Not So “Microblog Monday” – Teaching Consequences Without Fear

I started this blog as a way to connect with like minded parents who might be raising their kids without religion. I know I mostly don’t touch on it. The reason for that is mostly because that aspect of our parenting has very little effect on us or our day or our relationship with our kid. The absence of religious teaching in our parenting, is just that, an absence.

The fact that we don’t include religious teachings into our parenting, doesn’t change how to we parent much. We will instill the concepts of right and wrong; cause and effect; and rewards and consequences.


We still teach her manners and using please and thank you, not interrupting adults, and using “nice words”. And none of these have to be done with religious upbringing.

I don’t blog about our lack of religious upbringing because it doesn’t effect how our family functions. I still go to work, Kim still stays home with Punky. Punky still has rules and chores. We still sit at the table as a family at dinner time and discuss how our day was. We still dance around the living room or have picnics at the coffee table while watching a movie.

The point of this blog wasn’t to rant and rave about how religious upbringing is bad or the reasons why we don’t do it, but to simply show, that raising your kid without religion, doesn’t change the fundamentals or parenting dynamics. Our way isn’t any better or any worse than those who choose to parent with religion being the focus. It’s just different.

I bring this up, because our family is a lot of different things. But labels don’t define us. A “None” family. A two mom family. A free thinking family. A family of choices. A family of technology. A family of questions. A family who eats fast food. A time out family. A family who has no limit on screen time. A cry it out family. A family with mental illness. A family without labels or boxed in expectations.


I bring all of this up, because generally when I tell people that we are parenting without religion, the number one question I get is: “How does your daughter learn there are consequences for her actions without the fear of consequences?” And to that I simply say, “Why does there need to be an essence of fear?” I feared my dad growing up. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a house of fear. I want my daughter to know that she can come to me with anything. Any questions, any problem, any choice. Any reasonable and respectful argument. Anything.

So, to make it about fear … to me, religion is equated with fear. Which is pretty much why I personally don’t want her raised in a religious household. Fear of “the consequences” are scary when you are a kid growing up with religion. Hell is a scary concept. Especially for a kid. Fear of rejection. From a loving God, but if you do wrong things, you are rejected. Unless you are forgiven, which you can ask for forgiveness for everything, so then your ‘sin’ doesn’t matter anymore. So those bad things you did, it’s ok, and you can keep doing them and keep asking for forgiveness.

Where is the consequence or lesson being taught there? The circle is maddening and it is (for me) simply a way to instill control on children at a young age and to keep people in a box. To make sure they do what their told, when they are told, and don’t ask any questions about anything, because it ‘just is’; ‘just have faith’; ‘you don’t believe enough’. All of which, in my mind growing up, equated to “You aren’t good enough if you don’t just believe in what we are telling you is right and true.” “You aren’t a good person if you don’t believe in this, if you question it, you question God and that makes you a terrible person and you are going to Hell. Repent now.” These are not the self esteem boosters I want for my kid.

Morals and ethics are not taught by religious leaders. That’s the job of a parent. Parents teach their children what is right and wrong in the world. What’s dangerous and what’s safe. Parents, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof teach their children what society finds acceptable, what boundaries are in place (laws and social norms) and where those boundaries can be crossed or JUMPED (gender roles, pfft) over.


As a kid who grew up with a Christian background, I remember a time when my Sunday School teacher told the class, “Be wary of those who don’t believe in God. Those are not friends to keep.” And I raised my hand, I was about 12 or so, and asked, “But how do we spread the word or tell them about God, if we can’t be friends with them? Doesn’t it push them away from God to shun them from our friendship?” The teacher had no answer and didn’t answer it. She simply gave me look that made me instantly realize I shouldn’t question what she says. And I didn’t question again.

That’s the thing with religious teaching. There’s no questions. There’s blind faith. There’s no answers. There’s no thinking for yourself, only believe what’s being told to you or you are doing it wrong and you MAY end up in Hell. Scary shit for a kid, right? I know it was for me.

