What to do when my Mother In Law is pushing her beliefs on my daughter?

Genevieve - posted on 02/03/2012 ( 46 moms have responded )

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I'm having some real problems and I dont know how to address them. Hoping for some constructive ideas or stories about how others have handled this. Or would handle it.



My MIL (mom in law), is a Pastor. So that means that my hubby grew up going to church every weekend. And that was fine but his mom said when he was 18 that he didnt have to go anymore. And he stopped. He has not been to church in years.



I have non Christian beliefs. I do belive in Jesus. I just do not belive he is my saviour. I do believe in God. But I also belive that there are other things. I do not go to church and havent since I was 5years old. I have nothing personally against organised religion. I am just not personally Christian.



The problem has been building since my daughter was born. She is going to be 6 in May. We do not take her to church. Hubby and I agreed before we were married that neither of us would push religion on her. And if she ever wanted to start going to church my husband would take her if he felt he wanted to start attending again. But this has not happened. And we are perfectly fine with that. She is not missing out on anything. Hubby and I are both spiritual and thankful people.



But when every single holiday and every single special occasion is marked by my MIL giving my daughter something religious... well I'm starting to get very bothered. At Christmas she brought my daughter yet another Nativity book. That means we actually have 5 completely different Nativity Stories. Not to mention the Baby Bible as well as a Childrens Bible. We have about 10 other Christian based items from her.



I feel like as a parent I am not pushing MY beliefs on my daughter. Yet I can tell from the way she is that she is very science minded. She is already a firm believer in evolution. She will argue it out with her Christian friends. She watches everything she can about nature and prehistoric animals.



So if I'm her parent and I'm not teaching her about my religion and my husband feels he is still finding out what he thinks ( he has his own issues with alot of the bible). And if we are frustrated by the situation how do we start sayin NO. No we dont want all of this. No when you come for a visit it is NOT the right time to pour religion all over our daughter. It seems she is so incredibly focused on the religion that she is missing out on who my daughter really is. And I can tell that my daughter is uncomfortable too. And she was so stressed out at Christmas that my husband thought she was ill. Until I explained that she was just so stressed out that she looked like hell.



I dont want to hurt any feelings. But I have a feeling that might have to happen. Ideas?

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Jolene - posted on 02/04/2012

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I have another point of view. First off you married a man who mother is a Pastor. That in and of itself is huge because not only is she a minority being female clergy in a male dominate world; clergy is also a way of life. So I think in your heart you had to understand and expect this.



Also you say you want your own daughter to make her own decision. How can she though if she only sees one side which is the non-religious side? If you truly want a child to make their own decision then you willingly expose them to all sides of it so they can experience it and make an informed decision.



I think in your heart you truly do not want her to be religious because if you did you would encourage the religious side just as you have obviously encouraged the scientific side.



Also, I do not believe a 6 year old is that committed to their beliefs and even if she is, why is it ok for her to argue with the belief system of her friends? I see anti-Christianity being encouraged here. When I was a kid my friends had all sorts of different beliefs including Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witness, what I would affectionately call Generic Protestantism, and some held no beliefs or scientific beliefs. And yet none of us argued with each other or were encourage by our parents to do so. We all just were friends and accepted the fact we had different beliefs, we learned from each other, and we went on with life. Condoning a six year old to argue with another child’s belief system is very troubling. Especially, since you are so troubled by what you perceive your MIL as doing the same thing with your belief system. Definitely there is a double standard here.



As for the quilts, cherish them as the beautiful gifts they are. My grandmother was a quilter and HUGE amounts of time and love goes into quilting. I have a shirt one and it is my most prized possession. Many years ago when I was with my ex he had a hideous knitted snowman and Santa done by his grandmother that he loved. Because I loved him I proudly displayed them every holiday.



Display the shirt one and pack the rest away. Someday they may mean something to your daughter or a niece or nephew.



And don’t try to make such an enemy of your MIL. She obviously did something right because she raised a son that you fell in love with.

[deleted account]

It sounds like you are quite frustrated with your MIL. I'm trying to understand the root of your concerns: it must be more than receiving the wrong gifts. Are you worried that your daughter is being coerced to convert to Christianity? The first is annoying, but certainly not at the top of family dysfunction lists. Gifts are just that. If you want something different, it may be permissible in your family to ask, but it's never polite to demand. The second problem, worrying that your daughter will become Christian by force doesn't seem likely. Perhaps you feel your MIL is pushy, and you want to push back to assert your independence? If that's the case, that's not about your daughter, so leave her out of it. Remember, you hold all the trump cards. You have your husband and your child. MIL has lost her husband and her child now lives with you, as does her granddaughter. It sounds like she wants to be a part of your daughter's life and make her own unique contribution.

I think it's a good thing to tolerate and accept others' differences. Try to recognize that Christianity is a part of your daughter's heritage. She (and you) can honor that without believing it. Treat it as you would any other cultural heritage: with tolerance, respect and an open mind. And show your own good character by respect and hospitality.

Sunbeam134 - posted on 10/11/2013

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To everyone who says that Genevieve needs to respect her MIL's beliefs, by allowing her to give her granddaughter Christian-related gifts ... Do you also think that if Genevieve started giving her MIL books about atheism or witchcraft that would be OK? I doubt it. Respect goes both ways. If the MIL does not want to receive books and items that would be offensive and not relevant to her, then the granddaughter who believes in evolution and respects a variety of religions should not have to either.
Giving children so many Christian things is definitely "pushing" the religion on them. Unless the household is filled with books about other holiday traditions, it makes it look like that particular faith is more endorsed when the child looks through the bookshelf.

