Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
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21-01-2014, 03:27 PM
Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
My girlfriend and I are expecting our first child. We are both really excited. I am an Atheist and she doesn't really identify with a religion. She does believe in God though. We don't plan on raising our child with a religion, but I feel like she will change her mind.

We are moving to Arizona soon and will be staying with her family until we get settled. They are all highly religious. They are Seventh Day Adventists. Her Mother knows I am an atheist and for the most part, doesn't have a problem with it. Its her Grandmother that I know will be a problem. To her, everything is the devil. Dancing, singing, watching tv. I don't really want to bump heads with her Grandmother, but I know it will happen.

My girlfriend loves her family very much and even though she doesn't really have a religion, I know when we get there, they will push her towards going to church. That part is still ok with me. Its when they start trying to push their religion on my son that I will have a problem. I want my son to make his own decisions in life and not be spoon fed all this bullshit.

How can I make it clear to everyone what I want without causing problems with her family? I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me, but I have a feeling that this will cause us to have problems in our relationship. I'm not going to tell her to choice between her family and myself. What can I do?
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21-01-2014, 03:33 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
What goes on in your relationship should be between just you and your girlfriend. She should back you up with that.

Wind's in the east, a mist coming in
Like something is brewing and about to begin
Can't put my finger on what lies in store
but I feel what's to happen has happened before...


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21-01-2014, 03:39 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
I know of several couples with such differences. Essentialy it is not much different than a catholic having a child with a protestant and that has been pritty much a non issue these days, unless you live in Northern Ireland.

Diversity of opinion and belief in a family is something good, especialy for the child, which grows up seeing the world from various different perspectives.

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21-01-2014, 03:53 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
Raise these concerns with your girlfriend now and decide on a plan of action before you get there. Get comfortable having these conversations because you will be having them many times and possibly with people who are emotionally upset. You will need to be able to keep your cool even when they don't.
You need to be comfortable. In stating your boundaries, because they will be pushed. Your gf needs to have a plan of action for when her loved ones are putting pressure on her to conform. This is why the two of you need to have this settled before you go. You two need to be on the same page as far as boundaries.

Are you certain on your gf's feelings? Could she be waiting till she gets there to tell you she really is more involved in church than she was letting on?

I am married to a believer, so it is possible to have a great relationship, but you need to be certain that you have each other's backs and support each other's boundaries in the face of family pressure and not using our families to battle each other.

Talk this out before you go and the quicker you get out from under their roof will probably be best for all involved.


Be excellent to each other and party on, Dudes!
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21-01-2014, 04:09 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
(21-01-2014 03:53 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  Raise these concerns with your girlfriend now and decide on a plan of action before you get there. Get comfortable having these conversations because you will be having them many times and possibly with people who are emotionally upset. You will need to be able to keep your cool even when they don't.
You need to be comfortable. In stating your boundaries, because they will be pushed. Your gf needs to have a plan of action for when her loved ones are putting pressure on her to conform. This is why the two of you need to have this settled before you go. You two need to be on the same page as far as boundaries.

Are you certain on your gf's feelings? Could she be waiting till she gets there to tell you she really is more involved in church than she was letting on?

I am married to a believer, so it is possible to have a great relationship, but you need to be certain that you have each other's backs and support each other's boundaries in the face of family pressure and not using our families to battle each other.

Talk this out before you go and the quicker you get out from under their roof will probably be best for all involved.

I have raised my concerns, but she has told me over and over that we are a team. That we will have each others back on this situation. But she's also asked me to respect her family. I can only give so much respect. Her family is already saying that I need to go to church with them, that I will change my mind when I'm there and once my son is here.

We have a great relationship. We haven't had many problems for the most part. It's just this whole me against her family thing. I am big on family and so is she. We want everyone around to be in our son's life, but I just feel like this could become a big problem. I want my son to be open minded. I want him to make his own decisions. I know exposing him to religion is part of that, but there is a difference between exposing him and forcing it down his throat.
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21-01-2014, 05:30 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
(21-01-2014 04:09 PM)htorres1986 Wrote:  
(21-01-2014 03:53 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  Raise these concerns with your girlfriend now and decide on a plan of action before you get there. Get comfortable having these conversations because you will be having them many times and possibly with people who are emotionally upset. You will need to be able to keep your cool even when they don't.
You need to be comfortable. In stating your boundaries, because they will be pushed. Your gf needs to have a plan of action for when her loved ones are putting pressure on her to conform. This is why the two of you need to have this settled before you go. You two need to be on the same page as far as boundaries.

