personal debate -- saying grace -- FOLLOW UP on original post

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personal debate -- saying grace -- FOLLOW UP on original post

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. Smile

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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.

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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. Smile 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.

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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.

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Thanks guys.

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!

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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.

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sorry..didn't see your post until after i posted mine!

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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.

OR
- 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.

Also -
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.

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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.

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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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Just to clarify, I don't know that she's eating with them.

Also I think they'd be totally freaked out giving thanks to dead animals. Lol.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Just to clarify, I don't know that she's eating with them.

Also I think they'd be totally freaked out giving thanks to dead animals. Lol.

C'mon, you don't want the babysitter to tackle God AND death for you while you are at work? Wink

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I wouldn't be happy about that. I feel it is disrespectful. DH and I feel that religious discussions should come from family and parents, not from sitters. I am fine with saying thank you for the food. But different families have different beliefs and I don't think it is appropriate to share with small kids without prior discussion with the parents. I am sure that a christian family would not want their children taught about the goddess and earth mother without prior discussion. I would want the same respect with people talking to my child about what they call god.

We dealt with this a bit on our vacation as my family is very catholic and we are not. I explained to Kaiya that the family would say grace which is a prayer that is saying thank you for the food. She could say thank you as well or sit quietly. She said she wanted to say thank you and did at the meal (although she told me at one point that no one said the word "grace" or "thank you" so she was confused.)

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Ok, if she's not even eating with them (and thereby saying grace for herself) I think I would definitely ask her to knock it off. As touchy a conversation as that is, it's one thing for her to do it for herself and have them join in, but it really is another to just make them do it themselves.

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I have been thinking about how I would reply to this since I first read it this morning. My first gut reaction is "what's the big deal". Then, I think about how I would feel if it was a muslim or Hindu teaching my child to pray in their religion or an atheist telling my child there is no god. Really when it boils down to it I would not have a full time babysitter that was going to be with my children 8 hours a day or more that had hugely different religious beliefs than my own. I know not everyone will agree with that POV, but that is how it is. If someone believes strongly enough in prayer that they are going to be teaching the children to pray over a meal, they are probably teaching about it all day long in a less subtle way.

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As an atheist babysitter to a lot of Christian families, many of whom were religions I was unfamiliar with at the time -- Catholics and Mormons -- if the parents told me in person or in their written instructions that the kids were to say grace, then I would ask one of the kids to lead us. Or if the kids asked, "Aren't we going to say grace?" then I'd say, "Oh yes, and why don't you lead us, Susie, since you remembered." I would try to respect their family values even though I didn't really know what kind of prayer they would say, kwim?

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Also I think they'd be totally freaked out giving thanks to dead animals. Lol.

So they believe in Alissa's magical tree that grows nice neat packages of plastic-wrapped meats? Blum 3

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"Spacers" wrote:

So they believe in Alissa's magical tree that grows nice neat packages of plastic-wrapped meats? Blum 3

Too be fair, i think the majority of people do not acknowledge at every single meal that they are eating a dead animal...even if they are generally aware of the fact.

I've been through the slaughtering process...its pretty easy to think of a processed chicken breast as being very different than the bird itself...even when you actually have to do it yourself.

There is a point in the processing where it just becomee un-birdlike...so i don't typically think of it as a dead bird on my plate.

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I remember my nephew's horror when he found out that "a chicken" was the same as "chicken". He had no idea.

So...I don't know if she eats with them. She's not really with them all day as they have camp or classes or whatnot and I don't know how often it has happened.

I know the sitter goes to church and I did find a way to drop the bomb that my dad is gay so that she'd be clear on where I stood on such things.

Our regular sitter (school year), I don't know what her religious beliefs are, before that we had a nanny for many years who is Hindu.

The kids know that I'm Jewish but I don't believe in any religion, they know their dad believes in Christianity, etc.

But yeah...I was very thrown off by her not asking me if it was okay, and yet I know she is a good person and a terrific babysitter and is doing what is probably just very normal to her. So I think I need more information from the kids. Dave was as stuck in the middle as I am.

Recently we visited a summer camp and during the tour, they talked about how there's chapel where they just talk about everyday moral issues. I asked if they talked about God, and the guy giving us the tour said no. Then at the very end, when I asked another question about it, it somehow slipped out that the older kids (my son's age) have mandatory MASS once a week! I asked what goes on and the guy said, "oh, you know, it's like a mass," and I said, "I'm Jewish, I have no experience with that."

