I will try to keep this brief (although I am known for being wordy) :)  My wife and I have a fantastic little boy who is just 4 years old and, as you can imagine, absorbs everything (language, mannerisms, stories, songs etc.) that surrounds him.  Because we love him so we both have kept our language clean, our tempers in check, our home feeling safe and secure and, above all, have been honest with him regarding what is real and what is pretend or make believe.  And, thankfully, he fully grasps the concept that something can be fun (such as Christmas) yet the stories and characters are fictional.  And I would be very content to take this approach when it comes to the fact that my wife was raised a Catholic, doesn't subscribe to any of it now, but still feels some sort of cultural connection with the church.  My request has been that we articulate this to our boy from the get-go; that we find the actual beliefs a bit of fiction really but that the church community has its place.  My wife, on the other hand and rather surprisingly, wants the full indoctrination for him.  Although we have tried to discuss this at length there are clearly lines in the sand for both of us on this topic.  And if it were simply a matter of what I believe vs. what she believes we would leave it lay in the sand as it were.  However, the emotions we feel and ultimately the decisions we make on the topic, are of far more importance since they concern our (lets be honest) impressionable little guy who will most likely take his cues on the subject from us.  To me it just seems deceptive and sets our boy off in the wrong direction; to my wife it is simply a matter of what was good for her must be good for him etc. As a side note too; although my wife would now consider herself a non-believer she believes that moral behavior is dependent upon a religious upbringing.  Of course I believe this to be a baseless idea but how do you argue with a mother's love and emotions when it comes to her child? :)

 I woud appreciate your experiences or ideas in this matter

Thank you,

D. Brooks

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Hello, Belle

Yea, this age is so much fun and filled with surprises :)  They are away in the Caymans as we speak but I am getting updates every few hours and sounds like he is having fun

In theory, I would be open to something more vanilla or nuetral than the dogmaticly stifling Catholic church for our boy.  However, wrapped up in the decision is the fact that we had him baptised @ 6 months so that my wifes mother could actually sleep.  The entire family is rooting for our boy to be a full fledged member of the Catholic doctrine and it annoys me really :)

I have an older brother, a corporate executive with degrees in Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Northwestern who flies around in the company's Gulfstream.  I mention this partly out of pride for my brother but also to point out that we both escaped childhoods of poverty and disadvantage by study, long hours (100 hour weeks) and hard work and some luck as well.  And recently he thanked Jesus for his success!  I am still speechless.  It sounds just so silly coming from his mouth that it diminishes some of my respect for him as a thinking person.  And, ultimately, I would not want my son uttering such gibberish. 

Sorry for venting and thanks for listening

D. Brooks

A lot of religion is culture (or perhaps a lot of culture is religion?) and shared culture is what creates communities in many ways.   I think you should interpret your wife and her family as wanting your son to grow up within supportive communities outside of the family.   That will be important as he gets older.    Say what you will about dogmatic Catholicism, but it is a supportive broader community.  Recognize your wife's desire for your son to have some sort of broader supportive community as the primary need, rather than it being about religion per se.  Maybe there are other communities which will fit better for all of you, or maybe you can find that way of thinking about it tolerable.

Within Catholicism's billion plus people, there's quite a range.  I don't know where you live, but it's worth parish-shopping.  College/university communities often have the most welcoming and freethinking/sophisticated Catholic groups, and I'd expect you'd find them not entirely objectionable for a family outing on Christmas and Easter, or even an occasional Sunday morning at other times.  And there's coffee and donuts!

Know that this topic is that can erode a marriage if you allow it to, and that really does hurt kids far more than a dab of religious upbringing that they will ultimately decide for themselves on as teenagers.  Tread softly, with love and mutual respect.

Dr. Bob 

I just wanted to express my appreciation for your thoughtful and articulate answer to my recent post regarding the rearing of children as freethinkers.  And I will make a point of giving your ideas and those of others a great deal of consideration.  You offered some good points and ideas and I thank you for taking the time to do so.  I would respond further but, at the present, I imagine that I could possibly ramble on endlessly and not really make a coherent statement given the emotions that are wrapped up in this for me. 

Have a good day and Thanks again 



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