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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am so conflicted - I would love feedback from anyone who has experienced this:<br>
My parents are devout Catholics (and republicans), and my partner and myself are non-christian democrats. They have started teaching my 2 yr old dd Catholic rituals like kissing baby Jesus (a statuette) and sign of the cross. I have tried to balance by teaching her that they believe in Jesus, but not everyone does, and that her parents do not. As I got more complex introducing Buddha, Mohammed and Krsna, I felt ridiculous. What can she absorb? Does she know what a belief is?<br><br>
So I think I have started a tug of war that I do not want to engage in. Our daughter does not deserve the tangle of hypocrisy involved in organized religion.<br><br>
My greatest fear is for her to learn their religion and turn to us and see heathens who are not going to heaven. Will she be afraid as a young child to think we will not be in heaven with her, or worse, that we will be tortured by the devil???<br><br>
Help! How do I stop this without alienating her loving grandparents. She has an otherwise fabulous relationship with them, as do I.
 

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Have you talked to your parents and told them how uncomfortable you are with this? I haven't had to deal with this yet, but dh and I see it coming. His parents are pretty devout Christians and we're Buddhists. They've indicated that they're interested in teaching the Bible to our girls when they get old enough (they're Sunday school teachers) and we've already indicated that we're not interested. Since our girls are so young right now, we haven't had to deal with it seriously. But I think communication is important. Tell them how you feel. She's your daughter and you have ultimate say in what she is being taught.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks for the reply Mamadawg! I haven't said anything to them yet, probably because I know that I will have to declare myself as a non-christian. They should already have figured this out-- we did not get married in the church and we did not baptise Stella. We do not go to church. But to flatly put it out there that I do not believe Jesus is God will make them flip. Well, that is my fear.
 

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my parents are both agnostic, tho they were both raised in very christian families. when my sister and i were little, my grandparents and great aunts were always sending us religious books. I especialy remember one called "The Bible for Little Eyes." It was just a collection of bible stories, with very brightly colored, old-style illustrations. I LOVED that book. I could tell my mom was not exactly thrilled that I wanted to read the story of Isaac sacrificing his son over and over again, but she never said anything against it. But really they were just stories to me, in a particularly appealing format. Growing up, most of my best friends were of devout families - Catholic and Mormon especially - and I loved going to church with them. I have always been fascinated by ritual. I remember when I was in 1st or 2nd grade I wanted a puppy, and my Catholic friend suggested I pray. My mom gave me a funny look when she found me praying at bedtime, but didn't say anything negative. I continued to pray for a while, but it didn't pan out, so I quit.<br><br>
Anyway, I have remained an atheist my entire life. But unlike many atheists I know, I do not look down on religion. I have a great deal of respect for it, I think it has a lot of potential for good. Although I wish I had had more exposure to non-Christian religions growing up, I think it was good for me to be able to explore different religions. I should say that altho I didn't have any friends of non-Christian religions until I was an adult, my mom was very good about exposing us to other cultures through books and storytellers and cultural events/festivals, and because she taught ESL she often had the opportunity to bring up other religious traditions and beliefs in conversation.<br><br>
So my point in all that, is I personally think it's fine for your dd to explore catholicism, and it sounds like you have been responding very well. Just continue to expose her to other religions every way you can think of. It doesn't have to be a tug of war, jsut offer the buffet and remember she has her whole lifetime to pick through it. If she does come with some of that fire-n-brimstone stuff, you can gently counter it by suggesting other options, of what other people believe.<br><br>
Also not all Catholics are conservative. Think liberation theology - Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for the balanced point of view, guerrillamama! I really don't want to make anyone feel out in the cold, here. I have been dwelling on the feeling of disrespect real or imagined, coming from them overstepping. But I guess it isn't fair to put that on them, especially since we haven't been communicating about it. They love her more than anything, and i bet if I bring the topic up, they will have some solutions so we all feel respected.
 

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I would not allow this! My parents have strong beliefs but have learned to reign themselves in when they see my kids. I would not be able to trust them otherwise. Stick to your beliefs and limit their time with your daughter for now. Kissing Jesus! Ewww!
 

