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Differing values in houses - WWYD?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
And it has begun... I knew we would be facing some challenges with DSD going to Catholic school this year, and her Mom started sending her to church every Sunday with her Mom...

She enrolled DSD in school without really consulting DH and DH decided to let it go this year as time was running too short to get DSD enrolled in a school. But he wants to fight to have her in a public school next year...

Basically we do not follow the Catholic religion, and actually neither does DSD's Mom, but it was the cheapest private schoool option so that is why DSD's Mom chose it.

This weekend DSD told me how she was told that only girls can marry boys.

:

I am a big supporter of gay rights and gay marriage. I have many close friends who are gay. Our neighbors are a very nice lesbian couple who have been together almost as long as my parents.

I didn't know how to respond... because I'm the step parent and have no rights to talk about something like this.

DH supports me but won't say anything to ex about this... he is afraid if he says too many things about how she handles her house, she will want to control our house... but shouldn't he be trying to come to some kind of an agreement about big issues like this?

It's things like this that really really make me hate being a step parent. This is a major core belief of mine, and I will not tolerate DSD talking about hell and hate in my house... But I'm a step parent, so have no real right to try to teach her a different way...

WWYD?
post #2 of 27
You dsd could have came up with only boys and girls can marry on her own with out going to a catholic school. I would have your dh talk to her.

Or

I would ask "why do you think that?" then say "I think this."
post #3 of 27
The Catholic church takes a lot of effort to indoctinate the kids while they are young. It doesn't mean that your dsd will not grow up to have more liberal beliefs. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 13 years. I also believe that every person should be able to marry someone they love no matter their gender.

I agree with the pp who said a simple conversation with your dsd should occur when she makes large, sweeping statements like that. Nothing accusatory or anything but a conversation.

She is still very young and still learning what she believes and what she doesn't. I think even a 6yo should be able to learn to form their own opinions and that takes time, consideration and information. I can respect a person's belief's even if I don't necessarily agree with them, YK?
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
This weekend DSD told me how she was told that only girls can marry boys.

:

.... shouldn't he be trying to come to some kind of an agreement about big issues like this?
I think it's unrealistic to expect two parents, who after all divorced because of their differences, to agree on every little thing after divorce. Heck, plenty of married couples disagree between themselves about gay marriage.

My advice is to parent your SD while you have her, and don't worry about how her mom parents her unless it truly affects SD's health.
post #5 of 27
Well, I tend to think that as a human being I have a right to say what I think. So, in your case, I would ask her more questions and explain what you think and WHY. I would point out what wonderful people your neighbors are, why you think people should have rights, etc. I think you will have a whole period of time having to explain your opinions, especially if she's going through that kind of religious schooling.

My daughter's best friend is religious and generally more conservative than us. When she says things I disagree with I am respectful but say what I think in a very matter-of-fact way. Similarly, she'll say things about her weight and I'll say "you're too young to worry about your weight; you're beautiful" or whatever.

If I were your husband, though, I would really rebel on the Catholic School - that would make me mad to the extreme. That being said, growing up my dad was an atheist and my mom took me to church. (they were not divorced) I have no idea if they fought about it, but the basic stance was that my mom was allowed to take me but my dad certainly did not hide his atheism. When I became old enough to argue that I didn't want to go to church - because I didn't believe in it not because it was boring - then I was allowed to not attend. I thought that was a pretty good compromise. Catholic school is different to me not just because of the intensity of religious education but the authoritarian nature of Catholic school in general.
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
Well, I tend to think that as a human being I have a right to say what I think. So, in your case, I would ask her more questions and explain what you think and WHY. I would point out what wonderful people your neighbors are, why you think people should have rights, etc. I think you will have a whole period of time having to explain your opinions, especially if she's going through that kind of religious schooling.

My daughter's best friend is religious and generally more conservative than us. When she says things I disagree with I am respectful but say what I think in a very matter-of-fact way. Similarly, she'll say things about her weight and I'll say "you're too young to worry about your weight; you're beautiful" or whatever.

