Religious family will suddenly have A LOT more access to my toddler... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 09-22-2011, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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So, first of all, I need to state my fears about some major this case, Christianity, as my parents are born-again Christians. I grew up in the south and am describing my particular experiences here, and they may or may not be common or usual experiences in other Christian circles.

I have no problem with religions that don't hurt anyone (ie Buddhism)...however, I have a serious objection to lots of the basic tenets of the Christian religion and a lot of what is in the Bible. Many people's interpretation of the Bible is that people are no darn good, with wretched and rotten souls. In the Christian community I grew up in, for the most part, there was no respect for kids, no faith in them at all...just the assumption that they're naturally bad, would automatically choose the wrong path if given the choice, and need to be made to obey at whatever cost (ie physical violence, by using love and approval as a bargaining chip, and lots of controlling)...Aside from that, all of the guilt and shame. Superstition. Sexual repression. When I was growing up, my natural curiosity about bodies and sex got me labeled by my mother as depraved, and I know she still thinks I am 'addicted to sex.' (IE I actually like to have it sometimes whereas she generally doesn't.) Woman oppression in general. Homophobia. The belief that without God, there is no morality and you can't make good decisions or have good relationships, etc. Although I'm agnostic about God him/herself...I don't know what I believe...I DO know I don't ever want my daughter to be taught that she is bad...


And yet. I'm moving back to my hometown in 5 weeks. It is my only option for finishing my Associate's which should take me about two semesters, then I can transfer to a university with a good non-traditional student program, family housing, etc etc. My family loves me, but they also believe all of the same things they believed while raising me, and we will be living with them for the first 6-8 weeks we are there, and thereafter they will have my daughter 2 full days a week while I am in school. I have picked the lesser of two evils (not finishing school and achieving my dreams, going insane at a dead end job with no mental stimulation and absolutely no support or help as a 100% single mom OR my parents being with my daughter more often than I would like for less than a year.) 


How can I gently, and non-offensively, ask my parents not to pray with my daughter, directly talk to her about heaven/hell/Jesus/getting saved, or read the Bible or Bible stories with her? I know they believe it is a scriptural mandate to share their faith, but I have told them before, Jesus never forced himself on anyone. He waited until people asked him. My parents are helping me so much and I am very grateful, but I still need to find a way to establish some boundaries with them.

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#2 of 8 Old 09-22-2011, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post
My parents are helping me so much and I am very grateful, but I still need to find a way to establish some boundaries with them.

I love this. Can you say this to them and ask if they are willing to respect your requests as an adult and the mother of your child? Also, if their version of the Christian faith is as central to their identity as you describe, you may not, realistically, be able to keep your child from hearing it from them. What you can do is ask if they will agree to a few *concrete* and specific boundaries/limits like you suggest and continue to cultivate your relationship with your child and actively talk with her about what she experiences with G & G.

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#3 of 8 Old 09-23-2011, 07:19 AM
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Honestly? My boy is 10yo now and when he was a toddler, I sent him to a part time daycare that I HATED for all sorts of reasons. I had to have him at that one because of costs. He went there from 2 to 5 years old. They had a lot of practices that I didn't agree with at all. Tons of them. I got in a couple of arguments with the owner because of it (just one example-- she thought "fruit snacks", which she served to the kids-- those gummy candies-- were perfectly healthy because "they have fruit in them!" and "our gov't wouldn't hurt us").

And now that he's 10, in hindsight, NONE of it had an impact. I was so worried about it and....nothing.


If your child is a toddler, and you're there that temporarily, I wouldn't worry about it at all. Your parents' practices may drive you batshit, but they will have no lasting impact on your baby whatsoever, if my experience is any teacher. Hang in there, mama. You gotta do what you gotta do. Be as gracious as you are able, with your parents, and hush about winky.gif Brush it off as best you can and carry on hug2.gif

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#4 of 8 Old 09-23-2011, 04:34 PM
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I wouldn't worry about it.  it is two semesters and your baby is , well, a baby.  I doubt she will even remember it.


I would focus on the major things: what is acceptable means of discipline, give them some ideas of what you would like for them to hare with her (keep their focus elsewhere), if nutrition is a big deal lay those ground rule. Honestly....your dd is not going to be affected if they pray with her, read her Bible stories or watch silly Christian cartoons.  My kids were 4, 6 and 9 when we left the protestant church and I think they can hardly remember it other than a few fun activities.  But the doctrine  and theology....nothing.  And that was after years of  it.  You know, depending on your parents, it might be worth your while to get some Christian coloring books, story books or videos that don't have anything you find objectionable.   That way they can feel like they are doing what they have to do but you are still in control of the message your dd is being sent.  Again keep the busy and engaged on  a path of your choosing but let them think they have the wheel.