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I think it's fine to let your parents teach your child about their religion. I don't think there's much chance that your child will soak up their religion over your non-religiousness. After all, you are her parents and daily role models, her life is with you. If there is something particular that you don't like, such as kissing a statue of Jesus, ask your parents not to encourage her to do it. But other than that, I think it's rather fruitless (and perhaps disrespectful as well) to insist that your parents ignore their religion when relating to your child.<br><br>
We are Buddhist and pretty much all of our family is Christian. We are lucky in that none of them have tried to indoctrinate our children, but I wouldn't mind them teaching my kids about Christianity as long as they don't try to make them *be* Christian.<br><br>
Apparently, when I was 5 or 6, one of my aunts told me that my family was going to hell because we didn't attend church. This created (of course) a huge flap in the family, but I don't remember it at all, so I don't think some religious instruction at age 2 is going to impact your child much.<br><br>
Namaste!
 

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I'd like to lend my voice to the moderate crew, too. Don't forget that beyond the religion aspect of religion, that your parents' religion is also part of your family heritage--lots of little family rituals stem from or revolve around events with at least a touch of religion in them.<br><br>
What you can and should do is make sure your relatives are doing age-appropriate things for your kids. A three year old does not need to hear tales of fire, brimstone, and the end of the world, or that bad little children get reincarnated as caterpillars, or whatever. My 3yo DS, for example, knows that Christmas is when Santa comes, but he also knows that it's Jesus' birthday, and that Jesus was an important man a long time ago and a lot of people remember him. He also knows which gods Mommy says her prayers to, and that he's welcome to join me any time.<br><br>
Ultimately, the best gift you can give to your kids is exposure to many different religions, AND the discernment--the critical thinking skills--it takes to weed through the granola (nuts and flakes) aspects that are found in every religion, and they will find a path that makes them happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the moderate replies, too, it's easy to get too hot about this issue, cool answers help! I do often think about the things my parents did when I was little, and think I will never do the same with my dd, but then, these are the things that led to who I am today - which is really not a bad product!<br>
Though I really do get uncomfortable about the ritualistic things, I do not hate the basics of Christianity. Maybe the real issue is stepping in and teaching her these things.....it should really be my job. And if they see that I am not doing it.... they should respect that there must be a reason. I wonder if I can just get away with asking that they let me handle the religious education and avoid any finger pointing and "Big Issues".<br><br>
i would hate to limit her time with them. they absolutely adore eachother. But the uncomfortable feelings really make me want to skip visits, which are usually 2 times a week.
 

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My parents are catholic and dh and I are not. My father started trying to indoctrinate my oldest dd. I put a stop to it in no uncertain terms.<br><br>
I was pleasant and polite, but I asked him how he would like it if other non-catholic relatives had tried to indoctrinate us with their religion when we were children. I pointed out to him that he had his opportunity to teach his children his faith and to please respect our right to do the same. He wasn't happy about it, but it got the message across, and the relationship wasn't damaged in the least.
 

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As DH and I are practicing catholics (devout is not a word in my vocab!) we of course find it not a problem when our dd kisses Jesus. But then again, she also kisses a lot of things. She just kissed a snowman in a store. She walked up to it and said Hi frosty and leaned over and smooch! Is that any more "ewww"?<br>
Your parents as "devout" know that Jesus is not God but the son of God. They are not going to step down nor apologize for their beliefs. Nor should you for yours. Let your DD spend a lot of time and learn about their beliefs. If they say YOUR beliefs are wrong, then you have a different thing to do. It dosen't sound like this would be an issue since they love their DGD and want whats best.<br><br>
As Catholics we have a duty to show our daughter that there are many ways to pray to God (or whatever floats your boat) and be spiritual. If she chooses to take another path with her spiritaul journey who I am to judge her? We want to make sure that she has an understanding of being spiritual and of our beliefs to aid her in her decision.<br><br>
BTW, you can be Catholic and Democratic as you can see from my signature.<br>
We are in this religion for the Spiritual Journey, not the judgement one. If you read the bible, you would find neither was Jesus. Also, its not very normal for Catholics to recruit so to say. Usually you are born into it or marry into it. Then you can do RCIA. I find the "rituals" very comforting but again its spiritual and private. This is what I teach to my Sunday school class as well as our Baptism couples that DH & I counsel. We also did engaged couples for many years and we tried to really focus on a spiritual journey in your marriage instead of shoving Natural Family planning and going to hell down their throats. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy">
 