Kelina - posted on 02/05/2012

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Ok I know you said that last time you talked with your MIL she ended up in tears, but guess what? that's a great manipulation technique. My mom was a great one for it. When all else failed, she'd cry to get me to do what she wanted. Guess who uses it lots? my toddlers. In fact, my three year old uses it at least once a day. Giving your daughter religious gifts is one thing, failing to stop and see who your daughter truly is is something else entirely. If it were me, I'd sit down with my husband and talk with him and tell him what I see and feel and that it needs to be dealt with with his mom. If he's not comfortable doing it then you'd really appreciate him being there and his support when you're talking to her. Make sure she knows right off the bat you love that she's spending time with your daughter and you think it's important for your daughter to have a good relationship with her grandmother. There's nothing in this life that's more important at this point. But you're worried because it seems like grandma is not letting your daughter be herself and learning to love her for who she is. Unfortunately those bossy little kids we all knew growing up do grow up as well and often turn into bossy adults. Let her know that it breaks your heart to see this and that you'd really love it if she listened a little more. Then remind her gently when she's over. She's got a great idea for baking today grandma! one of her favorites! Or, this is her favortie book right now, I'm sure she'd love it if you read it to her. It's ok for your daughter to learn who her grandma is, but grandma needs to know who her granddaughter is as well.

Krista - posted on 02/06/2012

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I wonder, instead of talking to your mother in law about her behaviour, if it might not be effective to ask her a question:



"How well do you know your granddaughter? Tell me about her."



Ask her about your daughter's likes, dislikes, opinions, hobbies, interests, etc.



My guess is that she has no frigging clue. So she'll either admit she doesn't know, or she'll give all the wrong answers and you can gently correct her.



And then, you can say to her, "She's a really great kid. And I want you to get to know her as she IS, not as how you think she should be. Instead of focusing on what you want her to do or what you want her to know, why not just spend some time with her and learn about who she is, as a person? Think about it, okay?"



And then just walk away and let her chew on that for awhile.

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Stargazer - posted on 02/06/2014

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I am so thankful to have found this thread. I am having the same problem, except my daughter is 4. She is so confused. And no amount of me saying "people have different ideas about God and Jesus" is helping her feel any less "stuck in the middle" between my husband and I and her grandparents. I have been searching for a way to tell them to please stop telling her things that directly conflict with what we're telling her. But I don't want to offend them or make them think we feel their opinions are any less valid than ours.
I understand that in order for her to make an informed decision about what SHE believes she needs to hear multiple opinions but at four years old, this is all just too confusing and overwhelming! How do I say "can you hold off on indoctrinating my child with religious propaganda until she's a teen?" That sounds really offensive.

Sunbeam134 - posted on 10/11/2013

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To everyone who says that Genevieve needs to respect her MIL's beliefs, by allowing her to give her granddaughter Christian-related gifts ... Do you also think that if Genevieve started giving her MIL books about atheism or witchcraft that would be OK? I doubt it. Respect goes both ways. If the MIL does not want to receive books and items that would be offensive and not relevant to her, then the granddaughter who believes in evolution and respects a variety of religions should not have to either.
Giving children so many Christian things is definitely "pushing" the religion on them. Unless the household is filled with books about other holiday traditions, it makes it look like that particular faith is more endorsed when the child looks through the bookshelf.

Genevieve - posted on 10/24/2012

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Truthfully I have not handled it yet. It has been the same and we are still trying to figure out what to do. There have been some other divisions in the relationship in the past couple months and we are pretty fed up at the moment. We have gone so far as my husband getting rid of his facebook account and me making a restricted list from my posts. She just seems to put her opinion on every single thing we do and we are finding it very suffocating. She told my husband that she sent my daughter a package and to look for it in the mail. I told him I want to see it before we give it to her. So not to say "grandma is sending you something"! We will see what it is. And if it is religious Im just gonna donate it to a friends church.

Jack - posted on 10/24/2012

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I am a dad who is in the same situation with my mother, who sees each visit as an opportunity to convert my two 12 year olds to her beliefs. I think this happens more than we think. I understand why, since I grew up in a very Christian and religious environment and family. It is a Christian's duty to tell others about Jesus and that he is the only way to heaven and the only way to God. I know where your MIL and my mother are coming from, because I use to believe as they do. I was once very religious and a daily Bible reader. I had a good portion of it memorized and came close to becoming a minister. I thought everyone who believed different from me was going to hell. Fortunately, I eventually figured it out, but my beliefs were so ingrained, it took me nearly 50 years to do. (The irony of all this is that I originally figured it out through the Bible itself, not through any other person or teachings). My family does not go to church, so I know my mother is afraid my kids are going to hell. (It is too late for me). I now can see how damaging strong religious beliefs can be. I have tried to combat the problem (as you have) by telling my kids what I believe based on facts and not on "faith". I encourage them to learn about all religions, so as not to be ignorant. I tell them they can choose to believe or not to on their own. I emphasize that people believe based on their upbringing and their environment and tell them that if my mother had grown up in Iran, she would have very different religious beliefs. Like you however, it is an uncomfortable position to be put in. My mother is a wonderful person and I do not want to do anything to harm the relationship with the kids. My son is very intelligent, and does not seem confused by it all, but my daughter gets confused and it is frustrating. They are very good kids and I just want them to enjoy being kids and not worry about hell and such. It pretty much ruled my life growing up. Now my mother gives them Bibles and reads to them from it. She gives them crosses to wear. I know she thinks I have been a total parent failure. Just that religion causes such division shows how dangerous it is, so you are wise to not want your MIL to push it on your daughter. It is a very difficult situation in how to prevent all the confusion without destroying the relationship. My mother would be extremely upset if I approached her about it and there would be a huge scene and she would be very hurt. On top of it all, she has been fighting cancer for a while now and 6 months ago was close to dying. I think she feels she must reach out to the kids before she dies. If I knew she was not going to be around much longer, it would be easier to just let it go, but I do not know that, as she has faced many illnesses in the past. It is just one of the bad positions that religion puts you in. So I feel for you and I wish like heck I had an answer. It is hard to know if it is best to just let it go on or not. Is a little bit whiskey ok? Is smoking a little pot going to hurt? Not unless they get addicted, (on religion) as I did. Since this was posted some time ago, how di did you handle it?