If I were your husband, though, I would really rebel on the Catholic School - that would make me mad to the extreme. That being said, growing up my dad was an atheist and my mom took me to church. (they were not divorced) I have no idea if they fought about it, but the basic stance was that my mom was allowed to take me but my dad certainly did not hide his atheism. When I became old enough to argue that I didn't want to go to church - because I didn't believe in it not because it was boring - then I was allowed to not attend. I thought that was a pretty good compromise. Catholic school is different to me not just because of the intensity of religious education but the authoritarian nature of Catholic school in general.
Thanks that makes sense. *nods*

And yeah... both DH and I have a lot of issues with the Catholic school mainly because they do not teach you to think, but you should take everything they say as truth out of fear... and of course the judgements that are taught. It will be a great fight next year I am sure.

He basically let it slide some this year too because it was one of the only all day kindergarten programs, and DSD has already been in all day preschool programs and has done really well, and her Mom didn't want to worry about finding even longer after school care... and this was the cheapest... but now she is talking about DSD going there until 8th grade and DH is dead set against this...


But thank you for your insight... I forsee years of different things coming up that go against the grain of what I will be teaching my DD, and I should be able to say something about it... respectfully of course. So I think if DSD mentions something again I will share my view.
post #7 of 27
Well...I am Catholic and my dd went to Catholic school when I could afford it and I wish I could afford to send her back (she also wishes she could go back in spite of the fact that she has dated girls). Public schools (as a general whole) have lots of problems with authoritarianism and can often be harder and less gentle than Catholic schools. People in a religion can disagree and I do disagree with many things and have no problem stating my disagreements. My dh is an atheist but has no problem with me expressing my views and sending the kids to schools I feel are best and I have no problem with him stating his views. Y'all will never agree on all of this.
post #8 of 27
I'm an athiest...I'll start there. I don't think you should fight to pull her out and put her in public school. It's an affordable private school. She's 5, so it's easier for her to compartmentalize marriage as boys marry girls. If she's told otherwise right now, it could be confusing to her anyway. You could have said "well, most of the time." and let that be that.

She's going to be making friends this year and if it's a k-8 school, she won't have to transfer to middle school during such a stressful age. It'll be really nice for her to just stay a kid in her k-8 school. I imagine that parents in this school are more involved as well. That makes for a nice school atmosphere, which is sooo important. Also, private schools might have more options for artistic things and not have the same arbitrary gov't rules as public schools, so when the public school is experimenting with not teaching kids basic grammar/sentence structure or those pesky algorithms(happening all over), you'll know that she's not subject to the gov't whims. Why don't you volunteer at the school or your husband. Don't hate it until you really look into it.

She'll see that you're not religious when she's older. She'll know that there are other options.
post #9 of 27
We have vastly different values between the two houses, and it makes for some interesting discussions. For example, we raise our children vegetarian, and my step-daughter's mom eats/serves meat at her house. When she was younger, we mostly stuck to "some people choose to eat meat and some people don't." But recently she read The Little House on the Prairie books, which talk about hunting, and she has really wanted to talk about meat-eating, hunting, and vegetarianism. We see her declarations (like "well, back then they actually had to eat meat") as part of her process in figuring out what she believes. We don't present one as right and the other as wrong, we talk about them as different choices people make or different things that people believe. We are careful not to say things that imply her mom is making bad or unhealthy choices, just that our choices are different than hers, and that is okay, and that we are glad we are able to make our own choices about what we believe.

Edited to add that I think you absolutely have a right to talk about your own beliefs with your step-daughter. Just present them as your beliefs and don't tell her she is wrong to believe in something else. I think you also have a right to restrict what language or topics are discussed around you or your other daughter-- for example, if your step-daughter declares that so-and-so is going to hell because of something, you absolutely can say that you don't like to hear about that and please not to say it around you, or that it could be scary for her little sister, so please not to talk about that around her.
post #10 of 27
Ditto on the pps who say you have a right to voice your beliefs despite being the stepmom. I might even say you owe it to dsd to share your opinion.

