Concerned atheist grandparent
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20-11-2012, 06:42 PM
Concerned atheist grandparent
I'm a 62 yo former medical service provider that has cruised through life with out any real concerns about God, religion or any of that. Then about 18 months ago I was discovered using some of the medications intended for my patients. Bad - bad decision on my part. I knew I was using to treat my pain (psychological) at first due to a divorce and loss of my parents, but later only because I was addicted. I promptly went into a 12 step program for 90 days. I was cured as far as the addiction was concerned and have not used since, however I was never able to swallow as the reason for my "cure" as being due to a higher power. Just did not pass the good sense test. I think I should declare now - I AM AN ATHEIST. So recently - about 3 weeks now - I've become aware of the possibility of "free thinking". I've devoured all the Free Thinking Atheist podcasts, the YouTube videos featuring Dawkins, Hitchens (RIP) et al. Now comes my dilemma - Thanksgiving. I'll be traveling to my son's home with his family. I've two grandchildren (8 and 11).It seems that they have become ensconced into a local Baptist church and have been actively brainwashing my two grandchildren.I might mention that they have also been homeschooling. This has all been quite shocking to me as my son was never raised with a religious indoctrination and he's a pretty intelligent guy. His wife on the other hand, I'm afraid is the prime mover behind all these changes. Now - knowing what I do, limited as it is, I am so concerned for my grandchildren as they do not have the capacity to discern what is real or not - after all my granddaughter still believes in Santa. So, I'm in a quandary as to how to broach the subject with my son. We have had a great relationship - not so the stepdaughter - and I certainly don't want to jeopardize this - but think I may have to.I'm hoping I can convince him to return his kids to public school and to reconsider the decision to indoctrinate his progeny to the dangers of religion. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Keep up the good work. I wish I had others I could discuss this with but there just isn't.
Thanks
David
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20-11-2012, 06:48 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
I think a good way is to teach the kids critical thinking. Get them interested in Science and hopefully it will give them the tools to think for themselves and to think critically. It's my love of Science that actually got me to finally say that I am an atheist out loud and embrace it. This way you don't have to bring up religion if it's a hot point. Science will also teach them problem solving. Perhaps you can approach it that way. Just an idea.
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20-11-2012, 06:58 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
First off, way to go rehabbing yourself.

A private conversation is certainly appropriate. But before asking him to reconsider the childrens' schooling, try to see where he's at. If he expresses that he's going the Christian route only for his wife, see how you can help him find another way. If he's doing this because *he* wants it, tread carefully. Getting yourself alienated won't do any of you any good, and your grandkids might lose access to the only rational person in their sphere.

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20-11-2012, 07:03 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
I hate to say this, but you can't. Nothing you can do will convince your son and his wife to allow you to intervene in what they believe is the correct way to raise their own kids.

Period.

I had the shoe on the other foot, atheist dad raising two kids with a baptist grandmother (my mom) who kept trying to convince me that I was raising my kids wrong. I didn't listen to a word of it. Her efforts pushed me away, to the point that I actually told her to keep her religion out of our lives - she was still welcome, but her religion was definitely not, and if she couldn't keep her mouth shut about religion, if she couldn't leave it home when she visited, then she was not welcome either.

That's the road you're headed down, I fear.

There's hope though.

Leave your grandkids out of it. Focus on your son, he's the chink in the armor. Talk to him privately. Not about his kids, he'll be too defensive. Not about his wife, he'll be too defensive. Just talk to him about the world, about philosophy, whatever. Have a relationship with him. But include theology (or the silliness thereof) as part of this relationship, as part of your discussions. Get him on your side about atheism if you can, but without raising his defenses by attacking his family or his family values.

Once he's on your side, he'll do the same thing with his wife. Once their both on board with atheism, their kids will be saved from the "dangers of religion".

It might not work. You might not get through to him, fully. Or she might rope him back in. My step brother was an atheist but he became Mormon when he fell in love with a Mormon girl - he changed his religion for her, married her, and had 3 kids, but he never believed, and whenever he tried to stop going to church or stop teaching Mormon beliefs to his kids she threatened to leave him and he always caved in to keep his family.

