So, I have this beautiful little four and a half year old boy named Eric. We've done a pretty good job at raising him in a secular environment, but what troubles me are outside influences. My parents are pretty good at respecting our wishes, but it seems that my in-laws aren't so good at it. My son has been coming home chatting about god and how he made everything like trucks, roads, and buildings. My husband and I corrected him by saying that people make these things and that god was something that some people believed in, but he didn't have to. He insisted that god was real. Last night, we were walking to our car to leave for dinner from my in-laws' home, and right in front of his step-grandfather (my husband's step-father) he loudly asked, "Jesus is real, right grandpa?" To which is his step-grandfather replied, "Yes he is." I sighed REALLY loudly at this point. Eric then turned around to me and said, "See, I told you," and I said, "This is not something we need to discuss right now."

I'm not sure how to deal with this situation. My in-laws are evangelical southern baptists and expressing our views would more than likely end our relationship with them. I never imagined that they would be so hard core with indoctrinating my son and not being involved with them anymore would be devastating to our little boy as well as my husband (who is also an atheist). I've thought about saying something like: "We noticed that our son has been mentioning things about religion and we are certain that we haven't been talking about that with him so, we figured that it was you. We'd like it if you could refrain from mentioning those things to him until he's old enough to comprehend such ideas. Maybe when he's in his teens." Either than that, I'm not sure what to do. I'm so terrified that I'll lose my temper or something because I'm just so angry about it. He's my little boy and it breaks my heart to hear him say such things. 

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Comment by Matt H on October 12, 2011 at 5:49pm

That does sound annoying.  I wouldn't worry about it too much though, because at that age, you believe in everything.  The boogie man, the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and all of the monsters in your closet...  You talk to your stuffed animals.  :)  My guess is that since both of you (his parents) are non-theist, the chances of him ending up Baptist are next to none, unless he actually spends more time with his granddad than he does with you guys.  As long as he has both sides to consider, he'll have it all figured out by the time he's a teen.

Whether to challenge them is a matter of opinion, but to me, it wouldn't be worth starting a war over, assuming you actually like your in-laws in other ways.

Comment by Kris King on October 12, 2011 at 5:44pm

I can't really offer advice, not having kids, and not being that great at offering advice ... all I can tell you is what I would do - pretty much exactly what you'd do.  I'd ask them to respect my decisions when it comes to raising my child by not undermining my authority, or my attempts to give them an intellectual, social, cultural, and moral education.  If they cannot respect those wishes, no matter how much you may not want to, the only choice may be to do right by your son and not allow others the opportunity to undo your hard work ...

Either way, good luck with it ...

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