Raising kids non-christian in a christian family... - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-07-2007, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DP and I are both agnostic. We both used to be born-again Christians and everyone in my family is Christian. The only person who I've told directly that I am not a Christian anymore is my mother.

I'm very non-confrontational and conflict-avoiding and don't know how to handle this with regards to raising DD. I don't want people talking to her about Jesus and God and sin and all that, but I don't really want to make a big "issue" out of it. How do I tell my family that we're not raising DD as a Christian without inciting a riot?

Also, I want to do a blessing ceremony for DDs 1st birthday, and I would like my family to be involved and provide blessings, but I really don't want any Christian references made. Is this disrespecting their religion when I know that it is important to them? How do I deal with that situation? I still have a lot of bitterness and resentment about Christianity, so I want to be careful to not be disrespectful because of my own personal issues, but I also want our beliefs respected as well.
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Old 04-07-2007, 10:49 PM
 
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In order to have this blessing ceremony with no Christian references, you're going to have to tell them that, which will result in their knowing, and perhaps the confrontation you're seeking to avoid.

I suggest you get that issue out of the way before the Blessing, so they know where you're coming from.

Then, at the ceremony, one possibility is that you can allow family members to bless the baby according to their own beliefs, after the main ceremony which would be as nonchristian as you wish.

That's sort of what DH and I did with our renewal ceremony/wedding. It worked well enough.

OTOH, if some are so offended by your no longer following their beliefs, they might stay away and it'll be moot.

A UU minister might be a good resource for this.


"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 04-07-2007, 11:46 PM
 
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The blessing ceremony - either let them bless the way they want or do not invite them. either their blessings are welcome or not but you cannot ask them to pretend to be something they are not. I am not really sure how to ask Gods blessing on a a child without asking Gods blessings on the child. I think if you don't want the real them and their real blessings then it is best to not invite them at all. at things like this the guests are there to express their love and blessings. not play a part in a production. if they can't be real and bless however they want there is no reason for them to be there. at any rate I know if I received an invite that asked me to do something like that I would be deeply offended and would decline anyway.

as for initiating the conversation with family - I would keep off the radar as long as possible. You are more likely to avoid the launch of a salvation mission if they don't know think their services are needed. Right now they are assuming that your child is being raised in a Christian home so they don't feel it is their responsibility to convert your dd. but once they know your dd is not being raise Christian it might be an all out organized effort to make sure they get their influence in on her life. this is a battle I would put off until you have to face it. I didn't even leave Christianity. I just changed denominations. and i am already seeing our doctrinal beliefs being undermined at every turn.i would prefer that my in laws had no knowledge of our differing beliefs.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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Old 04-09-2007, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The blessing ceremony - either let them bless the way they want or do not invite them. either their blessings are welcome or not but you cannot ask them to pretend to be something they are not. I am not really sure how to ask Gods blessing on a a child without asking Gods blessings on the child.
Maybe blessing ceremony is the wrong term than. I want to have some sort of meaningful ceremony/ritual that is not religiously affiliated. Although I don't think blessings necessarily have to be associated with the Christian God.
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:16 PM
 
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Of course blessings are not exclusive to Christianity, but if your intent is to be inviting relatives to give their own blessings, then you must expect that they will do so from within their own belief system(s).

What we did, since I wasn't comfortable with being so public about my beliefs, was to have a welcoming party for DD. She was held by pretty much everyone, and a good time was had by all. No blatant religion anywhere.

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Old 04-09-2007, 09:33 PM
 
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The blessing ceremony - either let them bless the way they want or do not invite them. either their blessings are welcome or not but you cannot ask them to pretend to be something they are not.
Agreed. I think the idea of having some type of ritual with these people is a non-starter. Leave the religion out of it altogether, and have a party.