Genevieve - posted on 02/07/2012

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Thank you Corinne! That is exactly the thin I am trying to avoid. And you know what a letter might be good. Because sometimes it is easier to write things down than say them to someone where they might feel like its a confrontation. I would really like to solve this in a positive way.

Corinne - posted on 02/07/2012

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Why don't you, your husband and daughter sit down together and write a letter to Grandma explaining everybodys point of view and how this is affecting you all? That way it is done before the next visit and she has time to reply and adjust before she comes. Your daughter and her health needs to come first, she's going to end up getting worked up before Grandma even arrives and will end up dreading her visits - not good.

Genevieve - posted on 02/07/2012

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Jolene, it is very had to illustrate a complete view of what is goin on. And so I have not written the entire relationship out in detail. It should make no difference if my MIL lives close to us or far away. The simple fact is that she is pushing her beliefs on our family. And my husband feels the same way. I do not feel threatened. I am strong in my convictions. My own father was supposed to be a Catholic Priest. I have nothing against religion and actually practice my own religion. But my husband and I talked through many things before we were married and so none of these things would catch us by surprise later on and cause friction.



I'm not saying it is not OK to teach my daughter about her heritage. I am completely fine with that. It is the forcing of one specific thing over and over that has me up in arms. I do not want to exclude the other things. But my husband and I decided that we were not going to JOIN an organized religion until the time felt right for our family. It does not feel right. And so we are not joining.



As for the other things that may seem to you to be things I am being picky about or "threatened" by that is not the case at all. The things I brought up are simply ways for me to illustrate that when we only have a 3 day window to spend with her every 3 months that I do not feel the most important thing is that my daughter gets schooled in religion, read nothing but religious things and doesnt get to choose what she wants to do at all. And the fact that my MIL is so religion focused that she is missing out on a wonderful time.



My daughter is very grateful. She does not make faces at the things my MIL brings her. She does not say she doesn't like them and we do not thrown the things out (this is why I have no room for anymore quilts!!!) We end up throwing out the baking because no one in the house eats it and it does not taste good. I do not feel the need to choke back sugar cookies every three months because I have 2 tupperwares full of them sitting on my counter and no one wants to eat them and so I should set an example and be grateful and eat them when I don't even eat sweets to begin with. We dontate money and goods all the time to causes. My husband grew up overseas while his parents did Christian based relief aid and support work. And we feel it is important to teach our daughter about these things. I dont take these things away from her and make a fuss. But it is eating me and my husband up inside and something needs to change.



I do not wish to control. Only to set appropriate boundaries that our own small family can live with.



And I am not trying to do anything any other parent wouldn't do. I see my daughter upset because she is not allowed to be who she is because my MIL is so focused on something else. And that is an issue for me. And something needs to change. I do not want to focus on this but if it is not working that is just the plain truth. It is not working for our family.



I do not take my MIL for granted. When my husbands father passed away we were all devastated. I would give anything to have him back in our lives. I would be devastated if my MIL passed away as well. But ignoring an issue to simply be nice is not healthy. I want a relationship where we can be open and honest with each other. And the fact that I have to feel badly because I even need to have this conversation is proof. If my MIL was someone who ate meat with every single meal and we were vegetarian and she was trying to push meat down my daughters throat I would be on here trying to find good ways to handle the situation. And maybe I would have been listened to better if that was the case.



At this point I'm frustrated by the fact that most of the comments have been about how I am not seeing the big picture and am somehow anti religious. Maybe I should rephrase my post so that it is not about religion. Maybe make it about meat vs vegetables so that I can get some constructive views on how to talk openly with my MIL about an issue that is affecting my family.

Jolene - posted on 02/07/2012

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Genevieve it IS ok to teach her about the Native American side too. Why wouldn't it be? Like the Christian grandmother, it is a part of who she is. It would also be ok to teach her about Hindu or anything else. My own daughter has been to a Buddist Temple as part of her Protestant Confirmation to learn acceptance and tolerance.



Please re-read your posts and try to step back from them and really reflect on them. By your initial post I thought granda lived near and was a daily part of life. Her living far away puts it in a whole new liight.



Look at the things you are complaining about - Cristian gifts, the wrong gifts, too many quilts, and the wrong kind of cookies. Frankly I see nothing here that makes her a bad grandmother. In all honesty I see you feeling very threatened and trying to control way TOO much.



