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In A Bind With My Daughter


Guest enold4mizzou
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Guest enold4mizzou

I would like to start off by saying that this is my first post on this forum. If this is a heavily talked about topic then just let me know or direct me to the other post that talk about the same problem.

 

Me and my wife have a 18 month old daughter together. My wife works full time and is a psychology graduate student and I am also a full time student with aspirations of going into neurosurgery. While we are working or in class my mom watches our daughter. We decided to raise her without bias of any religion, I'm not forcing atheism upon her either because I want her to decide for herself what she wants to believe when she gets older. My mom on the other hand is a devout christian and at any chance possible will throw in christian teachings into absolutly everything my daughter does when we are away (storybooks, playtime .. everything). There is absolutly no one else in the family that would be able to watch her and every daycare with in an hour of where we live is full. If I tell my mother that I don't want her throwing out christianity, I won't have anyone to watch her. I'm kind of in a bind, any Ideas would be VERY helpful, thanks a bunch.

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Well, this type of question does come up fairly often so I imagine you'll get quite a few responses ranging from "just take it" to "ditch mom" and everywhere in between (it's always hard trying to simply answer for another family situation).

 

I'd say at 18 months your kid really isn't going to do much with the stories. You could always read her other fantasy stories and just see how she likes them compared to grandma's silly stories. That way she'll just grow up seeing them as just another story book tale instead of something to take seriously. Perhaps even read her age appropriate versions of all types of religious stories so no one gets a "leg up" in her mind (not just current religions but draw on all the myths from ancient to modern times so xianity becomes just one of the bunch...just another fairy tale).

 

The real answer is to simply confront your mom and draw up a real set of boundaries but since you're unwilling to do that or pay for someone else to watch your daughter I'm not sure what else to really offer than what I said above about trying to equivocate the xian stories with every other kind of similar story in your daughter's mind.

 

mwc

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I work in a childcare centre, and today a 4yr old girl said to me. "Kathlene, who do you think created the world"?

I was speechless...really. So I said "Um Im not sure..who do you think did"? Her reply was of course here it is..."Jesus did silly". I asked her who told her that and she said her Mum. I never know what to say anymore to kids who ask me that sort of stuff.

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The real answer is to simply confront your mom and draw up a real set of boundaries

My opinion is that one's mileage may vary with that strategy, depending on the parent or the specifics of the dynamics:

 

Will the mom abide by said boundaries? Will she consistently push the envelope and test the limits of the boundaries wherever she can? Will she feign cooperation while she surreptitiously indoctrinates the kid behind parents' backs? Will she completely wig out, resulting in some dramatic change in the dynamic or another (which might likely include her no longer being available as a babysitter)? I think all those scenarios are possible depending on the parent. You, e4m, are probably in the best position to predict what your mother's reaction might be like.

 

May I suggest another practical option to consider? I think that mwc is right that for now, at 18 months that your mother's stories are not going to have much of an impact on your daughter--yet. What if she watched your daughter for now, while you signed up on daycare waiting lists until a spot opened up?

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We decided to raise her without bias of any religion, I'm not forcing atheism upon her either because I want her to decide for herself what she wants to believe when she gets older.

 

I also think mwc gives some sage wisdom on the issues you raised.

 

In the time you have with your child, read all sorts of stories with mythic connonations as well as stories with overt moral lessons. As she grows, talk with your daughter, compare and contrast the stories with one another in little simple doses. And teach her the basics of morality and moral decision making.

 

And on an aesthetic level, get the children's books with outstanding artwork. (Those are the best!)

 

I think it is great to encourage her to develop her own mind about religion and atheism. However, she does need a foundational moral compass that will encourage making decisions that are just, compassionate and supportive of a greater good.

 

This is all my opinion. I would never presume to tell another person how to raise their children. I'm just giving my own perspective.

 

My desire is for your daughter to grow into a well-rounded, happy, aware and authentic person. I think the concern you show in this area is an indicator you will do a fine job of parenting her.

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Welcome, Mizzou!

 

It is a common situation to have family members who negatively influence children. It's probably a little early to worry about how much information will be absorbed.

 

When the child is old enough to understand, and maybe ask some questions, alternative ideas can be presented to her. She will eventually come in contact with a variety of beliefs anyway. Just make sure she knows there are many possibilities and conflicting religious beliefs, none of which have any proof as to their veracity.

 

For now, I would be very insistent that grandma ease up on her preaching to a defenseless child. The parents' wishes must take precedence over the grandparents' wishes. You must demand respect from Christians, because they don't give it freely.

 

 

 

 

"Kathlene, who do you think created the world"?

 

Nobody knows all the details of how our world came to be. There are many different ideas, but science is getting more answers all the time, so eventually we may know what really happened.

 

But I wouldn't tell a kid there's no Santa!

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Guest enold4mizzou

Thanks for all of your help everybody! I never even thought about mixing the types of stories that we tell her. I would try and set boundaries with my mom but I am certain (because of the way things have gone before) that I she would block me out and I would have to find someone else to watch her. You guys know christian parents better than anyone, It's their way or the highway, they have to be right and everyone else is wrong

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My opinion would be that you should teach your child how to reason, and then she will have the facility to properly question supernatural claims.