As for telling them about your changed beliefs, I don't think there's any easy way around it. I'd go nuts trying to tip toe around it. I'd rather just have it out, and deal with it. My folks are catholic and I'm not, and it was a BFD when they found out that I was not attending the catholic church after I moved out. I don't know why it would be, as I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to church every single week from the time I was 7, but some people are just like that about religion. It was a little weird for awhile, but for me, it would have been worse not to deal with it upfront.
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I suppose you guys are right. I just have my own personal issues and hearing Christian rhetoric makes me cringe. Ah, I guess it's time to get over it.

I think as long as we control the ceremony and the majority of it is non-Christian, it doesn't matter if people offer their blessings or prayers. I wouldn't care if people there offered Native American or Pagan or Jewish blessings/words, so I guess I shouldn't care about Christianity.

I'm still not sure HOW to let people know that we're not raising DD as a Christian....I do not look forward to the day someone gives her her first bible. And I'll have to say, "Thanks, but..."

I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
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Old 04-09-2007, 10:06 PM
 
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Here's what you do when that happens. You say "thanks" and then donate it to the local thrift store or whatever.

It can be used as a teaching tool too, but I'll admit that even I didn't do that. We've let the kids learn at our UU.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 04-09-2007, 10:16 PM
 
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I'm in your situation. I was raised BO Christian and am not anymore. I can empathize with my parents - they "know" that their own grand-babies are in danger of eternal damnation, unless they (my kids) choose to become Christian in the future. Imagine.

I've made the choice that everyone can love my kids in their own way. We get religious cards, wishes, even a Noah's Ark wall quilt (handmade, heirloom - in a religious theme, what do you think of that?). They "pray" for us. I say thanks, I think prayer is a beautiful good wish for us and I accept it with gratitude.

However - I take my girls to UU church and teach them about many different religious traditions. Christianity is one, that their grandparents happen to embrace. Hindu, Muslim, and Judaism are others that good friends of ours happen to embrace. They can know about them all, including each salvation story, so when they are faced with my parents telling them the "truth" they will know it is One of the many salvation stories out there.

Just noticed I'm practically preaching. Sorry! Just to say, I hear you, and maybe you can let your Christian family offer their blessings. It won't affect your little 1 year old, I don't think.
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Old 04-09-2007, 10:42 PM
 
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I don't mean to be unkind, but telling them that you're not raising her Christian will simply make them try to "save" her and you both.

Your best option is to ask that they allow you to do the spiritual teaching, that you are uncomfortable with some of the times at which things are taught and you would really appreciate if they left it to your discretion.

As for a blessing ceremony... sorry, but if you ask a Christian to "bless" your child, the only way for htem to do that is through their OWN beliefs. Which means invoking Jesus and Father. It's got nothing to do with respect or disrespect. It's just... you're asking God to bless the baby, then you're asking God as you understand it to bless the baby. That's how they understand it.

How about, instead of a "blessing" ceremony, a "welcoming" ceremony. "Welcome to Earth, little one!" Then just say it's an excuse to have a special occassion for her, who can complain about that?
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Old 04-10-2007, 12:24 AM
 
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I suppose you guys are right. I just have my own personal issues and hearing Christian rhetoric makes me cringe. Ah, I guess it's time to get over it.
you don't have to get over it unless you want to!

My family is fundies. Big time. I'm the only one who's left the church. I did it years ago, in a big way, and everyone knew. They held out hope that once DH and I settled down and raised kids, we were mellow out and take the kids to church.

Dh and I set VERY firm boundaries with my parents. When we are at my parents' house, there is a prayer before meals, but other than that, we skip all religious stuff. Our kids are quiet during prayer, but they are not required to bow heads, hold hands, or anything else.

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I think as long as we control the ceremony and the majority of it is non-Christian, it doesn't matter if people offer their blessings or prayers. I wouldn't care if people there offered Native American or Pagan or Jewish blessings/words, so I guess I shouldn't care about Christianity.
I think that if you do a ceremony with meaning for you, it will be obvious to your family that your beliefs have changed. Depending on what your family is like, if you ask them to speak, they could say all sorts of things that drive you bonkers, comments about raising her up for god, committing her to god's care, etc.