Why do you feel so threatened because your MIL brings the wrong kind of cookies? Why do you feel the need to demand a list of presents? What kind is values is that teaching your child on accepting gifts gratefully versus feeling entitled?



I see a grandmother who is trying, even though it may not be up to your expectations, relax and let them build their own relationship. Your daughterwill survive making her less than favorite cookies with grandma, receiving too many quilts, and the Chritan books. I can understand a bit why grandma cried.



I remember years ago making Amish style sock dolls for my daughter and niece. My sister-in-law joked about them and did not teach my niece to show gratitude or appreciate. A lot of work and love went intoning those dolls. Fast forward and my niece is now a teenager and resents her mother for encouraging her to not appreciate the doll and said she wished now she still had it.



Neither you ornyour daughter may survive so well if you try to judge and control all these things. Really try to figure out why you feel threatened and what you can do to step back, let things flow, and how you can teach your daughter true appreciation for the thoughts and how to appreciate grandma for the efforts no matter how quirky (but harmless) they are. Good luck.

Genevieve - posted on 02/06/2012

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Those are some great suggestions for the last few! Exactly the kind of ideas I'm looking for! Keep em coming.



It's hard to do this and I have to plan it out. Especially since it would be good to talk about all of this face to face. But when all the grandparents live so far away and only come by plane, we only see her every few months. My own parents we generally only see once or twice a year. So I hate ruining a trip that is supposed to be happy by "laying out rules". Im not fooling myself that I can hide under a rug (or in the bedroom folding laundry like usual). I had to distance myself from the situation so much at Christmas that I knew everyone could tell I was pretty grumpy. But if I had opened my mouth it would not have been pretty. And since Im a firm believer of the sayin "If you dont have anything nice to say keep it to yourself" I felt I needed to get a handle on things in my own mind before I brought it up. And also have the time to talk to my hubby about it and give him time to simmer down as well. So now that we agree that something needs to be said its time to find productive ways to approach the situation. I never meant for this thread to be anything about anti religion. Just that if her parents arent ready or in agreement of what we will teach her that we dont let her just get pushed around by people that a very firm believers on something. We do teacher her alot about other religions and cultures. My husband and I both love learning the same sorts of things ourselves. And have even had a recent offer to go to a Sikh Temple for church sometime from one of my husbands employees and I think we are going to say yes. and go have a wonderful time.

Wendy - posted on 02/06/2012

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You said your mil chooses what activities she does when she visits-- would it be possible for your daughter to plan something (with your help) and invite your mil, letting her know all the details are taken care of? You could play it up as a "gift" for your mil, like a pampering weekend where she doesn't have to do any planning or work, it's already done for her. Let her know your daughter chose all the activities and she really wants to do this for grandma. Just an idea.

Fran - posted on 02/06/2012

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Maybe you could buy books that explain other religions as well, and teach your daughter about other cultures and how some people believe different things. If she is science minded teach it to her in an anthropological sense, giving a basic history of how these ideas started. Then she will see that what her grandma believes isn't necessarily wrong just different from what mum and dad believe. It is a tricky situation, I have some of these issues with my own mother, we don't want to push religion on our children, but at the same time if you don't at least explain it to them you're not really giving them the chance to make their own decisions. Ideally they would probably be a bit older for exploring their options but it seems you aren't going to get a say in the timing. Goodluck!

Genevieve - posted on 02/05/2012

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I would also like to add that as a few people here would like me to make sure that my daughter gets a well rounded religious experience and also that "Christianity is part of my husbands side of the family". Then can I start bringing my daughter to Native American Pow Wows and having her do drumming circles, smoking peace pipes and doing smudge ceremonies? Because my own mother is Chippewa/Ojibwe Native American. And I do not push that on my daughter and I dont even try to. I wish I could share these "Pagan" beliefs with her. But my husband and I decided before we had kids that we would make that decision as a couple when the kids showed an interest. And yet I am supposed to stand back and let my MIL have her way.

Timora - posted on 02/05/2012

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I do take my daughters to church, but my husband is very anti organized religion. I'm not sure he knows what he believes. Since it is important to me, I take the girls with me to church, but I don't push it around the house because I know Daddy doesn't agree. My Mom though, is going back to college at 60 to get some kind of theological degree, so at Christmas she brought books down to read the Christmas story to my daughters and teach them why we celebrate. Since this is part of my daughters heritage and something her Grandma believes really strongly, it's not something I'm going to stop.



I would take this as a teaching opportunity to teach your daughter that different people believe different things. Explain to her that you are ok with whatever she decides to believe and that Grandma is trying to show her what she believes. Take getting the religious stuff as opportunities to answer questions, discuss your beliefs, etc.



If it's really making your daughter uncomfortable, I would suggest talking to Grandma about not coming across to her granddaughter as 'this is what you have to believe' and making sure she's open to answering any questions your daughter has, but not forcing beliefs on her. But like other said, you can't control what Grandparents or others give as gifts. You can just be thankful that they care about your daughter and wanted to share the joy of the holidays with them.



Now on the other hand I wouldn't let what she believes change how you parent. My daughters are not baptized and my husband's grandmother believes they don't have names in the eyes of God or something of that sort. But my husband and I are both in agreement that we want them to decide whether to get baptized or not when they are old enough and that is our decision not hers.

