Hi! I'm JJ (aka Mama JJ). I'm a secular parent, an atheist and a feminist. I'm fiercely pro-choice and about as far left as you can get on the Liberal to Conservative scale. If you hang out with me you'll get thoughts on all of these subjects and occasionally excerpts from conversations with my 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. I tag all of the conversations with "heard today" (links up above) and all the parenting stuff gets tagged with "Secular Parenting." My URL comes from the phrase "Teach children how to think, not what to think" which is my parenting philosophy in a nutshell. If you have a question, my inbox is always open and anon is usually on. Welcome!





I bought my friend an elephant for their room.

They said “Thank you.”

I said “Don’t mention it.”

Is there a joke here that 15 thousand people get but I don’t?


We don’t talk about it.

My 9-year-old son:  Do you think I could sleep in [my sister’s] room tonight?

Me:  Did the Doctor Who episode we just watched freak you out?

Him:  NO.

Me:  …….

Him:  Well…. maybe a little.

Me:  So you want your four-year-old sister to protect you?

My daughter:  I will protect you, [brother]!  Don’t worry.  Monsters aren’t real.  *squeezes him around the legs in a protective hug because she only comes up to his hip*


A friend of a friend on fb just posted one of the creepiest, chill-inducing pictures I’ve ever seen - an image of her younger daughter’s bedroom window with a large adult hand print high on the outside pane of glass.

I don’t even know this person and I’m freaking out.  YOU FOUND A HAND PRINT ON THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR DAUGHTER’S WINDOW.  If no one in your family has touched the window lately, this is horrifying.

But.  BUT!  The picture already has 20 likes and every single comment is a variation of “Oh how awesome!  It must be [person who recently died] coming to check on the family!’

Every. Single. One. of the 15 or so comments is EXCITED ABOUT THIS because, obviously, the hand print is from a fucking FRIENDLY GHOST.


Could you tell us your "love story", however long or short you'd feel comfortable sharing?
teachthemhowtothink teachthemhowtothink Said:

Ha!  Well the “love” part of it is pretty boring (acquaintances to good friends to best friends to lovers to love), but the “how we met” story is a little entertaining.

The first time we saw each other was in community laundry room in a massive apartment complex we both called home.  I had dropped a pile of cds and books on the table that all the residents used as a “Free! Take this!” spot, and then transferred a few loads of clothes from the washers to the dryers.  He was off in the corner folding a pile of laundry.  I smiled and said hi, then headed off toward the elevators to go back to my apartment.

"Wait!" I turned around and he was standing there, arms full of all the junk I had just gotten rid of. "You forgot your stuff."

I laughed and said, “Yeah… I meant to.  That’s the free table.  I was hoping someone would take it.  It’s all yours, if you want old crappy cds and bad books.”

He looked incredibly embarrassed, mumbled “Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m new here” or something like that, and then went back to the laundry room.

I didn’t meet him again until a few weeks later.

HE went directly to his friend’s apartment to tell him how he had just met the girl of his dreams.  In hindsight, his first impression of me during our 30 second exchange was actually quite accurate.  He only missed one pretty major thing.

He and his buddy searched for The Girl off and on for the next two weeks with no luck.  They hung out in the lobby and rotated their time between the two laundry rooms.  They met lots of the sweet old ladies that lived in the complex, but did not run into The Girl.

Finally, his buddy invited him to dinner along with a few of the other couples that managed the apartments.  He was playing ping pong with one of the guys he had just met when The Girl walked in.  He stopped.  He stared.  His buddy introduced us.  ”This is JJ.  This is her husband, [name].  And this,” he pointed at my 8-month-along belly, “is their future spawn.”


I only learned about his side of the story two years after it happened and he swears he had no idea I was pregnant the first time he saw me.  We became friends, he dated a friend of mine for awhile, I moved away about 6 months after my son was born, and my marriage eventually failed a few months after that.  Our friendship lasted through it all and he offered to help out with childcare while I adjusted to life as a single parent.  You know the rest.  :-)

It’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them and they know it and they love you and you know it but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes. But not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual, but because that is your person in this life and it’s funny and sad but only because this life will end and it’s this secret world that exists right there. In public. Unnoticed. That no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.

Frances Ha (via notebookings)

I met my person almost 10 years ago and married him 6 years ago today.  Happy Anniversary to the man who sometimes drive me crazy, but never makes me bored.  Love you!  ~JJ

(via jkeith757)

To anon: you didn’t sound bitchy at all!  Thank you, very much, for taking the time to clarify and educate.  Wish I could respond to you privately!  :-)  

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hey, JJ. On that post about fertility awareness, you talked about "heterosexual" sex causing pregnancy. A better term would be "penis in vagina sex" (PIV), because... well, if I had "heterosexual" sex with my boyfriend (even though we're actually both bisexual), neither of us would end up pregnant ever: two uteruses, yo. Help us trans people out, please?
teachthemhowtothink teachthemhowtothink Said:

Hmm.  I’ve gotten a couple of messages like this in the past few weeks and I haven’t responded because… well… I’m not really sure how to respond.

First, I never use the PIV term because I know several followers find it triggering.  So while I do appreciate the suggestion, I can’t use it.  EDITED TO ADD: Was notified that tagging for PIV terminology would probably be sufficient for most people - if this is not the case, please let me know.