I know that I would never ask my extended family to bless my children because I would end up freaking out Would it be possible to have a blessing ceremony with friends who share your values, and a little party with cake and ice cream for the relatives?

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I'm still not sure HOW to let people know that we're not raising DD as a Christian....I do not look forward to the day someone gives her her first bible. And I'll have to say, "Thanks, but..."
it will be a cute one with lots of pretty pictures and she'll like it. (I let my DD keep her first bible for a few months until the new wore off and then I disappeared it.) My mom gave my DDs many religious books before I got up the nerve to tell her to stop it.

I finally asked my mom how she would have felt if someone of another faith kept constantly giving my sister I books about when we were small, knowing full well that it wasn't what she and my father believed.

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Your best option is to ask that they allow you to do the spiritual teaching, that you are uncomfortable with some of the times at which things are taught and you would really appreciate if they left it to your discretion.
Great idea!

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-10-2007, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't mean to be unkind, but telling them that you're not raising her Christian will simply make them try to "save" her and you both.

Your best option is to ask that they allow you to do the spiritual teaching, that you are uncomfortable with some of the times at which things are taught and you would really appreciate if they left it to your discretion.
That would be a lie. I am not uncomfortable with the times things are taught. I am uncomfortable with the things that are taught. I guess I feel that accepting the bible would be kind of "pretending" to be a Christian.

But I guess it is kind of childish, because I obviously have issues of feeling controlled and parented by everyone in my family because, well, they all did a lot of that. So I feel like I have to tell them that I'm not a Christian just to say, "F*** you! I'm not a Christian any more! You can't control me!" You know, the whole "you're not the boss of me" thing that toddlers do.

Not that that's the reason I'm not a Christian anymore, but it is quite clearly evidence that I'm crazy and I have issues. .....or :

That I'm even making an issue out of this is kind of ridiculous.
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Old 04-10-2007, 04:45 AM
 
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That I'm even making an issue out of this is kind of ridiculous.
Not really, gwynthfair. It's a big deal.

Hang in there.
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:37 AM
 
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That would be a lie. I am not uncomfortable with the times things are taught. I am uncomfortable with the things that are taught. I guess I feel that accepting the bible would be kind of "pretending" to be a Christian.
I thought you wanted to avoid telling them, I clearly misunderstood.

And no, it's not a lie. I have a hard time with the times when certain concepts of Christianity are introduced to children, myself. Like... ever. Never would be right up my alley.

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But I guess it is kind of childish, because I obviously have issues of feeling controlled and parented by everyone in my family because, well, they all did a lot of that. So I feel like I have to tell them that I'm not a Christian just to say, "F*** you! I'm not a Christian any more! You can't control me!" You know, the whole "you're not the boss of me" thing that toddlers do.
I went through it when I left Christianity, too. There's a very good reason for this. The religion itself is fear-based, guilt-based control. Indirectly, it teaches that if you are 'bad', you will lose God's love.

It is not unreasonable to have some bitterness over that. If our parents did these things to control us and force us to their will, they would be considered abusive. "Do what I say, or I'll burn you forever." But because it's "God," it's suddenly okay.

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Not that that's the reason I'm not a Christian anymore, but it is quite clearly evidence that I'm crazy and I have issues. .....or :

That I'm even making an issue out of this is kind of ridiculous.
Not the reason that I'm not a christian anymore, either. But I'll be damned if anyone's taking my child to a Christian church (including Catholic) and teaching her the principles espoused by those belief sets.

