Posted: May 21st, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: announcements, atheist/agnostic community | No Comments »
If you’re wondering, the recent tornado outbreak that occurred in Oklahoma completely missed my area. Our family and our loved ones are fine. Others, however, were not so fortunate. The devastation is terrible. There are still several children missing.
It’s always hard for atheists in Oklahoma to be a part of social media during times of crisis. Everyone is praying, but I’m not. I’m taking action – donating, doing. Please, if you can help, donate to Atheists Giving Aid’s Oklahoma relief effort. It’s difficult to live here sometimes, but I still love this state. Let’s take action!
Posted: May 20th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: atheist/agnostic community, life as an atheist/agnostic | 1 Comment »
This is such a great post over on the Friendly Atheist blog about raising a polite but confident atheist child. Check it out here!
Not my normal post style, but I wanted to share.
Posted: May 15th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: announcements, Uncategorized | No Comments »
I have a good life. I really do. But I have internal struggles that make everyday life hard to cope with sometimes. I battle depression, anxiety, a borderline eating disorder, three major physical health issues, and weight troubles. I battled many of the same things as a (religious) teenager. I once used prayer as a way to let my problems go. I’d “give them to god,” as many Christians say. I’d push them away, deep down, trying to forget them and refusing to deal with them in a productive way.
They’d fester. They’d boil. Then the lid would explode off the pot. My dad and I would scream at each other. I’d rebel. Then came the guilt. So I’d rock back and forth on my bedroom floor, sobbing and begging for god’s forgiveness for my terrible behavior. I’d write in my journal that I was lonely. I’d write that I felt unloved. Wasn’t god supposed to love me? Weren’t all my prayers supposedly being heard by him so he could bring me up from my sadness? Still I prayed, being told by friends and family that god is in control and has a plan for my life.
I never learned to deal with stress. I packed it away, deep down, until it exploded out of me. I know I can’t do that anymore. I know I have to let it out. I have to deal with things responsibly. I have to take care of myself.
Writing this blog and getting my thoughts out of my head and into a sort of physical place (at least they can be seen) really helps. I try to stay on topic, but sometimes I just need to vent. This week is one of those weeks.
I feel frustrated. I feel worthless. I feel like a failure because I can’t seem to lose weight. I need to do this for my family. I need to do this for my overall health. But nothing works, and I’m afraid of failing again.
I was taught to be “broken” before god. To let him fix me. I no longer want to be broken. I would like to take control of my own life instead of pretending that some outside force is going to make it better. I want my girls to grow up with healthy self-esteem and I want them to see me as strong, healthy, and capable.
Things are better this week. I made it to the gym and got a good workout in. I have a big craft show coming up this weekend, which will unload a lot of stress when it’s over. Thanks for letting me vent. Thank you for your letters of kindness and support. Don’t forget – I always write back, so be sure to check your junk folders!
Posted: April 17th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: life as an atheist/agnostic | No Comments »
What will people remember about me?
I’m anxious. I get frustrated when things don’t go perfectly. I’m a terrible housekeeper, a terrible proofreader. My mom calls me “opinionated.” I nag her for smoking. I nag my dad for being in a relationship that has caused a rift between the two of us. I’m a tech geek and I love photography. I feel a lot of anger toward religious people that I’m still struggling to let go. I’m not that great of a friend because I’m 31 and I’m just now finding out who I really am. Are these the things people will remember? Are these things even important to who I am?
Will they know I love my family with all that I am? Will they know that lazy Sunday mornings filled with donuts and Starbucks and lounging around the house are some of my favorite moments with my little family? Will my girls know that they are the most precious gifts I’ve ever received?
I worry that most people see me as the outspoken, equal-rights preaching, atheist heathen who is raising godless kids and telling them it’s ok to be gay. People see these things as bad things. To me, they’re good. To me, I’m giving my girls the best chance at becoming loving, accepting, caring adults with successful lives. I worry only my closest family will know that what I’m doing is good for my kids. I want to be remembered as a good mother, but I know a lot of people don’t see it that way.
