When grandparents are religious zealots with whom you disagree... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What tact do you take when a set of grandparents are religious zealots? In my case, it is my husband's mom and dad. They belong to a cult which my husband and I have determined to be very damaging. Their religion is riddled with racist doctrines, it treats women as second class citizens, encourages extremely harmful and inaccurate self perceptions (especially regarding human sexuality), and marginalizes single women, childless women, homosexuals, dark skinned races, etc. In short, their's is not the sort of religion I would ever be comfortable teaching to my children. 

 

We have had problems in the past with them teaching our kids (both under age 5 and whip smart) the children's stories of their religion. My husband says he asked his mother to stop and she declared that she would not. So I subtly stopped allowing the kids to have unsupervised visits with them. But around the holidays I let the kids have a few unsupervised visits and am now dealing with the inevitable results. I heard one of my sons say a name pertinent to gparent's religion and when I asked him more about it, he clammed up like he wasn't supposed to tell me (he has never done that before, it was a truly weird moment to see him try to hide something). Finally I wheedled it out of him and it turns out the kids had been playing a game that involved slaying the "evil" Native Americans (although they are called by another name in this religion.) I was horrified. My husband and I work so hard to not teach our children racism (we are from and in the south so it's a real problem here) and our kids are learning these awful stories that vilify dark skinned peoples as being sinners against God in the "pre-existence".

 

I'm angry at the in laws but I'm mostly angry at myself for growing complacent and allowing this to happen. I know that this one incident isn't going to cause lasting harm but their interference only intensifies as the kids get older. These people think they have a God-given claim on my children's souls. I worry that they would stop at nothing to convert my kids, their religion requires it of them.  

 

Obviously I must reinstate the unspoken rule (which my husband agrees with me on thankfully) of no unsupervised visits... But it's just so hard to deal with. My mil will actually call my husband CRYING that she hasn't gotten "grammy time" with our kids in sooo long etc. He is quite resistant to her emotional manipulation tactics but it introduces a lot for stress for us.

 

HOW do you deal with religious zealot grandparents? Their religion in no way aligns with our personal or spiritual beliefs as a couple but they don't care one whit about what we think of it. They truly are after our children's souls and it is by far the most disturbing family relations issue I have ever had to deal with.

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#2 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 04:47 PM
 
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My child would have no contact with them whatsoever. I would tell them exactly why and then I would change my phone number and email address.
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#3 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 04:53 PM
 
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My child would have no contact with them whatsoever. I would tell them exactly why and then I would change my phone number and email address.

Ditto.
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#4 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 05:14 PM
 
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My child would have no contact with them whatsoever. I would tell them exactly why and then I would change my phone number and email address.

In this situation, I completely agree with this. 

 

We're going to be dealing with a similar situation in a few years with DD and have already decided she will have absolutely no alone/unsupervised time with them. But they are not as extreme as this and I would not allow my child around people like that.


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#5 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 05:16 PM
 
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Well, just to reaffirm for you, but just because grandparents whine or complain about alone time with your children - doesn't mean you need to provide it. We do mainly family time with grandparents and have one who complains a little, and 2 others who are just happy to see us all.

As for the other issues - sounds like the religion I was raised in perhaps. I think there will be a lot of pressure on your kids to go along, if they're alone or doing church group type stuff with grandparents (like this "game"). There's likely a lot of pressure on the grandparents to pass on their beliefs too. Be blunt with your family members, arm your kids with their own beliefs. Teach them that people can have different beliefs and its ok. And don't have unsupervised time with people who don't respect your boundaries for your kids.
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#6 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 05:43 PM
 
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Agree with all that was said here!

I personally had to ban weekend sleepovers with my mom because she would take the kids to her church even if I asked her not to. Then the kids get into the whole "keep a secret" business that is so confusing for the child.
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#7 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 08:04 PM
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As for the other issues - sounds like the religion I was raised in perhaps.

 

 Me, too.  

 

Maya Angelou said that we teach people how to treat us.  Don't teach your in-laws that it is ok to continue behaving this way.


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#8 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 08:05 PM
 
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Sounds like my parents.

I find the phrase , "I can see why you feel that way, but none the less, this is what we've decided to do" very helpful.

Then you just stop caring about whether or not they are upset. keep reminding yourself that they don't care if you are upset.