Some of the Christian beliefs are downright bizarre when you see them from the outside. And I don't want my child exposed to the scenes of torture and the "eat my flesh, drink my blood" concepts. Particularly at a young age... but never would be fine, too.
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Old 04-10-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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Not sure if this will help, but I told my Catholic mom that I was not comfortable teaching dc about religion until they are older. I told her Christian stories are too violent and while I was OK with general references to God ("God loves everyone," "let's thank God for this," etc.), that was it. My mom saw my point and has, for the most part, respected my wishes.

I'm not sure from your posts if you are uncomfortable with Christian references because it makes you uncomfortable or because you don't want your dc exposed to it (or maybe both?), so I'm not sure if what I'm suggesting would be helpful.

In any event, I LOVE the idea of a welcoming ceremony!
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Old 04-10-2007, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought you wanted to avoid telling them, I clearly misunderstood.

And no, it's not a lie. I have a hard time with the times when certain concepts of Christianity are introduced to children, myself. Like... ever. Never would be right up my alley.



I went through it when I left Christianity, too. There's a very good reason for this. The religion itself is fear-based, guilt-based control. Indirectly, it teaches that if you are 'bad', you will lose God's love.

It is not unreasonable to have some bitterness over that. If our parents did these things to control us and force us to their will, they would be considered abusive. "Do what I say, or I'll burn you forever." But because it's "God," it's suddenly okay.



Not the reason that I'm not a christian anymore, either. But I'll be damned if anyone's taking my child to a Christian church (including Catholic) and teaching her the principles espoused by those belief sets.

Some of the Christian beliefs are downright bizarre when you see them from the outside. And I don't want my child exposed to the scenes of torture and the "eat my flesh, drink my blood" concepts. Particularly at a young age... but never would be fine, too.

Yeah...ITA with all of that!
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Old 04-10-2007, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When I think about it, there's actually only 2 people from whom this would be a big issue for. My grandmas.

My grandpa's wife, my step-grandma is very into a non-denominational "hip" church with the live rock music and big productions and everything. She would probably respect our choices, but would still worry about us and pray for our souls, which is fine.

My other grandma, my mom's mom, is frankly, quite insane. She is a member of the RLDS and I'm sure she would totally freak out and try and change my mind. She terrorized her children with religion when they were young and at one point locked me in a room and accused me of being possessed by the devil. I think I was like 8 or 9 or something.
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:48 PM
 
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That I'm even making an issue out of this is kind of ridiculous.
No, not ridiculous at all, especially after reading post 17.

You will eventually get to the point that being who/what you are is more important and more at the fore of your mind than what/who you are Not.
Clearly, you are not there yet. That's okay. "Time" may well mean a long time.

I like the suggestion above that you could do the spiritually-significant-to-you ceremony stuff with supportive friends and a second event "Welcome to the World" with family, and probably those same friends, while leaving all religious references out during the party.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:51 PM
 
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But I guess it is kind of childish, because I obviously have issues of feeling controlled and parented by everyone in my family because, well, they all did a lot of that. So I feel like I have to tell them that I'm not a Christian just to say, "F*** you! I'm not a Christian any more! You can't control me!" You know, the whole "you're not the boss of me" thing that toddlers do.
I'm hearing the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle now.

You're not the boss of me now
You're not the boss of me now
You're not the boss of me now
And you're not so big
Life is unfair!

For what it's worth, I think that as some point you should tell them just to be authentic about who you are, but that you aren't ready to do this yet because you are still really angry. It is OK that you are angry -- be it, feel it, and work through it. Eventually, when you get to the other side of the anger, you'll be able to tell them calmly that Christianity just doesn't work for you and that will be end of the dicussion. There won't be a need for it to be F*** Y*** because you'll be over it.


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That I'm even making an issue out of this is kind of ridiculous.
no, you are trying to figure out how to be authentic and yet not confrontational. This is a big deal. :

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You will eventually get to the point that being who/what you are is more important and more at the fore of your mind than what/who you are Not.
Clearly, you are not there yet. That's okay. "Time" may well mean a long time.


Have you read Heal Your Life by Hay? You might find it helpful.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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