Genevieve - posted on 02/05/2012

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Just to clarify I have never pushed any sorts of beliefs on my daughter. We have many Christian friends and we have gone to church for special occasions. When my daughter gets into arguements with her fundamentally religious friends it is not her that starts the debate. She has been told she will go to hell and that God doesnt love her by Christian friends. So when I say she will argue it out she is only standing up for herself. I have never seen her instigate an arguement over religion. Though I have seen her playing with Dinosaurs and getting excited wanting to share with her friends the things she has learned watching educational programming and the friend has told her she is wrong and that God made it all and that she is stupid. So I just want to clarify that my daughter is not the one pushing people around.



I think that every person has a right to their religion. And I always talk about all aspects. At Christmas we talk about Jesus and also Santa Claus. She has a Jewish freind and knows that that friend does not participate in Christmas but instead they have Hannukah.



So I guess I feel like if we were say a Hindu household would it still be that I have to take this in stride? Or if I was very Christian and my MIL was a Witch would I have to stand back and be ok with it?



I just want them to be able to spend time together where its not about religion. And I wish that my MIL would find out who my daughter really is inside. I feel she is missing out on this wonderful imaginative child. Because when she comes to visit she only wants to do the things that she wants to do. She does not let my daughter lead in the games or choose the books. And this is a major problem for me. My MIL even brings her own boxed cookie packs and icing when she visits. And she doesnt let my daughter pick what they are going to make. And she never listens when I tell her the cookies that she wants to make over and over are not my daughters favorites. I hate throwing baking, quilts or useful things out when she leaves. It makes me sad. It just seems like a waste.



I want to fix this before my daughter is older. At the moment she will say thank you for everything she recieves. But I would hate to hear that she has offended Grandma. I want to help this relationship to move forward. But as it was said earlier in the thread by someone that Im afriad to hurt her feelings. And that is very true. Last time we had a talk about boundaries she ended up in tears. It broke my heart. And now that we need to discuss things again and this time we need to talk about her most important thing in life I want to make sure I handle it properly. I want to find ways to be firm. But I am not a person who likes to attack. I ended up in tears the last time as well. I dont like feeling upset by just having to talk to her.

Jodie - posted on 02/05/2012

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I agree with Terri!! Most schools, at some point, teach about different religions (including Christianity) as well as the scientific side of things. I don't know what country you're in or what type of school your daughter goes to but most church schools pray and sing Christian hymns. I don't agree that your MIL is so pushy with her beliefs that your daughter is getting ill and your MIL needs to be aware of this. She probably doesn't believe in evolution like most Christians (myself included) but at the end of the day, no child is forced to read books they receive or watch DVDs they receive so I don't feel there's any harm in the Christian material your daughter is being given because she doesn't have to read/watch it. You should tell your MIL that you respect her beliefs and she should respect yours and that she needs to back off and be patient. If and when your daughter starts learning about Christianity at school, your MIL is really the only person who is going to answer any questions so she should wait til then.

Jodie - posted on 02/05/2012

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As a strong believer that Jesus is OUR saviour; I don't agree with anyone who doesn't believe but I don't get into debates about it. I would actually agree with your MIL to an extent. Buying your daughter Christian material will not do her any harm because it's up to her if she reads it or not; or whether or not she believes it. But no Christian should force people, young or old to believe in the same things they do; they should only try and encourage them. This applies to all religions but at a Christian myself, I believe in the Bible and that the ONLY way to Heaven is through Christ. What you believe is your choice.

Alison - posted on 02/05/2012

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Yes. Have your MIL read just this. If I were you I'd take your MIL aside and talk to her. Tell her that you absolutely understand her beliefs, but they're not yours.Kindly, but very firmly, tell her she needs to keep her own beliefs to herself. I wouldn't worry about your daughter learning about your MIL beliefs, I'd more worry about why your MIL is pushing it so hard. There has to be some sort of power struggle here. First and foremost: YOU ARE MOM. You say what goes. I've had several run ins with my MIL before. Mostly I'd just get upset behind her back and say nothing. ONLY until I finally confronted to the situation head on and told her under no circumstances would I tolerate her behavior ever again, is when she finally resorted to the fact that I meant what I said. It took 7 years of building up in mine and my husband's system. Now, we've had the most peaceful year ever!

think a lot of MIL's think they know all, because we as Mom's are new at this and they've been through it already. In my situation, it was quite different. I'm not saying I know more than my MIL, but I am, saying that I have 2 children with some special needs. SHe thought I parented wrong for a long time until she saw what everyone else did. My son was in constant pain with infections and chronic sinuses. Enough to make any kids crazy beyond belief. We had to sit her down and tell her that he couldn't control himself, because he was always in pain. She was right. He was out of control, but nothing we could help. He was screaming to get out of his skin, but NOT anyone's fault by parenting! Finally with tubes put in his ears and scheduling surgery to get his adnoids out she finally saw the light.

Don't worry about hurting her feelings. You can't worry about that. What you need to worry about is your daughter getting confusing mixed messages! Your MIL may or may not take it personally, but I'm quite sure she knows she is getting to you by pushing her religious beliefs. Hope this helps! Good luck.

Jenna - posted on 02/05/2012

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your MIL is the one that, when your daughter is a few years older, will cop the roll of the eyes and "oh not another crappy present" look

Sandra - posted on 02/04/2012

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As a child I was taught to love and not hate. To never say no to a gift, no matter how big or how small, say thank you. That person may have gone through great trouble picking or making just the right one. Basically, put alot of thought in to it. Which may not be the way you think.

