Humanist Values in Parenting

Sure, God isn’t watching us—but our children certainly are!

We believe that the best foundation for respecting others is respect for oneself. Once the girls value themselves, it’s easier to teach them to respect their possessions, family, friends, and the world around them. We want our daughters to have compassion, courage, and creativity, but to do that the girls need to develop a fourth C—confidence.

The Ancient Greeks taught that pride was a virtue; indeed, Aristotle said it was the crown of all the virtues. Yet many religions treat pride as a sin—especially for women and girls—and this attitude has seeped deep into our everyday culture. Maybe that’s why educators and parenting books use long-winded synonyms for pride, such as “self-confidence” and “self-esteem.” Pride may be the virtue that dare not speak its name, but all the children’s experts agree that “self-esteem” has been grievously neglected in our society.

Raising confident girls means encouraging them to explore their potential. Fulfilling their potential will take ambition, hard work, and deferred gratification; it requires self-discipline. We expect confident children to enjoy their accomplishments: They will have earned it. This kind of justified pride is very different from hubris or arrogance, with its overconfidence and disrespect for others.

The recipe for instilling self-confidence is well known. Every day we give our girls opportunities for success and then praise them when they achieve it—though it’s important to respond with genuine appreciation, rather than just rote flattery. When they struggle, we help them face their challenges. When they fail, we help them cope with their defeats and learn from them.

In reading about how to raise children with strong self-esteem, we’ve noticed that humanist values are emphasized again and again. For example, teaching children to critically examine their options and giving them the freedom and responsibility to act on their choices are among the best ways to build self-esteem.


Critical-Thinking skills, instilling self-confidence, praise, and encouraging potential.

Folksonomies: parenting atheism

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Virtue (0.986256): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Positive psychology (0.661614): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Respect (0.519979): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Self-confidence (0.394103): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Confidence (0.378592): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Motivation (0.295672): dbpedia | freebase

 Double Vision: Teaching Our Twins Pride and Respect
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Cherry, Shannon and Cherry, Matthew (2007), Double Vision: Teaching Our Twins Pride and Respect, Retrieved on 2012-03-28
Folksonomies: atheism