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. 

Views: 97

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Jeorgia Nicole Simons on October 14, 2011 at 9:22pm

I appreciate all of the comments and advice. The night after I'd posted my husband and I sat down and had a talk with Eric. I told him that he didn't need to believe in Jesus or god and that it was okay to think differently than his grandparents. I told him that we weren't the only one's that didn't believe, that his grammy (my mom) didn't believe in Jesus and his aunt, uncle, and sister didn't believe in god or Jesus. It seemed to make him feel better. Then we asked him if he could see, touch, or hear god or Jesus and he shook his head. So, I said that they probably weren't real then and he agreed.

We are going to have a talk with my in-laws. I think that I'm just going to ask them to respect our wishes as Eric's parents and explain that they are confusing him because we believe differently. What's really interesting is that they feel the need to "save" our son from internal damnation but not my daughter, who's from a previous marriage. I guess perhaps they think that they'll catch "hell," so to speak, from my ex-husband who's Jewish. One really neat thing about my daughter though, is that she goes to a Jewish school (my ex has domicile rights) but she's figured out on her own that the Torah isn't real. Such a cool thing. I hope that she maintains that position.

Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on October 13, 2011 at 6:10pm
We've handled it pretty much like Wanderer.  My kids like Ray Harryhausen films and Hercules.  We put Zeus, Thor and the Greek gods on the same wavelength as the xtain god.  Since the Greek gods are much more cool than the xtain god, my kids are firm in their belief the xtian god is just a statue (which they tell my relatives), but they aren't too certain about Zeus.  I have to admit if the xtain god looked Aires on Hercules, I would have a lot easier time believing too.  LOL!
Comment by Earther on October 13, 2011 at 5:57pm

I read all the comments and I admire those who take a diplomatic aproach but my gut feeling is that you need to take a stand.  I think you need to weight your options none the less.  My view is to think of what would you do if your inlaws told your son that the devil is always sneaking up behind him and he should be scared, therefore, he should pray to god that the devil does not catch up with him.  This is what religious people do, they teach you to be afraid of your world instead of competitive to live.  You may be under estimating your power to raise your son with out being lead by lies.  I am sorry if I seem hostile about this but it does make me angry that adults continue to lie to children.

Comment by Rob van Senten on October 13, 2011 at 1:57am

Kids are being good at being kids, it's what's natural to them, that doesn't mean however that kids are too young to be taught about religion. If your 4 year old is up for it you can start explaining him bit by bit that all kinds of people believe different things and why they do.

 

I have taught a 5 year old about religion by telling him stories from all kinds of religions and myths around the world, sometimes he was laughing, sometimes he thought the stories were pretty, when the story of Jesus came up, it was "just another story". 

 

In regards to your in laws, I would invite them to my house explain to them that their religion is not welcome in the education of my child and that the subject is closed. If they would continue however, it would have been the last time they would've seen their grandchild.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 12, 2011 at 11:16pm

Gotta disagree with the sentiment expressed here-the will to stupidity is a cultural mandate. It is imperative that a parent teach her children to think critically early on. Begin by attacking the greatest show on earth. Explain the history, the psychology of indoctrination, and the incompatibility with science and reality.

It is not an even playing field. The longer you wait, the greater the chance your child will be in the bleachers.

Comment by roland707 on October 12, 2011 at 11:08pm
I'm with Anne and Matt. My oldest son is 20. I didn't teach him anything about religion. He even went through a church phase in his teens (youth groups, etc.), but he is done with it now, and believing in reality.
Comment by annet on October 12, 2011 at 10:27pm
You are right, it is not something you need to discuss at that time. I agree with Matt. Equanimity is very important. Your son will believe and unbelieve many things throughout his childhood. As long as he knows what you believe, that is what is important.  If your in laws care for him daily, that could be more of a challenge, but you still want to stay relaxed about it.  And get your son a copy of Richard Dawkins' new book for kids.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 12, 2011 at 7:44pm
Oh yeah, in-laws, so the aforementioned is only good if your husband has sibs.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 12, 2011 at 7:42pm

How's bout a bit of biblical justice. Shoot the in-laws kids with atheistic assertions. Make their kids realize that not only is god a joke so too their parents.

And if that does not work apply some muscle, see. Nah my idea will inflict more harm and good!

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on October 12, 2011 at 6:21pm
Yeah I'd be really pissed too, and I expect you're going to get a lot of responses to this blog post! I don't associate with my family anymore, so my 3 boys won't have anything to worry about from my side of the family, although really there isn't much there to worry about. It's my in-laws I'm worried about, they are very religious and though they don't see each other often, I am expecting some sort of confrontation down the road, sooner or later. I'd prefer later, the later the better. 2 of the 3 are over age 4, and neither one seems vulnerable in that regard, but you never know. The 4 year old says things like "cars don't talk!" when we watch cartoons and such, so I think he's already getting a handle on the fantasy vs. reality thing. But anyway, back to your problem, yeah, that's tough. I would go straight to your son, ignoring the in-laws for now. Talk to him about other imaginary things like unicorns and fairies and whatnot, and ask him if he thinks those are real too. If he does, then when he starts to realize they aren't he'll probably come around on deities too. If he doesn't, ask him why not. Make him see that your position is that they are all of the same ontological type, so that he sees that there isn't any difference between them. I wouldn't mind even going full-indoctrination mode on him, as a countermeasure, but you don't want to anger the in-laws. Just keep giving him both sides of the story, and I agree with Matt, he'll eventually pick the right side, and respond to your in-laws in a way you would be proud of, although I can't promise you that you necessarily have a way to keep your son god-free AND keep your in-laws happy - that might be a doomed-to-fail scenario there. Good luck!

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service