replacing religious rituals
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24-09-2012, 08:24 AM
replacing religious rituals
What do you do if you've said grace at meals or prayers at bedtime all your life and then lose your faith? do people ever talk about family traditions and what they replace these rituals with after leaving religion?
We went to our son and dtr-in-law's house for dinner and watched them put our little granddaughter to bed. she'll be 2 in november. they took her into her room, tucked her in, and sang to her the "i love you, you love me" song from Barney - you know the one "we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me too".
DON'T LAUGH. i know it's corny and we all mock Barney the dinosaur, but she's not even 2 years old! And isn't that better than putting the fear of death into little children - 'and if i die before i wake' etc is what i used to hear.
We're in Canada, but out daughter in law is American. She met my son on the internet and moved here 3 years ago all alone when she was 20 and our son was 23. Pretty brave. She came from the west coast, not exactly the bible belt, but even so, we are the first atheists she ever met. She knew about our family's lack of belief but she and my son thought that it was something they would work out later when they had kids, no rush - and well, guess what - they now have 2 children under 2. Her family is always sending stuff in the mail for the kids with religious themes, (the latest, a onesie with a 'little lamb' decal). She's not overly religious, but she's a long way from her family and has dealt with a lot of change and stress (immigration, pregnancies, moving, climate change, making new friends, etc), so we try to cut her some slack and let them work it out. We try to be good role models for her of non-believers. We have supported them in their marriage and tried to help in any way we could. We love her and she's very good for our son and a good mother to the kids.
Their wedding ceremony was secular, conducted by a marriage commissioner - and i have to say it's one of the nicest i've ever heard. As a gesture to her family's beliefs, her grandfather said a blessing before the reception dinner. We've been watching how they handle religion now that they are parents. Would she be teaching prayers and bible stories? I cringe at the thought. When their first child was born, she asked me if they had her baptized would we attend. I couldn't hide the shock at the question, and tried to answer it honestly but tactfully, while wondering what my son's opinion was on the matter. I ended up telling her that i didn't think we would be comfortable, but that if they really wanted to do this, our son would have to ask us about it himself before we could say for sure. I haven't heard another word about it.
So i was really moved the other night to see the 2 of them replacing the bedtime prayer crap with their own little ritual. Other families must go through this stuff. Do you just give it up? Find something to replace it with? It must be like quitting smoking, and wondering what to do with your hands.
Just my thoughts. i don't know where else to post this. I daren't put it on facebook or mention it to anyone in the family. My son would probably be mortified that anyone knew he was singing the Barney song every night Smile LOL

Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer.
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24-09-2012, 08:30 AM
RE: replacing religious rituals
(24-09-2012 08:24 AM)Fluffy Wrote:  DON'T LAUGH. i know it's corny and we all mock Barney the dinosaur,

No, we don't. No one should ever mock Barney... he does not take criticism well.

The last person who mocked Barney only just escaped his death.
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24-09-2012, 09:12 AM
RE: replacing religious rituals
You are awesome parents/in-laws!

My biggest piece of in-law or parent advice, as someone who has both and kids, is to let them make their decisions and only give advice when it is sought. If you are invited to certain religious rituals that you are uncomfortable with, maybe compromise. Don't attend the churchy part, but come to the eat and greet after for some conversation. It shows you are here for them for a milestone in their family but that you don't necessarily think this milestone is of importance, but that they are.

I have the exact opposite issue as you right now. My mom is pushing for me to baptist my children. They've never stepped foot in a catholic church except for a few funerals. It's really awkward to have this pressure, I imagine it would be the same for the reverse situation for a parent.
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24-09-2012, 11:20 AM
RE: replacing religious rituals
(24-09-2012 09:12 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  You are awesome parents/in-laws!

If you are invited to certain religious rituals that you are uncomfortable with, maybe compromise. Don't attend the churchy part, but come to the eat and greet after for some conversation. It shows you are here for them for a milestone in their family but that you don't necessarily think this milestone is of importance, but that they are.

I have the exact opposite issue as you right now. My mom is pushing for me to baptist my children. They've never stepped foot in a catholic church except for a few funerals.

Thanks Jane, i think your advice about attending the eat and greet but not the ceremony is good. If and when it ever comes to that, i think we will try that compromise. However, it has never come up after the initial mention. I think probably because i told my dtr-in-law that we would consider it only if our son asked us to. He's an atheist who has not attended church since kindergarten, so if he agreed to a baptism, it would only be at her insistence. Keep in mind here that we're talking about infant baptism - the kids are too young to know or have an opinion.
For your dilemma about your mother's wished, it sounds like your children are older. Most churches have some kind of religious education or commitment requirement for the kids if they are out of infancy. How would your kids feel about this? sounds like they would probably not be interested. Above all, don't let your mother pressure them directly or hear them pressuring you - the kids would end up stuck in the middle the same as if they were involved in a custody dispute.

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24-09-2012, 08:15 PM
RE: replacing religious rituals
You don't have to replace religious rituals, then it becomes a non religious ritual: take a shower, wash this way, dry this way . . .
What every family needs are meaningful traditions: eat at the table together, often with other family, friends where everyone talks; Expolre a different place every couple of weeks, or even the same place; do some specific regularly crazy things like if you pick-nick once a month always end or begin with everyone dancing around the table; Make special foods for special times, then dance around the table or yard. I am sure your imagination is better than mine. Traditions are doing special at certain times, things that instill family values, things that your children and grandchildren will likely continue and will certainly remember.
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24-09-2012, 08:23 PM
RE: replacing religious rituals
Nice post, Fluffy. You sound like a very logical, decent human being and an excellent parent and mother-in-law.
You ticked all the right boxes on my list Wink
Good stuff Smile

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