In my case it was 10yo dss who came to me and started a conversation about menstrual periods and led into sex at his questioning. Number one thing I did was let him lead, number two thing I did was transfer it to Dad when DH got home. However in between, I really focused on my opinion and stressing how many different opinions that there are out there in the world and that dss's job will be to make up his own mind as he gets older.

I could easily see one of my dss's come home and say "So-and-so [even Mom] says only girls can marry boys." My response will be "yeah that's what a lot of people think. I think that's sad. People love who they love and I don't think they should be penalized because of being born a boy or girl."

I am used to the different household values thing too. Being vegan my dss's are sometime supportive and sometimes aggressive. Yet they described the trip to our local farm sanctuary as "epic."

Our dsc/dc pick up way more by example than by lectures IMHO.



... AND to me the catholicism/catholic school thing is a secondary issue in this thread (I see both sides: I know tons of awesome and open minded catholics * and I was not raised catholic largely because my born catholic mother hated her experience in catholic school)...
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
both DH and I have a lot of issues with the Catholic school mainly because they do not teach you to think, but you should take everything they say as truth out of fear... and of course the judgements that are taught.
You and DH need to have open minds if you expect DSD to learn to have an open mind. Why don't you visit the school, learn more about it, get involved as a parent volunteer. You might just surprise yourself and find several positives about the school.

FWIW, my DD attends Catholic school. Several of the kindergarten parents have no intention of continuing on past K. But K + on-site after care is cheaper than the local public 1/2 day K's + daycare.
post #12 of 27
I'm curious why one person made the decision to send her to Catholic School in the first place, but that's not the question.

Of course explain to her your perspective! Not only will she be happy you told her what you think, but she'll value that you have a differing perspective and told her so! She probably thinks it's weird too otherwise she wouldn't have said anything.

I also think that kids need to understand not just tolerance, but also compassion and understanding from a very young age in order to grow up and be that way too! This should be a Catholic belief!

Share your thoughts. Be honest.
post #13 of 27
I agree that you have the right to share your opinion-my dsd goes to church with her mom's family, and has come over saying things about how it is right to believe in only that one god, etc., and I felt comfortable explaining that some people believe in one god, some believe in others/many, etc. I explained what I thought, but focused mainly on the fact that there are many different beliefs. I think it is perfectly fine for you to say what you believe in a nonconfrontational/nonjudgemental way. FWIW, she didn't come over saying that it was wrong to be in a same sex relationship (obviously not in those words, lol), right? Maybe it was just an observation rather than a judgement learned from somebody? Do you know how her mom feels about same sex relationships?


Dsd still often makes comments about God, will occasinally ask to pray as a family, etc. I can't say it is my thing, but I will go along with it so as not to disrespect her beliefs-but, I will also go out of my way to point out other religions and modes of belief as well. And I can't say I would go along with the hell or hate comments-eesh, not okay with me either. It is your home too, you have a right to speak up and make rules, especially since your daughter will soon be absorbing all of those comments.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
You and DH need to have open minds if you expect DSD to learn to have an open mind. Why don't you visit the school, learn more about it, get involved as a parent volunteer. You might just surprise yourself and find several positives about the school.

FWIW, my DD attends Catholic school. Several of the kindergarten parents have no intention of continuing on past K. But K + on-site after care is cheaper than the local public 1/2 day K's + daycare.
I agree with this. The best thing to do is to be involved, and use this as an opportunity to talk to your step DD about these things when she brings them up. Listen and be honest about your beliefs, and support her right to make her own choices. She is very young right now and easily influenced. Give her a safe space to explore ideas and learn by your example, rather than shutting her down because you don't like the things that she says.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
he is afraid if he says too many things about how she handles her house, she will want to control our house...
A valid point. That he and his ex are divorced suggests they had trouble coming to agreement when they were married. Men don't usually put more effort into that after the marriage has already failed. And that's no criticism of men - there's an undeniable practicality in it.

Your step-daughter will eventually learn gay marriages exist (whether or not they're sanctioned by local governments). She will learn this whether you tell her or someone else does. But it's not necessarily fair to blame the church for her current ignorance about it. Plenty of kids as young as your step-daughter assume all marriages are heterosexual, if they don't happen to have gay parents. Kids that young tend to see adult things very simply and the majority of marriages are between a boy and a girl. That is the norm (which is why gay rights groups seek civil protections as a minority). To feel offended by that fact - or to accuse someone of "hate" for pointing it out - is not reasonable.

I am Catholic and Catholicism is not all about hell and hate. As she grows up, if your step-daughter does wind up being more influenced by her mother's or her Catholic school's teaching on gay marriage, that does not mean she must be hateful, rude or unwilling to be around your gay friends or neighbors. I accept my church's teaching (heck - I accept what I learned in biology) that humans (mammals) reproduce heterosexually and therefore the ideal is that individuals will mate with the opposite sex. But I also have relatives and friends who are gay and in committed, long-term loving relationships (marriages, for all practical purposes). I know that they have always been gay and did not choose to be that way as some sort of rebellion or disrespect for God. Not only do I find it personally impossible to resent them finding the same love and life companionship that I value in my marriage, but as a Catholic I am not allowed to judge them. I am supposed to respect that that is God's job.

I know some Christians offend people because when they talk about God's judgment they seem to mean "I know what God thinks and he thinks I'm righteous and everyone who disagrees with me is evil". I am not a great religious scholar, but everything I have ever learned about the New Testament or Catholicism tells me that leaving judgment to God means understanding that I fall short of all sorts of ideals, but I still hope God will judge me favorably...so how can I presume to know how God will judge other people and the different ways they fall short of ideals?

Shouldn't open-mindedness and tolerance include being tolerant of views like mine? Isn't accusing people of "hate" if their views on gay rights aren't exactly like yours a form of intolerance?

In any event, this issue really shouldn't rise to the level of making you "hate being a step-parent", even temporarily. This really isn't a "big issue" that must be resolved in your step-daughter's life at this stage. It's a big issue to you.
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
I actually do know a bit about the school and it's teachings... Growing up I had friends that went to this school, and other Catholic schools until high school. I went with various friends and Catholic family members to mass. I grew up mainly going to a Christian church and even went to Christian Bible school camp every summer.

My whole life I was taught through my Catholic and Christian experiences that judgement was okay... and that wasn't cool with me. I was told at my church that I had been going to all my life, when I was 19, that I was going to hell because I had a tattoo and lived with a man before I married him.

So my views on organized religion just are not that great.

Plus DSD's Mom has given us copies of all the school paperwork and I have read through it thoroughly... I'm simply not a fan of it. The only jewelry the children are allowed to wear is their favorite religious necklace... it kills me that they are stunting creativity right there.

The other large problem I have, is they tell you how much money you NEED to fundraise in a year... They tell you how much money you NEED to donate in a year. No consideration is taken at all what your income may be, and the fact that they tell you that you must give a donation and must fundraise a certain amount, on top of the tutition you are already paying... again, not a fan of this.

Being religious isn't about paying a monetary amount to God.

So... I have had an open mind, but everything I have seen from the school thus far gives me a very creeped out feeling.


I am actually a very Spiritual person. I have a very close relationship with God and I talk to Him daily.

I do try very hard to have an open mind for everyone and I prefer tolerance... but I personally beleive that stops when someone's beleifs are infringing upon someone else's rights.
post #17 of 27
Leaving aside the issue of school choice (which is a whole other ball of wax)...

I think, with all due respect, you need to make a conscious effort to NOT frame so many things as an "issue between households."

Your initial example of a/an (assumed) differing viewpoint on gay marriage and your role here is one situation where you could greatly simplify your life by NOT framing it as a step/blended issue.

Children encounter and pick up a whole range of ideas that their families at home do not agree with merely by being exposed to society at large. It doesn't matter what school they go to or the belief system behind it. Once they are "out in the world and not under the constant supervision and control of their parents", that is. At school (any school). At the playground. On playdates.

Just as any adult with a role in raising a child or in a child's education would hopefully do, the only real answer (when a child for which you have such a role says something that goes against your belief system) is to respectfully state your beliefs in an age appropriate manner and acknowledge that other beliefs exist.

Furthermore, not to put too fine a point on it, your DSD's statement of "only girls can marry boys" is, quite simply, a statement of fact for the vast majority of US states and countries around the world. It was an opportunity to acknowledge a legal reality and state your position without issuing any judgements about other positions.

My daughter said something similar a while ago. All I said was, "yep, in most places that's true. I think it's a stupid rule, though, because sometimes grownup boys want to marry other grownup boys and sometimes grownup girls want to marry grownup girls and I don't think it's fair that they can't."

That was it. No conflict. No entering into adult complexities of right and wrong, morality or sexuality.

It didn't matter where she got the idea, either.

On a more general note, sometimes from your posts I get the feeling that you have a hair trigger with regard to DSD and the blended family situation. Unnecessarily looking for potential problems/conflicts where there are none.

That said, the more I read about your DH, the more I understand where it comes from, though. It's tough. And way easier to say than do. But you need to find a less precarious position. Step back. Or forward. Stop trying to balance on a razor's edge that someone else wants you to dance on. Find YOUR comfort zone (not your DH's fantasy comfort zone). Then, when things like this come up, you will more easily and more peacefully know how to react appropriately.
post #18 of 27
"And yeah... both DH and I have a lot of issues with the Catholic school mainly because they do not teach you to think, but you should take everything they say as truth out of fear... and of course the judgements that are taught. It will be a great fight next year I am sure."

As others have commented, I think if you were to visit the school you would see this is no longer the case (and yes I understand that when our parents went to Catholic school this was undoubtedly the case).

Someone also commented that tolerance should be a Catholic belief- to that poster rather than make ill-informed guesses/judgements, if you actually asked some Catholics what they believe or did some research you would see that tolerance is in fact a Catholic belief- now if only nonCatholic folks would realize what Jeannine said is true- if you hate my views then you are in fact INtolerant. Tolerance means being able to accept that people hold views differing from your own and there is no ill will, but tolerance of them differing from your own beliefs.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I actually do know a bit about the school and it's teachings... Growing up I had friends that went to this school, and other Catholic schools until high school. I went with various friends and Catholic family members to mass. I grew up mainly going to a Christian church and even went to Christian Bible school camp every summer.

My whole life I was taught through my Catholic and Christian experiences that judgement was okay... and that wasn't cool with me. I was told at my church that I had been going to all my life, when I was 19, that I was going to hell because I had a tattoo and lived with a man before I married him.

So my views on organized religion just are not that great.

Plus DSD's Mom has given us copies of all the school paperwork and I have read through it thoroughly... I'm simply not a fan of it. The only jewelry the children are allowed to wear is their favorite religious necklace... it kills me that they are stunting creativity right there.

The other large problem I have, is they tell you how much money you NEED to fundraise in a year... They tell you how much money you NEED to donate in a year. No consideration is taken at all what your income may be, and the fact that they tell you that you must give a donation and must fundraise a certain amount, on top of the tutition you are already paying... again, not a fan of this.

Being religious isn't about paying a monetary amount to God.

So... I have had an open mind, but everything I have seen from the school thus far gives me a very creeped out feeling.


I am actually a very Spiritual person. I have a very close relationship with God and I talk to Him daily.

I do try very hard to have an open mind for everyone and I prefer tolerance... but I personally beleive that stops when someone's beleifs are infringing upon someone else's rights.
Tuition, fundraising and donations are how private schools are funded. It has nothing to do with God.

The restriction on jewelry is most likely to stop kids from competing through jewelry since they can't compete on clothing when there are school uniforms. There is plenty of scope for kids to exercise their creativity outside of school in terms of clothes and jewelry, and in school in other ways.

I went to Catholic school and I was taught to think. That is why as an adult I no longer believe many of the Catholic teachings.
post #20 of 27
I think the ultimate point here is that it is really hard to be an NCP who doesn't get to make many of the decisions in their child's life, and even harder to be the partner of the NCP (stepmother/father) who has even LESS say.
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