Would this bother you? (sort of OT, question)

Jessica - posted on 10/14/2010 ( 48 moms have responded )

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This isn't really a debate but I just kind of want some feedback on this. As a background, MIL is very religious. Goes to church every Sunday, reads the bible all the time, etc. DH and I are not so much. Well, I don't consider myself Christian (or anything else for that matter)- I'm not against it necessarily, I just haven't found a way to really believe in it because I'm too skeptical. DH is Christian but is very quiet about it. More in the personal relationship with God kind of way, not the open mainstream, pushy way that his mom is.

DH's mom insists on praying before every single meal. Whether we're at her house or someone else's, out to eat or having a casual lunch of delivered pizza. I find it kind of irritating, but whatever. The thing that really rubs me the wrong way however, is whenever we're together she insists on trying to "teach" Kieran how to pray. He's 16 months. She folds his hands together and tries to get him into it and to say amen when she's done, I mean really tries to teach him. Again, doesn't matter where we are- even if we're at a restaurant or at our own house, she does it. I know its altogether probably a harmless thing and that there are certainly worse things she could be doing with my son, but I'm not religious at all, DH isn't openly religious and we don't do the whole praying thing. I just don't feel like its her place to step in and try to teach him that- that should be something that we will handle as a family when he's older. It just really pisses me off. But, I don't know if I am over reacting or not? Because lots of things she does tend to annoy the crap out of me, so I can't tell if its just me being bitchy because its her, or if she's genuinely stepping out of line here. Thoughts?

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Krista - posted on 10/15/2010

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"I disagree I think he should it doesn't hurt anybody or anything why shouldn't he learn in his grandparents home. If they were to take him for a week on vacation he would have to do it sitting at there table."

Sherri, I couldn't disagree more. I think that it DOES hurt, because if the child is not religious, then he is being asked to lie about his beliefs. I've heard that sentiment before, that atheists should just shut up and pray when others are, in order to not cause waves. And I think that it is very disrespectful of that atheist's beliefs. If I had a Jewish friend coming for dinner, I would not serve a pork roast and expect him to eat it, because it doesn't hurt anybody. So why do the religious expect everybody to put on a show of praying in order to spare their tender sensibilities?

You know what? I'm going to start a new thread 'bout this.

[deleted account]

But teaching a child to pray is not teaching them to have a closed mind, it IS showing them one way to do things BUT your job as a parent is to guide them to learn other ways AS WELL.

Krista - posted on 10/17/2010

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I think the only reason I suggested that it was the husband's place to discuss it is because I've seen so many situations before where the DIL has a problem with the MIL, and it just turns into this shitstorm, with the husband being yanked in both directions. If the husband brings it up, then it indicates to the MIL that the husband and the wife are united in this issue.

Jessica - posted on 10/15/2010

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So by that logic, Sherri, should I not expect MIL to be respectful of our rules, and not pray while at our house? Since that is not what we do at our home? She ISN'T just doing it in her house- she does it where ever she is, including ours. I don't join in their prayers, but I'm not being disrespectful- I just sit there. Similarly, I don't think he needs to learn to "pray correctly" at all in order to be respectful; that's not the issue really. My issue with the whole thing is that she is stepping in and teaching him something that I feel should be our responsibility.

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Jane - posted on 10/18/2010

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For this situation specifically, I would ask your mother in law, politely to leave the religious upbringing of your child to you and your husband. END OF STORY!!!!!!

Desiree - posted on 10/18/2010

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She is stepping on your turf. So do something about it and tell her you don't appreciate her interferring in something that has nothing to do with her. Religion is a matter of the parents choices in life if you want to teach your child to be a fanatic then that one thing if you want to teach your child to be respectful of others and do pray in a private way then that also another thing. The problem is people don't look to kindly at people who advertise their beliefs for the world to see. I most surly don't enjoy it either. People should be most considerate of other peoples feeling and If I were you I would make my feelings very known.



Just as to being out numbered since when is a mother out numbered. Rubbish You may not believe the way your husband believes but that is no excuse for you to take tah lying down. Time you put your foot down because if you don't they will walk all over you over something even more important. This is a marriage with a child not a democracy, no outsider ie friend or mother-in-law has the right to give an opinion. As I normally say to my kids "There is only one Queen in this Hive. so only one opinion that matters".And its not the mother in law or anyone elses.