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We're having similar issues, but luckily my dad and step-mom live 8 states away! When they came to visit when my now 26mo dd was only a few months old, they decided to take it upon themselves to save my daughter by baptising her in the bathroom sink <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/angry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="angry"> They prayed over her and sprinkled water on her head and took pictures of this, but they never told us about it. DH and I are not religious, and definitely not Catholic. We found out about this later from my sister whom they had told and had said they did it "in case God was watching." I take great offense to this because they were essentially saying we weren't capable of managing my daughter's soul and that their God would doom her unless they stepped in to help.<br><br>
In my opinion, I don't mind it if people talk to my daughter about the stories in the Bible, but if they begin to tell her that she will be damned if she doesn't follow their beliefs or that anyone non-Catholic is a sinner, they can say goodbye to visits with her forever. There is a line, and they have already crossed it once. I'm not planning on giving them the opportunity to do it again.<br><br>
Sorry I stole your thread for my rant <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That wasn't stealing my thread! I remembered from your story, that my parents also baptised dd with holy water when I wasn't around, but they confessed to it. That didn't upset me, and really - the good morning kiss Jesus didn't either, until it became like a mandatory thing. Like, we almost forgot to say good morning Jesus, then pick her up and make her do it!<br><br>
Yeah, it really can seem like they have to pick up the ball for me and save her soul. Maybe I should just say "I'll take care of her, thank you!"<br><br>
And I feel in good company. When I started the thread I really took some time searching the forums for this, and couldn't find anything. It is really interesting that so many have had experiences like this. Thanks for everyone's two cents.
 

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My mother wasn't religous, my grandparents were devout catholics, and I ended up converting to catholsism at age 16 because of my grandmother's influence. Please talk to your parents about this. I remember calling my mother an adulteress when I was 12, because she was divorced and had boyfriends. There were many other incidents as well. Luckily my mother and I were still able to be close, but I'm sure it was only because she REFUSED to allow her feelings to be hurt by me.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/crap.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="crap">
 

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It's interesting that this thread came up right now--DH and I came away from his family's Thanksgiving gathering last week with some serious concerns about this issue being just around the corner for us. Our DD is 18 months old, and while I think we have a little bit of time before we have any serious religion issues, MIL demonstrated this week that she will go against what we think is best for DD if she disagrees. And this was over small issues like, "but I think she does need a 3rd meal today although it is only 10:30 am". I shudder to think what we are in for when the topic is saving the eternal soul of their grandchildren from damnation.<br><br>
My in-laws are very strict and fervent Pentecostal Christians. I respect their beliefs and have no interest in changing them, but my personal beleifs are very different from theirs--basically I'd classify myself Christian, but I'm extremely liberal in what my religious views are; I'm spiritual but not religious. Most conservative Christians would not agree that I'm a Christian. My DH is more mainstream than me, but he really did not agree with his religious upbringing. We choose to expose our children to many different views of many religions and cultures, and reinforce the ones that we think are most important or true to us. This does not include exposing our daughter to scary, fear-based aspects of his parents' religion. DH still carries some emotional scars from some of the things he was taught as a young child in order to force assimilation such as someone visiting his youth group and telling them, "I was posessed by a demon. You could be, too--I knew I was because I began to question my beliefs in this church."!!!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">:<br><br>
While I want my daughter to be able to make up her mind about her own beliefs, I don't want these damaging ideas fed to her (in an attempt to "save" her behind my back) until she is old enough to reason things out for herself and ask questions.<br><br>
After this long, long account, I have to say that we have not come up with a solution. I am tempted to tell them that they may not discuss religion with our kids other than reading some Bible stories and God-loves-me stories, but I know that will backfire. MIL will insist on knowing what we ARE teaching her and will not be satisfied. Then, we'd have to say that she may not see DD and other future children if she can't keep quiet about whichever issues we deem off-limits. Then, knowing her, that still won't stop her and we will have to end up cutting off contact, which none of us really want (but does sound good right now after a horrible visit over Thanksgiving! :LOL ). So, we are still looking at an approach that is least likely to cause family rifts, but still protects our kids from the more damaging (in our opinion) aspects of their religion.<br><br>
Can you tell this is on my mind?!
 

