Okay, here's a weird one. We have a sitter just for the summer, our regular sitter is back in the fall. (We're sharing with a neighbor across the street, which is working out well.) Our sitter has kids and grandkids, so she knows what she's doing and we're very happy with her. She's tougher than our regular 23-year-old, which makes sense, but I think it's good for the kids to have some variety and to have to kick their behavior up a notch. But I found out that she's having them say grace before meals. I assume it's them, it was Juliet who brought it up. So obviously it's not a terrible thing. She is doing what she thinks is right. Dave is a Christian (although he doesn't say grace before meals), and I am an atheist Jew, so of course I wasn't thrilled that she just took it up on herself to decide this was okay, but I also know that it's not harmful, and if the kids don't mind, I guess it's not a big deal. Or is it? If they DO mind, then there's no way they should be doing it, but I don't want to create trouble if there isn't any. If she was our permanent sitter I'd have a talk with her about it for sure, but now I am torn. It's very presumptuous, and that makes me unhappy. Dave is with me...not really sure what the right thing to do is. It makes me unhappy that she is doing this and yet she only has the best of intentions, and while I don't believe in (her) God, I don't think being grateful for your food is such a terrible thing. So I am at a loss. I guess I should try to talk to the kids about it. What would you do?
Okay, I finally spoke to Nathaniel about it. He said that yes, she has them say grace, but she asks them if they are going to, and they always say yes, and they do it silently!
I have zero issues with that.
I'm so glad I asked him before saying anything.
I asked him what he says silently and he said he'd like to keep that private, and I said fine.
Last edited by freddieflounder101; 07-14-2013 at 09:26 PM.
I'd ask her to stop, politely. It's fine for her to say grace, but making the kids do it is too much. Plus, if it's making you uncomfortable...
We've had this same issue with my new step-father. Um, thanks, no, I don't feel the need to pray before lunch at Arby's the first time I meet you, nor do I want you teaching my children prayers. I also pulled the kids from a local daycare who nowhere on their website, booklet, tours, etc. mentioned they had any Christian leanings. When my kids came home with "A B C D E F G , thank you God for feeding me!", couldn't remember how the alphabet actually went, and got time out for not saying it... Ugh.
Laurie, I agree that it is extremely presumptuous. In the grand scheme of things though I don't think that the reciting of grace is going to trump your parenting and whatever religious stuff you choose to impart (or not) on your kids. Maybe it's good, like you said, to be reminded of being thankful for their food, and to learn that other people have other ways of expressing their thanks. Now, if she started some kind of indoctrination on your kids that would be a whole other story!
We don't do grace in our house, but we do say what we're thankful for each day before eating. It might not be for the food, maybe it's for the fact it's Friday, or that the sun is shining, or whatever. When we go to DH's relatives' for meals there is usually a prayer before eating and that's fine with me that the kids bow their heads and put their hands together.
This is awkward. It's easy for me to give advice, but maybe not quite so easy if I had to follow my own advice. I'm sure you'll make the right decision that you can live with.
I agree that it's presumptuous and that is aggravating. Stuff like this is always so touchy too. If you ask her not to include your kids, what then? She should still be allowed to say grace herself obviously, so then does she say to them "Now Nathaniel and Juliet, don't join in, you're not allowed..." That's awkward too. The whole thing is just awkward. LOL
So, I think you should first talk to your kids. I have had kind of the same sort of talk with T because he attended a Jewish pre-school that did do some religious activities including Tot Shabbot with the cantor and rabbi every Friday. Plus my mom and dad always say grace before meals, and DH's parents do the full shabbot ritual (candles, hand washing, singing, challah, et cetera) before Friday night dinners. His dad and I are both atheists, so obviously we don't do any of that in our own homes. I talked to T about how some people believe in god, and some people don't, and either way is totally fine. I also told him that he doesn't have to join in when my parents are saying grace or DH's grandparents are doing their rituals if he doesn't want to, but he DOES have to be respectful by staying quiet, paying attention, et cetera. It turns out that right now he says that he believes in God and he likes all of that stuff (he self identifies as Jewish at this point, no doubt because of pre-school.) And that's fine with me. We've had some pretty good talks because of it. Like he asked me how we can be family if he's Jewish and I'm not, and we got to talk about how we don't all have to be the same to be family, we just have to love and respect and take care of each other. I didn't think I would be having that type of conversation with him when he was four, and I love that he's thinking about stuff like this already.
