Religious Inlaws
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03-03-2016, 11:27 PM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(03-03-2016 11:16 PM)doggers Wrote:  Thank you all for your comments. Their next visit is in March so I think it's clear I need to speak to my husband before then.

One more question about the gift giving... A lot of you said to throw inappropriate gifts away, which is what I have been doing but at this age my son isn't aware of what he's received. My concern is if I don't stop the Christian themed gifts now then when he's 3 or 4 and opening their gifts they'll use that moment as a platform to preach. He'll also be more aware when I've thrown his gift away and I have no doubt they'll ask him how he is enjoying it in future.

They also always want to babysit when they visit and I already feel uncomfortable about leaving him alone with them after finding that Jesus story book in their house. Our son is the only grandchild so it was only intended for him. I don't want them scaring him with stories of hell or alienating him from his parents (his mother is quite vocal about her mindset that non-believers are immoral). By not being 'out' or more vocal about our beliefs I feel we may be teaching our son that there is something shameful about being atheist. That is not the message I want to portray.

My husband's family are extremely conservative and use religion to justify their bigoted opinions, this also worries me because my extended family is the opposite - I have a gay brother, cousins and nephews of different races and two of my siblings have children outside of marriage. My side of the family is very liberal and accepting but unfortunately they live on the opposite side of the world and we'll only see them once a year.

When he's older you can share your values with him and explain how they are different than theirs. You can either let him have the gifts and sit down and explain why you don't follow that line of thought and answer his questions or you can do what I did, which was let them have them for a few days and them put them up until they forget them and then toss them. I know, not as open but actually by the time my kids got old enough to really know, she finally stopped wasting her money.

It's not easy and I agree not having him think your view is shameful is the best option. You could also just explain that xtainity is like any fantasy expect some people choose to believe it.

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04-03-2016, 12:08 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
When he's older, you could just simply say "many people believe lots of things, but you don't need to believe in anything to be a good person." They're never too young to start fostering critical thinking skills. Kids early on understand good and bad (even if they don't see it themselves). Positive modeling is very important. Showing kindness to people.

There are lots of story books that discuss, right or wrong, lying and such that are secular in nature. Also, books on mythology. There are lots of fun sciencey books about nature, planets all kinds of stuff. Leave those around. Smile

When he's older, say around 5, a great time to talk to kids is while they're coloring. Take out some paper and crayons and talk to him about the visit. You can ask him, "what did grandma or grandpa say," if he starts talking about religious things they said, ask him what he thinks.

When my older son was little, he said once that Grammy (my grandmother) told him about the glorious birth of jebus. While it annoyed me, we talked about pagan rituals that were copied. Yule logs, Christmas trees...blah blah. What other countries do, the different names for Santa.

Then, I ended the discussion with telling him there are lots of stories around that time of year and other holidays.

He asked why. I said winter is a dark time of the year, people like stories to make themselves feel happier. That's why they gather with family and have big parties and give presents.

After that he seemed to take all the religious talk with a grain of sand.

Just like when a relative died and I explained they live on inside us and our memories.


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And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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04-03-2016, 12:21 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(04-03-2016 12:08 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  There are lots of story books that discuss, right or wrong, lying and such that are secular in nature. Also, books on mythology. There are lots of fun sciencey books about nature, planets all kinds of stuff. Leave those around. Smile

Thank you, your whole post was really helpful. Any particular book recommendations on right or wrong and lying that you've enjoyed reading with your children?

Wish I could use your winter analogy about Christmas but we live in the southern hemisphere - I will have to get creative!
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04-03-2016, 12:28 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(04-03-2016 12:21 AM)doggers Wrote:  
(04-03-2016 12:08 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  There are lots of story books that discuss, right or wrong, lying and such that are secular in nature. Also, books on mythology. There are lots of fun sciencey books about nature, planets all kinds of stuff. Leave those around. Smile

Thank you, your whole post was really helpful. Any particular book recommendations on right or wrong and lying that you've enjoyed reading with your children?

Wish I could use your winter analogy about Christmas but we live in the southern hemisphere - I will have to get creative!

I'll think about the books and. I don't think I have many of them anymore. But I do remember some of the dr Seuss books being useful. Horton Hears a Who, Yertle the Turtle.

You could tell your son most of those stories come from the northern hemisphere -- totally not a lie. Most of the pagan rituals we know and love came from there.

Throw in a little geography too. Smile

While you can really make Easter about the bunny and eggs...Christmas is tricky (for me).


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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04-03-2016, 12:31 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
actually fables like Aesop and others are great.

There are different fables from all over the world. It's like mythology. Wink

The boy who cried wolf is about telling the truth.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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04-03-2016, 01:08 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(04-03-2016 12:31 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  actually fables like Aesop and others are great.

There are different fables from all over the world. It's like mythology. Wink

The boy who cried wolf is about telling the truth.



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04-03-2016, 03:04 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
Another thing that you might think about is stealth. If the in-laws can't get at your son directly, they may do it indirectly by stealth. They will, inch-by-inch, make attempts to feed christinsanity to your son. Make sure that you stop things dead in their tracks and at an early stage each time they over-step the mark. Otherwise, they'll keep going inch by inch and, instead of having a simple conversation, it will turn into a really long and difficult one because they won't want to give up the ground they fought long and hard for.

I've seen these tactics used many times in many different situations.

My advice is, draw the lines and keep them drawn. Otherwise, what was the point in drawing them in the first place?

