A framework for humanist parenting

How do I help my child develop an ethical set of values without necessarily referencing religious texts?

About me

This was the problem I faced as my kids got older. My eldest, David, starting asking about god when he was 4, so I had to quickly get organised and work some out some sort of response that was honest and provide him with a framework for his values, ethics and morality to hang off. I believe my parents did their best and did the same with me. The issue was that I rejected their framework at the age of 8 and because it as a very narrow framework, Biblical, it meant that I wasn’t able to deal well with this ‘rudderless’ phase of my life and as a result quickly slipped into a double life, where I tried to be a ‘good christian’ in public when trying to impress my mother while in private working out what was right and wrong and doing it very poorly. So, in that blink of an eye, I knew I didn’t want to repeat that for my David and his sisters.

This framework of The Nine Circles comes from that moment. I wanted something that was broad, an inclusive framework based on humanist values. Should he be an atheist, like me, then fine. Should he become religious, then this framework is compatible with that too. Either way, whether he was or without faith, I wanted him to have a strong sense of humanity.


The Nine Circles is based on the three groups of elements that make up a balanced life. Each of these three Groups (Being, Relationships and Environment) has three elements, or Circles, hence the nine in The Nine Circles. With regular focus on each of the Nine Circles, children (and adults) can develop the thinking that promotes good living for them, those around them and their environment. Please take the time to understand it.

I hope this makes sense and please feel free to adopt, adapt and enhance it to suit your situation and your understanding. It’s working a treat and I’ll share case studies with you as we go. It took me until I was about 26 years old before I felt I was a good man living a good life. I could have done it earlier with better guidance. I hope your children won’t take as long as I did.

Click here to read my ‘rant’ with more detail about the background of The Nine Circles – warning, only proceed if you are not easily offended

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