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#5 of 8 Old 09-27-2011, 06:30 PM
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Big hugs... this sort of thing can be so stressful!


When my first child was born my mother offered to provide care for her, in our home, for the hours each day when dh and I simply couldn't make our work schedules fit.  So my mom was with dd1 8 hours/day, 3 days/week.  We worried, a lot, about religion and some of the socio-cultural issues that my mom has wrapped up in her religious identity.  DH and I parent very differently from her, and we have very different religious/philosophical paths.


There were some very difficult moments in which major boundaries were crossed (my mother arranging for and strong arming us into a baptism for dd1 for example) and eventually we had to call the whole thing off.  But for her first two years our dd1 was in the care of a very religious grandmother.  And today (at age 6) she doesn't remember any of it.  The important thing in this situation is you... your parental authority, your willingness to compromise some of that to achieve a greater dream, your ability to hold certain lines.


Perhaps start by getting a copy of the AP/holistic parenting books written by Dr Sears that he wrote from his perspective as a Christian (not the more mainstream ones).  These books use the Bible and common Christian beliefs to illustrate/support AP practices and they might be more accessible to your family because of this (written by a doctor!  a good Christian!  a father of many! yada yada yada).  You could ask your family to read them and then discuss them together.  This worked well for us/my mom because even though she disagreed with AP philosophies the books helped her accept that AP was not incompatible with Christianity and/or not something dh and I had cooked up on our own just to spite her parenting beliefs.


And then, perhaps select some poems or verses or songs or prayers that speak to you and work them into your day?  So that your child will find the pattern of, say, pre-meal thanksgiving, familiar.  There wont be a sense of "grandma does X and we do nothing" but instead a sense of "everyone says grace before meals" even if your grace and grandmas grace are worlds apart.  We did this ourselves as a way to prevent my mother from teaching our kiddos prayers/traditions we disagree with.  So we now sing a simple waldorf verse borrowed from dd1's preschool as well as twinkle twinkle little star (at dd2's request) before meals.  It's not a grace my mother would approve of, but now when she says "lets say grace" the girls are proud to show off "their grace" and there is no sense that grandma has something that we lack.


Like I said, I don't think there will be any lasting harm at this age, but some preventative planning may make you more comfortable with the situation, and that's a good thing.


good luck with the school program!  :)

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#6 of 8 Old 09-28-2011, 09:13 PM
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If she's under five.. she won't remember any of it. But yes, boundaries do need to be established here and then you'll have to follow through. Trust me, my fundie parents tried to sneak my kid off to church a lot. I finally had to have no overnights with grandparents because my hubby and I strongly disagree with the tenets of their faith.
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#7 of 8 Old 10-06-2011, 09:40 PM
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While your daughter is young and won't likely remember a lot of it I still believe that boundaries are a good thing and the earlier you establish them, the better.


If you don't want them doing these things as she gets older it seems prudent to go ahead and have a discussion with them about it now. "Mom/Dad I know you are really sincere in your beliefs and see it as a blessing to share them with dd. As her mother I'd like to be the one to begin introducing God/religion/faith to her as she gets older, in my own way." If you have specific things you don't want them to talk about then I'd let them know. I'd also tell them that if they had any questions to just let you know.


Do your parents usually respect your wishes and your position as her mother?


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#8 of 8 Old 10-13-2011, 03:15 PM
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I don't know if you're still reading this thread, but I just came upon it and it reminded me a bit of a situation with my in-laws. This part in particular sounds exactly like the issue we had:
Originally Posted by ihugtrees View Post

How can I gently, and non-offensively, ask my parents not to pray with my daughter, directly talk to her about heaven/hell/Jesus/getting saved, or read the Bible or Bible stories with her? I know they believe it is a scriptural mandate to share their faith, but I have told them before, Jesus never forced himself on anyone. He waited until people asked him. My parents are helping me so much and I am very grateful, but I still need to find a way to establish some boundaries with them.
DH & I had to sit down and talk with them honestly, but also lovingly and respectfully, without judging the way they had raised their children. We explained that we have our own way of parenting and would like to be the ones to teach our children about religion. We asked that they be respectful of that and leave the religious stories and prayers, etc, to us to talk about in our own way. The answer was pretty much what you've said--that they can't be good Christians without trying to spread Jesus' message. I asked that they spread his message by modelling his words and actions, rather than telling my kids outright. They were very upset about this but eventually did agree that Christ-like words and actions is indeed another way to teach a child about religion. Perhaps that is a way to approach it with them.
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