1. expatriarchy says

    Lurker here; I learn a lot from all of you, thank you.

    I have found this to be the hardest thing to do as an atheist parent. When they were young, there was the natural inner conflict between having a tidy existence and children’s exuberance, and the second won of course. The harder task is to convey some sense of necessary acquiescence to authority, while at the same time teaching my children about the scourge of authoritarianism. It gets a bit easier as my children approach high school. But imagine a teenager questioning everything you say because he knows how to think critically, on top of being a teenager! My reasons have to be valid all the time. I don’t get to rely on religion or because I say so.

  2. Sunday Afternoon says

    That was lovely.

    I presume placing this directly after the Dawkins article was no accident?

  3. Anthony K says

    I can’t watch the video. I get to the point where he reads off her shirt and she puffs up and turns back and forth, so proud of her shirt, and I start crying.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    OK, I read this article and comments right after the comments on the article about the Smith kids.

    So our collective opinion is that kids are wonderful and adorable and totally quote-worthy when they’re six, but then after a couple of years when they hit thirteen nobody has any interest in what they have to say any more, and nobody should ask them their opinion again until they’re thirty and have at least two best-sellers or a hit movie.

    Oooookay. Not sure I can go along with that. I think I’ll go back to the default idea of “people should be given a public forum if other people are interested in hearing what they have to say.”

  5. magistramarla says

    I taught high school kids, and I love teens. Many people tell me that I was crazy to prefer them, and even many of my colleagues felt the same way. There were many teachers there who were quite authoritarian and had absolutely no interest in hearing the opinions of their students.
    I found that listening to their opinions was lots of fun. Teens can be much wiser than we give them credit for.

  6. says

    I have to admit, with 76 years behind me, I still enjoy “experiments” like those mentioned. When one loses one’s imagination and one’s curiosity–even about those little things (what does it sound like when I bang on a Tupperware dish with a wooden spoon?)–one gives up on some of the most joyous experiences in life. I wish there could be a 6-year-old within every one of us.

  7. Doug Hudson says


    The criticism of the Smith kids is not because they were teenagers, it was because they said incredibly stupid things. If they had said interesting, intelligent things about science, PZ probably would have praised them. He’s done it before–I recall him speaking warmly of a letter from an atheist teen. And of course his own kids, when they were teenagers.

    Age (or skin color) had nothing to do with that post, it was because they were babbling about “prana” and “cosmic forces”. Anyone who talks like that needs to be corrected whenever possible.

  8. says


    I have to second the idea that the Smith kids were criticized (by myself included) not particularly because of what they said, but I think because of the fact that they ought to have been educated sufficiently by that age to KNOW what a pulse is, and how humans breathe, if only at an elementary level.

    I think that my criticism could have been better worded to show that this is a failure of their parents more than the kids themselves.

    If they’d been attending even the most poor public school, they would have already covered this stuff in science or heath class by their ages. The things they said showed that their parents haven’t been properly tending to the kids’ education, despite their vast wealth. And that’s really sad.