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Well, that would not be okay with me.<br>
The grandparents explaining their own religious beliefs in one thing.. I am ok with that.<br>
But grandparents pushing my child to engage in their religious practices.. to make religious gestures like kissing Jesus would NOT be okay with me at all.<br>
That is over the line.<br>
And I would simply tell them that we want ds to learn about all religions.. but to make his own decisions and reach his own conclusions when he is old enough.<br><br>
We have drawn the line with mil about Santa and the Easter Bunny etc.<br>
Every year she asks "you REALLY aren't doing Santa?" SIGH.<br>
And every year we tell her, yes, we REALLY aren't doing Santa.<br><br>
We are always polite, but firm.<br>
I would consider it tresspassing in a huge way if she disregarded our wishes.
 

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Would it be so bad to have your daughter pray for you while you are in Purgatory? If I am correct, Catholics believe you go to Purgatory and then to Heaven or Hell. Given that, would it be so bad to have her pray for your souls when you die, just in case you are wrong? Do you really want to spend eternity in Hell, if it exist?<br><br>
But I do see your point, I wouldn't want anyone teaching my children to kiss a satuette or cross themselves. At 2, I doubt it has meaning to her other than she was saw them doing it or was asked to do it. If she were asked to do it and not just minicing g'ma and g'pa then I'd have to ask them not to engage her in the acts. And I know how g'p can be about faking compliance! So, it is likely a battle not to be won completely. They would probably like to take her to Mass to show her off when she is a bit older, how will you handle that. I can imagine w/o a Christining they are not too happy, how did you handle that? Do the same "priniciples" apply?<br><br>
I wouldn't engage her in deep conversation about their religion vs other religions at this time in her little life, it isn't anything she is likely to grasp at the level you are implying. KISS is a great motto keep it simple stupid.<br><br>
As simple as g'ma and g'pa kiss the little statue but you don't need to kiss it. You could say "I don't want you to", but that implies that it is wrong and I don't think that would be wise b/c then she will see g'p as wrong and tell them so or feel she can't tell you other things g'p do with her b/c you think they are wrong. And the same for the cross, just leave it at they do it, but you don't need to. Later, you can simply state you don't believe it is necessary and then later explain why at which point she may be ready to learn about religions and belief systems.<br><br>
I think it is important for people to believe in God. And little ones are so accepting of "it's that way b/c God made it that way" no scientific discussion needed. A 3 yr old doesn't get the big bang theory, but a 3 yr old gets God made it -- why is that do you think? A child will believe in a God theory before they believe a man made theory. Food for thought...
 

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No one ever ever ever told me "it's that way because god made it that way" and got away with it. Nope.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">A child will believe in a God theory before they believe a man made theory. Food for thought...</td>
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I was 3 when I told my mother I didn't believe in God. My reasoning: it was mean of him to get mad at Eve. How that translates into God not existing, I can't explain. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"> 3 y.o. logic. I still don't believe in God, but my atheism is more nuanced now.<br><br>
I also told my mother that even IF God existed, I didn't think God should be a He. That just didn't sit right with me. My mother concurred.
 

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we're not even pg yet and know this will be a huge issue for us with my very catholic folks, arggh. good luck and i'm hoping you'll have some good advice for me down the road!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I had advice from my brother who has a double degree in theology/philosophy - I thought I would share it with all of you who have latched on to this issue<br><br>
"She(my dd) will be in many situations in which she will encounter erroneous or distorted ideas. Eventually she will learn critical thinking skills and be able to discern for herself whether or not a belief system is worth the trouble.<br><br>
The question of how can two things both be true can be answered by explaining the concept of subjectivity. Everyone sees the world from their own perspective and no perspective accounts for everything.<br><br>
You could tell her the fable of the blind men trying to figure out what an elephant is: One feels its legs and thinks it is a tree, one feels the trunk and thinks it's a snake, one feels its back and thinks its a boulder, etc...<br><br>
You can also demystify the religious aspects of the rituals by referring to them as "customs" which are just another form of etiquette - the same as saying "thank you" or "please".<br><br>
As far as any idea being harmful, all of us experienced the same form of indoctrination and none of us ended up brainwashed. Children are very resilient."<br>
I loved his response, though some of the solutions won't be helpful until she is older, this has helped me to relax (for now!) and await all the explaining we'll be doing!!!
 
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