How will I be remembered? Will my husband have reminders of my unwavering love for him? When I’m gone, will he know that he saved me? Will he know that every day with him was my heaven? I was always taught that you can’t put your faith in people, that people will always let you down. Seven years later, my husband has never let me down. He’s lifted me up more than any person I’ve ever met. I believe in him, and his dedication to our family. I believe he will always take care of us, and if I go first, he’ll always take care of our girls. He puts our marriage and our children before everything else in his life. He makes his life decisions based upon what is best for us, not for him. When I’m gone, I hope I’m remembered for being the wife he needed. Most people have no idea just how much he’s done for me. He truly saved me.
I’ve done a lot of good things for people without taking credit or even telling anyone. I tried to be generous with my time and money. When I’m gone, how will I be remembered?
I’ll do the best I can with this one life I have. I’ll hug and kiss my girls every day. I’ll be a good wife for my amazing husband. I’ll work hard and play harder. I want to be remembered as someone who stood up for those who needed a strong voice in this world. I want to be remembered for raising amazing children. When I’m gone, I want to be remembered for love.
Posted: April 17th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: announcements | No Comments »
As I’ve mentioned before, I get at least one email a week through this blog, usually from people thanking me for writing it, but also from people seeking advice. I want you to know that I respond to every email I get, so if you haven’t seen a response from me, check your spam folder. It’s very important to me to stay in touch with my readers, so please know that I make every effort to respond as quickly as I can to all emails.
Also, I’m working on some guest posts for a couple of different parenting blogs, so keep an eye out for the details on those!
Thanks, I appreciate every single one of you more than you know!
Posted: April 12th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: announcements | No Comments »
If you have a lot of religious friends on Facebook, chances are your feed is getting thinner and thinner as you either hide their feeds or delete them. I love Facebook, however, and refuse to stop using it to keep in touch with family and friends. However, it can also be a great source for the goings on of the atheist and freethinker community. To keep up with the latest news, I follow several pages. Some I follow just for fun. Here are my favorites. If you visit any of them, let them know I sent you! I don’t get anything for it, but I’d love to get the word out about my blog!
The Atheist Parent’s Place
The Atheist Gaming Network (I’m a huge gamer!)
We are Atheism
American Humanist Association
The Ostracized Atheist Project
Freethinkers, Atheists, Skeptics, and Agnostics
Human Rights Campaign
Posted: April 10th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: parenting, religious family | No Comments »
Please bear with me because this will be long. I really need to get some things off my chest. Very few people in my family know that I write this blog, so I’m not really worried about any of them seeing this rant. On the other hand, maybe it would be good if they actually knew how I feel. I want to talk about my parents. This is, after all, a parenting blog.
My parents got divorced when I was in 3rd grade. My mom got custody of my brother and me. Between my 3rd grade and 8th grade years, we were subjected to a host of loser, drug-addict boyfriends, crappy babysitters, and a mom whose time was spent working, partying, or with boyfriends. We moved schools several times and I was never able to make any good friends. My dad or grandma would drive 7 hours to pick us up almost every other weekend. Sometimes my dad would have a six pack of Coors in the backseat floorboard in an Igloo cooler. I remember watching him reach around for another beer while we drove on the highway. He always did his best to see us, though, no matter what obstacles my mom put in his path. This one simple fact is pretty much the only positive feeling I have toward my dad, especially now. We’ll get to the rest in a moment.
When I was in 5th grade, my mom married a horrible man. This was her third marriage. She was married once before my dad, but has no kids from any other marriage. This horrible man treated my brother and I terribly, but my brother got the worst of it. I remember an incident when the man was angry with my brother and held him upside down, by one foot, over a stair case opening. It was terrifying. I remember screaming for him to let my brother down. Thank goodness he did. I think we were lucky. She tried to leave this man several times, each time pulling us out of school and packing our toys and clothes in garbage bags. She kept going back to him. I’m pretty sure he was abusing her, and I know my mom mentioned later on that he’d pulled a gun on her. He never laid a hand on me. I think he knew I’d tell my dad. Finally, about a month into my 8th grade year, my mom decided to leave him for good. She sent my brother and I to Tulsa to live with my dad. She said she needed to get her life together. It was about three years before we saw her again, and she only came to town because my brother developed epilepsy.
