How to handle Christian comments from family?

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TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043
How to handle Christian comments from family?

Long time atheist, first time poster. My FIL keeps making comments that I find distasteful. First off, I'm an evolutionary biologist. So, you can probably imagine where I fall on the whole man evolved from apes 'debate'. My LOs nickname is Monkey. It came out of nowhere. It has nothing to do with the science behind it. I have a Darwin tattoo which would incite more flavorful comments if only he knew what it meant. Anyway, FIL has been staying with us and he's said on more than one occasion, "Now Teagan, you may be Monkey but the one thing you most certainly are not is related to apes." I'm not sure if he's kidding or if he's serious. We do not talk about religion with him as he's Born Again and we're just about as atheist as they come. How the man raised 4 atheists is beyond me. If he keeps making this comment once my LO is old enough to understand, I'm going to have to say something. How on Earth do I go about it?! I love the man to death but saying something like that in my house is akin to me yelling "And you know your Sky Daddy is bogus" after he says grace at his house.

Joined: 04/10/11
Posts: 1703

Too funny. Once the kid starts asking, I'd draw up a little cladogram and explain that grandpa is absolutely right and we're not descended from apes but we do share a common ancestor. Then the kid can learn cladistics along with the ABCs and all will be right in the world!

Joined: 08/24/05
Posts: 316

Honestly, I just smile and nod. I am firm in my beliefs and not ashamed in the slightest, however, I do not like my in laws and I do not think they like me very much so I don't add fuel to the fire.

If you love your FIL to death and the feeling is mutual, then I would probably approach it. Something simple like, "I respect your beliefs and your right to believe whatever you want, however, I ask that you respect ours by not speaking about religion to our son." If you intend on exposing your child to other religions so that they can make their own choice then you can add that in there too- maybe "We do intend to expose him to religion as a learning tool but we ask that you let us teach him".

Again, I don't really like my in-laws so I'm more likely to say something rude but IF it were a person I cared for, I'd probably approach it like I mentioned above. I think saying, "I respect you, please respect me" is the best approach because it's not really accusatory or negative- it's starting off positive and then just asking that you be afforded the same thing- seems perfectly fair to me.

HTH!

kristycoulter1's picture
Joined: 05/20/08
Posts: 625

:lurk: I agree that if it continues you should say something... preferably in the moment pull him aside so that there is no misunderstanding about the exact comment/behaviour that your find distasteful.

This to me is the same as when a parent or in-law is using a parenting philosophy that is different from yours. For example my MIL is all about bargaining at the dinner table "eat 2 more bites of broccoli and you can have a cookie" but I don't like that approach at all. It's hard b/c I'm greatful for being invited to dinner and I want her to spend time with DD... but I felt I had to speak up because what she was doing was not compatible with how I want to raise my daughter. Ok... lame example... obviously passion/opinions are much stronger when it comes to religion... but it's the same principle.

Go for it and hopefully your FIL will surprise you.

kmm123's picture
Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 1839

I'm kind of live and let live.....my mom believes and prays and all that and while she believes in evolution and wouldn't really disagree with my views there I figure my kids will have to accept and understand that everyone holds their own beliefs. Grandma thinks if you're worried about something you pray about it and God can help you. Mom doesn't believe that or in God at all. Evan and future kids are welcome to pray with gram or be a non-believer like mom or something else all their own.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Oh my gosh, bad host here! I just saw this. Smile So happy to see that people are posting on this board again!!!

Anyway, yeah, that would irritate me. It's hard to know how to handle stuff like that when your kids are little and don't really understand nuance. The other day my 3 year old said something about someone being "in heaven with God" (I can totally guess where he got that from....) and all I said was "That's what people say." When he's older I will talk to him about differing belief systems, and about what I believe, and about respecting other people's beliefs, but how do you get all of that across to a 3 year old?

If you have the kind of relationship where you can approach it to your FIL, then that would be good. As for me, I'm a wimp. I never say anything when my mom starts talking religion in front of my son, and then I kick myself and wish that I had. LOL