My parents and my boyfriends parents are all four Christians, raised in the South. We live together (before we are married) 20 minutes from both sets of them. (My boyfriend and I grew up in the same place).
I am wondering what we are going to do when we have children, because I don't want the grandparents telling my kids things that aren't true when they are so impressionable and scaring them into believing there is a place where Mommy and Daddy can burn forever for not believing in God. As you all know there are many other things I don't want them learning either- like thanking God for accomplishments, luck, and food, discrimination against gays and racism, ect.
All four grandparents don't know I am atheist. I want to sit down with them and tell them that I am Atheist and I think that Christians brainwash small children. I want them to know that I don't want them reading them bible stories, singing bible songs, or scaring them into believing there is a hell. What do you all think about my confronting the parents like this?
Do you think I should leave my kids with either set un-supervised? I won't leave them with my parents because they are alcoholics anyways.
My wife and I are in the same boat. We are trying for children. My father is agnostic, but the other 3 are die hard christians. My mother knows that I am an atheist. She dosent like it, but accepts it. However my wife's parents are both the crazy christian type and neither of them think my wife and I are anything other than good christians. I used to work in youth groups before I was an atheist so that may have something to do with it.
I know first hand how much these stories about hell can screw you up as a child since I still have psychological issues from it still. (minor) We are trying for a baby now and we dont know what to do in this situation either.
I think sitting them down to tell them you are an atheist makes it seem like you are going to break big news and they will take it as big news and react accordingly. Mentioning it in passing makes it seem like it is an insignificant admission and they will respond insignificantly. Both ways get the view across.
There was a post on this a while back and someone said they did this and their parents were worried the child would burn in hell and took them to get baptized behind their back. No harm really, but that would really piss me off.
I think as long as you are the voice of reason it will be ok. Kids see that sponges can talk under water (spongebob) but when you tell them it is not real, they quickly dismiss it. So if your parents tell them that there is a hell and all of that, just say that it is not true and grandpa and grandma are old and a little crazy and pay no attention to them.
Unfortunately there is no way to stop the indoctrination attempts outside of forbidding them to see your children. If you tell them not to teach them about God, the first thing they will do when you leave is try to "save" them. I almost think it is better to keep them in the dark.
This book may be useful.
I realize this is a very serious issue for you, but it was dealt with in a classic comedy show of the 70's -> here is a clip...
Seems like the 'alcoholics' part would be enough to quash the 'un-supervised' visits.
I hear the 'do as I say, not as I do' part of the relationship. Does their god support alcoholism?
My family had a similar issue with my father. He was alcoholic, abusive/violent, and had several car accidents that caused many members of our extended family to cringe with the thought of ever letting him take kids fishing. Sadly our extended family decided, quietly. to not come around our house till dad was either 'out' or dead. I hope you fair better, it was a rather ugly experience for my brother and I, being in the middle of it.
My brother and I did confront dad several times about his drinking and violence, but we were never treated like our concerns mattered to him. A few times coming to blows. He could hide behind a thin religious vale or demand absolute respect due to his 'man of the house' power position. We finally gave up on him. Sadly/happily we learned that we could build our own peace without him.
I certainly can't tell you what to do, as that would defeat the purpose of free thought, but I DO believe I can tell you what to expect. But first, a quick question - what is your boyfriend's position in all of this? That will play a significant part as to whether you can expect support, or whether you're in this by yourself.
What you can expect, is for those grandparents to believe that you are deluded, and that in your delusion, you are automatically damning your grandchild to hell, and they will do everything they can get away with, to make sure that that doesn't happen.
My daughter was raised in a secular home until about 13, when she was taken by her mother to live with her and her Southern Baptist mother, who once made the ever-so-Christian boast that she would like to "blow my head off" because I professed atheism. Bottom line, though my daughter and I reconnected and don't live far apart, she is totally Christian, as is her hill-billy husband, and they are raising their three children by indoctrinating them at every opportunity, even to the extent of playing Christian rock on their radio all day.
I don't actively promote atheism to my grandchildren, but I decline to pray at family dinners, and I make it clear - only when asked - that I don't believe there is a god. They also know that I have an atheist website, on which I debunk the Bible. I have no desire to confuse those children, but I do think it is important that they understand that there are other ways to believe and that other people that they know and respect believe differently.
Your future children's grandparents need to show you, the parent, the same degree of respect for your decisions that I believe I have shown my own daughter - though I wouldn't expect that to happen.
You and I know that a little religious exposure isn't likely to seriously hurt your children - on the flip side of your family, they believe a little exposure to atheism could result in their eternal damnation in hell. So you see, the stakes are different for each side, with the religious side being the more desperate.
The most important thing is to not be afraid to talk to your kids about God or spirituality when they ask questions. Be open and honest with them, respecting the beliefs of your family members, but tell them what you believe as well. Teach them to question everything. They will hopefully grow up to be thoughtful, independent thinkers.
When I have children, they will certainly be exposed to Christianity, as most everyone from my family and my in-laws are religious. But I'm not going to hide that part of life from them, and I'm not going to be afraid to talk to them about it. There are very good reasons for why people believe what they do, and I'm going to let my kids decide for themselves. The most harmful thing you can do is hide information from them, and indirectly teach them to not trust their grandparents and other family members. Because in most families, grandparents love their grandchildren dearly, and any perceived "indoctrination" that they do, is only because they love them, not because they are trying to undermine you or anything like that. But as long as the children feel secure, loved, and are in a safe environment to explore things and decide their own identity, then they will be just fine.
Yes, and it's the same for people in fundamentalist Islamic families - I mean you need to respect their beliefs and realize that they are only cutting off a girl's genitalia because they love her and want to ensure she never develops a sex drive that will cause her to cheat on her husband. I mean, we need to respect these beliefs, right?
So when Grandma is telling little Betty how she'll burn alive for eternity if she doesn't believe every word Grandma says about Yahweh - it's out of love and one must respect that; after all, Grandma is only doing it out of love for Betty, to ensure she'll never harbour any doubts about who's in charge of the universe.
Heather, that's not what I'm saying at all.
What I am saying is that in the United States, where the OP lives, she has the freedom to choose how she raises her children. If she teaches them critical thinking, and models a loving, thinking, and open minded attitude, then her kids will most likely pick that up as well. Then it doesn't matter what Grandma tells little Betty, because little Betty will ask mom and dad questions about subjects like that when she feels confused or wants to know more. She'll have a safe environment where she can sort out her own opinions, without having anyone tell her she must believe one way or another. And hopefully, in a perfect world, mom and dad would have given her the tools she needs to make an informed decision.
Yes, hopefully, and in a perfect world. Pascal's wager is a damn powerful thing for a child to overcome, however - and how exactly can Mommy and Daddy prove that hellfires don't exist? Then you've got to wonder how dependent your child becomes on Granny's love when that love might turn to scorn overnight should little Johnny turn out to be gay.
A child should learn about religion, and about racists, and also receive appropriate warnings about pedophiles. I'm not really sure I want to see a child spending an unsupervised weekend with any of them, however.
Now if Grandma goes to one of those non-denominational new age churches, then sure, what harm could come? On the other hand, what do you do if you find a video on youtube of your child singing "Ain't no homo gettin' into Heaven" to an audience of cheering, laughing adults?
Kids aren't dumb. They also model parent's beliefs and behaviors over any other authority figure or influences. As I said, she should tell her kids what she believes, when the children ask her about things they've heard their grandparents say. And obviously, you don't let your child into any environment of extremism where they will be harmed, whether physically or emotionally.
And a fundamentalist, homophobic, hellfire pentecostal congregation doesn't qualify as such an environment?