So in 8th grade, with my dad and his new wife, life became more stable. This was when the Christian indoctrination truly started. We’d gone to church a lot as kids, especially with my grandparents, but junior high was really the turing point for me. I felt abandoned by mom mom. We were very poor and living in a crappy house in a crappy neighborhood. My dad’s heart belonged to his race car, and he immersed himself in it. He spent every moment he wasn’t at work tinkering with his car. We were dragged to the races, so I tried to make the best of it. Many weekends we were out later than 1 a.m. Looking back, with all the noise, dirt, drinking, and fighting that went on, it wasn’t really a place for kids. I poured my heart and soul into church service, singing, and “witnessing” to others. I believe I did this to escape. I needed to feel loved and I needed to belong. Being so poor and having no friends, church offered a safe place with people who praised me for my talent and gave me friendship when I needed it most.
I began to resent the race car because my dad spent so much time and money on it. His wife felt the same, and things got rocky for them. I applied for Oral Robert’s University’s opera music program, and decided my “calling” was to make a living as a singer. But the idea of losing my (much older) boyfriend kept me from going, and my parents didn’t try to tell me otherwise. I ended up working shit jobs for a long time, until I was offered a professional job that required lots of travel around the year 2001.
Fast forward to about 2006. My dad was divorced. My mom, on her 5th marriage. I had a roommate who was only a few years older than me. My dad came to do a repair at our house and they met. They began to date. It wasn’t bad at first, but it turned into a nightmare.
I ended up with a surprise pregnancy and decided I wanted to raise the child. I met my husband shortly after and life became absolutely grand. My husband showed me the value of education. He showed me that I’m smart and capable of doing great things. This was when my life really changed, and through education and personal research I came to the conclusion that I’m an atheist. I love my husband and we have a wonderful relationship, but in all truth, he saved me. He teases that I would might never have risen up from the redneckery and drama I was in, and he’s probably right.
Fast forward to today. My dad, now in his early 50′s, recently had his mobile home repossessed. This was cosigned by my grandparents, so their credit is now crap. He’s been living with my grandparents, who are in their late 70′s/early 80′s, with his girlfriend (my former roommate) and her two teenage kids. The problems this situation has caused are far too complex to go into here, but I’ll just say that there are a lot of hard feelings. I refuse to speak to his girlfriend because of several incidents involving her children treating my dad poorly. The oldest one hit my dad in the face with a skillet. Yeah. I won’t let her kids near my family.
My dad never sees my children, unless it’s a family event, like a birthday party for my brother’s kids. I can’t text him because his girlfriend reads his texts. She treats me like I’m an ex-girlfriend of his. It’s very bizarre. I call, but he doesn’t answer and rarely calls back. He says he loves me, but I doubt it. Maybe he does, but it sure does hurt when he doesn’t call. When I graduated college, I barely got even a congratulations from him. He didn’t seem proud at all. I’ve tried and tried to connect with him, but to no avail. I know he’s unhappy with this woman, and I know this for reasons I can’t say. But he stays with her, and it makes no sense to me.
My mom lives 7 hours away, and she’s in the middle of her 5th divorce. She calls every now and then, and she answers when I call, so we do get to talk. But she treats my brother like my dad treats me. She hasn’t seen my kids in months. She keeps saying she’s going to move to Tulsa, but I’ll believe it when it happens.
I don’t understand why my parents are ok with missing out on their grandchildren’s lives. I don’t understand why my dad will spend time with my brother, but not with me. I don’t understand why they aren’t proud of me and the things I’ve accomplished, and why they refuse to acknowledge the great things I’ve done with my life.
I try to ignore this part of my life. My in-laws are amazing and wonderful people who love me and their grandchildren. They spend time with us, we love being around them, and they always support and encourage us when we need it. They are the parents I never had. Please don’t think my life is hard or bad, because it’s not. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.