April - posted on 10/18/2010

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would it work if you asked your husband to tell your MIL that he wants to be the one to teach your son to pray? it wouldn't offend her and he probably wouldn't get around to it anyway. then everyone is happy!

[deleted account]

Jessica, did you express to your husband how it makes you feel? I think you should talk him. Obviously you guys need to come to an understanding BUT that doesn't mean you should just suck it up. Maybe you guys can come to some sort of compromise? Talk to your daughter and explain how you feel - she might still be young but eventually she'll have to choose for herself.

Good luck!

Jessica - posted on 10/17/2010

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Well I brought it up with my husband, and as I suspected, he is ok with her teaching him to pray :/ I figured he probably wouldn't have a problem with it, because he is a Christian (even if a quiet one) and it is his mom. So, now I feel stuck. It still bothers me, but now I feel like I have no choice because I am the minority. I'm not sure there's anything I can really do, ya know? If I say something to her anyway, now it will just tick her off AND my husband, and my husband will just take her side. I guess I just have to feel undermined as a parent by myself then? Ugh.

And Krista I agree with you, IF my husband felt the same way I did and we were going to bring it up with her, I'd have him talk to her- alone, or at least with me. She'd be far more likely to take it better coming from him- knowing her, if I said something she'd just go to him about it anyway.

April - posted on 10/17/2010

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well...when you marry the husband, you marry the family...so i disagree that it should be hubby's place to discuss this with his mom. it is both of your places. if you want to do it together, that's okay and if you want to talk with her yourself, that's fine too!

Sherri - posted on 10/16/2010

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Jessica what does your husband think about this? Because it is his child too and if he has a problem with it then it is his mother and therefore should be his place to have a discussion with her about it. Or if he does not have a problem with it then you should respect his wishes on this situation.

April - posted on 10/16/2010

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and Sherri i disagree that "it's not hurting him".....it's only not hurting him in your eyes. If he were my son, i would feel that he was being harmed by being forced to pray. his chances of having an open mind as an older child/adult could be harmed. I don't want my son to grow up thinking there's only one way to do things. It would be detrimental to his character.

April - posted on 10/16/2010

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She's out of line. It is up to the parents to teach religion or not to teach religion. If my MIL did that (and she's VERY RELIGIOUS), I'd have to tell her not to. If I didn't want to let it be known that I don't ever intend to teach my son to pray...I'd just say "I appreciate your help, but I'd like to be the one to teach him to pray."

Petra - posted on 10/16/2010

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As an atheist, I wouldn't have a problem with it if it was done only in her home. It can be used as a tool when teaching your child about religion down the road, and it could be a happy medium between you, DH and your MIL. But I would definitely not be okay with it in my home or while eating out. I think if you tactfully and respectfully lay some ground rules, you can avoid creating a big issue out of it. My MIL thinks that faith and belief themselves, not actual religion, are important, but doesn't push it on anyone and I completely respect that - I always participate in the hokey "what we are thankful for" bit before special occasion dinners at her house and I would expect Tor to do the same when he is older.

Sherri - posted on 10/15/2010

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Just my opinion she asked for it and I offered it. You can have different ones that is fine as well.

[deleted account]

Your situation is different from mine because sounds to me like you think your MIL is deliberately being disrespectful and if that's the case, then yes, I would be upset too. I know that my MIL means no disrespect which is why I'm not bothered by it and will use it in the future to teach my daughter about different religions, acceptance of religion etc.

Jessica - posted on 10/15/2010

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Oh ok, yeah no I haven't said anything to her, yet. Its been a kind of recent thing and I wanted some third party opinions on the subject because like I said, I'm not sure if its something to genuinely be upset about or if I'm just being irrational. I appreciate everyone's input!

[deleted account]

What does DH stand for? Obviously I realize you're using it when refering to your spouse but....

[deleted account]

I meant that you hadn't said anything to your MIL, not that you didn't mention your upset to us.

Jessica - posted on 10/15/2010

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And Dana- Yeah I am kinda upset by it, that's why I created the post ;) I would say that MIL doesn't realize she's doing anything wrong, but I actually do think she does it pretty deliberately. She isn't the kind of person to confront you directly, she tends to take more passive aggressive approaches. She knows its not something we do in our home and she knows I'm not especially religious. I do realize that if I want it to stop I will have to say something to her (or, DH)- if we decide to, we will do so respectfully and calmly.

