Feb 242014
 February 24, 2014  Parenting and Faith

Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share today’s post, which comes to us from my friend Stephen of Head of the Heard, a fellow member of Multicultural Kid Blogs

Non-Faith, Spirituality, and the Golden Rule: Stephen Greene {Parenting and Faith}

At first glance I shouldn’t be writing anything for this series on faith and parenting because I have no faith. I was brought up a Catholic, but by the age of 16 I had decided that wasn’t for me. I spent a few years investigating other faiths and one of the reasons I started to travel a bit was to look for different ideas. One of the attractions of living in Taiwan for a year was that it was a Buddhist country so I would be able to find out a bit more about that religion.

After a while, though, I stopped searching for a religion that could offer me answers and decided that there probably isn’t a god of any description. If this was true then I had to find some other way of bringing order and meaning to my life.

The fact that I don’t believe in a god does not mean that I am not spiritual. For me, spirituality is all about asking ourselves the big questions and searching for answers. Those questions run along the lines of Why are we here? What are we supposed to do with our time here? Is there any meaning to this life? Where can I get a decent cup of tea?

I have found my own answers through science and philosophy, but I don’t have any claim to being right. I think I am right, but I don’t know I am right. And the search for answers to these questions is ongoing. I need to challenge my ideas all the time by reading, talking to people and observing the world. Ask me in 10 years what I believe and it might be exactly the same as today, or it could be totally different. Anyone who says they know the truth is lying and should not be trusted.

It is this search for my answers and distrust of self appointed authorities that informs my parenting style. I want my son to question everything and everyone. I don’t want him to accept an answer just because I told him it was true. Many parents hate the phase of the constant questions from toddlers; I am learning to love it.

While he is questioning everyone he also needs to learn that other people are also on their own journey of discovery. Some will be happy with the answers they learn as children, some will never find their answers. Whatever their state, he needs to accept that it is the journey that is important and everyone has the right to find their own path without being judged by anyone else. We try to teach that respect of everyone else is key to being a good human.

And then there is one other thing that I learned from looking into different religions and humanism: the Golden Rule. This rule is present in all of the major religions and most of the minor ones as well. It can be found in the writings of Ancient Egypt and Babylon over 4, 000 years ago. The words might be slightly different in each case but the meaning is the same. My personal favourite is that of Confucius from about 500 BCE:

“Do not do to others what you do not want to yourself. You only need this law alone. It is the foundation of all the rest.”

If my son, and everybody’s son and daughter could learn to live by this law alone then we would truly have found paradise on earth, no matter what your religion might be.


Head of the HeardStephen Greene is an English language teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer from the UK living in Brazil. He blogs about language teaching at tmenglish.org.  When he is not teaching people the difference between ‘pretend’ and ‘intend’ he also blogs about raising a biliingual family and being an expat dad in Curitiba at Head of the Heard.  You can follow Stephen on twitter @hoftheh or like his Facebook page.

Parenting and Faith on Alldonemonkey.com

In the series Parenting and Faith bloggers share how faith influences their parenting. You can find all the posts in this series on the main page as well as the Parenting and Faith Pinterest board.

  10 Responses to “Non-faith, Spirituality and The Golden Rule: Stephen Greene {Parenting and Faith}”

  1. I love this post Stephen – beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed and Leanna I love that your series on parenting and faith includes those of us without faith. Just one of the many reasons I am so thankful to be part of the MKB community.

    • Thanks a lot for that, Jody. I am glad you liked my little submission ot this series of posts. You are right that having such a diversity of people is what makes the MKB so important.

  2. Great post! I’m a first time father who is also an atheist by definition and I’ve been struggling with thoughts of how to handle spirituality for my son as he gets older. Glad to see another parent eloquently put this in words. Thank you!

    • Thanks for your kind comments. We are both going to have to play it by ear, but at the moment my strategy is to be honest and not judgmental. We’ll see how that goes.

  3. This is a great post. Coming from a very faithful Catholic/Christian who plans to make Faith a key part of my daughter’s childhood, I appreciate your logic and honesty here. We agree on one thing, and that is the importance of questioning things. I want my daughter to find all the good things in the Church and her Faith that I find there, but I also want her to always question it. I will make sure she knows that I question my Faith and my Church all the time, and following a religion does not always mean doing so blindly. Some of the best Catholics I know are ones who openly challenge the status quo coming from Rome. More than anything, I want her to learn to understand, respect, and appreciate all views on religion…. just as I do with your post here. I may not agree, but I respect your views and the reasons behind them, and I appreciate your sharing this honest piece.

    – Mark McNulty
    (The New American Dad http://www.BloggyDad.net)

    • Thanks for leaving this comment, Mark.

      When I was a kid we had a great priest called Father Bouchier. One of the things I remember most vividly about him was when he said it is the actions that make a person, not their words. As a Catholic he and his community should attempt to show God’s love and compassion through being loving and compassionate, not just through paying lip service to it.

      Even now, this kind of idea still makes sense to me, and it sounds as if it would do to you as well.

  4. Genius.

    I’ve always said to people that there are too many similarities in organized religion for there to be one right one. I’ve gotten the chance to experience multiple cultures and tons of different styles of beliefs during my time in the Corps, and one thing you might hear in the Marines is that “everyone believes in God once bullets come down range.” Not saying you would as an Atheist, but the concept is everyone starts praying to something… anyway…

    But you’re right… that golden rule should be the most taught and understood thing in all humanity. And it would indeed make things more of a paradise.


  5. I had no idea Confucius had the Do Unto Others Quote! It IS a good one to live by!

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