I refuse to subject my child to that kind of teaching or upbringing. coloringWith that said, I do have people who tell me “She has the right to believe if she wants to.” And to that, they are absolutely correct. She does have that right and I won’t be the one to take it away from her. My hope is that we can do our best to facilitate and foster an environment in which she can ask questions, think for herself, and really come to a conclusion on her own. One way or the other in which she believes, I will support her. I will love her just the same.

However, right now, she’s too little to understand the things being taught and she doesn’t know any better than to simply believe – without question. She doesn’t know she can question. she doesn’t know what questions she should ask. Until she is old enough to understand, facilitate and make those questions heard and thought through, she will not be subject or introduced to things that are religious in nature.

Her cousins are Jewish. We don’t really talk about it, it’s not something that comes up. But if she had questions, I would make a point to sit down with my sister in law and we could discuss what being Jewish means and how that effects Punky’s world view. Her grandparents are all (primarily) Christian. I have no problem with her being exposed to “Gram’s friend Jesus” on a necklace, or telling her that some people believe that their loved ones go to a place in the sky when they die. Some people do in fact believe that and I want her to respect other people’s beliefs and views. But, I also want her to question why people believe that, where that belief comes from and if she does in fact also believe in that.

When she’s old enough to make up her own mind, she will be free to do so. She will be able to explore the possibilities of belief and what that means to her. Growing up with an absence of religion, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the choice to seek it out and be respected for her own growing belief systems. But I do want her to examine, question, and think about what she believes in. I want her to be able to stand up and confidently say what she believes and be about to articulate it intelligently – not “That’s what the Bible says” or “My Mom told me it is so, so it must be”. As it stands, at this age, she is not able to do that to the extent in which I would like her to.

So instead we teach her about family, about tolerance, about love, and respect. For everyone. And at the core, that’s what religious teachings do too, we just do it without a man in the sky or a guy on a cross, without a fiery damnation or a cycling guilt and forgiveness.


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10 Things Peyton Will Not Experience

SpongeBob SquarePants

Not only is the name of the character ridiculous, I find the humor crude and noneducational nature of the show disheartening. Personally, I don’t see the need for Peyton to watch this stupid sponge. She doesn’t need to know what he is, who he is, or be involved with any of his under the sea activities. If they aren’t teaching her something, she isn’t watching it, end of story. That really goes for a lot of things, but mostly, “the sponge who must not be named.”

Bullying Other People

I don’t care how old or young, the gender, the color, the creed. I don’t care about the religious preference, I don’t care about the social status.I don’t care if she wants to kick that person in the teeth **in her mind** she will never ever be allowed to bully another person. I won’t allow it. If she does, somehow, experience this – I will have not taught her that it was right and she will experience a grade A smack on the butt. Period. 

Asking to Do Something and Then Quitting

When I was a kid, I asked to do all sorts of things and they let me. Stupidly, the adults in my life decided that I could go to dance class and T-ball. I could join 4-H and Brownies. I would be more than happy to have added piano lessons and gymnastics if they had let me. However, they finally caught on. Kids usually want to do things and then they QUIT. Why do they quit? Because their parents let them. When the activity just got too hard, I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. My parents allowed me to quit. I will never make Peyton do something she doesn’t want to do – but if she begs me to join dance class or karate or any other assortments of classes, she will stick it out. At least for the year or two it would take to not be ‘playing around’.

Disrespecting Elder Family and Friends

When grown-ups are talking, you don’t interrupt. You don’t tell an adult to shut up. You don’t tell an adult no. (within reason) Basically, I will teach my daughter that you wait your turn to speak and there is a time and a place for you to express your opinions and beliefs. I don’t like to think that I am the kind of mother who will tell her that Children should be Seen and not Heard, that is not true. However, I will never be cursed at, hit, bit, spit at, smacked, punched, yelled at, or any other form of disrespect. I don’t care if you say “Yes, ma’am or No, ma’am” but the Please and Thank You will be there and Excuse me and I’m Sorry will be a staple in her vocabulary from early on.