Besides, the world is slowly turning atheist. Even in America, atheism is on the rise. You may as well prepare your son for what's going to be rather than what has been.

Lots of luck.

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04-03-2016, 03:45 AM (This post was last modified: 04-03-2016 03:49 AM by Mathilda.)
RE: Religious Inlaws
It's probably easier to come out to your in-laws as an atheist than your own parents. So if it was me I would be the one coming out as the atheist so this takes the pressure off your husband. And being the mother, they'll recognise that you'll be extremely protective of your child and will tread more carefully. Their emotional blackmail will also be less likely to work on you because you haven't been conditioned with it from birth.

My husband and I each step up to take the flak from each other's parents in this way so the emotional blackmail has less effect.

So if I was in your situation I would tell your in-laws that you personally do not want your child to be indoctrinated and that you don't want them baby sitting him until you can trust them not to do so. You could also tell them that you throw away all the gifts on principle so they know that they are wasting their money. You will come in for flak from it, they will see you as the main problem rather than your husband. They will try to put pressure on your husband to talk to you who they think they have more control over, but he can pass the buck on this and say that they should take it up with you.

Until they learn that there are limits they will keep trying harder and harder.

As for saying Grace, my sister in law is a born again Christian and we just ignore her when she tries to say it. Don't wait or bow your head, just carry on digging in and even offer food to other people while your parents are saying this. My sister in law now tries to say it as quickly as possible, literally takes about a second so she can't be interrupted.
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04-03-2016, 04:07 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(04-03-2016 03:45 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  It's probably easier to come out to your in-laws as an atheist than your own parents. So if it was me I would be the one coming out as the atheist so this takes the pressure off your husband. And being the mother, they'll recognise that you'll be extremely protective of your child and will tread more carefully. Their emotional blackmail will also be less likely to work on you because you haven't been conditioned with it from birth.

My husband and I each step up to take the flak from each other's parents in this way so the emotional blackmail has less effect.

So if I was in your situation I would tell your in-laws that you personally do not want your child to be indoctrinated and that you don't want them baby sitting him until you can trust them not to do so. You could also tell them that you throw away all the gifts on principle so they know that they are wasting their money. You will come in for flak from it, they will see you as the main problem rather than your husband. They will try to put pressure on your husband to talk to you who they think they have more control over, but he can pass the buck on this and say that they should take it up with you.

Until they learn that there are limits they will keep trying harder and harder.

As for saying Grace, my sister in law is a born again Christian and we just ignore her when she tries to say it. Don't wait or bow your head, just carry on digging in and even offer food to other people while your parents are saying this. My sister in law now tries to say it as quickly as possible, literally takes about a second so she can't be interrupted.

I like what you are saying and why.

There's just one issue. The husband says grace. He must be seen as the weak one. If the wife comes out and says that she is an atheist and the husband doesn't, her in-laws could start to pressurise the husband in order to get at the wife and the son.

My advice would be to declare atheism together to the in-laws.

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04-03-2016, 05:32 AM
RE: Religious Inlaws
(03-03-2016 11:16 PM)doggers Wrote:  Thank you all for your comments. Their next visit is in March so I think it's clear I need to speak to my husband before then.

One more question about the gift giving... A lot of you said to throw inappropriate gifts away, which is what I have been doing but at this age my son isn't aware of what he's received. My concern is if I don't stop the Christian themed gifts now then when he's 3 or 4 and opening their gifts they'll use that moment as a platform to preach. He'll also be more aware when I've thrown his gift away and I have no doubt they'll ask him how he is enjoying it in future.

They also always want to babysit when they visit and I already feel uncomfortable about leaving him alone with them after finding that Jesus story book in their house. Our son is the only grandchild so it was only intended for him. I don't want them scaring him with stories of hell or alienating him from his parents (his mother is quite vocal about her mindset that non-believers are immoral). By not being 'out' or more vocal about our beliefs I feel we may be teaching our son that there is something shameful about being atheist. That is not the message I want to portray.

My husband's family are extremely conservative and use religion to justify their bigoted opinions, this also worries me because my extended family is the opposite - I have a gay brother, cousins and nephews of different races and two of my siblings have children outside of marriage. My side of the family is very liberal and accepting but unfortunately they live on the opposite side of the world and we'll only see them once a year.

Probably by the time your son is old enough to register the content of presents given, he won't be interested in religious presents, because most explicitly religious presents are crap. At least that's the way it has been in my house. After a while we didn't have to throw the presents in the garbage; my son just put them straight in the back of the closet and never looked at them again until we did one of our biannual clean outs/donations, and then they went out with a bunch of other stuff.

Also, it's good etiquette training for kids to learn how to accept a completely inappropriate or unwelcome present politely, say thanks, and write the thank you note.

Regarding the baby-sitting, here is where you're going to have to make some very hard decisions. Our decision was never to accept offers of baby-sitting from my father and his wife because I could not trust that they would refrain from trying to save my son's soul. I asked, but they weren't willing to make the deal. t hope your in-laws are more reasonable than my father, because it has been very painful for him to have his time with his grandson limited. If they agree to back off of the religion thing, and you think you can trust them, I hope they can be helpful in that way.

I had no problems when my son wanted to go to church for a while on his own. I have no problems with my kid exploring religions on his own terms. After a few months he decided it wasn't for him. But I didn't want him to be pressured by a relative to believe in a particular way.
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