Nikki - posted on 10/15/2010

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Neither my husband nor or I are religious, we come from Catholic and Jewish families. But are families are well aware of our wishes and do not push anything onto our son, he is 16 months as well. If they did I would say my peace and expect them to respect our wishes, This is YOUR child and he WILL be raised how you deem fit, not how she does, and unfortunately she must understand that.

[deleted account]

Sherri, the grandparents can't expect him to pray. They CAN expect him to sit quietly out of respect.

Sherri - posted on 10/15/2010

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I disagree I think he should it doesn't hurt anybody or anything why shouldn't he learn in his grandparents home. If they were to take him for a week on vacation he would have to do it sitting at there table. Just as I expect anybody who walks in my home to respect my rules of my home.

[deleted account]

"It will not hurt anything that he can be respectful of someone else and know how to pray correctly while in there home." ~ Sherri



Sherri, he shouldn't have to pray even when in THEIR home. He doesn't have to make a scene or protest and he needs to be respectful in someone else's home BUT he doesn't have to join in the prayer.

Sherri - posted on 10/15/2010

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I actually think it will be a good thing when he is older. It will not hurt anything that he can be respectful of someone else and know how to pray correctly while in there home.

[deleted account]

Also, from what you said, Jessica, you haven't mentioned that you're upset by it? Your MIL probably doesn't even realize that she's doing anything disrespectful. If her family, including her son (your hubby) are accustomed to praying before a meal then it's up to one of you to inform her that it's not something you practice in your home. She's not a mind reader.

[deleted account]

Ok, I'm going to share my story with you because it's VERY similar.

My MIL does the EXACT same thing BUT, I respect my MIL and her beliefs even though I DESPISE organized religion. I figure there's nothing wrong with giving thanks before a meal and when Roxanne asks or once she's a little older and I can explain a lil' better to her, we'll talk about different religions and God's. For right now, it's about respecting my MIL.

That's MY take on it anyhow.

Krista - posted on 10/15/2010

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My answer is biased, because I'm atheist, but I would be absolutely livid if someone tried to push religion on my young, impressionable child. It'd be one thing if she tried it once, just for shits and giggles, but she's really, really pushing this on him, and it's fucking creepy, where the poor kid has absolutely no understanding of what he's doing.

However, I can understand that not everybody sees it as a big deal. Perhaps the best approach would be for your husband (it'll have to be him, not you, or else there's not a hope in hell of her listening) to say, "Mom, I appreciate that you want us to raise Kieran with faith, but it is our decision as to how we do that, and we'd prefer to handle it ourselves, thank you. So if you can stop pushing him to pray, that'd be great. We'd love it, however, if you wanted to try to teach him that great (song, rhyme, whatever) that you used to sing to me as a kid." Basically, it's almost the way you'd treat a kid...let her know that the behaviour is undesirable, and then redirect her towards a more appropriate behaviour. LOL!

[deleted account]

IMO if you are unhappy with it you need to talk to your MIL, I'd tell her that although you don't mind her praying in your home, you rather she didn't teach your son to pray, I'd make a point to show that I would have no issue if when he is older he chose to follow the Christian faith though so she knows you are not suggesting there is anything wrong with her faith.

Paige - posted on 10/15/2010

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If it's bothering you enough to inquire on COM, then I would think it's not just you being bitchy. I would recommend you telling your MIL that you appreciate her, but are waiting for your son to be old enough to WANT to know more about Christianity and to please step back until he asks. As previously mentioned by others, any faith is a very personal choice, and you can be taught it and have it shoved down your throat all your life, but that doesn't mean you'll ever take to that faith and call it your own. Good luck Jessica, I hope she respects you and your family enough to step back.

Sarah - posted on 10/15/2010

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For some reason it would irritate me if my MIL did it, but not so much if my own mom did it. My MIL is a very pushy Christian. My husband grew up with his parents constantly trying to shove Christianity down his throat & they were very controlling about it. My mom on the other hand is also VERY religious, but she is open to other religions & practices as well. Personally, I don't know where I am in my beliefs at this point in my life. I DO believe in a higher "power," but I don't think he is the "God" that some people envision. I don't view "God" in the way I was taught when growing up. Anyway, yes it would irritate me, but I personally would probably not say anything about it. When my MIL is confronted about certain things, she takes offense, gets pissed off and thinks everyone is against her.