Getting Everything She Wants, Including the Golden Goose

Peyton will never be Veruca Salt. Never. I will not allow her to be. She will always have everything she needs. A roof over her head, warm bed to sleep in, clothes on her back and food in her belly. She will always been loved unconditionally and respected as a human being with rights and opinions and unique thoughts and personality. I’m not being unrealistic here, and frankly, I have a bit of retail therapy problem, so Peyton and I already go shopping pretty regularly. However, when Mommy says no, it means no. There will be no tantrums and crying and whining. I won’t say she will never experience this, but she will only experience it handful of times before she realizes that Mommy means business.
Mediocre Grades in School

I was an A student growing up. It didn’t take much for me to learn things quickly and apply it in my daily life. I was a model student. I understand that I don’t know yet if Peyton will be that way. I also acknowledge that she is not me, she is her own unique little person. However, I will not accept mediocre grades. We will always work towards helping her achieve standards that are acceptable. That would be A and B grades for me. I don’t buy into the “Its a Passing Grade” nonsense. If she just can’t get it, we need to figure out why. We need to work with her teachers and get to the bottom of the problem. Instead of dwelling on the problem and fostering it, we can come up with a solution and make her reach the potential that I know she is capable of. I wish more parents would empower their kids to do better, instead of settling for mediocre.
Dressing Like The Latest Popstar

If you are wearing more skin than you are clothes, they are too small and not appropriate. Our daughter will not be wearing anything that Madonna, Britney Spears, or Lady GaGa wears right now. No skinny jeans, no skimpy tops, and no hooker boots. I wore all that stuff when I was young, but you know what … we will not do what Mommy did. We will learn from her mistakes. Frankly, girls these days feel like they have to show themselves off by wearing as little clothing as possible. Leaving more to the imagination, makes you more desirable. I learned that the hard way growing up. I would rather Peyton not learn that lesson like I did. Not to mention that if you think you have to wear revealing clothes to get attention, your self esteem is not that high. We should be giving our daughters something else to value besides looks. How about intelligence and wit, sense of humor, and kindness?
Mommy Taking Her Side Over Teachers

I see this a lot in school age kids and I am not a teacher. I saw it growing up and my own parents are actually culprits of this as well. The kid is consistently in trouble at school, but its the teacher’s fault. They don’t bring home their books, but its the teacher’s fault. They didn’t pass a test, but its the teacher’s fault. The teacher doesn’t like me. The teacher didn’t cover it. The teacher is mean. The teacher doesn’t care. Blah, blah, blah.Kids will tell you what they think you want to hear. If you are naive enough to believe them before going to the teacher and asking questions (not acting a fool) then I pity the teacher that cares for your child during the day.
Her Mommies Fighting In Front Of Her

Kim and I have been known to have some epic arguments. We have, in the past, had some rocky roads. Recently, in the last few years, we have mellowed out. There was never physical violence – just usually screaming matches. My parents would throw things at each other and otherwise scream and cuss at each other. I remember hiding under the beds with my siblings, covering their heads with pillows to muffle the sounds. I understand that parents fight. I understand that arguments are inevitable. Fighting in front of your kids, its not acceptable and I refuse to subject my daughter to the trauma.
Closed Mind to Opinions, Hopes, Dreams, Creativity, and Wishes

I truly believe that Peyton can be anything she wants to be. I want to nurture her belief in imagination and play. I want to foster her hopes and wishes. I also want her to be able to tell me the truth. I want her to be able to come to me and talk openly with me about anything. I am not necessarily saying I want to be her friend, there is a way that you communicate honestly with your mother that is different than your friends. However, I hope that she will learn early on that no matter what she thinks and feels, she will always be able to express herself and be loved unconditionally for her differences and similarities.
There are still things that we may not agree on yet, Kim and I. Examples would be things like public school and homeschooling, whether or not our 7 year old needs a lighter to light her own fireworks, and crying it out methods. All of these things can be worked out in due time. We have really learned from each other and learned to compromise. These 10 things, I believe, we agree on and I strongly believe are just to build our daughter’s character and make her a stronger and more independent girl as she grows up!
Take Care,