My wife and I are having an ongoing disagreement. I’m sure that many of you have dealt with similar situation, so I am curious to hear others’ advice or comments.
Quick version: Atheist dad (me) and generally agnostic/ deist-leaning wife and two kids. She recently starting wanting to begin bringing the kids to church, I’m against it. We are both somewhere between strong-willed and stubborn. Unhappiness ensues.
I’m a zen buddhism-influenced strong atheist and a research scientist, raised in a Lutheran home, and have been a non-believer for about 20 years, since I was in highschool. I’ve known my wife for 15 years, and been married for 10. We have two great kids, ages 6 and 3. I work long hours, but keep family as my top priority.
I talked about my non-belief years ago with my parents, but it’s kind of a don’t ask-don’t tell situation with them. They know we don’t go to church but don’t talk about it, and I’m willing to go rarely with them on Christmas eve or Easter, things like that, just to be respectful of them. Even went with a church wedding because it was a lovely building with well done music, accomodated the crowd well, and it made wife’s terminally ill father and the rest of our families happy.
My wife is somewhere between agnostic and vaguely deist if I were to give her a label. She was raised as a fairly liberal Italian-American Catholic, so she fits into the common deal of being culturally Catholic, she thinks most Church teaching is idiotic and out of touch with reality, hasn’t attended as an adult any more than me. Thinks that evangelicals and fundies are a bunch of wackjobs and nuts. She also works full-time, so our time with our kids is very important to both of us.
About a year ago, she started talking about wanting to bring the kids to Church and get them enrolled in Sunday school. I was quite surpsied and opposed. Rather than direct confrontation, I stalled and procrastinated, we got busy, and she let it drop. This past summer she started up again. I remain very opposed, but wife not letting go either.
My side: I am opposed mostly because it don’t want my children exposed to people presenting the myths and fairy tales of bronze age goatherds true and a good basis for making life decisions. Plus I feel strongly that Sunday morning is for sleeping as late as the kids allow, slow breakfast with the newspaper and much coffee and non-hurried unstructured family time.
Her side: she isn’t able to articulate a clear answer to why she wants this, but she thinks it would be a good idea. She has said that it would need to be “theology-lite” and some other things about people being able to “religion in one area and reality in another”. From these and other comments she has made, she had fun as a kid going to Sunday school and youth group stuff (so did I at times…) As best as I can tell, she wants the kids to go to church but doesn’t really want them to believe in any of it. I think it is more of a cultural thing than religious thing for her, but she doesn't even seem entirely sure. The compromise of she takes the kids but I don’t need to come with doesn’t really work for me. That would take away the lazy Sunday morning family time that I value to much, and not address my major complaint of about not wanting my kids exposed to such a load of silliness. So there is not easy solution, I’m trying to be respectful of my wife, even though I have little respect for christianity and cannot see a way to support them going.