So here I am, a born and raised atheist. I find it kind of unfair that we have to base the word "atheist" on the word "theist" to begin with, especially since everyone is born an atheist - we're just often inculcated with a belief in some god or other along the way (that's paraphrasing someone, I can't remember who though).
I don't know if my parents ever outright told me "God does not exist", but I don't think they ever had to. My dad was all about science in various realms - cosmology, astronomy, molecular atomic stuff, etc. Over the years as I grew up, we had many conversations in which he explained the scientific improbability of a Christian god in this universe, and numerous arguments showing the various inconsistencies in the very definition of god (ex: Can god create a rock so heavy that "he" can't lift it? If he can, he's not all powerful because he couldn't lift it; if he can't, he's not all powerful because that's something he wouldn't be able to create). Whenever I'd ask the big kid questions of where did we come from, where'd our universe come from, what happens when you die, etc., I always got the scientific explanations - and they fascinated me! The Big Bang, galaxies, billions of years, evolution... fun stuff. And death was always neat to talk about. I'd ask what it was like to die, and Dad always said I wouldn't feel or think anything after I died; I just wouldn't be. Now I understand it to be something like regressing back in my mind and memories to when I was born, when I didn't know or feel or think anything. And I usually only fear the pain before hand, and the inability to do do stuff afterward. Anyway, I digress...
In the realm of ethics, I was never given any dogmatic "that's just the way things are" or "she/he/I said so" explanation. They always gave me a reason to do or not do something. It was usually a Golden-Rule type explanation (ought to be called the "Social Rule"), but they never gave it a name. If I stole something, they'd just be like, "Well how would you like it someone stole from you? You wouldn't would you? So why would you do that?" I'd never have a good response, and usually felt guilty afterward, which often did the trick to keep me from doing it again. Same story if I was outside and squashed a bug for no reason - "How would you like to get squashed when you're just walking around minding your own business?"
My parents never kept me from going to church with friends when I was invited to (and I was invited a lot). I just thought it was a thing for friends to do, and most of the time the stuff that was said in the churches never made sense to me. They kept using words in various contexts I didn't understand "our lord, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Earth, Kingdom come." I just kind of sat through it confused until I could get out and talk with my friends again. I'd usually talk about it with my parents afterward, and we'd sometimes have discussions about it. Both parents would explain to me that my friends were probably trying to convert me, which is what they think they ought to do, according to their religion. It took a few years before I understood that completely. And when I was old enough to start trying to defend my atheism, some of my friendships were queered. I'd often talk about these situations with my parents, and they would offer consolation and tell me that it's possible to have friends with different beliefs than my own, but sometimes it doesn't work out.
My parents were never able to keep me from being exposed to religious hoowah completely, especially with our location (western Kentucky for the first 7 years, and back and forth between there and western Virginia for 11 after that). But they always talked with me about the various things I'd hear in school and elsewhere about religion, asking me what I thought about it. I think I did tell them once that it would be nice consolation to think that there was someone out there who always loved you and would never turn you away. I think they agreed with me - that it would be nice. But then they asked how I would be able to feel that love and acceptance. How would I know I was always loved and never turned away if god could never hug me or console me? If I could never feel him or see him or talk with him? Would it be worth believing in something that seems so untrue just to comfort myself, instead of facing the world as it is with all its imperfections, and learning to find comfort within it; comfort that I can feel?
I can see an argument coming from the other side about people who are starving, people who have lost their entire family in some tragic accident, people who would have much more difficulty finding comfort in the real world than in a fictitious world in their minds. And I would say that those people in need have all the right in the world to find comfort wherever they can damn well find it. But that seems to be proof that such comfort says nothing about the world, and everything about our psychology. I digress again...
Well that's all I can think to talk about for the moment. I welcome questions or criticisms from all who read this; I've never had an opportunity to talk about this stuff with strangers before, and I don't know exactly what you all might want to know. I am certainly eager for feedback though.