My mother-in-law knows I’m a non-religious person. It’s been the subject of very awkward conversations and loaded questions and hasn’t always gone well.
The first question from her upon learning her son and I were pregnant was, “Can I take the baby to church?” To which I replied that I don’t mind if she does, since my own mother takes our daughter to church when she visits. But she knows my parenting plan of exposing my child to all religious options. And after hearing that, though, she gave me a horrified stare and said, “I’ll always root for my own team.” While allowing our child to attend church is not my husband’s favorite idea, he’s willing to deal with it.
All of this so far I can handle, until my two-year-old came home singing about Jesus. My husband is willing to give the benefit of the doubt here, but has anyone tread this road before, and have any advice on how to handle it? What language do I use to make it clear I don’t want my toddler being pushed into a certain religion before she’s old enough to understand? – A
Allowing your mother-in-law to take your child to church is a generous offer, especially if you’re waiting a while to start introducing more religions into her life. Kids are sponges and will begin to absorb those specific hymns, prayers, and guidance very early on, even if they don’t really understand them yet. So hearing her singing a song from church is no surprise.
There seem to be two options that I can see: you either delay her from attending church until she’s a little older and ready to be introduced to other spiritualities at the same time, or you can start exposing her to more religious ideas now, along with her current church attendance.
She’s only two, so it’s hard to know what she’ll even remember from this time, if anything. But time flies and she could have been attending for years before she knows anything else. If diversifying her religious exposure is important to you, as it seems to be, you may want to start one of those alternate routes now.
It could be as simple as conveying that you want her to wait to start attending church and you’ll let your mother-in-law know when it’s time to start, based on your timeline of introducing more religions into her education. I say “simple,” but I know it won’t be.
Let’s take it to the readers…
Fellow Homies: do YOU have any perspective on this? Have you ever navigated the waters of a religious family and a desire to expose your child to many religions? What’s your advice?