My son is 18 months old, and I was raised in a fundamentalist christian family. A Baptist family to be precise. I struggled with religious dogma for much of my life, and I have since come to atheism through critical thought and study of natural sciences. My mother first found out that I no longer considered myself a christian 4 years ago while I was planning my wedding. She asked me directly after I told her that we were not getting married in a church and the ceremony would be done by a Justice of the Peace not a pastor. My response was straightforward and loving. I said that I did not consider myself a christian but thank you for raising me to be moral and thoughtful and kind to others. She cried.
I love my parents very much, and have avoided discussing religious issues for fear that those discussions would bring pain and fear on them. I'm sure most of you know that they believe so surely that I and my wife will go to hell, that they fear it more than anything. I remember what it was like believing the way they do, and I have no interest in trying to convert them at this stage of their lives. It's pointless to do so and would only cause a rift.
My problem is with the gifts they've given to my 18 month old son. At first it was a small book, no big deal and easy to hide. But the frequency and number of christian gifts they are giving him is getting to be startling at times. How about a bunny that sings “Jesus Loves Me”, or 3 children's books at once called “God Created Me” “God Strengthens Me” and “God Watches Over Me”. Or a Little Drummer Boy book depicting the nativity scene. And a Veggie Tales DVD set. It's getting to the point where my son is more sentient, and soon will understand what is in these gifts, and I will have more and more trouble hiding these things as the grandparents come over. Many of these books teach things that actually make me angry because they the exact opposite of what anyone should be teaching their children. The “God Watches Over Me” book depicts a child getting lost and praying until he found his home. A lost child should be looking for familiar things, and people of authority, not hoping for “God” to bail them out. It may seem like nit-picking, but my child is like a sponge right now and for years to come.
So this is my first post on the ThinkAthiest forum and I want to hear what everyone thinks. This is obviously going to be a battle of sorts, but do I wage it directly or do what I can to teach my son to think critically enough to hopefully counter the christian influence my parents bring to the table. It's very hard for me because I want my parents to be a part of my son's life. There were many good times we had when I was growing up, and they are capable of having fun without being religious. I guess what confuses me and that when I was young, I never had this many christian toys and books and my son is only 18 months old. It scares me to think of what may come next.