An agnostic who married into a Catholic family, help?

[deleted account] ( 5 moms have responded )

Please, please try not to be offended by this topic. I do not mean to insult the religious choices of anyone else and firmly believe in religious freedom.



I am an agnostic. I was not raised with any kind of organized religion. When my husband and I got married, I agreed to raise our children in his faith, which is Catholic. What I quickly realized was that he was not a practicing Catholic; it was more about not wanting to hurt his parents. My children are now 5 and 7 years and are asking questions that I think some kind of organized spiritual discussion could help, but if Catholicism is not important to my husband, I find I can't really get on board. I cannot and will not allow my children to be taught that to love someone of the same sex or for a husband and wife to plan the size of their family is sinful. And I don't and will never believe that one must not only accept Jesus as the savior but attend a specific Christian church in order to be accepted into Heaven (if one exists). I know the children's mass at the Catholic Church will not discuss these things at this age, but I feel like it's opening the door.



But the idea of spiritual discussion, especially now that my children are so inquisitive, sounds like a good one. While I don't believe in a deity, I want my children to be introduced to the idea and allow them to make their own decisions. There is a Unitarian church not far from me and I would like to go there and take my kids. What I'm worried about are my in-laws. They are very strict, devout, practicing Catholics. I've seen their nieces and nephews talked about in whispered voices if they went to a church other than the Catholic Church. I fear that they will not only be hurt, but genuinely believe they will not get to see their grandchildren in the afterlife. While I don't agree, I don't want to hurt them in this way either.



So my question is, do I take my children to the Unitarian Church and take the heat from my in-laws, take them to the Catholic Church and be sure to instill in them the strength to question everything they're taught or do I avoid it altogether and fake a headache every Sunday when my children are asking to go to church (this third option is my husband's suggestion).



Thank you for any feedback.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

[deleted account]

You should never have to take heat from anyone's parents-your or his-on how you and your husband decide to raise your children.



Your in-laws raised their children with a sense of religion and faith, but that is not required of you. Sending your kids off to Catholic Church would be unfair to them, forcing them to believe in ideals you vehemently are against. It sends such a contradictory message of "You go, you beleive, but Mommy doesn't." If Catholicism was important to your husband, he would have insisted on it years ago.



I personally think the Unitarian Church is a safe idea to at least viist and check out for a sense of spirituality. Your in-laws do not HAVE to agree with your parenting decisions regarding religion/faith/spirituality. You can raise good, kind-hearted, moral, up-standing kids without the need for formal religion. ALl the very best to you.

Kaitlin - posted on 04/22/2012

1,107

21

451

If you don't believe in something, don't go.

Your children are obviously inquisitive and sound pretty intelligent (snaps, by the by) and I think discussion at home about any topic should be encouraged. Be sure, though, to get facts from that faith specifically if they are asking questions about a specific group, because prejudice runs rampant between religious denomenations (Baptists say that Catholics believe this, Pentecostals do that, etc etc). That way too, you don't have to worry about teaching your child to believe something, you are teaching them, "this is what pentecostals believe, see in their doctrine?" or "ask the Priest what the Catholics believe, because I don't agree and am not interested"- you are teaching them to ask questions and find the truth- which isn't that what you want too?

Perhaps, if they are asking to attend a church, let your in laws take them on Sunday? Or a friend of the family to other churches (so instead of teaching them one specific thing, they start to learn about many different beliefs by attending other churches/places of worship?)



Edited to add: My husband and I are very faithful Catholics, and have almost three children, and while I would like my children to be faithful Catholics as well, I do not want them to accept anything blindly. Ask questions, find answers, go to the source. My husband was raised Presbyterian and his family are VERY protestant, so I do understand theological differences among family members. Good luck.

5 Comments

View replies by

[deleted account]

When i was younger i was sent to Catholic church every sunday. My mother never failed, and would march me and my little brother to church and we would sit there and to be honest i was always bored out of my mind!. But now as i am older, i am grateful that my mother was so adamant on sending us to church. I have values instilled that i probably would have never learned if i hadn't gone to the church. Now the Catholic church is and probably will always be very strict, although i do not agree with everything they set forth it is your responsibility as a Catholic(if you choose to raise them that way) to hold these values true.
Did you baptize your children in a Catholic church? if so then you would know that you would vow to the priest to raise your children the Catholic way. If not and if you didn't i wouldn't be toooo worried about it. If the grandparents really wanted them to be raised Catholic they would insist that they were baptized in the church.

Kaitlin - posted on 04/23/2012

1,107

21

451

I really like how respectful and honest you are- that's what will carry over to your children. :D

[deleted account]

Thank you ladies, for the encouragement. I think I need to have a discussion with my mother-in-law about my plans. I don't want her to 'discover' we've taken the girls to a non-Catholic Church by chance. I also want to know her thoughts and feelings on the afterlife question. I know their faith is very important to my in-laws and don't want them to think I'm taking it lightly or dismissing it out of hand.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms