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Tell me I'm doing the right thing...

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
DH and I are Christians, and we have a very strict belief on what our children should be exposed to. We do not want our children around
1. cigarette smoke or people/things that smell like smoke,
2. drinking/drunkenness,
3. cursing,
4. people dressed immodestly.

The problem we have is FIL is guilty of 1-3, and SIL is guilty of 1 and 4. Our kids (3 and 18m) are starting to get very impressionable, and we are starting to have to crack down on our "family rules". We have stopped going over to my in-laws house because of all of the above.

FIL called last Friday to ask DH why we haven't been over. We told his mom, but didn't tell his dad because, well, he's a little tough to confront. He was also getting ready to have a total hip replacement, so we didn't want to upset him before. DH was upfront with him (FIL lit up his cigar the other day IN FRONT OF DS--completely aware of our wishes about smoking). He got mad and hung up on DH. Well, he's in the hospital and we're gonna go see him, but he may be released today. We are NOT going over to the house, and when he's a little healed up we're going to give him the following letter.

Since becoming parents, we have held certain beliefs regarding conduct around our children. We do not want our children exposed to the harmful toxins in cigar/cigarette smoke. This includes second and third hand smoke (the smoke smell on clothing, furniture, etc.) We want our children to be in a positive, Christian atmosphere. Our children are becoming more impressionable by the day, and we will take the necessary steps to protect their innocence and make sure they stay in that positive, Christian atmosphere.

Therefore, we are setting out our family rules:

1. To the best of our ability, our children will not be exposed to second or third-hand smoke. We will not go to any establishment, home or business, where smoking is allowed at the entrance or inside the building.
2. To the best of our ability, our children will not be exposed to drunkenness.
3. To the best of our ability, our children will not be exposed to harmful speech. This includes hateful speech, yelling, screaming, cursing or crude jokes.
4. To the best of our ability, our children will not be exposed to immodest dress. If someone around us is dressed immodestly, we will make sure our children know they are to never dress like that, and it is not the way God wants us to dress.
5. Everyone is invited to our home. However, the above rules still stand. Visitors to our home should not smell like cigarettes, be sober minded and not use what has been defined as harmful speech. They also must be dressed modestly. If they do not abide by these rules, they will be asked to leave our home.

These rules may come as a shock. They may be offensive to some. We are not doing this to isolate anyone. We are doing this to better our children’s physical, emotional and spiritual health. What is right is not always popular, what is popular is not always right. If anyone is unable to visit our home because of our staircase(we live on the third floor of an apartment complex), we would be happy to meet them at a third party location, as long as the location adheres to the above mentioned rules.

I'm so non-confrontational, I'm starting to get nervous about DH giving his parents this letter. We gave it to my mother, but my parents abide by these rules and have the same rules for their own children (however, some of my family do smoke and live rather unruly).

Just tell me we're doing the right thing... I know it's the "Right" thing, and they're our kids so we can honestly do whatever we want, but I'm just nervous.
Last edited by becca_howell; Today at 05:22 AM..
post #2 of 85
My own opinion is that from a moral standpoint keeping family together is more important than whether someone smokes or dresses how you like. So I'll respectfully say I disagree with your stance and leave it at that.
post #3 of 85
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
My own opinion is that from a moral standpoint keeping family together is more important than whether someone smokes or dresses how you like. So I'll respectfully say I disagree with your stance and leave it at that.
I forgot to mention DS and I have asthma, which is the main part of our stance against smoke.
post #4 of 85
I can understand wanting a family member to wash their hands and not smoke around said children.

I can understand asking them to not drink around your children.

I can understand asking them to not curse around your children.

I can understand disagreeing with the way someone is dressed and simply teaching your children that we don't dress that way.

