Freethinking Parents

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Date(s) - 01/19/2014
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm


When we were first time parents, my husband and I thought long and hard about the ‘default’ choices society had at the time.  We made a number of unconventional decisions that are much more popular today than they were then.  We decided, for example, to have my husband, Mark, be the stay-at-home parent.  We decided we would homeschool our children.  We decided not to spank.  And as an atheist/agnostic match, we did not seek a church out to assist with the moral education of our children.

One unfortunate result of our making those choices was a significant bit of social isolation.  For example, my husband Mark found himself excluded from the gatherings of the neighborhood mothers and often ostracized during afternoons at the park.  While this was easily due to his unconventional appearance (long hair, beard, earring) and simply being male in that environment, it was not always easy.

Myself, busy with my work and my new baby, had precious little room in my life for adult friendships and most of mine withered away over the years.  Then, when I found myself in a time of emotional distress triggered by crises at home, I needed a larger community to turn to and lean on.  I found it at the University Congregational Church.  With some of the same rituals and songs of my childhood church, I found it an emotionally comforting place to be at that time in my life.

But this group isn’t about the UCC.  It’s about building a community for freethinking parents to provide that sort of resource.  The UCC may be hosting this, but there is no further involvement on their part, other than through me.  Because I am a member of the church and this is a supported outreach activity, they are not charging us for the use of their facilities. The organization will become whatever we members choose to make it.  My motivation is to build a community for my children and grandchildren when they need it.  Since they did not grow up attending church weekly, they are unlikely to find the same spiritual comfort I do in the rituals and music.

My husband Mark and my son Joe have been drafted to supervise older children in the basement, which is set up for many different children’s activities.  I will set up a play area for toddlers in fellowship hall with the adults. My daughter Pam and granddaughter Addy will be there with me to welcome our new friends in building a freethinking community.

Beth Clarkson