Also, moving half way across the country to get away from them helps.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 20 Old 12-29-2012, 09:10 PM
 
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I think it may help to label their bigotry to them. Don't make it about their religion. Just say, "We'd love to do grammy time. But we don't allow racism in our family. So we can't." Using the actual word "racism" can be a shock to people like that because they often don't get told that they are racist.

 

You can even throw some of their own terminology back at them: "We want to bring up our children with wholesome, family-friendly values. They need to learn to respect all people. We don't allow the kind of language you use to be used around our children." They probably think of their own values as "family values" so it's a good wake-up call to have it used to mean what it should mean.

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#10 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 01:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

Also, moving half way across the country to get away from them helps.

ROTFLMAO.gifLove that one.

 

I am fortunate that my MIL keeps her religion out of our kid's life (she lives locally), but I have sure had to fight the "alone with granny time" issue repeatedly.  We make sure our little guy sees his grandparents with what I feel is regularity (about 3x/mo.), but it's never enough for her.  Grandpa is fine with the schedule, it would appear.  I did cave on a family vacation when she was whining about her "alone time" with our then-two year old; within about three minutes, it got quiet...I came out of my room and he was gone.  Granny was doing dishes and had no idea where he was.   My toddler had unlocked an interior door, slid the bolt on a second-story gate, gone down both flights of stairs, and was in the parking area under the house trying to get into SIL's unlocked car.  But I digress.

 

I always see red flags when a child is asked to keep a secret, unless it's about what's under the tree or something along those lines.

 

If you have repeatedly discussed this with them and it's to no avail thus far, my next step would be a co-written, co-signed, compassionate letter explaining that, while you value their role in your children's lives (if indeed you do), the monkey business has to stop, completely.  No wiggle room, no open window. 

 

You are in a very tough spot.  Good luck.


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#11 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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I think it may help to label their bigotry to them. Don't make it about their religion. Just say, "We'd love to do grammy time. But we don't allow racism in our family. So we can't." Using the actual word "racism" can be a shock to people like that because they often don't get told that they are racist.

You can even throw some of their own terminology back at them: "We want to bring up our children with wholesome, family-friendly values. They need to learn to respect all people. We don't allow the kind of language you use to be used around our children." They probably think of their own values as "family values" so it's a good wake-up call to have it used to mean what it should mean.

This. But I bet they will get super defensive about it. I do think you should call a spade a spade, so to speak.

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#12 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 10:33 AM
 
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I would tell them that there will be no more unsupervised visits, tell them why and tell them that if they say any such thing in front of their grandchildren again that they will no longer see them at all.  

 

They and people with similar views are causing quite enough tears with their attitudes and behaviour.  I would be devastated if my children were repeating this sort of thing.  And I'd be very worried if one of my children had any 'not supposed to tell' behaviour after spending time with another adult.  

 

I want my children to grow up hearing and learning about a wide range of beliefs, attitudes and cultures.  But there are some beliefs that are just not okay, not even close, and they should be relegated to the history books.  As long as people are spreading this hatred to children, there is no chance of that.  

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#13 of 20 Old 12-30-2012, 05:50 PM
 
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Also, moving half way across the country to get away from them helps.

Did that! Helps a lot!
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#14 of 20 Old 12-31-2012, 05:56 AM
 
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I agree with all of this. Call them on the racism, do not cave on alone time, and don't care. Which I know is hard. My kids were never allowed to have alone time with DH's parents either, we kept the contact very minimal for damage control as well, they were local, and it was so difficult. The guilt they would lay on him, all the phone calls and tears. We no longer speak to them and haven't in years, honestly it has been very freeing to be rid of all the drama but of course DH misses his family, we all wish it could of been different. You need to come with a line that both DH and you agree on and every time they ask, you parrot this over and over again. Be on the same page and don't cave. Work on letting the guilt go is essential to your and your DH's mental health, it makes this a more tolerable situation for the long term. 


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#15 of 20 Old 12-31-2012, 06:05 AM
 
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Working on letting the guilt go is something that I completely agree with.  It's hard but YOU know what is right and what your children need and it's okay to stand up for that - not only okay - essential that you do what is needed to protect your children from hatred.

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#16 of 20 Old 12-31-2012, 06:45 AM
 
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I would definitely reinstate no alone time with the Grandparents and I too would tell them why and in plain language (racism, hatred, etc.). It sounds like they aren't going to change their minds and that you still want a relationship, so that's the route I would take so its clear to them why they aren't getting alone time so if they do change their minds in the future, maybe that can change. Sorry you are having to deal with this, I just am basically agnostic now raised in a very religious family, but my family and the religion are fairly liberal so it isn't too bad, but even that is hard enough at times.