[deleted account]

After I logged off last night and thought about this situation some more, it occurred to me that this is something that she sees as "cute." She most likely means no disrespect. If and when you talk to her about it, do so in a calm, nice way. She probably doesn't realize that it bothers you.

C. - posted on 10/14/2010

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Um.. Well, as a Christian that hasn't really been 'practicing' lately, I can kind of see how that may annoy you. My mom used to try to teach my son how to pray when I was out there during hubby's deployment. I didn't really mind, just thought it was more my decision on when to teach him (b/c I do eventually want him to learn). My husband isn't religious. He believes in God, but he doesn't pray or read the Bible or anything like that.

Honestly, though.. Even though I can kind of see where you're coming from, it may just be b/c she bugs you in other areas. It might just be magnifying the fact that she's trying to teach him how to pray. I think it's pretty harmless, though. He's only 16mo, so it may not even hold a place in his brain right now, you know?

[deleted account]

Okay, so not reading the other posts first....



I taught my daughter how to pray at a very young age. She's been bowing her head with her hands folded and saying, "Amen" since about 15 months or so. But then again, I'm her MOM. It's my prerogative to teach her that, because I feel it's important.



Jessica, you are your son's mom. I know that goes without saying, but just like I have the right to teach my child to pray, you have the right to refuse to do so. You are right that it is probably harmless. Kids will encounter people and ideas that are different from their parents, but ultimately it is the parents that give them the greatest lessons in their lives.



If it is simply an annoyance, I would ignore it and fight bigger battles. If it bothers you to the core, say something nicely. Many Christians I know (hopefully I'm included in this statement) are very respectful of others' beliefs.

Johnny - posted on 10/14/2010

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I am an agnostic and it would really bother me. I have no issue with people holding prayer in their own home, as long as they do not expect me to actively participate. And actually, if they come to eat in my home, they are also welcome to pray privately and I will respect that time. But the moment someone steps over the line and tries to force their personal faith on myself or my family, no matter who it is, I would clearly and assertively put a stop to it. My daughter has the right to choose her own beliefs, anyone who attempts to make her pray or follow their faith will be causing problems for me and putting a strain on our relationship. Fortunately for us, we do not have any family members who would do something like that.

Brandy - posted on 10/14/2010

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I'm the quiet kind of Christian like your husband and my fiance isn't religious. We haven't started the religious talks with our 2 1/2 year old yet but when we've gone to my parents' house, I noticed that my mom bought a book called something like 'My Activity Bible for Toddlers' and she has been reading some of it with her. It doesn't bother me being that I am a Christian myself but I can see why it bothers you. I imagine she is doing it out of concern for her grandchild because of the belief that she grew up with. The way of the Christian is to 'spread the word of God' and that is what she feels she needs to do because that is what she has learned from her religion. I think maybe you could ask her to lighten up a bit and not be quite so pushy with it.

Jessica - posted on 10/14/2010

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"You didn't really state whether or not she makes it a family prayer or prays to herself, but if she her praying is offensive or disruptive toa family meal, you could ask her to please pray to herself, God will hear her whether she thinks it, whispers it or shouts it from the mountain tops!!!"

Oh no, she prays out loud and its a family thing! Sometimes she will ask DH or his older brother to lead it. I guess it doesn't really disrupt anything because they are all Christian too; I kind of just sit there lol.

I guess what concerns me the most is that she IS stepping in and teaching him that, when I feel that it should be our family that initiates that. And it makes me wonder how much further she may take it in the future. I'd be fine if, later on, he decided he wanted to go to church or join a youth group or whatever- but I want him to make those decisions himself. And to be honest, if I want him learning Christianity from anyone I want it to be from DH, because he is very down to earth and humble with his beliefs- I've heard MIL go off on issues and she's much more close minded about things.

