Which means I will eventually have to "come out" to my evangelical, fundamentalist family. I'm sure the attempted brainwashing will begin early and my hubby and I will be forced to say that we are not teaching our son their beliefs. This will cause a huge wedge between my family and me that I have just not been ready to face. I would rather tell them though than have the little one say something that shows he is obviously not being taught that God is real or Christianity is true. I just don't even know where to begin or how to bring it up and I still don't feel prepared for the consequences that will surely follow.

I don't know if I am looking for advice or just wanting to vent...but anyway, that's what's been on my mind today. Thanks for letting me ramble! :)

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Well, what we want to teach our child is not necessarily a big question for us. We want him to learn to treat others with kindness and respect, to think critically, and to feel free to be himself, whatever that might mean. Easier said than done, I'm sure, but those are some of our goals.

As for the conversation with my family, I have thought and thought and thought about this. For several years now actually. So far, I have avoided the subject (though they know I am more liberal than they are and that I don't attend church), but I realize in a few years avoiding specifics will be all but impossible. I'm thinking I want to tell them soonish so they have time to get used to the idea before my little guy is old enough to be put in an uncomfortable situation.

Thanks for the feedback and the encouragement! I really appreciate it. Being right in the middle of the Bible Belt, there aren't many people I can discuss these issues with.
A couple things to remember: 1) You sort of have the upper hand now. Regardless of your beliefs, they will want to be a part of your child's life. Don't use it as a wedge. But remember that you can also stand your ground and they due to their desire of having him in their life will be prevented from escalating the argument to a point it jeopardizes that.  2) Exposing your child to their beliefs may be the very thing that helps him become inoculated. Keeping him from hearing what they have to say will likely only backfire on you. When he comes back and asks you about what they tell him, be honest and explain why you don't believe. Make it his choice and be patient with him. I think it is rare for kids who get exposed to many different beliefs early on to fall into one of the irrational ones.

My 18 year old nephew, who was not raised with religion, is now a Christian and believes that since I don't believe in Jesus, I am going to hell.  That was a shock to hear from him.  Unfortunately, he and my niece have had a rough life and it's possible that he has found some sense of belonging, when he didn't really have that before.  Still sad that he found a immoral, bigoted organization to grab onto. 

 

The funny thing is that my family and I talked about baptizing my brother's kids when they were tiny, to save their poor heathen souls :(  (We didn't, since we knew that type of action is personal and the final decision was not up to us).

How sad that in the midst of what should be a joyous occasion, you are having to worry about this. I agree with the posts above that you have the upper hand, no one can tell you how to raise your child. Other than to be prepared for what you seem to foresee happening anyway. I hope you will be just fine and good luck to you.

I agree with the other posts here.  In spite of the fact that you've probably played out possible conversations in your mind, you won't know their reactions or what you will say until you are having that conversation with your family.  All you can really do is state how you will raise your child and why - just as you will do with your child when he/she is old enough.  It's not as easy as stating you follow one political party and your family follows the other.  It sounds like you are prepared for a confrontation and that obviously helps. 

 

I raised my sons in the Roman Catholic faith and they lead me to atheism, because I taught them to think for themselves, explained what was right and wrong and why, and basically modeled the behavior and actions I wanted them to learn.  Here is a GREAT book for secular parents:

http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com/

 

Without knowing it, I followed a lot of the advice given in the book and raised Freethinker!  Be confident in your decision and know that what you are doing is best for YOUR child.  Stand firm and your child will be strong, too :)

 

 

Thanks for all of the wonderful and helpful replies! :-) It is nice to feel supported even if only online.

I hadn't thought about the fact that my family will not want to miss out on being able to be a part of my little one's life, but that is less of a concern in my position as they know I would not do that to my son or to them unless there were some very serious issues. And they would never let the issues out in the open enough to become that big. I am more worried that they will be incredibly passive-aggressive and that they'll lose a ton of respect for both my husband and me. When growing up, I was my Mom's ideal little Christian and she was very proud of this. If she found out that not only am I not religious, but that I outright don't believe there is a god, she would be feel personally attacked. She'd also be absolutely heartbroken and would constantly be worried that hubby and I (and possibly our little one) will burn in hell for all eternity. Over the past several years, this has been the main reason for not telling her where we stand on the issue of religion. It just doesn't seem plausible to keep her in the dark when my son gets a little older, so I know it's something she and I will just have to deal with.

Also, the hubby and I are not trying to shield our son from my family's beliefs, only the guilt trips that are often associated with those beliefs. We want him to be exposed to different world views and to be able to find his own path in life. We will be attending the local UU church as one method of exposing him to different lifestyles and belief systems. Although, we are hoping to instill critical thinking skills in him so that he is less likely to fall into the trap of religion and other supernatural claims...

Paula- I follow Dale McGowan's blog (The Meming of Life) and find it fascinating, but I've not yet had a chance to read the book. It's definitely on my list of things to do. :)

Again, thanks to everyone for such thoughtful and encouraging words! You've given me a lot to think about.
I think the UU is a great idea, a relatively benign religious organization, perhaps of all of them. Then you have something to say when someone asks which church you belong to.

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