What to do when mom and dad don't agree... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 05-16-2011, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When we got married we were both strong christians. A lot has changed in both of our belief systems since then, which is hard to handle. But now my daughter is getting old enough that some things are coming up, and it is only going to get more intense. DH still believes most christian fundamentals. I don't. As far as this thread is concerned, those are the only beliefs that I think need to be discussed, but if I need to elaborate- I will. Just let me know.

 

DH is teaching her about Jesus. As in: Jesus died and then came back to life. He did this so that we can all live forever. He is the king of kings. Stuff about God...

 

I want her to hear it. I want her to know that some people believe it and that if she chooses to believe it- FINE! Totally okay. But he is teaching it to her as fact, and that I am not okay with. It is NOT fact. Not at all. I am okay with her hearing it and knowing that is what he believes, but I don't want it to be "some people believe (whatever) and daddy is one of those people." That seems so condescending to me, but I don't know how to handle it. I feel like no matter what we say/do that we are "against" each other here. There are a lot of beliefs out there and I want her to make her own informed decisions about what she wants to believe when she is older. I want to teach all the beliefs/myths as interesting stories that some people believe in and she has the option of believing. But HOW?!

 

Right now, I hate hearing my little girl telling other kids about Jesus. Honestly. I don't like hearing her passing on these truths that DH is sharing...

 

I think we are going to be having a talk about all this tonight, and maybe we will reach some sort of comfortable place in all this. But I thought some input from other people may be nice. TIA.


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#2 of 12 Old 05-17-2011, 03:49 PM
 
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I think you are going to have to be more flexible.  These are facts as far as he (and many others) is concerned and you knew this when you married him. And when he married you, he assumed (perhaps even discussed and agreed upon that ) this is how he would be raising his kids kids since you believed the same thing.  I am sure he expected a full on Christian family reality.   It is really not fair that he is the one who is forced to back down.  Or that he has to present his beliefs as just one of many options when he does not feel there really are others options.   This is who he has always been and how he expected to raise his kids when he married you since you admit you were a Christian strong in your beliefs. 

 

Is this a hill you are willing to die on?  Is it one he is willing to die on.   I mean really, if you get a divorce over this, he will still be able to tell his child anything he wants about religion on his time.  

 

You can still tell your child "some believe believe xyz including daddy.  I Used to believe that too but now I believe something different.  I don't think one either one of you have to win this one.  You can both just tell your child the truth as you see it.


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#3 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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I'm an atheist who was raised catholic.  I don't think the fact the two of you were both christian when you married matters.  People change in all sorts of things over the course of many years, spirituality often being one of them.

 

I don't know how you could present it any other way than "this is what some people believe, Daddy being one of them."  I don't see at all how that's condescending, when you also teach her that some people don't believe in god, and mommy is one of them.

 

Different people believe different things.   There's nothing untrue or condescending about that.

 

But as for teaching her that the fundamentals of christianity are factual, that is a hill I'd die on because it isn't a fact, it's a belief.

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#4 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 07:10 AM
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Maybe try approaching him from the angle of being concerned about teaching her what he is saying is FACT...I mean if the shoe was on the other foot, i.e you were telling here there is NO god or whatever and that is a FACT he would probably be furious right? In my head I would try and approach from the common ground of both of you being upset if the other person presented their beliefs as facts. Maybe make an agreement to avoid teaching either belief (not saying you are an atheist or whatever) as a fact and explain that this is what mommy believes and this is what daddy believes and the beauty is everyone can believe what they want and so many people have so many different beliefs.

 

Just because a Christian thinks something is a FACT certainly doesn't make it so, it is still their BELIEF that it is a fact...Not a fact it is a fact, if that makes any sense. Same goes for anyone of any religion or lack of religion really. 

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#5 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 09:27 AM
 
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Yes, I think really the only way to do it is this is what some people believe, this is what daddy believes, this is what I believe.  Thats how I teach my children about spirituality and I dont find it condescending to others views.  I do find it a bit condescending or rude of your husband though to be teaching it as fact when he knows you are not comfortable with that,


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#6 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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I agree with Lilyka. I'd also point out that in our world relativist thinking is everywhere, it's not like your child is not going to be exposed to it anyway. I personally think your child is blessed to have at least one parent that is able to pass on a firmly held faith. 

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#7 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post

But as for teaching her that the fundamentals of christianity are factual, that is a hill I'd die on because it isn't a fact, it's a belief.

