Finding Our Voiceand Each Other

When I first approached agents and publishers with the idea of a book on non-religious parenting in 2003, I was confidently informed that no real audience existed for such a book. There was a book titled How to Be a Jewish Parent, serving the 2.5 percent of the U.S. population that is Jewish; another titled Effective Islamic Parenting for the 1 percent that is Islamic; and even one called Raising Witches: Teaching the Wiccan Faith to Children for that 0.004 percent slice of the U.S. pie. But the 14.1 percent of the U.S. population that identify as nonreligious was still relatively invisible just a few years ago.

That changed in October 2005 when Sam Harris's The End of Faith hit number 4 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Six months later, there was little difficulty in finding a publisher for Parenting Beyond Belief. The book has found a large and receptive audience of parents, often grateful and surprised to find that they were not alone after all.

I've heard it claimed that we're in the midst of a "secular parenting renaissance." Dozens of new nonreligious parenting resources have come into being since the release of PBB in April 2007, including discussion forums, blogs, and local nonreligious parenting groups in cities including New York, Washington, DC, Raleigh, Portland (OR), Palo Alto (CA), Austin, Albuquerque, and Colorado Springs.

But "renaissance" isn't quite right. A renaissance is a rebirth—and non-religious parenting is not born again by either definition. It's the birth of a nonreligious parenting movement we are witnessing. It's not that nonreligious parenting is new, of course, but it's only now that we are finding each other, forming a movement and a community, learning that we've been living all along in neighborhoods and cities filled with parents who are grappling with precisely the same questions we are. Even better, we're finding a consensus on how best to answer those questions.

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