Are you certain on your gf's feelings? Could she be waiting till she gets there to tell you she really is more involved in church than she was letting on?

I am married to a believer, so it is possible to have a great relationship, but you need to be certain that you have each other's backs and support each other's boundaries in the face of family pressure and not using our families to battle each other.

Talk this out before you go and the quicker you get out from under their roof will probably be best for all involved.

I have raised my concerns, but she has told me over and over that we are a team. That we will have each others back on this situation. But she's also asked me to respect her family. I can only give so much respect. Her family is already saying that I need to go to church with them, that I will change my mind when I'm there and once my son is here.

We have a great relationship. We haven't had many problems for the most part. It's just this whole me against her family thing. I am big on family and so is she. We want everyone around to be in our son's life, but I just feel like this could become a big problem. I want my son to be open minded. I want him to make his own decisions. I know exposing him to religion is part of that, but there is a difference between exposing him and forcing it down his throat.

This guy, Dale McGowan, has written a book about raising free thinkers. I like his approach to parenting in general, but especially how it relates to this topic. He's got books out, a bunch of youtube clips, he's on some podcasts, etc. Look it over, then look it over again with your GF. It might calm many of your worries about her family influence.





Be excellent to each other and party on, Dudes!
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22-01-2014, 02:35 AM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
The way you raise your child isn't their business. I see this less about religion and more about her inability to set boundaries with her family. You can encourage her to start now. Religion won't be the only thing they try to control if they are already starting in on you about going to church.
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22-01-2014, 01:06 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
On the other hand, your son will come across religious indoctrination whatever you do even if he never saw your partner's family. We all come across it. Your son will listen to you and his mother though, at least before he becomes a teenager. I'm not a parent myself but I have often wondered about this situation and I came to the conclusion that all any parent can do is to open the child's eyes to certain realities and make sure that they are ignorant.

You could explain to him how other children believe in Santa Claus but that he is not real and why he cannot be so. That way he will see from a very early age how people can wish to be fooled. I personally wondered whether it would even be worthwhile sending a child off to a religious school armed with all the difficult questions just so they can see first hand how people struggle to believe in something essentially because they want to.

And bear in mind, it's not just a question about being free from superstition. The ability to think critically is also required to have a career as a scientist, engineer, to avoid (or exploit) economic asset bubbles such as house price booms / crashes, and also to avoid being fooled by politics and the mass media. So teaching your child from the very early age to spot bullshit is an extremely useful thing to so.

For me, it all comes down to the ability and desire to question everything.
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22-01-2014, 05:28 PM (This post was last modified: 22-01-2014 09:14 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
Never been a problem for us. Girly married a good Catholic schoolgirl going on some 30 years ago now. Everyone knew I was an atheist, her family, my family, the Catholic Church and the priest who married us. We had to take some Catholic marriage classes and I had to promise some Bishop or somesuch that I wouldn't interfere with the Catholic upbringing of any of our children. Wasn't a problem for me. After they got home from Sunday School or Catechism class or whatever the fuck they call it, I'd teach 'em a little logic and a little math without ever mentioning my own personal metaphysics until they were old enough to ask properly. They all asked in their early teens, and I answered "Any promise of a postmortem preservation is utter and complete untenable nonsense bullshit being sold by bullshit snakeoil merchants." All 4 of them turned out to be fine young atheists, or rather more like fine young dontgiveashitites or notworthconsideringics. I kept my promise to the Catholic Church. It really wasn't a big deal for me. YMMV.

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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25-01-2014, 08:31 PM
RE: Having a family with a Non-Atheist.
With a new child I think it might be a little easier than you might think. You will have an emotional connection with your child like nothing you've ever seen as an adult. Don't fear so much their exposure to different ideas as much as preparing them to see all the ideas that are out there along with the truth and the facts to back them up. If you and your wife have an understanding that you want your child to be exposed to ideas and make their own logical conclusions I think you'll be fine. I wouldn't suggest long, unsupervised, undisputed sessions of "brainwashing" and emotional torment from others but there is a reason that young earth creationists try to shield their kids from real science.............truth and facts usually win. As long as your spouse agrees to allow your child exposure to truth and facts you should be okay.
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