I can not understand possibly cutting them completely out of your life over these things. They have a right to live their life as they see fit even if you disagree with it. Your children are going to come across ALL of these things in life, maybe not now, but eventually and you should, instead, teach them that it's not something that you wish them to participate in but to give your family ultimatums in order to be able to see your children... probably not the best Christian lesson to teach them. I also don't understand why you need to write a letter/set of rules out instead of just asking "Could you not smoke/drink/curse around our children?" I have done this on more then one occasion and it's never turned into an argument... I would never think about writing out instructions though. That just seems over the top.
post #5 of 85
Personally I find it very extreme. I'm sure you will get mixed reviews about it here. I am not of your belief and that is why I find it extreme. I do understand all the rules and why you would want them in place. However I very strongly believe against teaching children people are bad and going against god because they are differen than you or do not believe the same. My bio dad was a religious fanatic (also drug addict and abuser) he beat me one day because I didn't want to wear a dress to church... I want to wear a nice pair of black pants and a long sleeve pink top... Very modest in my opinion and my moms (I didn't live with my dad) but because it wasn't a dress that went down to my knees I got beat for it. I wasn't even the same religion. He also use to tell me all my friends were going to hell because they were catholic. He was an extreme of course but I also grew up hearing other people say things that were a bit lighter but had the same meaning... These people are not like me and they do no believe like me and therefore these people are bad.

I know you are most likely set in your ways as most religious people I find are. I'm no against religion or belief, but coming from a kid who beard these things myself... Well it had the opposite effect (complete opposite) and it took me years to find my own beliefs and to even be able to walk into a church with out getting so angry I would cry at all the judgement and hate I heard around me.

Bottomline... These are your children and you have every right to raise them as you wish. If you make rules and people don't follow them or respect them you have every right to tell those people to step out of your lives. I may not agree with you but I do agree with this.
post #6 of 85
I understand where you are coming from. I really do. We have the same sort of outlook.

I just fear that sending a letter like that is going to be like dropping an atomic bomb in your family's lap. I predict that nothing good will come from it. And I mean absolutely nothing good.

This is the sort of thing that is best handled delicately in person. The smoking issue needs to be addressed right away because it is an immediate health issue.

Your children are very young yet so I don't think that they would notice drunkenness, cursing or immodest dress unless the person is stumbling around, every other word is bad and private body parts are showing. I would save those issues for a little while later.

I do believe that it's okay (in fact, necessary) to limit one's contact with those whose lifestyle is problematic for you, even if they are family members. But it should be done after much prayer, counsel, and tactful discussion.

I highly recommend that you speak with your pastor, ask for advice on Christian forums, read Christian books or magazines about the topic, etc...

I would not send that well meaning, but inflammatory letter... especially when your FIL is recovering from surgery.

Good luck... take some time... and proceed very carefully.
post #7 of 85
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Attached2Elijah View Post
I can not understand possibly cutting them completely out of your life over these things. They have a right to live their life as they see fit even if you disagree with it. Your children are going to come across ALL of these things in life, maybe not now, but eventually and you should, instead, teach them that it's not something that you wish them to participate in but to give your family ultimatums in order to be able to see your children... probably not the best Christian lesson to teach them. I also don't understand why you need to write a letter/set of rules out instead of just asking "Could you not smoke/drink/curse around our children?" I have done this on more then one occasion and it's never turned into an argument... I would never think about writing out instructions though. That just seems over the top.
Maybe the letter isn't clear, or maybe I'm not making myself clear, but we're not wanting to cut people out of our lives. We're wanting to control the environment our kids are in as long as we can. We have made attempts to meet at a third party location (in-laws house reaks of cigarettes) to visit, offering to pay the bill for dinner, etc.

The reason for the letter is because when we make verbal requests, they go through a cycle: 1. ignore, 2. comply, 3. slowly disregard, 4. outright ignore, 5. verbal request is made again, 6. ignored for a while...

Also, FIL is a stubborn man, who sees nothing wrong with smoking, cursing, or drinking around the kids. My in-laws are raising their grandson (6), and he is exposed to all of this all of the time.
post #8 of 85
I am a Christian too. I don't think your rules are realistic. I am on board with the smoking one for asthma/allergies.

I'm not sure the rest is the "right" thing that you want it to be. Jesus himself said this in Matthew 9

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

So while I agree with you that you should live your life and teach your children according to the Word you believe in, you are coming across as super judgmental. I think a loving family is important too. Your children are very young. Certainly keep them from situations you don't approve of, but also know that there isn't any way to protect/censor their whole lives. Will you never go out to eat because people may order drinks with dinner? Go to the park because it's summer and people are showing skin?

We certainly asked for some accommodations when our children were born. Especially in regards to smoking. But both our mothers were smokers and we didn't visit their homes often, but realistically I think a loving grandparent should be given some grace.

I'm not saying you join in the parties. But YOU are your children's biggest influence. I think you can hold on to your values and teach your kids how to treat others kindly as well.
post #9 of 85
I think you're fine. If that's the way you want to raise your kids and that's what's important to you, than you should do it. Everyone has a right to raise their children as they see fit.