 

I know that you said you want to let her decide for herself, but that doesn't mean you have to ignore the lessons of rational thought altogether. You can talk about things like bigfoot and how easy it is for people to be tricked. Teach her the difference between beliefs and facts. It seems teaching your child how to spot lies would be good parenting to me. You don't have to debunk every religion for her but there are basic lessons in thinking that should be learned instead of blind faith in authority.

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My opinion is that one's mileage may vary with that strategy, depending on the parent or the specifics of the dynamics:

Well, of course, why do you think I put the qualifier in about speaking for other families? It's hard to know. But I still think it is the "right" answer based on what was asked. The whole thing screams "I want mom to respect my boundaries" but that's almost always easier said than done. :)

 

Will the mom abide by said boundaries? Will she consistently push the envelope and test the limits of the boundaries wherever she can? Will she feign cooperation while she surreptitiously indoctrinates the kid behind parents' backs? Will she completely wig out, resulting in some dramatic change in the dynamic or another (which might likely include her no longer being available as a babysitter)? I think all those scenarios are possible depending on the parent. You, e4m, are probably in the best position to predict what your mother's reaction might be like.

That's just it. Paying lip-service to the "new" arrangement is just as bad, or maybe worse, than not trying to work something out at all. It appears that mom might just up and go. But think about it. You go to someone, anyone, and say to them "Please respect me and what I'm asking of you" and they just up and go. What did you really lose? Someone who doesn't respect you? Someone who only wishes to have a relationship with you on their terms? Yes, it is a mother we're talking about but even so this is someone who is trying to respect their mother but a mother that isn't trying to respect their child.

 

E4M mentioned his wife is a pysch grad student. Is there anyone she knows you can run this by? This seems right up their alley.

 

mwc

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Most have already said this, but it's hard to know what to suggest without knowing your mother better.

 

However, if you can't set boundaries with your mom now, I suspect you will continue to have problems with her later. If you think there's any chance she would listen I'd ask her to abide by your wishes to let you guide your child's religious education. If she says no, I think you should make it clear that this is not acceptable and is disrespectful on her part. Hopefully you can do that without damaging the relationship to the point where she won't want to help with the child care.

 

If she does disagree, then I think focusing on teaching your daugther to question everything is the way to go. You might even tell her that her grandmother loves to make up fantastic stories about the middle east :wicked:

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As an atheist grandmother to my fundy daughter's two little children, I was the one who approached the parents with how I thought it best to proceed during the time I spent with them. I suggested that they look at and approve any books or films I wished to share with the kids, and said that my answer to any of their questions which had to do with even peripheral religious matters would be, "That's one of those questions you should discuss with your mom and dad."

 

Things have subsequently become pretty estranged between the parents and me, but I believe they respected my approach to their small children and trusted that I would keep my word, which I did. Feel free to share with your mother that even an atheist grandmother of your acquaintance can tell the difference between the rights and privileges of the parents and those of the grandparents, and that you would hope she could do the same.

 

Incidentally, I told my curious granddaughter, when she was eleven, that when she reached eighteen I would be delighted to answer any and all of her questions. She is now fourteen and keeping up email contact with me in a spirited, if not religious, manner. Can't wait until four years from now!

 

Good luck!

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But think about it. You go to someone, anyone, and say to them "Please respect me and what I'm asking of you" and they just up and go. What did you really lose? Someone who doesn't respect you? Someone who only wishes to have a relationship with you on their terms?

 

I agree, mwc, be it a friend, a gf/bf, or even a parent, although I would not have recognized the wisdom in that assessment until I was relatively old--and a long time after I deconverted--15 years ago I would have considered this newer food for thought. Invariably, though, I think that one is better off with such relationships having ended.

 

You guys know christian parents better than anyone, It's their way or the highway, they have to be right and everyone else is wrong

 

Yep, and I think it is more difficult because of the specific nature of the relationship between parent and offspring (even as adults). First, like all xians except for possibly certain liberal ones, they are fully convinced they and their fellow same-thinking xians have been uniquely endowed with the Ultimate TruthTM. Second, they are used to calling the shots for their children from the time they were kids. It's the one-two punch. This is just a theory of mine--I haven't read much in the area or had extensive exposure to both xian and non-believer parents of adults, but I think trying to hang on to parental authority after your kids are grown is encouraged by xianity. I think it's natural for many to interpret biblical passages prescribing the relationship between parents and children as NOT expiring when the child reaches adulthood. The 5th commandment, "Honor thy father and mother" which does not mention no longer applying in adulthood, is rehashed in Ephesians 6 and tied in with obeying your parents (and obeying them in the lord). On the other hand, when my kids are grown, I want them to be critically thinking adults (and it's my job to encourage them to learn critical thinking skills now). I expect that I will not always be right when they are adults or always know what is best for them, and even if I am/do, they need to determine these things for themselves. But then again, I don't have a directive from the god of the universe naming me as having dominion and authority over my family.

 

 

Pitchu, you sound like you would be a wonderful grandmother. I wish my kids had a grandparent like that.

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Thanks, SNM.

 

Don't know how wonderful a grandparent I am, but I try to be an honorable one.

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