Second, I guess if you already know the “heterosexual” sex (I used the quotes because you did) you are engaging in will not cause a pregnancy, you know you can disregard the post since it is not speaking to your situation.  The same would go for someone who is past menopause, a woman or man (trans or not) who is not fertile, partners with the same reproductive parts, someone on birth control and/or someone who is already pregnant.

I suppose I could add an asterisk to the original post and copy in that last paragraph, but honestly that seems really bizarre and unnecessary.  I assume most people can figure that out on their own?  Maybe not?  Maybe an asterisks is always required?

I just re-read this answer and it sounds kinda bitchy, but I mean it sincerely.  It’s a real question for you or anyone else that would like to respond.  Should a *not all men or a *not all woman asterisk be tacked onto the end of every post discussing reproduction, relationships, sex, gender, etc.? 

What say you, tumblr?

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hey JJ, you practised attachment parenting right? I'm trying to explain the whole concept to people and need some help. Do you have any advice? What made you practice it and what benefits do you see from having practised it? Do you know of any scientific evidence for its benefits that I could show people? Thank you!
teachthemhowtothink teachthemhowtothink Said:

I do!

You can find tons of info on attachment parenting on the Dr. Sears website (here), but the absolute best article on attachment parenting I’ve seen is this one: Attachment vs Attachment Parenting.  It reflects almost all my thoughts on the subject perfectly.  

I learned I was “attachment parenting” after I had been doing it just naturally for over a year with my son.  At its core, it’s simply responding to your child’s needs.  I fed him when he was hungry, responded to every cry because I understood that was his only way of communicating, kept him close to me even at night, and learned his cues through careful observation.  

The goal of attachment parenting and how I’ve seen it work with my kids is having the parent be a source of unconditional and constant support, meeting those core needs of nourishment, comfort, love and safety.  Having this base then frees the child to explore and experiment and thrive in whatever they venture out to do.  As they get older, it’s a constant “I’ve got your back” attitude.

The benefits?  I’m going to copy a section of the Dr. Sears page on benefits (here) because they’ve been completely accurate in my experience:

Parents and baby experience:

mutual sensitivity

mutual giving

mutual shaping of behavior

mutual trust

feelings of connectedness

more flexibility

more lively interactions

bringing out the best in each other

Hope all that helps!   ~JJ

A belief in an afterlife has the unavoidable effect of making this life less unique and precious.
John Bice (via facesofatheists)

I saw that damn post again last night, thought I saved it in drafts to respond, but I seem to have lost it again.  GRRRRR.  If someone sees it, let me know?


*Heads up for an off-normal-blog-topics post*

I saw someone reblog an image a few days ago that had text saying something like “Women - You’re only fertile for about 12 hours every month.”  It had a lot of notes and now I can’t find it anywhere.


First, the text is totally and completely wrong.  Let’s just get that out of the way, k?

Second, unless you have a specific fertility issue, penis in vagina (PIV) sex can result in pregnancy 7-10 days every month.  Here’s how it works:

If you have a 28 day cycle (period begins on day 1), you will release an egg around day 14.  Sperm can live inside your body for up to five days.  So if you had sex on day 9, you can still get pregnant on day 14 when the egg releases.  Also, it takes 24-60 hours for the egg(s) to traverse the fallopian tubes and uterus; if you have unprotected sex during this time (days 14-18) your odds of becoming pregnant are good.

Are you following so far?  On a typical 28 day cycle, sex on days 9 - 18 = potentially pregnant.  This is 10 days, not 12 hours.

Now, I’m not writing all this so you can use it for birth control.  You can certainly use the “Fertility Awareness Method” to prevent pregnancy, but there is way more to it and it requires tracking your temperature, your cervix position and your vaginal fluids EVERY SINGLE DAY (As an example, do you have a 28 day cycle or is 27? 31?  Is it always 28 days or does it vary month by month?  Was your last period an actual period or a miscarriage?  Do you ovulate every month?  Do you ovulate on day 14? Or 10? Or 17?  Are you sure?), plus it does absolutely nothing to prevent STDs and STIs. 

The other awesome/not so awesome thing is that your body will naturally produce a bunch of vaginal fluids around the time you are fertile (“Oh!  I’m so wet!  I must be horny!  Let’s do the sex!”)  Your body will also start pumping out a bunch of those fantastic “I love you” “I want you” “I need you” hormones that make you want to reproduce.  Around day 14 your body is telling you in all sorts of ways “LET’S DO THE SEX!”  And stupid memes on tumblr are telling you “go for it!  You’re only fertile for 12 hours - you should totally risk it!”

Unless you want to become pregnant, do not do the sex.

TL;DR - If you are having PIV sex and you do not want to become pregnant, you need to use some type of birth control at all times.


To a scientific rationalist, there is no distinction between believing in leprechauns, alien abductions, ESP, reincarnation, or the existence of a God — each equally lacks objective evidence…Separating out the latter two beliefs and labeling them as religion — thereby exempting them from critical analysis — is intellectually dishonest… [Indeed] the most widespread and sacredly guarded superstitions [are] the most important ones to oppose, for they have the greatest influence and can therefore do the most harm.
David Bloomberg (via facesofatheists)

The very last sentence… I feel that so hard.

To all the lovely people who have sent messages and questions and answers to my own questions the past few days - thank you! I will try to respond to all the questions tomorrow (they’ll be tagged ‘jj answers’), and I apologize for the long wait!

Originally found on the Grief Beyond Belief fb page.