I would relax some, cause it is your problem with the MIL, a fight for control. No one will win. She did raise your husband, and everyone has issues no matter who raised them.

I would be opt to expose the child to all sorts and let her decide on her own. You are raising her to be an individual, if I am not wrong.

Religions were hid from me, and I would of liked to know how others celebrate, so I understand. And would not feel so ignorant during holidays. Ignorance turns into hate of the unknown.

Your child will not suffer if she did or did not go to church. I went with my grandmother, what do I remember? The Crafts the Sunday School teacher did with us. The cookies and koolaid. Carrot Cake one teacher brought for each childs birthday. Along with pot lucks at the park that were great fun. Summer camp. And the long time we had to sit and listen before we could go to class and have fun.

Do I go to church now? No. Would I tell my kids no, No. Do I believe in everything taught to me? No. I have made up my own mind.

You may miss your MIL's years before you realize she has other qualities. I now miss my MIL, and would give anything for one of her homemade quilts draped on the back of our recliner.

If you would like to encourage gifts, make your MIL feel good, not horrible about you not liking it, about something she gave that you likes, and put it out when she visits. She will see it, and know you like those things.

Good Luck with having a MIL.

Mrs. - posted on 02/04/2012

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Whatever you and your husband end up doing, I'm of the opinion that if a problem needs to be addressed with a family member, the actual relative of that family member should be the messenger. Your husband should speak to his mother, it will have more weight and more respect that way. He should express your joint opinion as his opinion, which you support. Otherwise, your MIL might think you are manipulating the situation or something. This is really between him and his mother anyway, since that is the primary relationship.

Kelina - posted on 02/04/2012

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let me try adn pose this another way. If someone asked you to stop sedning pictures of your daughter to them for christmas or including her in letters would you? would you be offended or upset? I know that religion doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but it is to your MIL. It's an integral part of who she is and every time she gives your daughter a gift of a bible or a quilt, she's trying to share who she is with her grandbaby, someone she most likely loves very very much. I also agree that chances are if you're stressed out, that's more than likely the cause of your daughters stress than what grandma gets her for christmas. TRy to let your daughter know why grandma is giving her these things and let her know that if she is really bothered by the gifts then it's ok to let grandma know that she'd prefer something else, but in the case of gifts, I really think that that has to come from your daughter not you or your husband. These are something special giving her another way of looking at the world. The only thing I would be concerned with would be preaching to your daughter when not asked. It's ok if she asks a question and grandma answers with ehr beliefs but especially at 6 I don't think it's ok for grandma to really be bringing it up. It can be frustrating and confusing for someone who still believes in the magic of holidays and life. As for the quilts which it sounds like it really bothers you, we got a ton of quilts when my son was born. We've got the most importnat on his bed, and another one we loved hanging on his wall. The rest were either stored or given away after a respectable amount of time. The one of your FIL shirts, I'd recommend you keep. Despite the fact that it may be ugly or hideous, have your hubby make that decision when neither of his parents are around anymore. He may find that at that point it's good to have a sentimental reminder of them. The rest-give them away. Shelters need blankets especially in the winter. If your daughters school has a winter drive of some sort see if you could get rid of a few of them there. The if your MIL ever asks let her know that her hard work didn't go to waste, someone who really needed it spent a warm night under one of her quilts. I think she'd probably appreciate that.

Jennifer - posted on 02/04/2012

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Tell her exactly what you have said here. Sit her down and explain to her, that although you appreciate the love and dedication she hs for her religion you have chosen not to force it on your daughter until she decides-if ever- that she is interested. And since she is at sucha young age you do not wish to confuse her any or make it appear as though you do not appreciate her grandmothers "gifts". Let her know that you both do not discuss christianity, jesus and so forth with your daughter, so it is not her place to do so, either. If she is strongly against you or says she'll do whatever she wants, that its her job to testify and preach, then as politely as possible tell her her gifts will not be welcome in your home, nor will her presence until she learns to respect your boundaries. Its a hard hard thing to go against your mother in law, but if you don't lay the groundwork foundation now she will never respect you or your marriage. And as far as people like "Terri" go on this site, don't listen to her negativity and ignorance. This is a place for you to get helpful insight and advice, not someplace to get preached at by anti evolutionists. The idea of evolution to them is "preposterous" yet a dead messiah rising from the grave, healing the sick turning water to wine and having no living relatives is commonplace practicality?? I think not. Good luck!

Huda - posted on 02/04/2012

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i know what u r going thru... i have a forcing mother in law too.. not religiously.. but in may other ways... i think u should let the talking part to ur husband.. he should deal with his mom... and grab this chance to teach ur daughter.. there are far more stressfull stuff in life.. teach her to stand for herself.. even if it is not convincing to other people.. or at least to just ignore it and be respectful.. as for the gifts.. if she doesnt like it.. just give it away to some one who will.. a church maybe... i mean my kid would get alot of ugly unreasonable gifts.. dont stress out about it.. just say thank you and we will find out how to get rid of it later. as for ur mother in law.. i think as she is a pastor.. its in her habit to keep teaching, ordering, and giving lessons.. i mean thats her job, and what she is good at.. most teachers talk that way... even in our community, muslims i mean, a friend of ours is an islamic teacher, and everytime she comes for a visit she would give us a lesson!!! in a strong voice tone.. as if she is lecturing.. we excuse her coz thats the way she talks almost most of the time.

