Oh, son of a bitch, I have no clue what to do.

The background goes a little like this: My girlfriend has a 4 (nearly 5) year old from a previous relationship. I've been taking care of him and, for all intents, have been his father figure since he was 2. I have all the responsibilities of his father and wouldn't call him any less than my own son. I love the kid dearly. But, he's still not mine and that means certain decisions fall to his mother and my input isn't really considered. His father's father (yes, I know grandfather would've been easier to say, but it needs to be known that it's not his mother's father) is a Presbyterian minister. He goes to church with his grandparents every Sunday and is being raised in Jesus-like fashion. Although I don't have the qualms with Presbys as I do with the more hardline Christians, they're still very big on raising the kids "right".

Tonight, he came home from his first night of Vacation Bible School. I'm sure everyone here knows what that is. But, the shittiest part is that he comes home with this new CD he got from the thing. He elatedly squeels "Quentin! Please let me listen to this!" Of course, I'm not going to deny him. But, for fuck's sake I wish I had. The CD was 12 tracks of Kidz Bop style group singing of pop anthem, Christian songs. Lyrics like "He is the only way!" and "Let's get Jesus!" blared throughout our household. Great.

My girlfriend isn't a hardcore Christian. She definitely believes in God and buys the Jesus thing (but, I think she takes it with a grain of salt...I think) and has no problem with her kids being raised as straight theists. She doesn't want a Jesus freak in the house, but has no problem letting him be formed and shaped by his grandparents.

What do I do? She's well aware (and loathsome) of my atheism. I don't pray at dinner, although I don't stop it and I don't go to church for any reason (unless sometimes to my parents' Episcopal church for rare occasions...I don't really mind the Episcopals). But, we have a 1 month old daughter...eventually she's going to be a toddler and there will be talks of church and Sunday school. I have no clue what the fuck to do without sacrificing my relationship with my girlfriend in the process. There's no way I can let her go to church without protesting. I can't sit quietly for this. But, I don't want to sacrifice our family over it.

Any advice?

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Replies to This Discussion

Wish I had something more to offer but I think Yvette hit the nail on the head. It will probably will end in a fight, of course you can be a little sneaky as the kids get older. Most will question God at some point between 9 - 16 gives you a lot of lee way. I don't envy the road your going to have to walk my friend.
The children definitely come first and I do plan to exercise my rights as a father. I don't want her baptized or fed garbage for history. I'd rather sit her down every Sunday morning and evening and watch the Science Channel.

I don't know what I'll do. I'll end up trying to talk to the other half about it, but a fight will probably ensue.

We'll see. Thanks guys.
Hey Sydni. Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, we don't have any atheist or secular groups in my town. Creating one is something I've considered for a while, but being a full time worker and father makes free time a little rough.

My girlfriend hangs onto the Christian faith by a thread. We talk about it rarely because an argument always ensues. She's been raised to believe, but not in a literal, Biblical sense. So, living in sin and children out of wedlock aren't concerns of hers. It's hard to explain. She believes in god because she sees no other alternative. It's simply a case of refusing to look at the evidence for fear of a crisis of faith, I think. It's something we can work with and I plan to ease her into my point of view without being forceful.

I want our family to work, but when it comes to this issue, which is major, I'm just going to have to take it one step at a time.
We should show all children How do we know that Christians are delusional and How this Harms Us? Video at web http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkXOwBIRX7Y&feature=related also available at my atheist web http://home.comcast.net/~pobrien48/Atheist_Morals_facts.htm
Every child should be shown this Video (Why the 10 Commandment Are Repulsive) It tells what people should do to others who work on Sunday (Kill All Of Them) It shows what the bible says we should do to disobedient children ( Get with all your neighbors and stone them to death) at my web http://home.comcast.net/~pobrien48/Atheist_Morals_facts.htm
I agree with the others that you need to have a talk with your girlfriend about your expectations. But try not to freak out about this too much... he's just a boy, and he'll grow up and learn to differentiate between fiction and reality. Just because he's keen on a CD right now doesn't mean he's being irreversibly indoctrinated; your rational influence in his life will guarantee that.

Also, try not to be too angry, because that will disadvantage your position with your girlfriend. It's absolutely critical that you remain calm and reasonable or you'll come across as intolerant. If you want to live your life with this woman then you must be able to accept her theism, whether you agree with it or not.

I went to bible camp as a kid one time. It was a total accident - my parents had no idea, they would never have sent me there. (It's actually a bit of a family joke now...) When Mum and Dad picked me up I was asking them to buy me a t-shirt, and they gave each other that "oh, man, how do we say no?" look. I got over it quickly and was a little embarrassed about it afterward. Now I look back on it as a very interesting (and eye-opening) experience. My point is, I'm fine now. Your boy will grow up and make up his own mind, too!
Mistaken Bible camp? That's the stuff comedy films are made of! haha. Perfect.

Resolving the issue of our theist/atheist debate is going to be hard. I would prefer she understand my point of view a little more, maybe not totally agree with me, but a little understanding would be great. But, you're right, we probably can live in harmony regardless.

I think that, once the kids are older and talk with me and the subjects come up, we should be ok. I'm decent at explaining my point of view without being overbearing or arrogant (arrogance is the MAIN problem non-theists have when attempting to debate theists, I think).

We'll see. Day by day.
The lingering effect on me of that mistaken bible camp is that occasionally now I will sing not one but TWO FULL VERSES of Johnny Appleseed. It's a great party trick.

Or, perhaps, explains why I don't get invited to parties much anymore... ;)
These are brainwashing camps. They should by law be required to start each session with a statement something like: Children, what you're about to learn is myth and not an accurate recounting of human history.
Wow, I AM sorry for your dilemma.

You said:
I've been taking care of him and, for all intents, have been his father figure since he was 2. I have all the responsibilities of his father and wouldn't call him any less than my own son. I love the kid dearly. But, he's still not mine and that means certain decisions fall to his mother and my input isn't really considered.

I really think this is your first and foremost problem. There is no way you are going to be able to resolve the religion issue (or any other contentious issues for that matter) if you aren't seen as an equal. Take my advice with a huge grain of salt since I've never been in this situation. But I think perhaps you need to take steps to clarify your roll in this relationship and with your son.

I think you are right to be concerned also about your role in your daughters life. It seems to me that if your girlfriend is okay with you being a parent to her son some of the time but not for the difficult decisions, that it will be tempting to impose a similar dynamic with your daughter. Not only is this unfair to you but it's extremely unfair to the children who love and depend on you.

I guess what I think is that the religion issue is just a symptom of what sounds like a dysfunctional family dynamic. You say your girlfriend isn't overly religious but yet she apparently "loathes" your atheism. It sounds like you are bending over backward to respect her belief while she is not able to give you the same respect. Obviously you love her son, your daughter and your girlfriend enough to not want to lose everything. It seems to me that you and your girlfriend could use some family counseling to help you both create a more co-operative relationship.
Dawn said what I was thinking, only very well. Even great relationships could use a neutral 3rd part. The trick will be finding a non-religious one that you can agree on with your girlfriend.
She is a lucky girl, probably in a difficult position. Sometimes it is very difficult to disagree with grand-parents that have been helpful.
You are definitely in a really tough spot. If your significant other is aware and "loathsome" as you put it, then it is a much bigger issue than you realize. If it becomes a big fight every time it is brought up, then she is definitely doing more than "holding on by a thread."

Honestly, I really don't know what kind of advice to give. I just wish you the best of luck in sorting this out and maintaining some sort of stability for the child.

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