Help me talk to my grandma about preaching to my kids! - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 17 Old 09-12-2009, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My great grandmother is in her late 80's. She comes to stay with us several times per year. I absolutely love that my kids get to have a relationship with there g. g. I feel extremely lucky to still have my grandma and that she is in great shape and can come see us. The problem is that now that my 2 older kids are out of the baby/toddler stage, she has begun to talk to them about her religion (we are agnostic). This would be fine if she was just presenting it like, "this is what I believe", we would actually welcome her sharing her perspective, but she tells them that this is the only way and they are going to go to hell and burn if they don't accept Jesus Christ. It goes on and on.

And she always does this when she is alone with the kids, never when we are in earshot. We found out she was doing it when my 5 year old began to ask us questions and then tell us what she was saying.

She has always been quite forceful with her religious beliefs. For those of us in the extended family who have set limits with her, she will stop. She will pout and complain, but she will stop. The problem is that in the past, I have not always handled this as kindly as I would've liked to. I don't want to get into a religious debate with her and I don't want to come across as unkind. I want her to keep visiting us but I don't want her to discuss religion with our kids, because she won't do it appropriately, other family members have been through this with her. Dh and I feel it is up to us to give our kids information about many religions. And we would like for her to respect that this is our role, not hers.

Please share with me what you might say to Grandma if you were in my situation to get her to stop preaching to the kids, especially so sneakily. And how would you handle it if she did not respect the boundaries you set.
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#2 of 17 Old 09-12-2009, 11:06 PM
 
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Don't leave your kids alone with her.

What I have done with my mother-in-law, is had many conversations with my ds, so when he talks with her he knows where she is coming from and where we stand and he can form his own opinions about G*d as he grows and learns about different religions!

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#3 of 17 Old 09-12-2009, 11:25 PM
 
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I think she probably already knows how you feel about this, or she wouldn't have gone around your back. I don't really think there is much you could say that would convince her to change, so I would focus on how you want to handle the issue from that perspective.

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#4 of 17 Old 09-12-2009, 11:55 PM
 
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I agree that there may not be a whole lot that you could say to change the religioug viewd of an 80 year old women. However, you can be completely honest with your kids and their gg's ways. Let them know how what you believe compares to what she believes, and why she behaves the way she does.
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#5 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 12:28 AM
 
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I would, and have, said to beloved family members who were insistant on presenting their particular brand of hellfire and brimstone religion:

"I understand that you worry about us not being together after we all die. I know that this is really important to you because you love all of us. We love you to. I wish there was some way that I could give you the peace that I feel about what happens after we die. Please know that even though we don't share the same views about God/The Afterlife, that that doesn't get in the way of us loving you and enjoying you. However, I'm going to have to ask you to not talk about hell with my children again. If you think that you can abide by my wishes then I'll be happy to give you another chance. If you can't, then thank you for being honest about it. We won't be able to have you as a babysitter anymore, but you are welcome to visit as long as we are present. When the kids are 18, you are more than welcome to share whatever you like with them. Until then, though, we are responsible for our children's education, and it would make me very sad if we have to limit our interactions with you because you can't respect our boundaries."
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#6 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 01:26 AM
 
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If you're sure she will stop if you're forceful about it. Then you can probably just say something along the lines of "Dh and I have made the choice to teach our children about religions in an all inclusive matter that will let them make their own choices about it when they are ready. We need you to please refrain from discussing religion with them."

If that doesn't work, then more extreme measures might be needed. In all honesty though, that is about all you should be required to say to her. All you should be required to say to anyone... *sigh* Anyway, I do hope it works out. Dh and I had to have this conversation with his parents and my mom. My mom chose to respect our wishes and as a result has chosen to be an huge part of DD and DS's lives. Dh's parents decided their religous belief was more important then their grandkids (well granddaughter at the time).

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#7 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jewelsJZ View Post
I don't want to get into a religious debate with her and I don't want to come across as unkind. I want her to keep visiting us but I don't want her to discuss religion with our kids....<snip> Dh and I feel it is up to us to give our kids information about many religions. And we would like for her to respect that this is our role, not hers.

Please share with me what you might say to Grandma if you were in my situation to get her to stop preaching to the kids, especially so sneakily. And how would you handle it if she did not respect the boundaries you set.
That entire first paragraph I quoted above....that's what I would tell her.

And I feel strongly enough about proselytizing that I wouldn't allow the kids to be alone with her if she could not respect my boundaries.
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#8 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 02:58 AM
 
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I'm an atheist, as is my dp. We will raise our child in that vein.

However, my advice is to either let it go or to just not leave your kids alone with her. I say this because of how my family is. They're ALL hardcore Catholics. I personally can't and won't police their discussions with my child. With my family, it's just not possible. No, it's not the best way to introduce religion - but it is an opportunity to share with your children, your view on religious beliefs.

The reason I say to let it go is because this isn't a person who has a daily influence on your children. They're unlikely to suddenly develop Catholic (or other religion) guilt from this interaction. Heck, I became an atheist after surviving my Hardcore Catholic family - and I did it guilt free.

