Life is full of changes. My wife and I just received custody of her 13 year old grand-daughter. So now we are a family of three. I have already been warned about expressing my "lack of belief" toward her. This child has been going to church, Sunday school, etc for awhile. Of course all that will stop at this point as my wife is a non-participating Catholic and I haven't been INSIDE a church in eons.
Should I respect my wife's wishes and stay mute or wait for an opportunity to provide "the rest of the story?"
One of my biggest fears is that my husband and I will die and relatives will be ready to comfort him with heaven and god.
I don't know what has happened that this girl is now living with her grandmother and step-grandfather, but I imagine it is a huge adjustment for all three of you. I would respect your wife's wishes and not say anything overtly. If this girl's life has been hard or if she lost her parents suddenly, shaking her faith right now may do more harm than good. If she's living with you, she'll get a feel for your ideas on her own. She'll notice you don't say grace before meals, she'll notice a lack of religious icons or artwork, she'll notice you never go to church. If she asks, be honest, but gentle. Refuse to participate in her church or religious observances, but give her space to come to terms with her new situation in life. Maybe after she's settled in a little and has started to deal with the things that led her here, she'll be able to have a conversation about your non-faith and your wife's non-practicing Catholicism.
Wait for the opportunity. I have a 3 year old foster son who's grandmother is very religious. He's already using their "language". I'm Atheist and my partner is Agnostic (his aunt). I hid his religious children's books in his dresser. Oh petty is that? lol I got tired of him selecting them for reading time before bed. After reading the very graphic Daniel in the Lion's Den I had enough. My partner suggest I wait for him to to start asking questions. Because he definitely will when he realizes that our home is very different from his Nana's. We don't pray before we eat. We don't go to church. We don't talk about god, Jesus, angels or demons. He goes to church with her twice a week and they pray before eating every single time.
In the meantime I get myself ready by buying science books for kids his age and teaching him that the fiction books we read are just stories. I include art, music, dancing, history, science, math in our playtime. As he grows intellectually he will understand or at least have knowledge of how I understand the world. If he asks me a question I will not lie. I will try to explain things in a way to not make his Nana look crazy even though i believe she is. That is when sociology comes in. Teach him the way of the world.
So be patient and be ready.
Wait for the right opportunity, and then find the connection, and go from there. It's not a natural family situation for you to be muted. But at the same time, don't expect any comments to lead to any quick changes.
My son is living with his mother. I'm atheist. He's being raised religious. But now every time I pick him up, he gets into the car, and the first thing he says is "So! What science topic should we talk about?"
It's taken a year and a half to get to this point. And actually, our discussions started in the reverse -- I abruptly denied god, rather than using science as the in. He had commented something about how god was bringing in some rain. I could tell that came, almost as a literal quote, from the other side of the family. The absurdity got to me. Before I could censor myself, I told him that I don't believe god exists, and launched into the actual scientific explanations of weather. That has worked out well, because he tends toward math and science.
So find the connection. That's simply part of being a parent.
I say that keeping up the charade is a form of lying to her. She deserves to know and to be exposed to other options.
I have the same issue with my 14 year old son. His mother is very religious and and I'm allergic to religion :) The best way to handle it (or just about anything) is to be honest with her. Wait until she asks you questions (and she will) and then give her honest answers. You really can't go wrong that way. No one can say anything to you or has any right to disrespect your honesty, especially if you waited for her to ask and you simply let your daughter decide for herself what she wants to do with your honest answers.
My son is still a believer but knows full well I am not and why. His mother has never said anything because she knows no reasonable person in the world can except you to lie, especially to your own children.
Good luck.! and congratulations on custody, I'm very happy for you!
Thanks Everyone for the sound advice. I will let time take it's course and offer her explanations as she becomes more curious.
I just hope this doesn't create friction between my spouse and I. Maybe it can be a secret conversation...... :^ )