Exactly. I agree with this!
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#8 of 12 Old 05-18-2011, 11:18 AM
 
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Big HUGE hugs and hopes for you and your family... being in a dual faith family is hard, but once there are kiddos in the mix it can seem nearly impossible some days.  You might want to ask for local advice or see if there are some local "religious/spiritual" education options that might help as a family.  For example, dual faith families are not that uncommon in the more liberal Christian and Jewish communities and a priest or rabbi in one of those communities may be able to offer counselling or the name of a counselor who is "good with" dual faith family issues.  And I think I know more Unitatiran Universalists who joined their local UU community specifically because mom and dad have different beliefs and they wanted a common ground of acceptance for their children.  (UU is, in some ways, a spiritual umbrella religion in that it does not provide a list of "you must believe/you must not believe" or a list of "these are holy books/words/ideas that must be accepted"... individual members might identify specifically as Unitarian, or they may identify as Jewish-Unitarian, Christian-Unitarian, Pagan-Unitarian, Buddhist-Unitarian, Secular Humanist-Unitarian, etc).  And the UU community offers a pretty nice religious ed program for kiddos that honors a lot of different religious paths without ever telling the kiddos "this one is right, this one is wrong".  There's even an online religious ed program that you might find helpful/adaptable for your own personal use in approaching these issues with your DH and daughter.  (Here for the main website, here for the Religious Ed bit).

 

My own story is that when DH and I met we were both Catholic (I was raised in a very conservative/observant family, he was raised in a much more secular Catholic family).  My personal beliefs were changing however, and by the time we were married I no longer considered myself Catholic, though I did identify as "Christian".  We got married outside of the Catholic Church, and over the years we both evolved in our beliefs.  When dd1 arrived DH was still "mostly Catholic" and I was firmly Pagan.  We went along with a lot of Catholic tradition though until dd2 arrived and I realized I just couldn't accept that anymore, and by then DH was more closely aligned with Pagan beliefs anyway.  We lost a lot of friends and family members when we decided not to baptise dd2.  But DH and still dealt with the difficulties of being a dual faith family.  We joined the local UU church so the girls would have a wider and more diverse spritual community, and so they'd get the "there is no one true way, different people believe different things" message from a wider range of adults/peers.  Fast forward to today and this is the FIRST time in 18 years that DH and I are on the same page in terms of religion.  We're expecting our fourth child and finally can say we're a "single faith family".  But we both know that this might change, and we're ok with that.

 

But the thing is it took a LOT of work, and love, and acceptance, and compromise to get through the dual-faith years.  Having a neutral talk with your DH is the most important step right now, so that you can both figure out on your own as well as together what elements you can or can not live with in terms of religious education for your children.  What outside influences are important, what personal convictions are the most important, what convictions can you let slide or adapt or compromise on?  You'll BOTH have to find ways to compromise and adapt, a one sided agreement /can/ work in some cases but I only know of two families where that sort of "the children have your religion, I'll keep out" has worked out without a lot of eventual resentment.  This is where an outside counselor or spiritual guide could be really helpful... religion is such a foundation issue that even trying to discuss it neutrally can be hard, and once emotions and possibly hurt feelings are added to the mix it can be deadly.

 

In my case, we told the kiddos that different are different... some like chocolate ice cream, some like vanilla.  Some people like to hike, some would rather ski, others would prefer to sit in a rocking chair and tell stories.  And that these differences are all ok, and wonderful, and what makes the world an interesting place.  And we read all sorts of children's stories about different religions or traditions.  On our shelves right now are:

 

All I See is a Part of Me

A World of Faith (Each page describe a specific religion in very "equal" terms, the illustrations are good places to start conversations)

The Story of Hula

To Everything There is a Season (uses the biblical quotation, but each line is illustrated with art from a different world religion)

The Star-Bearer (we edit this as we read it, some of the content is too mature even for our 6yo)

The Desert is My Mother

Sacred Places (poetry, each poem is focused on a different spiritual path and the illustrations are wonderful)

Big Mama Makes the World (a very biblical creation story but with "Big Mama" and her "Baby" doing the work of creation between batches of laundry and making cookies... it's really sweet and a favorite read aloud bedtime story here)

Child's Book of Blessings and Prayers (from all over the world, we use these for meals, bedtime, daily circle time, etc)

One City, Two Brothers

 

