Forced religion on children
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08-11-2015, 11:33 AM
Forced religion on children
I mentioned in a previous thread about my sister and brother in law who are facing a health crisis which is being made worse by religious differences. My sister is DEVOUTLY religious (Baptist), and has become more religious over time. BIL is an atheist. He has taken a live and let live approach, and raised no objections about the children (15 and 5) being taken to church. The problem is, my 15 year old niece also professes to be an atheist, and in recent years, has really pushed back about going to church. She not only resents the intrusion into her free time, but it legitimately makes her feel uncomfortable.

My BIL finally convinced my sister to compromise, and allow my niece to go to church only half the time. She was to go every other Sunday and every other Wednesday. It worked ok for a while but my sister has gradually started going back on the compromise. My sister has really turned to religion during my BIL's illness. Also, her church added a 3rd Sunday morning service. She allow my niece to stay home on Wed evenings, but makes her go to all 3 morning services, plus the evening service every Sunday. They leave for church at 8am, get home at 1pm, and go back at 6pm. She is also forcing her to go to a Christian concert, and wants to force her to teach a children's class. She also makes her go to church camp, and do other youth activities. Church is a full time job for my sister, and she is making it a part time job for my niece. She refuses to budge. She refuses to see that it is seriously damaging the relationship between them. I even bought them a book about interfaith relationships and parenting. BIL will read it, but my sister refuses. I have no idea how to make her see reason. She gets defensive and angry.

Has anyone been through anything similar, and have any advice?
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08-11-2015, 11:40 AM
RE: Forced religion on children
If you are going to broach this I would say to discuss the need for your sister and your niece to be spending time with your BIL right now. They can still go to church but it really sounds to me as though your sister is 'hiding' at church as a way to avoid the health issue at hand. A coping method I suppose.

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08-11-2015, 11:49 AM
RE: Forced religion on children
Wow. She obviously does not respect your niece's right to choose her religious preference. It's sad that she needs to force her children unwillingly into her religion probably to make herself feel like a better parent. I think it comes down to respect for her own kid. Try to make her see that in 3 years your niece will be an adult making her own life decisions, and your sister will have no control over her. Not sure she will ever open up to that concept. Sad...

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08-11-2015, 12:01 PM
RE: Forced religion on children
It's very difficult to tell someone else how to raise their children, but you could suggest to her that forcing the daughter to spend so much time in church while she is still a rebellious teenager that she risks putting her off church for life, even when she is older.
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08-11-2015, 12:57 PM
RE: Forced religion on children
I doubt anything you could say would induce your sister to change her mind. Her panic and worry are possibly making her more rigid about church. Maybe the best thing to do is for you to let your BIL and niece know you are a safe place for them to express their frustrations.

I hope your sister doesn't permanently damage her relationship with her daughter, but that is what sometimes happens. Excess religiosity is one of the reasons I and my siblings have very tenuous and limited relationships with my father, which is a source of great unhappiness for him. But if he was given the chance to do things over again, I don't think he'd be able to act any differently. Saturating us in the message was too important. Sometimes distance seems inevitable, no matter how much people wish it wouldn't happen.
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08-11-2015, 02:14 PM
RE: Forced religion on children
Post # 2. What Anjele said!

If the BIL is the one with the health problems and also an atheist I'd think he would appreciate having his family around instead of leaving him by himself while everyone is off to church. Perhaps the daughter could simply tell her mother that she'd rather spend time with her father.

How could someone say no to that?

Aw, damn. We're talking religion here. What am I thinking. Facepalm

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08-11-2015, 08:17 PM
RE: Forced religion on children
(08-11-2015 12:01 PM)Mathilda Wrote:  It's very difficult to tell someone else how to raise their children, but you could suggest to her that forcing the daughter to spend so much time in church while she is still a rebellious teenager that she risks putting her off church for life, even when she is older.


That is something I really struggle with. I don't have children, and thus am very hesitant to say "this is how I would do it". I also know that as a pet owner, it annoys me to receive unsolicited pet raising advice! So, I'm trying to balance concern for my niece with minding my own business. It bothers me that my BIL should have a say in this too, since he is also her parent, and my sister is being so stubborn. BIL said they talked today, and my sister relented a little, but my niece is still having to go more than 50% of the time. At least I can be a listening ear for my niece in this situation, although my sister has asked that I not discuss atheism with her. Sad
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08-11-2015, 08:25 PM
RE: Forced religion on children
(08-11-2015 02:14 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  Post # 2. What Anjele said!

If the BIL is the one with the health problems and also an atheist I'd think he would appreciate having his family around instead of leaving him by himself while everyone is off to church. Perhaps the daughter could simply tell her mother that she'd rather spend time with her father.

How could someone say no to that?

Aw, damn. We're talking religion here. What am I thinking. Facepalm

Yes, he would appreciate his family around more, but she also won't relent on that. Won't miss services for anything. Won't miss play practice, choir practice, etc. He refuses to go to church services, but does go to soccer games and awards ceremonies for my nephew that are church related and include proselytizing. He goes to Christmas plays too. I am having a hard time being objective because I sympathize so much with his point of view as an atheist. I am finding it hard to relate to my sister the more religious she gets. Attempts to reach out to her and provide emotional support (without bringing up the niece situation) are met with "I'm fine" or "I don't need anything". We have long conversations about our lives only occasionally. She relies almost exclusively on church friends for support.
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09-11-2015, 02:05 AM
RE: Forced religion on children
Not sure this will help. If I were the 15 year old I'd ask soamy questions and keep it going too they refused to let me come back. I did do that when I was a teen. I was asked to not come back as it disrupts the class.
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09-11-2015, 02:23 AM
RE: Forced religion on children
Sounds like the perfect xian. She cares more for her god than she does her own family.

Sadly I have no advice. Does your BIL know about this forum?

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