The best way to deal with religious family members... Communicate.

Sarah - posted on 03/23/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My parents and sisters are extremely religious. Christianity is everything to them and their life revolves around God. Praying, Bible reading, the whole nine yards.
My mum usually comes out to visit me and Jonah once a month and it's usually a very laid back event. However, I decided this last visit to make an inarguable statement that I knew she had been dreading I would make: "Hi Mom! I'm an atheist."
Hehe Ok, so I was a little more tactful than that.
I just wanted to give a few pointers; seemingly little things that made a big difference.

1) Stay calm. Remember, you have nothing to be defensive about. (After all, YOU are not the one who believes in an invisible perfect being who defines himself as love yet condones rape, murder and slavery in his "holy" word!)
2) Be as matter-of-fact as possible. Don't try to get in a huge debate.
3) Be clear about where you stand, but don't bash their beliefs.
4) If they start going on an on about how GREAT god is and how they would be nothing without his love and mercy and you think you might explode.... just ask them a question you KNOW they won't know the answer to. Or, ask them several.
5) Let them know that you don't feel the need to discuss your beliefs again if they don't. If they have questions you will gladly answer them but tell them it's kind of a hush-hush agreement. You hush about yours if they'll hush about theirs!
6) Tell them IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that you do not want them 'teaching' your child (in any manner, to any extreme) about their religion.

In my talk with my mom, she must have said "I don't know" or "I can't answer that" five or six times. Is she still a Christian? Very much so. But she sent me an email a few days later saying that she appreciated my honesty and she was glad that I "made [her] think".

It's easier to keep your cool when you're right. ;)


Thanks all, for this awesome group. Honored to be a part.

-Sarah Shook-

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5 Comments

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Amanda - posted on 02/24/2011

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thank you! i have recently ran into the problem of others teaching my oldest daughter who is now three. I went back to my hometown to visit my and my husbands families with our kids. I offer to spend one sunday visiting my FILs church and my mothers church AFTER the service so that they can show the kids with their close friends. the last time i got to my FILs church early so i waited in the common room and my MIL came out and asked me if i would like to join them. she knows my views and knows that my husband and i do not plan to raise her to be religious, so i figured she would drop it when i declined. Then she (instead of asking me) asked my daughter if she would like to join the sunday school downstairs, and off they went. She later had my daughter set up the nativity set as it was christmas time. She is raising questions i do not wish to answer yet, but i have never felt comfortable bringing it up with her. I know now! :)

Jenny - posted on 01/02/2011

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You just have to put your foot down. I informed my family a few years ago that I am an athiest and would appreciate that being respected. Just be straight up and clear about it. I stopped receiving religious email forwards and no godly gifts have arrived. If I received praying dolls they would be donated or recycled.



My kids will be allowe dto pursue their own religion or lack of but that will not until they are able to understand, compare and contrast them all. I won't allow them to be marketed too or indoctrinated, even by family.

Katie - posted on 12/30/2010

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thank you for the pointers. i'm preparing to have the talk with my mother soon. she's been agnostic her entire life and raising us, she never once spoke about god until about 6 months ago when my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. now she's suddenly found god and is trying to shove it down my throat, just when i have come to terms with myself that i am, infact, atheist. i've politely rejected her offers to go to church every week, but she recently bought my daughters praying dolls and that was enough for me. i'm going to lay it all out there so she knows how i feel and [hopefully] will stop her antics.
your pointers will help a lot since it's a sensitive subject.
thanks again.

Emma - posted on 11/28/2010

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hmmm ok.. heres a brain teaser for you... my partner is a muslim (non practising) and has an answer for everything ..drives me mad sumtimes lol. now we are trying for a baby at the moment so not really an issue that am goin to have to deal with for a while yet.. but.. and to me its a big BUT... how can we compromise on the upbrining of a child that would satisfy us both without confusing the child. i refuse to bring it up as a muslim as i dont believe and i wont pretend i do or stand back while her fills its head full of majic.. does anyone think theres middle ground here?..we respect each others views on god so dont fight about it... but am pretty sure we are both going to want our own way wen it comes to this issue.. anyone got any tips for me to win? haha

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Thanks So much for this I think I will go about this with my mother-in-law. She drives me insane with her preaching. I just could never figure out a way to word it in a polite way.

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