And again, we keep stressing how everyone is different in some ways but the same in others, how important it is to learn from others and teach what we know, and so on... only applying that to religion as it comes up (so we're not singling out religion as being different than other parts of life).  And we'd sort of relate religion back to more concrete things in our kiddos lives... I remember once dd1 was asking about why mommy had many gods and dadda had only one (she felt bad for DH actually), and I used the example from Sesame Street where Cookie Monster had to pick between one BIG cookie or many SMALLER cookies... in the end it was all still cookie, and Cookie Monster was happy, but the way the cookie was presented was different.  Same thing with Mama and Dada... Mama had many smaller cookies to choose from while Dada perfered one big cookie.  (not a perfect example of course, but for the moment it was perfect and really all a 4yo needed to know in the moment)

 

I wish I could say there was an easy-peasy path through the dual-faith-with-kiddos forest but there really isn't.  Just hang in there, be honest with yourself and your partner, and take it one step at a time without jumping to worst case scenarios.  People change, and it's silly to think that they don't/won't.  Religion is emotional and ties into all sorts of social elements as well so it's a harder change to negotiate, but it CAN be done!


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#9 of 12 Old 05-19-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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I'm a child of a mix marriage. (Jewish/Gentile) I found my faith not because of my parents view point but because of my own path. 

 

Yes you may have a hard time with letting your husband say what he feels is right, but it needs to be said. Your view point needs to be expressed also well. Try to sit down and come up with a respect for sharing your view with your child. If you do that you will have a very well rounded child that will be able to see whom she wants to be. IMO this is one of the great things about being a parent. NOT making a child to "see" but to help them to understand.

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#10 of 12 Old 05-23-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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How old is your daughter?


I think that may play a part.  As she grows, knowing that her Mom and Dad have different beliefs, yet still love each other... still respect each other... could be

an amazing gift to give her.  I'm not sure how you can avoid the this is what Daddy and some people believe talk and Mommy thinks this...  For me, my DH is much

more conservative in his beliefs than I am--but as our kids are so young, I don't really think it's the time to get into major discussions on why I agree or disagree with

certain tenants of faith.  I assume that those talks will happen naturally when their older.  

 

I think it's important that you and DH discuss how you're going to handle your differences just as any mixed faith relationship needs to.  If you can do it in a respectful

way--then I think your daughter will be fine. 


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#11 of 12 Old 05-23-2011, 07:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post

In my case, we told the kiddos that different are different... some like chocolate ice cream, some like vanilla.  Some people like to hike, some would rather ski, others would prefer to sit in a rocking chair and tell stories.  And that these differences are all ok, and wonderful, and what makes the world an interesting place.  And we read all sorts of children's stories about different religions or traditions.  On our shelves right now are:

 

All I See is a Part of Me

A World of Faith (Each page describe a specific religion in very "equal" terms, the illustrations are good places to start conversations)

The Story of Hula

To Everything There is a Season (uses the biblical quotation, but each line is illustrated with art from a different world religion)

The Star-Bearer (we edit this as we read it, some of the content is too mature even for our 6yo)

The Desert is My Mother

Sacred Places (poetry, each poem is focused on a different spiritual path and the illustrations are wonderful)

Big Mama Makes the World (a very biblical creation story but with "Big Mama" and her "Baby" doing the work of creation between batches of laundry and making cookies... it's really sweet and a favorite read aloud bedtime story here)

Child's Book of Blessings and Prayers (from all over the world, we use these for meals, bedtime, daily circle time, etc)

One City, Two Brothers

 

And again, we keep stressing how everyone is different in some ways but the same in others, how important it is to learn from others and teach what we know, and so on... only applying that to religion as it comes up (so we're not singling out religion as being different than other parts of life).  And we'd sort of relate religion back to more concrete things in our kiddos lives... I remember once dd1 was asking about why mommy had many gods and dadda had only one (she felt bad for DH actually), and I used the example from Sesame Street where Cookie Monster had to pick between one BIG cookie or many SMALLER cookies... in the end it was all still cookie, and Cookie Monster was happy, but the way the cookie was presented was different.  Same thing with Mama and Dada... Mama had many smaller cookies to choose from while Dada perfered one big cookie.  (not a perfect example of course, but for the moment it was perfect and really all a 4yo needed to know in the moment)

 

 

I think this is wonderful!! I love your book list too!
 

 


Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#12 of 12 Old 06-24-2011, 12:54 AM
 
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But if that's a hill she's willing to die on, like lilyka pointed out, if they're divorced he'll still be able to teach her whatever he wants. So dad says "this is truth" and mom says, "I don't think it's truth, I think it's opinion." 

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