Anyway, I'm rambling. LOL! What I'm trying to say is that I would talk to your kids to make sure they know that they don't have to say it if they don't want to, but they can if they want, and that regardless they need to be respectful when the sitter says it. Then I would talk to the sitter and say that it's okay if they want to say it with her, but that it also needs to be okay if they don't want to say it. It's their choice. Honestly, my guess is that Juliet at least will probably say it with her. I say that because Juliet isn't that much older than T, and what I've found is that kids this age seem to love a ritual. I don't know about Nathaniel though.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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The kids already know that people have different beliefs, since that's already happening within our immediate family. But this is definitely a weird situation!
I agree that its presumptuous too. We sent our kids to an in home daycare back in NY and they told us up front...like the first day we talked that they say grace at lunch time. They obviously felt it was important to inform parents.
If it were me, I would likely not say anything to the sitter about it, but i would talk to my kids about it. Maybe use it as an education moment...to teach them about other people's faith and also to tell them that they don't have to participate if they don't want to. Maybe give them a very specific line to say like "Mommy and Daddy said we don't have to say grace if we don't want to" And if you are okay with them participating, i'd say that as well. Maybe talk to them about just what you said...being grateful for your food isn't a bad thing, this is just a religious specific way to do it.
I think a lot of it depends on how you want to raise your kids. Do you plan to raise them in a way in which they choose their own beliefs...and possibly religion? Or do you plan on raising them a specific way.
If you plan on raising them so that they choose for themselves, then i don't see real harm in them being exposed to something as mild as saying grace at lunch time. I'd keep an open dialogue with them though, just to be sure the sitter isn't being very pushy with religion in any other ways.
sorry..didn't see your post until after i posted mine!
Well... I would sit with my Dh and talk out how offensive it is.. is it? Decide how you want to raise your children.. If it is not something you want your children doing talk with her.. say if it is done again she will be replaced.
If it isn't that offensive.. just let your children do it, and say nothing, and relax...
It would be for me a difference like this
- Voodoo - if a babysitter was telling my children to practice voodoo and how to do it, and making them do it before eating.. I would either fire on the spot or give one more chance.
- Praying but a Jew or Muslim or Mormon or JW.. whose prayer sounds similar to ours but we are of different faiths. This one I wouldn't say something.. unless the Muslim said Allah.. and I would explain it is another word for God ... to my children.
How bad is the offense vs how good the rest of her work is...
But.. again I would decide with my dh and then make a decision and stick with it.
DH-Aug 30th 1997 Josiah - 6/3/02 Isaac 7/31/03
Alissa and Kim have great advice. I would definitely talk to the kids about it...I would tend to lean toward Kim's plan of not mentioning it to the babysitter unless your kids try to opt out and she doesn't let them or makes a big deal out of it. Then of course I would talk to her. I personally would not feel comfortable having kids I babysit say prayers before meals unless I spoke to the parents about it first or the kids take the lead (for example, saying that they usually DO pray before meals with mom and dad). I do think it's presumptuous of her but is also a great conversation to have with your kids.
CARRIE and DH 7/14/07
I has something else all typed out at 8am but it looks like it got lost.
Basically ITA with a lot of what Alissa & Kim said. I'd talk with my kids about our own beliefs and about respecting others' beliefs, but I think I would ask her to stop doing it. It's one thing to say your own prayers before eating, but to instruct other people's children to do so, and to lead them in those prayers??? That is unacceptable.
That said, I would be fine with my children offering thanks to the pig who died for their ham sandwich or to the chicken in their noodle soup. We are mostly vegetarian but there are a few occasions where we will eat some sustainable seafood, and I also let my kids roast real marshmallows when we camp, but we always say a thank you to the animal that died in order to feed us. Perhaps you could offer something like that as a compromise, the kids can give their thanks to the dead animal, and she can give her own thanks to whomever she credits for her food.
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