You might fail.

Or not.

But I'm about 99% certain that if you go after it from the angle of the kids, you'll raise their defenses and push them away too fast for you to get through to them.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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20-11-2012, 09:40 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
I agree that you can't do anything about indoctrination if the mother is dead set on it. Maybe you could bring up the topic of the benefits of public schools, like social aspects, not necessarily exposure to other beliefs because they're probably trying to avoid that, or maybe you could do what my dad did when I was kid: buy the kids books on science and science kits and models of dinosaurs and hope they get interested in biology (to fight off creationism) and other aspects of science to promote curiosity and thinking, and maybe the kids will want to learn stuff on their own. But I still feel pessimistic about it. Mostly, you can only hope the kids figure stuff out on their own, but that doesn't happen as often as you might want it to.
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21-11-2012, 11:18 AM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
Thank you all for your input and for not blowing any smoke up my ass - the reality is that it won't be easy to address and I must keep in mind that the message may not get through. The approaches offered were very helpful in focusing my thoughts especially regarding potential consequences.
I will focus on my son privately and delicately without expressing my worry for the kids right now, since as Aseptic Skeptic said, he is the chink in the religious armor since he was not indoctrinated as a child.
I think I'm about to find out that it's true what others have said - "It's not easy being an atheist" but I can't rationally think otherwise.
I'd like to discuss how things go and so I'll keep those folks who might be interested informed.
Thank you all again
David
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21-11-2012, 12:11 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
My suggestion is don't do anything.

That is not your role, and you would be risking a future relationship with your grandkids if your son's wife decides that you're not a suitable grandparent or a suitable influence to her kids.

Moreover, she could also use the drug thing as an excuse to keep you away.

They are not your children. You do not have a say-so in how they are raised. Any unwanted input will only be taken negatively.

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21-11-2012, 12:52 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
Just a thought...

Kids, even very young ones, pick up non-verbal signals. They may not understand those signals yet. They are pieces of a puzzle that they will assemble over many years.

Something in your body posture, a slightly furrowed brow or a quizzically raised eyebrow at the mention of religion or the expounding of a preposterous belief... or a wink at the grand-kids when they look around the table while the grown-ups have their heads bowed while saying grace.

You never know.

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21-11-2012, 01:29 PM
RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
I'm in an unfortunately similar situation, except that it's an adopted brother (a replacement for us kids who have long-since moved out) and I'm not 60. lol

What I've learned - both from the forum and from experience - is that the best you can do is influence from a distance. For example: while my parents respond to my brother's questions with answers; I respond to him with "How do you think that works?" I encourage him to come to the most logically-sound conclusions on his own - with a little direction, given his age. You and I both are in positions of admired authority - a grandparent and an older brother - and as such, our words can have a great deal of impact. If those words are based upon sound logic and clear reasoning, it's very likely that one day our younger ones will be coming to us when in need of advice that "makes sense", as opposed to advice from mom and/or dad, who once told them that Santa was real.

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22-11-2012, 03:09 PM
Re: RE: Concerned atheist grandparent
(20-11-2012 07:03 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  My step brother was an atheist but he became Mormon when he fell in love with a Mormon girl - he changed his religion for her, married her, and had 3 kids, but he never believed, and whenever he tried to stop going to church or stop teaching Mormon beliefs to his kids she threatened to leave him and he always caved in to keep his family.

That's why I will never enter into a long term relationship with a religious person. They are inherently irrational and will pull crazy shit like that - they are more in love with their invisible friend than their real friends and family.

I also have a strict "don't stick your dick in crazy" policy and Moronism definitely qualifies as crazy IMO.

OP: I would show them you're the bigger person and don't try to interfere with how they raise their kids. It's less and less likely that they will hold their parents' delusions beyond childhood - access to information via the internet and otherwise has led to an increasing trend away from religious superstition. Trying to force the issue will only drive a wedge between you and cause your son and his wife to try to fill their kids' heads with nonsense even more fervently. If the kids ask you a question, respond accurately and honestly - don't play along with their bullshit - but leave it at that, answering kids' curiosity.

Better without God, and happier too.
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