FSMismyhero said... P-momma,...Your post reminded me of a question I've been wanting to ask you.
How do you keep your religious relatives from preaching/indoctrinating your children?
My husband and I are starting to think about having children and one of my biggest concerns is how I'm going to raise them as agnostics (we're atheists but I want them to make up their own minds) when we have some extremely religious family members. I'm not so much concerned when their p1 and p2's ages, but when their more like P3 and p4's age and more impressionable. Any advice/experiences you could share would be extremely helpful :)
Well, as always, if you have specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them in an e-mail. Every family is different, so my advice might vary with the circumstance. :)
It really depends on the relative. My parents, while still Catholic, seem to regard (rightfully so) religion as something that's completely up to the parents. I think there's some disappointment that P4 was never baptized, but they haven't forced the issue. Of course, they are the family that lives closest to us, so I think -for them- they see that we're doing a good job without religion and it's not a concern. KWIM? Dr. Possum's (he didn't spend six years to get a PhD to be called Mister, thankyouverymuch. LOL) family is a different situation. His parents are Catholic and actually attend church on occasion (mine don't). And, there's been this landslide of grandchildren (six in five years) that has made all of the baptism stuff an issue. They haven't really mandated that we have Owen baptized, but I know it's something they would like to see. It's not going to happen. But, I'm sensitive to the fact that that would be their desire. I can see how they might be disappointed: if for no other reason than it's a tradition. We have, and this is a new revelation for the readers here, an added "family", tough, too. I was married before I married Dr. Possum and P1 and P2 were adopted by Dr. Possum. My ex has nothing to do with the kids...but, his parents do. THEY are very, very, very involved and invested in Catholicism and THEY are the proverbial thorn in our side. It helps that they have no legal say so and limited contact. But, as you might have inferred from my x-mas detox post, it is almost always an issue when they go visit.
I think the best approach is to decide which battles are worth fighting. You're going to be your child's role model. If your relatives are the type that will insist on mandatory church attendance for everyone, during visits, then you (and your DH) need to decide if you're going to participate. If your family does a prayer at dinner, then you need to figure out what you're going to say (to your family and your daughter). If you sit down and think about how religion plays a roll in your gatherings, you can think about what you want to do (or how to approach it). Personally, I don't ban the kids from going to church. I think it's better to let them see what's going on inside so it's not some mystery. It's easier to proselytize to those who have no clue about what REALLY goes on in a church or religion. But, that doesn't mean you have to reserve all comment or judgement in your home or with your family. You don't have to give up being agnostic or atheist to make someone happier. If they do ask you to do so (or to "be a team player"), then I suggest my favorite response: "Ok. We can go to Church with you, but then you have to watch The God Who Wasn't There with me later." Make it clear what your boundaries are and then stick to it. If you and DH present a united front, it will be harder for the family to manipulate the facts and emotions. And, if someone does cross a line...to preach or proselytize your kids, then you need to be willing to tell them that they've crossed that line. Really, the best advice is to know what you want, set the boundaries, and then enforce them. :)