A parenting quandry I'd like feedback about

My 9-year-old daughter would like to spend a month this summer visiting her cousins in Texas. Her cousins are the children of my ex-wife's sister. She and her husband run an evangelical Christian youth ministry from their very large home. In addition to their 4 children, they have adopted at least 2 more (I've lost count), and usually have 10-15 other preteens and teens on site most days as part of their mentoring program. Their project is to prepare misfit teens to become better evangelicals, and perhaps missionaries or ministers.


My former sister-in-law was vaccinated as a child, but neither her husband nor their children have ever been vaccinated. As far as I know, there have not been any medical repercussions so far. I have no idea whether the adopted kids or any of the kids in the youth ministry program are vaccinated. My daughter is fully vaccinated.


They are very watchful and savvy parents and youth ministers, so they are careful to keep the boys and girls separated and/or chaperoned as needed. I'm not the least bit worried about my daughter's safety and don't see any risk of molestation. All three of my ex-wife's daughters from her first marriage have made the same Texas pilgrimage, and were exceptionally self-righteous for a couple of weeks afterward, but eventually returned to normal.


If it were not for the Christian indoctrination and the spotty vaccinations, I would not have any qualms about sending my daughter for a month-long visit. I haven't said yet one way or the other whether I'll let her go for the visit because I'm not sure if I want my daughter to spend so much time in that environment. I doubt the subject of vaccination would come up, so I'm not all that worried that she'll come back a pseudoscientist, but I suppose I have some concern that she might be a carrier of an illness such as whooping cough, which she is vaccinated against, but which has become much more prevalent in this area due to vaccine hysteria.


Am I worrying too much, or am I not worried enough?


Views: 54

Comment by Phil on January 26, 2011 at 3:40pm

Be worried. They could mess up your child's head for some time to come. I let my girls go to church with their Gran and one school-friend's mother (who I later married) but they ended up atheist. Have you spoken to the evangelists and asked them not to evangelise around your daughter?


I used to challenge some of the evangeliccal homeschooling mob on their blogs and they are pretty messed up in my view. As I see it, putting god into childrens' heads is a form of abuse.

Comment by Andrew Hall on January 26, 2011 at 4:13pm

I have two young kids and I wouldn't send them to an environment where a that crazy God meme is running rampant for a whole month. I'd wait until your daughter is older until asking her to do a marathon with the uber-holy. I would be concerned about the gaggle of kids that they are mentoring, too. Even the best caregivers can not be everywhere at once.


Good luck. 

Comment by Richmond on January 26, 2011 at 4:24pm
The problem with this situation is they will not respect your wishes not to evangelize.  If they don't do it, their children will do it.  Just as they won't send their children to you, don't send yours to them.
Comment by Henry Ruddle on January 26, 2011 at 4:48pm
Knowing them, I think there's a better chance they'll go light on the evangelizing if I don't ask them to than if I did. They are well aware of my atheism and I've had many interesting, respectful conversations with my ex-sister-in-law on the topic. We used to sit up together until 2 in the morning talking religion and politics every time we stayed with them or they stayed with us. Also, my daughter attends church with my ex-wife and identifies as a Christian already. However, it's a reconciling Methodist church ... very liberal compared to the Texas compound.
Comment by Richmond on January 26, 2011 at 5:08pm
Henry hopefully the level of respect is enough.  The problem will enter in with the others.  Also how much have you talked to and taught your daughter?  In the end if you have a strong relationship with her she should be fine no matter what.  Just realize she will be evangelized to. Let her go, it is so temporary.
Comment by Justin P. on January 26, 2011 at 5:29pm

Henry, I am new Father, my son is only 15 months old, however, I can already understand your "quandary" and feel for you there. Our children are growing up in a Christian nation and we all know it. It's all around them, on TV, in media and of course, at the age of 9 - I could only imagine how also peer pressure or criticism from friends and parents come into play. There's no way to avoid that, however, it seems like you would be placing your daughter into a vulnerable position - with an incredibly biased, prejudiced denomination and to leave her there for a whole month definitely presents the believers the opportunity to sway and influence. Mind you, I'm not trying to infer your daughter is weak-minded or anything like that, for that matter, I am only saying that if it were my son, I don't think I could do that. Your ex-in-laws also seem very missionary type people, and as history has proven, the "MISSION" is... Well, I don't think I need to explain it.

Best of luck to you Henry on your decision.

Comment by ungodlynews on January 26, 2011 at 8:43pm

If she already identifies herself as a christian, they opportunity to "convert" might not be as strong. I would worry about their message. Are they gay bashing, 6000 yr old planet christians? I wouldn't want my kids hearing any type of messages like that. Do they have a website with their values listed? Might be worth checking out. 

Comment by Bryan B on January 26, 2011 at 8:50pm

Will she enjoy herself and be safe? if the answer to both of those is yes, let her go. You would be surprised how many stheists were not only exposed to heavy religion but were religious at some point in our lives. She is very young and lucky enough to be exposed to a wide range of beliefs and  will have plenty of time to explore and make up her own mind, which in my opinion, is the healthiest way to develop philosophical position. At her age she may not even care (I sure didn't!).

Comment by Tim on January 27, 2011 at 12:26am
You're not worrying enough.
Comment by Moria Jackson on January 27, 2011 at 1:56am

If she already identifies as christian, she is not going to be subjected to a matter she knows nothing about.  She will probably have an excellent visit.  You can always talk before and after the visit... let her know they might think things a little different than she does, and then when shes back, go through and point out "errors" or something. 


As for the vaccinations, that is a very responsible consideration.  You should definitely find out if the other children are vaccinated, but I don't think it's THAT big of a deal if there are no very old, very young, or very ill people around. 


If you are not worried about her safety and such, I see no reason NOT to let her go.


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