I’m sure my parents love me. It would be silly to think they don’t, but it seems to me that they really didn’t want to be parents. I just needed to write all this out because it’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I’m amazed my brother and I have turned out so normal, coming from what we did. We were lucky. Other kids aren’t so lucky.
Posted: April 5th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: encouraging free thought, school, Uncategorized | No Comments »
I’ve mentioned before that education was not important to my family. In fact, only one other family member has any kind of degree and she was in her 50′s when she went back to school. I am a first generation college graduate and this is a source of pride for me. My husband was in school when we met, and he encouraged me to go back to school to finish my degree. I was skeptical that I’d be able to do it with two kids and a graphic design business, but I found a degree plan at the University of Oklahoma that worked for me and stuck with it. Almost all of my undergraduate degree was online, and the last two years were 100% online through OU’s College of Liberal Studies.
You may think you don’t have time to get it done. You may think you don’t have what it takes, but getting a degree and doing it online was one of the best decisions I ever made. Please don’t think you can’t do it. I managed to use the Pell Grant and subsidized loans to make it out of school with relatively little debt. You can do it too. It’s worth it.
I know this sounds odd, but as a Christian, I thought god would solve all my problems. I thought he “called” me to be a singer, so I deluded myself into thinking I could make a living that way. Some people can, but I never could and should have realized that. I thought I would be in god’s service forever, so I never bothered to better myself for the world. It was a bad thing to be considered worldly, and I wanted to appear godly.
When I deconverted, I realize how important it is to know things about the world. I realized the importance of being able to think critically, to communicate, and to write well (though my proofreading skills might say otherwise!). I’m so glad I learned to value education. Even though a lot of it is just playing the game, that little piece of paper opens up more opportunity for success than pretty much anything else.
I figured, what’s the use in being a freethinker if I don’t know how to think to the best of my ability? So I nurtured this new love for knowledge and now I can’t get enough. I’m going back for my master’s this summer!
Posted: April 4th, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: atheist/agnostic community, Christianity, life as an atheist/agnostic, Oklahoma | No Comments »
Tolerance is defined by Dictionary.com as
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
Acceptance is defined as
2. favorable reception; approval; favor.
I don’t like the word tolerance. There’s something about it that makes me think “putting up with” or “dealing with.” Saying, “I’m tolerant of Islam,” is like saying, “I put up with Muslims.” I know that this is probably not what most people mean when they say they’re tolerant of religious people, but that’s what it sounds like to me. We tolerate the heat here in Oklahoma. We tolerate our neighbors who like to fight in the street every weekend. We tolerate things that are irksome, but that we must suffer through because we live on this planet.
And, acceptance, while a bit more favorable, is still a fine line. I don’t agree with Christians, but I accept them as human beings and I realize they have a valid opinion. I don’t accept when they try to force their beliefs on me or force their arcane laws into government, but I understand why they want to live their own lives the way they do. I don’t accept (or approve of) their religion. But I do accept them as people, and there are many Christians I love. I teach my children that religious people have a set of beliefs by which they live their lives, and that ours are different, but I make sure my kids know that loving people is the most important thing they can do in this world to show acceptance.
Tolerance, with it’s inclusion of permissive, says “I’m allowing this to occur.” Acceptance, with its inclusion of approval, says “I approve of this.” So, am I tolerating Christianity or accepting it? I’m tolerating the religion while accepting the person as equal. That’s the only definition that makes sense to me. I would never treat a Christian as lower than myself. I would never try to take away their basic rights (to marry whomever they please, to pray where and when they want, to worship). But because their beliefs pretty much require them to force their religion upon other people, I cannot approve of it. I believe it’s dangerous to do so and it goes against the reason and logic I’ve used to get to where I am now.
Christians, on the other hand, don’t tolerate or accept. Now, there are some exceptions in Christians who believe in equal rights, but many in my neck of the woods believe other religions (or lack thereof) are Satan’s way of stealing god’s flock. They believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that bad people make. They refuse to tolerate it, and many refuse to accept them as equal people. This, to me, is where Christianity is failing.
