I did a search in the forum and I am surprised that I did not find anything on this topic. My wife and I are atheists, and my parent, siblings and their families are Catholic. Now that I am married and have a child the lines with religion involving my family need to be more clear, it was a little different when it was just myself. Next weekend is my niece's first communion and of course they want to make a huge deal and celebrate this act of cannibalism. We won't be attending the service, but I feel like we kind of have to go to the party afterward. The questions are... should we go? Should we bring a present? What kind of present should it be? And many other questions I can not think of.

My son is too young to realize anything but we have two more of these in the coming years as well as many other religious family events. We need to figure out how to approach these things.


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I'd skip the service and go to the party. Let my kids play with their first cousins. They probably don't care or understand what the silly ritual is all about anyway. Since it's their place too, I wouldn't push my non-belief on them. If they bring it up, I'd brush it off. If they then pushed, I'd probably let them have it with both barrels. I wouldn't try to make any statement either with a present. She's still just a little girl who will remember you for something nice rather than something "political".

Maybe bring some chicken fingers and Bloody Mary mix too...

Please post a follow-up.
I see no need for you to sit through a ceremony that you would not at least find entertaining. If you're inclined to go to the party, I think that would be very nice of you. Give your niece a gift of whatever girls her age like these days. I doubt very much that the deepest, most spiritual implications of the ceremony will have much of an effect on your niece or any of the other children who participate with her.
Basically what I am thinking, I was thinking about getting her a book or something nonsecular along those lines. However, the children brainwashed to the furthest degree and can not understand anyone who isn't Catholic. This is an entirely different issue though involving family gatherings in general. She touts prayer, hey-zeus, and all the magical glories of the fantasy world.
Is your niece kind to other children, old people, and animals? If so, then I wouldn't much worry about her. ;) It is probably too late to teach her to curse in German--that is best done when they're just beginning to learn how to talk. At least, if she ever begins to be curious about rational thinking, she has you to turn to for advice.
I'd approach the whole thing as a family event....rather than a religious family event.

I think gifts/cash would be appropriate and your book idea sounds great (or a gift card so she can pick out her OWN book). Encouraging reading is the best gift I can think of!

I don't think you should feel bad about not attending the church service or future services of this kind. Weddings and Funerals are the exception. I wouldn't miss those if I were you.
The candy bar would be mildly amusing to me, perhaps a bow on top. I'm thinking that it's a kind of a right of passage so we should be there. Since giving her anything that would make her think would be offensive, we are going to get her a young girl's classic book like Pippi Longstockings... and a candy bar ;-)
Darwin's Origin of Species perhaps?
The 'origin' is a tough read, very much written in the style of the 1850s!

As for presents, how about a big book with dinosaurs in it.... (age appropriate of course).

I was not brought up Catholic, but I lived in the northeast where I have had Catholic family members. The sacramentalism of the church is very important to family and their festivity. If you are otherwise on good terms with your family, I would say do the whole shebang out of respect, especially since your niece is preteen as another commenter suggested.

The last Sunday service I ever attended was when I was 12. I have been to many "church" weddings, funerals, and christenings, since. Yes, I would have attended a first communion if asked. It 's a quid pro quo, though. Your family should extend the courtesy of respecting your choice to raise your kids secular, though.
The religious would never attend any atheistic kind of ritual, when it comes to respect they are nothing but hypocrites.
Well that is certainly true but usually a lack of belief also brings a lack of events in the honor of a lack of belief. I do not do any of the pagan rituals except for the obvious winter solstice one ;-)
This is tough to answer, i don't think i've ever had to deal with this situation. My first instinct was to say to just attend the service and the party, but your son is involved, and you may not want to show support for such a ritual. I guess you're going to have to start explaining these events to your son as best you can when the time is right. I don't know your family, and i'm wondering if anyone would be offended if you skipped the service and just attended the party? I have alot of family members who are unaware of my disbelief, and it would probably make things a little weird at the party. Just support you niece at the party, and i'm undecided about the service. I hope it goes well for you.


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