I won’t lie, it is a challenge. I don’t get to participate in the Homeschool groups in my home town. They are ALL religious based. When I go into events created for homeschooling families my blue hair and my son’s mohawk are dead giveaways that we aren’t your run of the mill conservative christian family. When my son comes home from the park and says kids were bullying him because he said he didn’t believe in Jesus and now no one is his friend, I struggle for what I can say to comfort him. Life as an Atheist in a small southern town can be a pain in the ass.
Our local Science Center has a special homeschool day we visit a couple times a month. This is my son’s favorite subject so he thrives in a science based environment. Sometimes things slip out that make it pretty obvious where my son stands in his beliefs. You can feel the glaring eyes when he mentions an artifact being from 14,000 years ago or *gasp* predating Christianity.
My son is a freethinker from birth. I made it a point to not press my own personal beliefs on him and I let him decide for himself what path he wanted to follow. I have close Christian family members that attempted to convert him at an early age, but reason stepped in and nothing they offered in the form of religion made sense or swayed his belief in non-belief. Even some things that I personally believed in he doubted, a true skeptic. Without hard proof, it just doesn’t exist in his world. I respect that.
The kids in our neighborhood have grown to be much more tolerant towards other beliefs since we moved here. They shunned him at first and excluded him for not being “one of them” but now they play like all kids do, keeping religion out of the scenario. It can be shocking for a child that has lived their entire life only knowing one way to think and only one path. When something disrupts that it can be challenging to keep everyone respectful, but my son did a great job not judging them and allowing them to absorb what being different means, which is not a lot when it comes to being a kid or an adult.
Homeschool Groups can be a different story. All of the groups here are extreme right wing literalist Christian based groups. We just can’t fit in when it comes to Science or History curriculum. I honestly wish we could. I wish these families could be open to their kids hearing alternative belief structures and make their own decisions. My son was exposed to all world religions, atheism and agnosticism throughout his childhood. I feel this is important for the child to make their own path and be tolerant of others. He may not be Buddhist, but if he meets someone who is he doesn’t judge them for their choice and he could even carry on a conversation about Buddhism. I love this about him.
We plan on moving in a few years to an area with more like minded people. He is noxious to do this. Once a year we visit and he plays with kids more accepting of him and that he can carry on deep intellectual conversations about our existence. In the meantime, we will continue to update this blog with our challenges, frustrations, accomplishments and homeschooling adventures.