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A Bizymoms' Exclusive Interview with Dale McGowan

1. Children have this insatiable curiosity about things, how can parents address this?

By making wondering and questioning a pleasurable thing in and of itself. Parents often feel the need to constantly correct and instruct. It's far better to allow children to run with wild (and even incorrect) hypotheses about the world than to blunt their desire to explore by constant correction.

2. New parents, try to handle everything by themselves, how can grandparents assist in this?

Begin by offering practical assistance rather than advice. Change a diaper, babysit, etc. As you build a cooperative grandparenting relationship in this way, the window will open for you to offer advice.

3. How can parents acquaint kids with various ills in society?

Through a thousand small, casual conversations spread across eighteen years. This approach is far more effective than long, formal, sit-down lectures. Notice and react to the world around you, one bite at a time.

4. How important is spirituality for kids?

This depends on the meaning of the word "spirituality." The best, broadest definition of spirituality is the desire for the transcendent—an effort to transcend our everyday life in order to experience the profound implications of being alive and human in the midst of an astonishing universe. Defined this way, spirituality is an enormous part of being fully human. It is what makes our lives meaningful, and it can be attained with or without religion.

5. What were your reasons for writing a book that is targeted towards secularist parents?

The simple need for such a thing. Religion has much to offer parents: an established community, a pre-defined set of values, a common lexicon and symbology, rites of passage, a means of engendering wonder, comforting answers to the big questions, and consoling explanations to ease experiences of hardship and loss. Nonreligious parents have most of the same needs and desires but no established framework for achieving them. This book is the first to offer guidance for those parents—over 8 million in the U.S. alone.

6. How have your religious beliefs impacted on this book?

A secular humanist believes that since there is no one else to do so, we are all responsible for taking care of each other. The book is one way I try to help and care for other people.

7. How do you explain other faiths to your children?

I wouldn't say I really "explain" other faiths. I expose my kids to as broad and deep an array of beliefs as possible so they can genuinely choose their own path. They know my opinions and seek out the opinions of others who believe differently.

8. What did you look for in the contributing writers for your book?

I wanted a wide variety of styles and points of view, but a consistently high quality of thought and ability to communicate.

9. We live in a world that is multi-faceted, how can parents encourage kids to believe in themselves and think on their feet?

By both permitting and encouraging it from the beginning—and by letting them make mistakes.

10. What are your future plans?

I'll continue working as a parent educator and continue helping my own kids grow into ethical, caring, fun-loving, curious, and confident adults.

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