How to parent like a Humanist

Why taking a responsible, compassionate, ethical and respectful approach to parenting benefits you, your children and the society in which we all live.

Humanism is a philosophy that encourages us to think of every human we meet as being worthy of dignity and respect. This includes children. And, it includes our children. A Humanist parent does not think of their children as property. They are autonomous human beings, ones that we have particular responsibility for by virtue of being their parent.

This impacts all aspects of parenting and influences our parenting style. Because our children are fully human we have an ethical responsibility to treat them compassionately, ethically, and respectfully. We are also privileged with the task of raising them and caring for them. And even though that is difficult task and it never seems to end and there is always something that we have to deal with, it is satisfying. Why? Because being responsible feels good. Living up to and taking our responsibilities seriously feels good. It’s difficult but it gives our lives meaning and purpose. And isn’t that something that most people struggle with?

Embracing that responsibility fully is part of how a Humanist parents. And because we are Humanists we do spend some time thinking about how we want to parent so that we aren’t just reactive to our children, but proactive in providing them with learning experiences and support and encouragement so that they can grow into an adult we like, as a human being.

I tell my son every day that I love him. The other night he said, you tell me that all the time. When I reminded him that it feels good to be told and to say it, he said, but you have to love me. I said, no I don’t. There is no rule that says a parent has to love their child. I happen to love mine not only because he is adorable, but because I genuinely like him and like spending time with him and I derive a great deal of pleasure caring for him. If I didn’t recognize him as fully human, I can’t imagine feeling this way. My responsibilities towards him would be more of a burden. By acknowledging his humanity, I am able to connect with him as a human and therefore as a Humanist.

How does a Humanist parent? For me it means I parent with compassion, respect and in an ethically responsible way. How has being a Humanist influenced you as a parent?

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