Dear Grandma: Stop Taking My Child to Church

As a wishy-washy Agnostic who was raised Catholic, I don't believe most of what I've read in the Bible. I think God could definitely exist, but I wouldn't bet money on it either way. Basically, I question it all but would never be presumptuous enough to argue against religion, either. I try to respect others' faiths, but as a mom, I find others don't always respect my beliefs -- or in this case, the beliefs I don't hold to be true.

The number one offender here is probably the last person you'd expect: my mom -- my children's otherwise amazing and loving grandmother. A religious person who just can't help herself and refuses to stop taking my toddler to church.


Religion is NOT a safe topic to discuss in my parents' home. On more than one occasion, my Atheist husband and I have been told that they are "scared" for my children because they aren't baptized. I try to see where they're coming from, but it gets difficult to practice diplomacy when you're more or less told your parenting will never be up to snuff -- no matter what you do -- because you're not involving the kids in church.

The first time my mom took my daughter to mass, when she was just a baby, I let it slide -- much to my husband's discontent (chalk it up to my wishy-washyness). The second time she did it, I politely reminded her we'd rather not raise her to practice an organized religion. Message heard loud and clear? Uh, no. Because there was a third church visit. And then a fourth. And then we simply realized it was easier to make sure we never asked my mom to babysit on Saturday evening or any time on Sunday than to mention it again.

But time went by and my daughter, who is now 3, recently visited my mom on a Sunday while my husband and I were house hunting. And, AGAIN, church happened. But this time, given her age, she came back and asked us why we don't go to church. I will have no problem being honest with her when she's older. I'm not ashamed of our choices. But at 3?! No.

Side note: I also caught her kissing the baby Jesus on my mom's absurdly ornate diamond cross necklace (because Jesus loves diamonds, I guess).

So yeah, I freaked.

My mother's excuse, when I confronted her yet again about this, was that her religion is a big part of her life and she has the right to talk about her faith and share it with her grandchild. The problem with this attitude, though, if it doesn't include a sentence or two about how it's HER faith and one that isn't shared by all and how that is just fine, is that my toddler is going to get the message that one thing is right and that her parents are wrong. And that is simply not okay with us.

As her parents, our decision regarding religion should override the choices her grandmother is making for us -- choices that are just going to cause confusion in our child.

Do you think a grandparent has the right to take your child to church or teach them about a religion that you don't practice?


Image via Michael D. Beckwith/Flickr

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