Weekend Reads: How Secular Values Stand Up, Anxious Kids, and The White House vs After-school Programs

Happy Weekend Readers! Hope everyone is surviving the frenetic weather that Smarch has delivered. I’m sure this has nothing to do with global climate change…

How do children raised in non-religious households fare compared to their religious peers? In other words, do Secular Family Values stand the test of time? The answer, unsurprisingly is “quite well thank you.” 

For secular people, morality is predicated on one simple principle: empathetic reciprocity, widely known as the Golden Rule. Treating other people as you would like to be treated. It is an ancient, universal ethical imperative. And it requires no supernatural beliefs. As one atheist mom who wanted to be identified only as Debbie told me: “The way we teach them what is right and what is wrong is by trying to instill a sense of empathy … how other people feel. You know, just trying to give them that sense of what it’s like to be on the other end of their actions. And I don’t see any need for God in that. …

“If your morality is all tied in with God,” she continued, “what if you at some point start to question the existence of God? Does that mean your moral sense suddenly crumbles? The way we are teaching our children … no matter what they choose to believe later in life, even if they become religious or whatever, they are still going to have that system.”

The video of the discussion between Patt Morrison and Phil Zuckerman, author of “Living the Secular Life.” is pretty cool as well. 

“Yup, I have my own kid now. And yup, I still think spanking is a terrible and cruel form of discipline,” writes VSB editor in chief Damon Young. 

Jennifer Harvey at The New York Times asks, “Are We Raising Racists?” 

Of the many dangers this presidency poses, one of the greatest is deep damage to our children’s perceptions of race, gender and other kinds of difference. We know the youngest children internalize racist perceptions of themselves and others. As early as age 5, children recognize differential treatment and understand something about the social status of different racial groups, their own group and others.

These effects are powerful in normal times. In this political climate, they’re on steroids.

Fantasy Baseball buddy of mine, SAHD and blogger at Home Field Dad Ryan Darcy has a guest post up at Insta-Father all about What Every New Stay at Home Dad Needs to Know.

Romper has a great list (of course) of Advice Every Mom With an Anxious Kid Dreads Hearing. 

When it comes to education, we need Death Education as much as we need Sex Education. 

Not enough places to put LEGO Bricks in your home? Try LEGO Tape! 

I’ve been recommended a PBS Documentary “9 Months That Made You”, which is on Netflix this month. It’s about makin BBs!!!

Ryan Reynolds’ Twitter Feed is cruel Dad Joke heaven…

Finally, The White House’s Office of Management and Budget Director  and Irish Gangster period piece character Mick Mulvaney had some stupendously wrong shit to say about the efficacy of after school programs…

“They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? That’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home, get fed so that they do better at school,” Mulvaney said Thursday. “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better at school.”

The facts are not on The Mick’s side however… 

But a U.S. Department of Education report on the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, concluded that student participation in Community Learning Centers led to improvements in achievement and behavior. Half of students improved their homework completion and in-class participation. More than a third of participants also improved their grades in math and English, according to the report.

And when it comes to after-school nutrition programs, research has shown the academic benefits of alleviating hunger among students.

“Hunger due to insufficient food intake is associated with lower grades, higher rates of absenteeism, repeating a grade, and an inability to focus among students,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report on health and academic achievement, which also noted that inadequate consumption of certain foods and nutrients has been associated with similar results.


Featured Image Credit: The Simpsons

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at

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