Webster’s online also defines acceptance as: “to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable [...]” This is the definition I like. Christianity is inevitable, and atheists tend to treat it as such. However, we watch out for our freedoms. We watch out for those whose lot in life is not as easy as others. We stand up for the basic rights of those who are being oppressed by particular groups. We don’t accept Christianity in terms of approving of it, but we know it’s not going away. We know we must keep a watchful eye.
Christians – homosexuality and other religions are inevitable. Not everyone believes as you do, and thinking everyone eventually will is silly. You can be a watchdog, but you can’t force people to live by your beliefs. Attempting to do so makes you a bigot. You think you’re not a bigot, but you are, no matter what your motivation.
What are your thoughts on tolerance vs. acceptance? Are they different? What are your feelings toward religion? Do you accept it, or tolerate it, or a combination of both?
Posted: April 3rd, 2013 | Author: Bee | Filed under: life as an atheist/agnostic, parenting, religious family | No Comments »
I get a lot of traffic from searches related to spanking and discipline. Some of you are landing on my page looking for spanking videos. Ha! But many of you come here looking for advice on discipline for your freethinking child, and you also come here to find out how religious parents discipline their children. I’ve written about this subject a few times before. You can read about the sleepover incident here, and about the spanking incident here. I’d like to go into more detail about our family’s approach to discipline and why we do what we do.
First of all, as you may have read in previous posts, I was disciplined by spanking with a heavy belt or thin tree branch (a “switch” in Southern terms). I’m sure I deserved punishment for whatever I did, but the punishment I got often left huge welts on my butt and upper thighs. Many times the spanking was done bare-bottomed, and many times it happened several hours after my crime occurred. This meant I had to dread the spanking until my dad got home that evening. I don’t want to make it sound like I was abused, because I don’t feel that I was. I do think my parents could have used punishment as a way to teach and guide me, rather than a way to inflict pain. What was accomplished? I became scared of my dad and his belt. I became fearful. I became angry.
As a new mother, I started out spanking my oldest daughter as punishment. However, I read a great book that was given to me by my in-laws called John Rosemond’s New Parent Power!. Actually, my copy is very old and is just called Parent Power, but it’s an excellent book with great tips on getting your kids to go to bed without fussing, dealing with common issues, and, of course, discipline. Rosemond says in my copy of Parent Power that spanking should happen immediately when the incident occurs, and it should always be the parent’s hand to the child’s butt. One swift smack to get their attention. This worked well for me in the beginning, but I began to use spanking for every. Little. Thing. I realized that it was becoming a problem and that my daughter wasn’t learning anything. She became scared of my hand. I was a new mom going off what I learned from my parents. But my husband rarely got spanked, and encouraged me to find a more effective and less traumatizing mode of discipline.
When my second child was old enough to get into trouble, my husband and I took a different approach. We now reserve spanking for only the worst incidents, and only to get the child’s attention if we can’t do that any other way. We’ve found that we spank very little (and almost never) these days. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I spanked.
Some people will say that not spanking is the reason children grow up with mental problems, but I believe that’s a whole other parenting beast related to parents simply not being there and talking to their children the way they should. Trust me, I struggle with this daily since my dad rarely talks to me. It’s been this way for years. I can understand how that would mess a kid up. But, I digress.
Not spanking has given us a chance to teach our children how to be polite, sensitive, and thoughtful people. We take every opportunity to get them to mind their manners, be kind to others, and respect their elders. We use time outs. We ground them from the iPad and iPod, which, by the way, have been integral to our oldest daughter learning how to read. I’ll do another post on that very soon. We get compliments on how well-behaved and polite our girls are, and I know it’s because we use discipline as a way of guiding, rather than punishing.
I don’t know why spanking seems to be a religious parenting thing, but I intend for the belt lashings to stop with me. It’s just not the way I want to do things. As an atheist, I approach child-rearing with the intent to teach and guide, rather than dictate and rule. Does this make sense?
That being said, I do not think there is anything wrong with spanking if it is used appropriately. I do not think my parents used it appropriately. I think they spanked out of anger and also because they didn’t know how else to get us to do what they wanted.
Do you spank? How do you discipline your children? Are there any discipline-related topics you’d like me to explore?