Dealing with in-laws with different religions - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-15-2003, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have any of you had to deal with this? My MIL is a religious extremist and feels deeply called to proselytize. She's been making these religious things for my baby, blankets and wall hangings and such, that I am really uncomfortable having around me. I don't want to keep her from being who she is, and I know she's doing all these things with love, even though I have explained to her that we don't share her beliefs. Since she is making these things for our child, I'd like to put them away in the back of a closet and give them to my child when he/she grows up. Does this seem like a reasonable thing to do? I feel I need to set limits around this issue with my MIL, but I don't want to be disrespectful, either.
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#2 of 5 Old 02-15-2003, 11:46 PM
 
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I haven't had a problem with my MIL on this issue, for me it's been friends of the family. I am amazed at how little some people know about religions other than their own. We had close friends give our dd a cross with jesus on it, even though they know we aren't Christian. I have to say I was a little dumbfounded. I would never give someone (their child especially) a religious item like that knowing they aren't members of that faith.

I think it's admirable that you are willing to hold onto the items from MIL and save them for your DC. Why not just be honest with her about your feelings??
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#3 of 5 Old 02-16-2003, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I know from previous experience that she is unwilling to change her behavior in terms of giving me cross-stitches with religious sayings on them, and stuff like that; she doesn't try to force us to go to services with her or anything, she just keeps giving us things with religious imagery on it. (Stuff she gives us (usually books) tends to end up recycled or something; but handmade things that are given to the baby I don't feel are mine to do that with.)

It seems like I will need to explain to my MIL at some point that we are uncomfortable having religious stuff around, but we are keeping it in storage for the baby. I guess she'll have to deal with that...

I've explained to her before that I'm not a Christian, to get her to stop sending me religious emails. She seldom sends me that stuff anymore, but we still get books, etc. Sometimes people just refuse to hear you. So, I guess it is easy enough to ignore it, and dispose of things that are unwelcome. From her perspective, she is sharing something she loves, so it seems unproductive to "push back"...

Being a new parent, it is tough to figure out just how to set limits with extended family. It's going to come up with AP'ing, too, I'm sure. I think it may turn out to be the hardest part of parenting!
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#4 of 5 Old 02-16-2003, 02:59 AM
 
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I agree, setting boundries with the grandparents can be challenging. I've actually had to do that more with my parents than my ILs. There seem to be two ways of handling it. You can just keep recycling the items, but she will probably just keep sending them. What has worked best for me (YMMW) is just let them know what we are avoiding (toy guns, nativities et al) and if they still give the stuff I usually offer it back. Saying "you know, I don't think I can really use this". Eventually they usually get the hint.

My mom is actually really considerate of my parenting choices now. But it took awhile for her to realize that I was the mom here and my choices aren't always the same as hers. Obviously it can be a little more tricky with inlaws.
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#5 of 5 Old 02-16-2003, 05:49 AM
 
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I suppose it depends on how strongly you feel about it. If it is just a minor annoyance, sure, keep them in a box in the closet and don't worry about it. But if it makes you nuts, speak up.

My MIL is very Catholic. Dh believes but is fine with skipping any religion until the kids are old enough to understand that it is a choice. I am a secular humanist (just figured that out from a link on this board - just said atheist before). Religion being pushed on my kids in any way makes me nuts. I was raised to believe in myself. To count on myself, my family, my close friends.

My MIL is totally freaked out that her grandkids aren't baptized. When they are 10 or 12 and old enough to learn about it and understand and make that choice, ok by me. Dh is fine with this plan too. He goes to church with his mom (to make her happy) twice a year (Xmas and Easter). The kids and I stay home. I feel strongly about it and it is just not something I am willing to do for her.

In the past, she (MIL) would buy dd1 religious board books. She knows I love books so maybe thought she could slip it in that way. I would hide them - she would find them and put them back in her toy bin (all MIL bought toys are kept at MIL's house for them to play with when they are there - my choice). She has given up finally.

But dd1 said something about Jesus one time and I asked how she knew about him. She tells me "Gramma told me - she showed me a picture - Grampa is with him" etc. I was not pleased but what can you do? I am sure an atheist daughter in law was her worst nightmare - but we get along fine.
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