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#17 of 20 Old 12-31-2012, 06:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Quinalla View Post
 It sounds like they aren't going to change their minds.

 

Excellent point; it'd be the same if they thought they could get you to "change your mind" about your beliefs.

 

Hope they are able to see the forest for the trees on this one.  They could lose both you all and their grandchildren over this.


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#18 of 20 Old 12-31-2012, 07:20 PM
 
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No alone time with grandparents, and I'd tell them why. Supervised visits only.


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#19 of 20 Old 02-11-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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What tact do you take when a set of grandparents are religious zealots? In my case, it is my husband's mom and dad. They belong to a cult which my husband and I have determined to be very damaging. Their religion is riddled with racist doctrines, it treats women as second class citizens, encourages extremely harmful and inaccurate self perceptions (especially regarding human sexuality), and marginalizes single women, childless women, homosexuals, dark skinned races, etc. In short, their's is not the sort of religion I would ever be comfortable teaching to my children. 

 

We have had problems in the past with them teaching our kids (both under age 5 and whip smart) the children's stories of their religion. My husband says he asked his mother to stop and she declared that she would not. So I subtly stopped allowing the kids to have unsupervised visits with them. But around the holidays I let the kids have a few unsupervised visits and am now dealing with the inevitable results. I heard one of my sons say a name pertinent to gparent's religion and when I asked him more about it, he clammed up like he wasn't supposed to tell me (he has never done that before, it was a truly weird moment to see him try to hide something). Finally I wheedled it out of him and it turns out the kids had been playing a game that involved slaying the "evil" Native Americans (although they are called by another name in this religion.) I was horrified. My husband and I work so hard to not teach our children racism (we are from and in the south so it's a real problem here) and our kids are learning these awful stories that vilify dark skinned peoples as being sinners against God in the "pre-existence".

 

I'm angry at the in laws but I'm mostly angry at myself for growing complacent and allowing this to happen. I know that this one incident isn't going to cause lasting harm but their interference only intensifies as the kids get older. These people think they have a God-given claim on my children's souls. I worry that they would stop at nothing to convert my kids, their religion requires it of them.  

 

Obviously I must reinstate the unspoken rule (which my husband agrees with me on thankfully) of no unsupervised visits... But it's just so hard to deal with. My mil will actually call my husband CRYING that she hasn't gotten "grammy time" with our kids in sooo long etc. He is quite resistant to her emotional manipulation tactics but it introduces a lot for stress for us.

 

HOW do you deal with religious zealot grandparents? Their religion in no way aligns with our personal or spiritual beliefs as a couple but they don't care one whit about what we think of it. They truly are after our children's souls and it is by far the most disturbing family relations issue I have ever had to deal with.

 

Bolding for emphasis.  They have told you who they are and what they are willing to do. Believe them.

 

For starters, this isn't about racism or religion. The core of the issue is that they do not respect you and your dh as the parents to your children.  In your own words "they would stop at nothing to convert my kids, their religion requires it of them". Supervised visits isn't going to stop anything. Perhaps at first, when they believe they will eventually get your kids alone. And supervised visits are exhausting, especially with multiple kids. It only takes a second for them to pull your child into another room, or slip them a brochure on their religion when you're not looking.

 

You cannot undo damage after it's done. Who is to say that supervised visits is going to prevent them from doing anything?  If they blurt out a racist comment or other comment that you don't approve of, the damage is done. You can't prevent that.  These people will stop at nothing AND THEY HAVE TOLD YOU THAT THEMSELVES!

 

Your dh being stressed from his mother's manipulative tactics is proof that the manipulation is starting to work. He's starting to feel bad or even guilty about it.

 

Cut these people out of your lives and be done with them.  If you are hesitant to cut them off completely, take an extended break from them for a minimum of 6 months, a year is better. Then see how their behavior is. Does it change?  Are they more respectful?  Are they willing to listen?  I'm betting they're not, and if they do by chance it's likely only because they are doing it to get what they want. When the break is over, they'll be back to their old ways.