Terri - posted on 02/04/2012

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Get real people. We send our children to public schools and they are taught that evolution is the way it is. So, are you saying it's okay for the schools to teach our children something preposterous, yet family members can't share their views? How are our children to make an informed decision without being exposed to different views? If all they are taught is one thing, they have nothing else to compare with in order to make informed decisions.

Rachel - posted on 02/04/2012

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There is no real good way to handle this situation. You need to discuss it with your husband and find out if he will talk to his Mother about this. If he won't you two need to decide exactly what you can and cannot say to his Mom. And then you have the discussion. Just tell your mother-in-law you appreciate what she is trying to do but that it is unnecessary and that you as the parent will or will not introduce religion. It is not her place and you would like it if she would stop.

Wendy - posted on 02/04/2012

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Maybe I am out of line here, but I don't see the problem with religious gifts in general (I do see the problem of getting them when you asked her to stop). If you want your child to have the choice of believing in religion or not, shouldn't you expose her to the other religions? That would allow her to make an informed decision.



Maybe a possibility would be to set aside time at the holidays to go over many different beliefs, using your mils gifts to show her side, as well as books, etc. from other religions to demonstrate those beliefs.



In the long run, the more you complain about the gifts, the more I think you will see them coming. Just my opinion. Good luck!

Shari - posted on 02/04/2012

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I agree with an earlier poster that it seems like more is going on than just the gift issue. I understand, because these kinds of hurdles characterize my relationship with my MIL and have for nearly 20 years now. Usually, when I get so upset about the gifts to the kids-and I do, trust me, from wrong sizes to things we specifically asked her not to get but then she throws a fit when we want to take them back-anyway, I usually get so upset because I plain do not like her. We do not agree on how to raise the kids, she is an only child and so is my husband, and the whole obsessive mix is volatile.



If she ignores llsts, then explain to your daughter that grandma's gifts reflect grandma's taste and beliefs, and we'll just put them away after saying thank you. It will always irritate you, trust me. I also advise having your husband sit down with her and have a face-to-face chat about boundaries. As someone else mentioned, she may see herself as circumspect....giving the gifts is a show of her taste whereas if she started witnessing to your daughter or some such that would cross a line, in her mind. So, you all need to define the lines for her. However, it really needs to be your hubby because otherwise you become the bad guy and that won't help in the long run.



Dysfunction is the name of the game on my husband's side, so we have a lot of rules in place. Many involve where, when and how we all get together. The rules really help over time, but be aware the conflicts will always be there.



You and your MIL are from very different spheres with your beliefs and religious beliefs are so very close to the heart that you must expect this to be an ongoing challenge. My best advice is to work on ways to minimize your stress about it so that it doesn't transmit to your daughter. We have many talks with our kids about what we believe versus what grandma believes and have been having them since they were about two, so they just accept it as this is how our family is.



I wish you the very best of luck! I know it's not easy. We have received those completely inappropriate but sentimental to her gifts, too, and have been in a lot of trouble with her when she hasn't seen them or thinks they were treated poorly. You feel horrible because you probably really just don't like her, but then you keep reminding yourself she is his mother and she must have a lot of good qualities because you married the man she raised.



The bottom line is you are both adult women and there is no law that says you have to like each other. Tolerating each other and being civilly respectful is enough. It's hard when she's your daughter's grandmother, but remember, your family unit in your house comes first.



And the net of my thesis is: choose your battles. It's a long war. Fight the ones worth fighting; I'm just not sure this is one of them. And believe me, I have to repeat this to myself about three times a week!! Good luck!!

Melanie - posted on 02/04/2012

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I don't know how close you are with your mother-in-law, but maybe it might be a little easier for your husband to talk to her. It might be better coming from her son, than from her daughter-in-law. Also, if you bring it up, then she might feel that you are taking control of the religion situation rather than it being a mutual decision.

Betty - posted on 02/04/2012

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It sounds as though your daughter already has a mind of her own. I would have to ask, does your MIL talk religion to your daughter on top of all the religious gift giving? If not, then simply put the unwanted gifts away or ask your daughter what she wants to do with them. It may be easier to explain your MIL to your daughter than your daughter to your MIL. In any case, positive and honest but loving communication is the key.

Candace - posted on 02/04/2012

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All I can say is if you have no firm beliefs in anything and your daughter grows up this way, she will be much more vulnerable to taking on beliefs from somewhere else that you do not approve of. That is the reality.



If you have a negative attitude toward Christianity and express it to your child, when your mother-in-law talks about it with her, she will feel torn and this is where the stress is caused.



I would suggest you let it go, and since you have no firm beliefs let your child find her way spiritually as she grows up. She will be an adult much longer than she will be a child, and when she is an adult, be prepared for her to not always agree with you.

Sherry - posted on 02/04/2012

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This is really tough and I'm dealing with the same thing. My son is only 2 right now, so I can just give away any religious gifts he receives, but I have already asked people not to give him anything religious, as I want him to be able to decide for himself what he believes, when he is old enough to make that choice. Religion was forced on me as a child and I don't have anything to do with it now. I am spiritual but just don't have the typical Christian beliefs. My Mother thinks I'm wrong but will just have to learn to respect my beliefs, as well as what I want for my son. She plays favorites, so only sees him a few times year, and if she should start telling him he's going to hell, like she does with me, I WILL speak up. Scaring a person, especially a child, into believing they will burn in hell if they don't follow a certain belief is sick, IMO.