Jenny - posted on 10/14/2010

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I'd be choked. My Grandma tried that at my house once. I told my daughter to just sit quiet. I'll be respectful to their beliefs by sitting in silence but there will be no joining in by me or my children. I only see them every few years though. I imagine if it was a regular occurance I would have to my foot down. My children will come to their own conclusions on religion, not what they inherit from the family.

[deleted account]

I'd be annoyed with her. It's up to the child's parents whether they choose to bring them up with religion.

Jodi - posted on 10/14/2010

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I'm agnostic and I would be pretty upset, only because, if I wanted my child to learn to pray, I would teach her myself or ask someone else to teach her. To do so uninvited is crossing a line IMO

Also, for the praying in public or at other people's houses, if she wants to be a respectful Christian, she would pray quietly to herself and not involve everyone around her who may not share the same beliefs. You didn't really state whether or not she makes it a family prayer or prays to herself, but if she her praying is offensive or disruptive toa family meal, you could ask her to please pray to herself, God will hear her whether she thinks it, whispers it or shouts it from the mountain tops!!! Best of luck, religion acn get to be a really tricky topic, especially with family.

Sal - posted on 10/14/2010

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just start teaching how to do a buddist chant, on the floor, saying "ommmmmmmm" he'll think its a game and she won't but then tell her that if she is going to teach him how to pray like a christain you are going to teach them all to him so he can make his own decision....

Rosie - posted on 10/14/2010

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my family is very religious (i am a closeted atheist) and we pray whenever we are with my family, but my mohter has never actually folded their hands and such. i don't know how i'd react.
i think i would just let it happen. they can learn what it's like at grandmas house, or around grandma, and just know that to respect her they pray before supper. you can use it as a learning tool. tell them why she does it and why you don't. pick your battles is good advice.

Nikki - posted on 10/14/2010

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It would piss me off! I am an atheist, however I want to raise my daughter to be accepting of other religions and choose one is she decides to when she is old enough to make an informed decision. However I do not want anyone to force their beliefs on my daughter, this would include teaching her how to pray, geeze I would get my knickers in a knot! When she is old enough to ask questions I am happy for religious family members to discuss their religion with her, but not force her to comply with their rituals. I would say something.

Caitlin - posted on 10/14/2010

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I'm not religious in many ways, but very accepting. I'm not really sure about this one, at someone elses house, I will "join in" when they pray before meals (i'll lower my head) but I don't actually pray. At my house, we don't say grace, doesn't matter who's over. It would bug me if someone tried to teach my daughter to pray like that, i'd pretty much remind them that we are not a religious family, and we don't pray. I wouldn't get really pissed off about it, but if it's in my house, I woudn't appreciate someone trying to get my daughter to do that.

I want to raise my daughter to be accepting of all religions, and I plan to teach her about many religions and their beliefs, and if she chooses to be religious, it's up to her.

I guess it all depends on the company, let's just say i'm not going to be striking up a chorus of "Jesus loves me" anytime soon. I was draggedd to church until I was old enough to get a job to avoid it, and I don't want that for my daughter.

Becky - posted on 10/14/2010

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Well, although I am a Christian and we do pray at mealtimes -well, supper, at least - I would say that she is overstepping. Religious/spiritual beliefs are a very personal matter, and I think that family should support whatever you choose to teach your children in this regard, even if they disagree with that. Now, teaching him to be respectful while others are praying is probably not a bad thing, but to try to force him to pray, when this is not something that you guys do as a family, would make me upset too.
My brother does not believe in God anymore. That's fine, he's entitled to his own beliefs. However, if he were to start telling my kids that there is no god and mommy and daddy are stupid for their beliefs, I'd be pretty darn ticked. I know that's more extreme than what you're saying. But we try to be sensitive as well. We don't buy their daughter Bible story books or insist on praying before meals at their house, etc.

[deleted account]

It wouldn't bother me at all, but I can see why it could possibly bother you. No clue how I would handle it if it were a problem for me though.

Kimberly - posted on 10/14/2010

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"I can't tell if its just me being bitchy because its her, or if she's genuinely stepping out of line here."

Only you can answer that. They're your boundaries. Especially if you do not consider yourself a Christian. I do consider myself a Christian and though we don't go to church or pray over meals as often as your MIL, we still have faith. So, I wouldn't be as put off by it or offended if it were my child.
And like you said there could be worse things to which she could be exposing your son.
Pick your battles- would be my advice.

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