We chose not to do the camp because of that. Our friends who were with us are Catholic and they also opted out because of how sneaky the camp was about it...they didn't like that they were trying to hide it.

I don't think our sitter is trying to hide anything, I think she is doing what is normal in her experience. She must not know I am Jewish and she's heard Nathaniel talk about going to church with his Daddy, which he does sometimes.

But all these opinions are really helpful, even if we're not going to think about animals getting killed before we eat them. I like the theory that they simply magically appear in their plastic wrap and nobody suffers. Like spaghetti!

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I agree that she's probably not trying to do anything nefarious - she's just doing what she is used to doing. Probably to her, people say grace before eating, just like they wash their hands before eating. Which is why I think you need to bring it up with her if it's a problem rather than leaving it to your kids to tell her that they don't have to. If a kid told me he didn't have to wash his hands, I would steamroll right over that ****. Wink

Apparently T was the one to do the Big Reveal to his pre-K class that meat is made of animals (or is it that animals are made of meat?) They were talking about where food comes from, and all of the kids knew that milk comes from cows. Then he piped up that steak also comes from cows, and that they kill the cows to get the steak. Apparently this horrified a room full of 4 year olds.

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I have taught my children right from the begining where meat comes from. If we are eating meat with a meal the girls will now ask me what kind of animal it is.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Apparently T was the one to do the Big Reveal to his pre-K class that meat is made of animals (or is it that animals are made of meat?) They were talking about where food comes from, and all of the kids knew that milk comes from cows. Then he piped up that steak also comes from cows, and that they kill the cows to get the steak. Apparently this horrified a room full of 4 year olds.

Kaiya just learned that too. We went to the museum and in the first nations section there was a hunting display. This cause all sorts of questions (why is that mammoth bleeding?) and a long explanation on hunting, killing animals and eating them. Then we went and had pork chops (she knew it was pig) for dinner and she had no issues eating. I guess she is an omnivore!

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I have taught my children right from the begining where meat comes from. If we are eating meat with a meal the girls will now ask me what kind of animal it is.

Yeah but that specific fascination won't last forever. I still maintain that most people don't make an effort to picture the dead animal they are eating at the dinner table.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

Yeah but that specific fascination won't last forever. I still maintain that most people don't make an effort to picture the dead animal they are eating at the dinner table.

Oh I agree with you. I just do not want it to come as a shock to my girls where meat comes from.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I have taught my children right from the begining where meat comes from. If we are eating meat with a meal the girls will now ask me what kind of animal it is.

Well, we told T too, despite the fact that I like to pretend meat grows on trees. That's how he knew. But like Kim said, knowing something intellectually is somehow different than picturing the reality.

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As long as the kids don't feel uncomfortable and they're not being forced, then I don't see it as a big deal.

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I wouldn't be very comfortable, but I think that gratefulness is a very important trait, when you attribute it to the source. Thanks to mom & dad for earning the money to buy the food, the babysitter for preparing the food, etc. I would be totally okay with.

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It is definitely presumptuous. If you aren't bothered by the idea of saying grace I wouldn't mention it.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

It is definitely presumptuous. If you aren't bothered by the idea of saying grace I wouldn't mention it.

I am bothered by it, but I'm not sure the kids are....hence my confusion.

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Sorry, I must have misread. I thought it was more bothered by the fact she did it without asking you.

So, I change my response. I would approach her and explain that you don't appreciate that she took to having them saying grace without asking first. That since the kids are okay with it they can do it for as long as they want to but that if they become uncomfortable you have told them they don't have to say it. Going forward, anything that involves religion and the kids could she please ask you and dh first.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

Sorry, I must have misread. I thought it was more bothered by the fact she did it without asking you.

So, I change my response. I would approach her and explain that you don't appreciate that she took to having them saying grace without asking first. That since the kids are okay with it they can do it for as long as they want to but that if they become uncomfortable you have told them they don't have to say it. Going forward, anything that involves religion and the kids could she please ask you and dh first.

I am bothered by that too. I like that approach actually. It is respectful but clear.

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Babysitter should have asked you and your husband first.

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If the grace was religious I would tell the sitter to can it. If it's just saying what they're thankful for or whatever, I wouldn't be upset.

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Read the follow up post - whew.. so glad you found a solution that worked, and you didn't have to make a hard decision to release a good caretaker Wink

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Glad that this turned out okay, no awkward confrontations needed. Smile

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Good update! And if nothing else, it made for an interesting topic Smile Glad everything turned out okay.

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Laurie~glad it all worked out.