Another message board exchange I'd like to share with you.
This is a subject I'm going to have to face myself within the next few years. My wife and I have a son and he'll be turning five November 27. Most of us here agree god is a myth. Atheism however is not a very popular position to take, especially when it comes to child rearing. Now I don't want my son growing up any differently than anybody else, and that includes religion. Earlier this year, he was attending a church sponsered school two days a week and he loved it. He's an only child, so naturally he loved being around other kids his age. For those of you with kids, exactly how did you handle this? If you don't have kids, feel free to put in your 2 cents worth.
Oh, man. That's like pretending your kids aren't adopted, and then springing it on them when they're 16. Don't. Do. It.
Your kids are not "normal." There's nothing you can do to change that. Pretending they are is worse. Your kids have an atheist father. They are right now on the default position: i.e. they are natural atheists. Many kids are bombarded with images of Jesus from birth. I was born with a crucifix--dead jesus--above the crib.
Treat bible stories like you would any other stories. Parents who are thoughtful read their kids Grimm tales when they think they are ready to hear them. Those stories were meant to be more than just fairy tales. They are meant to teach lessons--and sometimes those lessons might not be lessons we want them to learn. So whatever do we do? We discuss. We don't dictate. We discuss, no matter how young. We tell them what we think about things. There's nothing you can do about your kids thinking you are a kind of god right now, but they're going to know when they are teenagers, that you're not. Guaranteed.
The very best possible thing to do is to be honest, talk, talk and talk. Create an environment where talking to you is a good experience. Praise independence and curiosity. Never ban books. Take them to the library once a week. Take them to a protestant church. Take them to a catholic church. Take them to a jewish service. Go to a unitarian church. Go eat the lime jell-o. Learn about Buddhism. Read mythology of all kinds. Buy a telescope and find some kids' websites about space. Talk about philosophy. Realize that a moral compass does not and never really comes from a church. It comes from you, and it comes from reality.
If they have a good education, a reason to want to be curious, an appetite for knowledge - what's to worry about? Well, everything. Always. But that would make you, well, "normal."