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#20 of 20 Old 03-02-2013, 11:38 AM
 
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So many great posts on this thread. My husbands parents, and my parents, are all deeply religious (different religions) and I am very thankful none of them have tried any of this garbage. I suppose they all know that it is a wasted cause, DH and I would do lockdown in a minute. So I think having a strong, common front, really helps. But the biggest difference is respect. Our parents absolutely do not agree with our religious beliefs, but they RESPECT that we are the parents and we will raise our children the way we think is best. There are minor issues (as I am sure they have minor issues with us); but the core respect is there, and therefore we feel safe visiting and leaving kids on short visits. If respect is missing, there is no way forward. And if guilt and manipulation are involved, not only is there no way forward, but actually being there is harmful, and should be avoided. 

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Originally Posted by mumkimum View Post

Well, just to reaffirm for you, but just because grandparents whine or complain about alone time with your children - doesn't mean you need to provide it. We do mainly family time with grandparents and have one who complains a little, and 2 others who are just happy to see us all.

As for the other issues - sounds like the religion I was raised in perhaps. I think there will be a lot of pressure on your kids to go along, if they're alone or doing church group type stuff with grandparents (like this "game"). There's likely a lot of pressure on the grandparents to pass on their beliefs too. Be blunt with your family members, arm your kids with their own beliefs. Teach them that people can have different beliefs and its ok. And don't have unsupervised time with people who don't respect your boundaries for your kids.

Bolding mine. Different beliefs are fine. Racist, bigoted beliefs are not OK. 

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Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Agree with all that was said here!

I personally had to ban weekend sleepovers with my mom because she would take the kids to her church even if I asked her not to. Then the kids get into the whole "keep a secret" business that is so confusing for the child.

This is a huge red flag. Someone convincing a child to keep a secret from his/her parents. That is a huge, smothering amount of guilt a child must bear. 

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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

Then you just stop caring about whether or not they are upset. keep reminding yourself that they don't care if you are upset.

When your DH feels guilty or upset, ask him, do his parents feel guilty or upset? It must be awful for him. 

 

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Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

I think it may help to label their bigotry to them. Don't make it about their religion. Just say, "We'd love to do grammy time. But we don't allow racism in our family. So we can't." Using the actual word "racism" can be a shock to people like that because they often don't get told that they are racist.

 

You can even throw some of their own terminology back at them: "We want to bring up our children with wholesome, family-friendly values. They need to learn to respect all people. We don't allow the kind of language you use to be used around our children." They probably think of their own values as "family values" so it's a good wake-up call to have it used to mean what it should mean.

ITA. Yes, throw their terminology right back at them. Think of the phrases they use, and then use the same. I would also call a spade a spade. The people they associate with are not used to hearing the spade called a spade. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post

 

Bolding for emphasis.  They have told you who they are and what they are willing to do. Believe them.

 

For starters, this isn't about racism or religion. The core of the issue is that they do not respect you and your dh as the parents to your children.  In your own words "they would stop at nothing to convert my kids, their religion requires it of them". Supervised visits isn't going to stop anything. Perhaps at first, when they believe they will eventually get your kids alone. And supervised visits are exhausting, especially with multiple kids. It only takes a second for them to pull your child into another room, or slip them a brochure on their religion when you're not looking.

 

You cannot undo damage after it's done. Who is to say that supervised visits is going to prevent them from doing anything?  If they blurt out a racist comment or other comment that you don't approve of, the damage is done. You can't prevent that.  These people will stop at nothing AND THEY HAVE TOLD YOU THAT THEMSELVES!

 

Your dh being stressed from his mother's manipulative tactics is proof that the manipulation is starting to work. He's starting to feel bad or even guilty about it.

 

Cut these people out of your lives and be done with them.  If you are hesitant to cut them off completely, take an extended break from them for a minimum of 6 months, a year is better. Then see how their behavior is. Does it change?  Are they more respectful?  Are they willing to listen?  I'm betting they're not, and if they do by chance it's likely only because they are doing it to get what they want. When the break is over, they'll be back to their old ways.

 

Agree. It all goes back to respect. You have respect for people you truly care about. If you care for someone, you respect them the best you can, even if you disagree. Unfortunately your DHs parents do not care about you or your family, or they would make efforts. It must be painful for your husband to hear this. But I would have him read this whole thread. And think about making some distance, for your kids, but also for the long-term health, happiness and peace for your husband. It will hurt in the beginning, but in the long term your Dh can work through some of the complex issues and come to some peaceful terms with it. Which is a lot better than the stress, guilt and manipulation he is feeling now. 

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