They still preach to me, and I just smile and nod. It's not worth it to me to make religion a power struggle between me and my family. I love them. I don't know how much longer I will have with them. I want our moments to be drama free, so I let it go.

I also knew my great grandmother. She died when I was 11. I remember her teaching me all kinds of things - writing, drawing, reading, and, yes, God. Those are some of my best memories.

Maybe I'm one of those "lazy atheists" ... but, I know my family will preach their little hearts out to my child. I survived their preaching intact. My kid will have to tough it out too.

Of course, feel free to ignore my lax approach if it doesn't work for you.

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#9 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 12:27 PM
 
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My MIL isn't the hellfire and brimstone type, but she does apparently provide her Catholic view of the universe to DD (she looks after her frequently) and I don't mind. I actually like that DD is getting a couple different views of religion/spirituality. I'm pagan-agnostic, and although I don't have it in me to really believe in the Christian god, I know that a lot of people do, and sometimes I envy them that. I'm pretty aware that most religious belief (including my own lack of such) is just that - belief, and therefore unknowable - and I'll tell DD what I believe, and later on she can make up her own mind. Yesterday she asked me "Who made the earth, mama? Did God make the earth?" and I said that some people believed that, but I thought it was more amazing and wonderful that the simple pull of gravity on billions of little rocks and bits in space glommed them all together and made a planet.

Anyway, I think kids have the capability to listen to people without necessarily believing everything they say, especially if you tell them that Grandma believes something that you don't, and that there's absolutely no proof that people go to hell for not believing in Jesus. But you might also want to mention - if it is the case for you - that it's ok to believe in Jesus, too, if it makes you happy. They can probably come to their own conclusions about whether or not it's making your Grandma happy

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#10 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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Can you tell her that you want her to share her beliefs about God and his love but not about hell and death at this point because you want religion to be fun for your kids and not scary?
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#11 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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Since she only does it when you're out of the room, I just wouldn't be out of the room anymore while she's visiting. The way she's presenting the information is frightening and not okay.

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#12 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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Since she only does it when you're out of the room, I just wouldn't be out of the room anymore while she's visiting. The way she's presenting the information is frightening and not okay.
Completely agree.
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#13 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here. I don't leave her alone with them very often but it's just not possible to do that all the time. I have to nurse the baby upstairs before nap. My 5 y.o. will seek out Grandma when she is outside or in another area of the house and I don't want to tell him no, you can't do that all the time.
Because she is doing it sneakily, I am really, really not okay with it. If it were out in the open, that might be different. Or if it wasn't so scary with the fire of hell and all that. It's just not appropriate.
Letting it go is not an option for us. It has gotten worse and worse each time she has been here. I love her dearly, but I won't let my children be exposed to her "teachings" this way. It was what she did to me as a child and it was confusing and scary and it took me a lot of years to come to terms with it.
Two visits ago, I was in the hospital having ds2. A friend was babysitting my other 2 kids and grandma was here. She went upstairs after the kids had been put to bed but weren't asleep and started preaching to them. My friend didn't know what to do.
I will be talking to her about this, I was just trying to get some advice as to what to say/how to talk to her.
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#14 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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I will be talking to her about this, I was just trying to get some advice as to what to say/how to talk to her.
In that case, I think you've gotten some good ideas from other posters. Just be direct and say something like, "I love you, but I'm really uncomfortable with the way you talk to the kids about religion and am going to have to ask that you leave that to DH and I to discuss with them."

See what her reaction is -- she may completely understand and be willing to drop it, or she may resist, in which case you'll have to find a way to be in the room during her visits. It might not be convenient, but if you don't want your kids exposed to her ideas on religion, then it'll be necessary.

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#15 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 05:58 PM
 
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since you have experienced it i would share with her how you felt when she shared what she did with you.

do you mind what she says. do you think she would be ok if you said you can talk about the love of jesus or somethign like that but not about punishment or anger or what will happen to you if you dont.

you know when people get old and they get close to death - religion becomes v. important to them. i think her sharing iwth your children is an expression of her love for them. she really wants to save them becasue belief is really important for her. so if you see her as talking to them out of love, rather than trying to impose her viewpoints on them might soften the way the words come out of you.

i have raised my dd to believe that everyone has a mouth and everyone has free speech. but what you listen and what you believe in is your own decisioon. just because someone says it doesnt mean you accept it. at 5 she debated with an elderly who was trying to share the punishing arm of god, (we do go to a fellowship) and dd shared that that is not her god. her god would never be that mean. so just coz you say it doesnt mean its true.

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#16 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 09:19 PM
 
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If her preaching helped you become comfortable as an atheist, you might want to share that with her.

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#17 of 17 Old 09-13-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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Limit time alone with her and tell the kids she's senile and doesn't know what she's saying : Seriously though, at 80 years old she's not going to change. If you want her in their lives then use this as a chance to educate them about different religions and why you disagree.

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