story to be only allegorical what is exactly is the moral of the story? It isn't the traditional theist spin on the story -- a cutesy parable about bunnies hopping onto the ark. No. It's about obeying or dying horribly. It's about God killing women, children and the disabled. That's not a story I want my young children to be traumatized with, thank you very much.
Another aspect I like about being an atheist father is that I don't have to play mental gymnastics when explaining homosexuality to my kids. I don't have to huddle down with my priest, rabbi or imam and develop a game plan on how to tackle the subject. Here is the conversation we had in our house after a news broadcast about gay marriage in Massachusetts (where we live). "Some men marry men, and some women marry women? That's icky," my boy said. "Dude," yes, I call my son Dude every once in a while, "it's like this: Some people like chocolate ice cream some people like vanilla. It's just what they like. Some men want to marry men, some women want to marry women; it's just what they like." Bam! No need to go through mental hoops about what the Old Testament said or what Paul wrote about the gays. It's easy peasy.
Do you know what is tough being an atheist parent? Being the most disliked minority group in the nation (people would rather vote for a Muslim to be President than an atheist). Telling my kids they can't tell anyone that they are atheists because they will probably lose friends. Explaining to my son that Boy Scouts aren't an option because they don't allow atheists in their group because we aren't considered "moral enough " (really, check their site).