But, keep this perspective. Imagine your children grow up and have children and they don't share all of your beliefs. But they have the following rules for their house:

People should not drink coffee or soda in their presence.
Everyone should keep their head covered at all times.
Do not wear perfume or use strong smelling soap or shampoo before coming to see your grandchildren.
Any other rule you have heard at someone else's house that you don't have at yours.

Me? I would follow my kids rules, because it's their house and they make the rules and, of course, mostly because I would want to have contact with my grandkids. But, it does feel a little controlling.


Overall, no one wants a swearing, smoking, half-naked drunk around their children. So, really no one should have a problem with those rules. But, not smelling like smoke would be REALLY hard for a smoker. IME, even when a smoker comes out of the shower there's still a lingering smoke smell. Also, lets say they shower, don't smoke and come right to your house. If they drove, their car probably smells like smoke and that will linger and cling to them.

I would think just not smoking around your children would be enough. Why does grandpa smell like that? He just does, everyone smells a little different. If their house is so filled with a smoke smell that you feel it's toxic, then you just can't visit there. I'd just tell them, I'm very concerned about the long term effects of the lingering smoke in your house and the health and well being of my children. It's nothing personal, it's about the known toxins in cigarette smoke.

But, it also sounds like there's more going on here than that.
post #10 of 85
We have a couple alcoholic family members and it is well known that if they are obviously intoxicated we leave. I don't want my children around the verbal abuse and cursing like a sailor that goes along with this kind of behavior. My MIL knows that if her father comes over and is drunk she can either ask him to leave or we leave. It's her house and it's up to her to make the decision who leaves. However, if it's at our house, he isn't allowed in if he's been drinking. DH and I are not opposed to drinking, just drinking in excess. Our kids have observed our drinking responsibly on occasion and our deciding not to drive if we have had a drink and making other responsible decisions after having a drink.

DH's grandmother smokes. I HATE it (I have asthma too), however her relationship with my children is very important to us. She knows that she will be alone any time she smokes around and there is only one place she is allowed while smoking while at our house (outside, secluded from our kids). Even this keeps her away more often than not.

I completely understand your rules, however, I wonder if it inhibits the relationship your kids will have with other family members too much. I WANT to post rules like yours, and I struggle with trying to find a happy medium between what I want and still keeping the relationship with family members.
post #11 of 85
May I suggest cross-posting in the spirituality forum? There are a number of Christian, Muslim and Jewish moms there who are more observant than their extended families as far as modesty, etc. and who might have more experience with threading this type of needle. Good luck!

ETA: I'm not clear on whether the requirement for avoiding people who don't follow your teachings is self-imposed, or a teaching of your actual church.
post #12 of 85
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewaneecook View Post
I completely understand your rules, however, I wonder if it inhibits the relationship your kids will have with other family members too much. I WANT to post rules like yours, and I struggle with trying to find a happy medium between what I want and still keeping the relationship with family members.
It definitely hasn't been a decision we made lightly. We have prayed, I have cried, for 3 years through all of this. They just don't understand. At the end of it all, we had to realize that we are responsibile for our children's physical, emotional and mental health and being around a smoking, cursing, drunken (when FIL is drunk, he is abusive in speech as well) person no matter what relation they are to us, is detrimental to their overall health. We probably won't give them "the letter" for another few weeks, but we are not going over to their house and offering every weekend to take them out so they can spend time with their grandkids.
post #13 of 85
I want to clarify. I have an alcoholic parent, and I plan visits so they're only in the day when he's less likely to be drunk, and if he is drunk we leave. I don't just expose my kids to anything. And I don't leave my kids alone with my parents. But I wouldn't make rules that judged how they dressed or anything like that, and I think that cutting off my family or being judgmental about things that don't directly impact my kids would be worse than a bad clothing choice. So saying, "The smoke is bad for ds and I can't bring him to your house. Maybe you could come here?" I would understand. If they swear, I can see asking them to not curse around your kids because you don't want them to pick up that habit. But to send a letter that sounds very judgmental to me and has the likely consequence of keeping them from being a part of your kids' life seems counterproductive to the overall objective of teaching morals.
post #14 of 85
I respectfully say this---It sounds like you want to keep them from much of the world. Is this healthy?