Try speaking to your MIL about it. Your husband should speak to her as well, to let her know he's on the same page as you. Some people are just so terrible about trying to push their beliefs on others, that sometimes trying to reason with them doesn't work, and you have to really put your foot down. Good luck.

Raewyn - posted on 02/04/2012

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I think you should just tell your mil. That you are waiting for your daughter to get older so she can choose for her self if she wants to go to church or not

Tina - posted on 02/03/2012

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I'd just start selling or giving the stuff away you don't want. If she says something. Then just remind her you asked her not to give you anymore of that stuff because you can't store it. Your partner needs to talk to his mum and just say kindly that if your daughter wants to follow God and go to church then you will encourage it. But it is something that she isn't interested in it and it makes her very uncomfortable when she gives her stuff of that nature. The only reason nothing has been said sooner is because non of you wanted to hurt her feelings.

Sherri - posted on 02/03/2012

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I think it isn't your place to say a word it isn't your mom. If your husband has an issue with it, it should be his place to have a conversation with his mom about it.

Genevieve - posted on 02/03/2012

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Sorry about the quilts. I just felt that was a good was to showcase that she doesnt really listen to what we tell her we want for our family.



I feel I dont want to get into a battle about this. But if she doesnt take us seriously without confrontation then Im feeling at a loss.



My daughter is already very aware that different people believe different things. She has friends that are religious and will debate them on certain topics. I tell her and them that everyone has the right to believe what they feel is important. And it generally goes well. I wonder what will happen when one day my daughter flat our tells her to lay off.

Krista - posted on 02/03/2012

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Yeah, there comes a point in every adult's life when you have to figure out what battles are worth fighting. If she's that darned emotional about it, and your husband isn't comfortable confronting her (or if the fallout would be even worse than the gifts), then it may be worthwhile to just store the stuff away for a year, and then once enough time has passed, discreetly re-gift it (or give it to a thrift shop in another community).



I would try one more time to get across to her that you and your daughter are really feeling very pressured by her gifts. But if she's not taking your hints and suggestions, then there's really no point in getting into a brawl with her. And it's a good opportunity to teach your daughter that it's important to receive a gift graciously, even if we don't like it.

Amy - posted on 02/03/2012

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My first question would be have either of you ever talked to her about not giving religous items? She probably does not see herself as "pushing her beliefs" especially if no one has explained it to her...I am guessing the Bible has "grown" with your daughter (basically started as a "my first" and has become more advanced? Also it might help your daughter be less stressed if you explain to her that we all have different beleifs & that her Grandma just really believes this certain way but that she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to. My son has often received gifts he had no interest in but I have taught him that it is the thought not the gift that counts & even if he really doesn't like something he still has to be gracious...I am sure that she is not giving these gifts to be mean. And I really don't understand what quilts have to do with "Jesus stuff" but maybe tell her that you have no room for anymore quilts & if she makes another one then pull out a few older ones and ask which ones she would like you to donate to a shelter...Just try not to bring up all these issues at the same time & don't be confrontational :) good luck

Genevieve - posted on 02/03/2012

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I always give really good choices for gifts for my daughter. Because of the fact that we have both her and my parents as well as my brothers family that live a few provinces away I give out gift lists 2 months in advance for any gift giving. This year she insisted on making her Pjs even though I have told her over and over that my daughter does not wear Pjs to bed (we try but she just takes them off). So she made her a nightgown as well as a pair of Pjs. I have also told her on 3 seperate occasions that I dont need any more quilts. We are running out of room for all the quilts she makes us. And in the past year she has made us 3 quilt type things. And then at Christmas made my daughter doll quilts (again) as well as not listening to the things I had asked her to get. And then made us a large quilt made out of my dead Father in Laws old shirts. I mean really. I can't ever get rid of that but no one wants to use it. And I know she cried a tear for every stitch that she put into it! I feel horrible that I am so bitter about that dang quilt.



Yes my hubby needs to say something. But the last time we approached her on some issues she ended up in tears. And we feel like since my Father in Law passed that we are the only people that tell her no. It needs to be handled. All of this. In some way.



Thanks so much for the advice. I know it needs to be dealth with before Easter or her next visit. Whichever comes first. Otherwise I might end up screaming "No Jesus stuff for Easter!!!" at her. :)

Krista - posted on 02/03/2012

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It's a tough call, but your priority (and your husband's priority) needs to be your daughter.



Things like this tend to come across better if you couch it in positive terms.



I would say that it's nice that she wants to share such an important part of her life with your daughter, but that it's starting to feel as though a certain amount of pressure is being put upon you, and it's diminishing your enjoyment from her visits. And then maybe make a suggestion as to a gift that she could get for your daughter that WOULD be appreciated (pick something wholesome and non-offensive that wouldn't conflict with her values).

Kaitlin - posted on 02/03/2012

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Your husband needs to stand up to her- for you and for your daughter. Say to her, maybe, that you both respect her as a person and her ability to have her own faith, and she needs to respect you to have yours and to parent your own child.

Kate CP - posted on 02/03/2012

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I would point out to your MIL that this whole thing is really upsetting your daughter and it's offensive to you and your husband. You respect her and her religion and her right to be passionate about it and she should respect you and your right to not be.

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