I think that you may be asking the question because you have some reservations about your rules.
post #15 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
Maybe the letter isn't clear, or maybe I'm not making myself clear, but we're not wanting to cut people out of our lives.
But hon... I think that is the likely result of sending that letter, whether you mean for it to be or not.

Think of how it will be received. It could be interpreted as "Dear Family, you are a bunch of disgusting, rude tramps. You are damaging to our children. Change your ways or we won't grace you with our presence or allow you to intrude upon our home."

I understand that you want your family to clean up their act because you care about them and you want a wholesome environment for your little ones.

But what you're attempting requires the tact of a diplomat. I think Xerxella has a great point... put yourself on the receiving end and imagine how you would want to be approached.
post #16 of 85
I'm with you on the smoking thing, but that's pretty much it. (We're fairly conservative Presbyterians.) Nowhere in the Bible does it say we have the right or obligation to control our environment; indeed, we're *meant* to be in a world that is not our own (Romans 12:1,) and to instill values in our kids in spite of it. We are to worry about our own homes only, and it is a sin to be angry about or attempt to control others' homes*.

"When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus said "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31)

"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

I reference these two passages frequently to remind myself that my only job is to raise my kids how I see fit. My job is not to control those around me to make this easier.

My $0.02, anyhow.

*"Homes" doesn't mean literally "other people's houses," but lives and behavior.
post #17 of 85
[QUOTE=ErinYay;15752019]
"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

Thank you!
post #18 of 85
I can't really speak to the religious part of it. The points here that you need to commuicate are about the smoking. That is a HEALTH issue. The other things, well, I don't believe in wrapping kids in bubble wrap. They will learn from YOUR teachings and YOUR example about dress and behaviour. Unless you don't watch tv, walk on the street or otherwise interact with teh world, your kids are going to see immodest clothing (and what is that exactly?) and probably some drunkenness.

So what to do? Well, the zero tolerance on smoking is just that. When we go to my parents house, we sit outside as both dd and I are sensitive to it. I will not ask them to change their house - its THEIR house, but I can make other arrangements instead.

I think the onus is on you really. You have to show by example what you will tolerate and what you won't. As you said, you hve talked to them over and over again. A letter will only escalate hurt feelings not accomplish your goals.

Be firm when they are in your home that no smoking is allowed and neither is alcohol. when at theirs, you have a choice. Ooops...smoking..gotta go or can we go outside?

This is NOT a religious issue, its a health issue.
post #19 of 85
I wouldn't send the letter. You will not be able to repair the damage the letter will cause.

You can parent your children through any of these issues mindfully and gracefully without having to control not only their environment but all the people in it. Trust your abilities as parents and let the rest go.
post #20 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErinYay View Post
I'm with you on the smoking thing, but that's pretty much it. (We're fairly conservative Presbyterians.) Nowhere in the Bible does it say we have the right or obligation to control our environment; indeed, we're *meant* to be in a world that is not our own (Romans 12:1,) and to instill values in our kids in spite of it. We are to worry about our own homes only, and it is a sin to be angry about or attempt to control others' homes*.

"When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus said "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31)

"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

I reference these two passages frequently to remind myself that my only job is to raise my kids how I see fit. My job is not to control those around me to make this easier.

My $0.02, anyhow.

*"Homes" doesn't mean literally "other people's houses," but lives and behavior.
Word.

Keeping your kids from being exposed to the things you disagree with ever is NOT going to teach them how to choose the same values as you (and in fact ahs been seen regularly to backfire spectacularly once the kid is old enough to make thier own decisions). If you show them how to make your family's value choices *amidst* the things you disagree with, that's truly showing them your moral compass and strength.

Now, I'm not saying you want to regularly take your kids to a seedy bar or anything, but when it's family members, or you're out in public, you're showing them how to love their neighbor AND stand strong in their values. Asking someone to not smoke or get drunk or curse a blue streak in front of your kids is totally reasonable (though an occasional drink or a slipped word might be an opportunity to show forgiveness to your kids). The dress, well, that's a little more hinky as modesty is a kind of objective thing - you can't halfway smoke or drink or curse, you're either doing it or not doing it - but modesty can be so many different things to so many different people.

AND, you have to be really careful about how you present this to your kids, lest they develop a holier than thou attitude. Keep it focused on YOUR family and what your family does or does not do, not on whatever the other people are doing (and/or what Godly implications might come to others).
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