Meeting half way? dilemma.

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TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Meeting half way? dilemma.

Hello everyone,

May I ask for your opinions on a matter I am currently battling within my own mind.

As many know, I am a new mother to my gorgeous little boy, but come from a deeply religious family.
And as such, of late my mother has been politely but consistanly asking if I will have him Christened.

I've always tried to move the direction of the conversation as it's not one i wish to broach.

Yet, I know I must say something sooner or later.

Recently though, My mother has implied she knows I no longer believe and this would be simply for peace of mind
and would not hurt anyone in doing so.

Should I entertain this? My personally feeling is I do not wish to partake in this charade.
But equally, I do not want to hurt her.

What would you do in a similar position?

Thank you.

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Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Maybe a conversation about

Maybe a conversation about leaving baptisms until the child can comprehend ? Kicking the can down the road often results in the touchy subject being covered in dust and forgetfulness.....

watchman's picture
@TheBlindWatchmaker …..

@TheBlindWatchmaker …..

My opinion is .. just say NO!

You know as well as I do theists do not understand the concept of "half way" ….

given an inch they ALWAYS take a yard ...or try to....

Plus ...apart from the "christening" itself …. this would lead to the introduction into your child's life of "god parents" ….. so apart from your religious mother you end up with two further theistic agents in your child's life......each wanting to take the child to various services etc....

….and the worst will have allowed them "in"....

I say NO!

Cognostic's picture
Frankly speaking, I do not

Frankly speaking, I do not have the relationship with my mom that you have with yours. I would tell the bitch to fuck off. Literally. She was an abusive asshole and I have not seen or spoken with her in 22 years. I have no desire to speak to her or any of the other drunken, drug addicted, law breaking, convicts in my family.

Assuming your family is nothing at all like mine.... I would still say, "NO!" You have to draw a line in the sand someplace and it might as well be here as any other place. Give an inch and you open the door to further issues in the future. Your mom will know that you can be manipulated if she just keeps it up. Tell her "NO", it is your family and "That is the end of the matter. Don't bring it up again." If she does bring it up again, you hang up the phone immediately, walk out of the room, or do whatever it takes to distance yourself. Give her the clear message that you are in control and that you will not be manipulated. "So Stop Trying."

You either draw the line in the sand now or you do it later. Not drawing a line in the sand is the same thing as doing nothing and that is giving her permission to continue her attempts at manipulation, now and throughout your child's life.

LogicFTW's picture


Taking a little different tact:

I would, (if your mothers approval is important to you:)

Agree, and do this silly little ritual sooner rather then later, (before the child is old enough to even begin to understand.) BUT!!

I would put conditions on it, I know for many folks, that the christening /baptism etc IS crucially important to them, you agree to do this silly little ritual that you know means absolutely nothing, but your mom does not know that! But that's it, she gets that, but gets no further say on your child's religious upbringing, you only agree to this if she never pressures anything else religious on your child, and when she visits she respects house rules of not discussing religion.

Get her to agree to that term over this silly little ritual and you always have a "go to" a, you agreed not to bring this up, you are bringing it up, I can ask you to stop without being rude.

Give her an inch, and take a MILE for it.

Just my 2 cents ;)

David Killens's picture
TheBlindWatchmaker the first

TheBlindWatchmaker the first problem is that your mother is not as sympathetic towards your desires and emotions as you towards her. I suspect she knows you are an atheist and hesitant to baptize. But she wants her way ... over you and your child.

You left home, started your own life, and now your mother desires to step in and control this part of YOUR life.

IMO you have just three options

1) Give in to her desires and basically keep calm waters in your relationship with your mother. At cost to your desires. But this strategy opens the door for your mother being more intrusive in the raising of your child. You are just postponing the inevitable. First baptism, what next, Sunday School, later your mother taking the child to church services? When and where will you draw the line?

2) Sit down for a long talk. Inform her of your atheism, your position concerning raising your child, and attempt to reach a resolution where neither suffers. I fear this has the lowest probability of success. And formally informing your mother on your atheism will likely open Pandora's box.

3) Just avoid discussing the baptism. That is not a solution and will just create tension between you and your mother. This scenario will probably cycle into (1) where your mother will attempt to 'educate" your child on her brand of religion.

I wish you well.

Tin-Man's picture


Hey there, new mommy.... *grin*... On the surface, your dilemma seems like a tough choice. And that is totally understandable considering the incredibly awesome responsibility you have recently acquired. However, for those of us standing on the outside looking in, it is a fairly straightforward call. As the others have already advised, just say, "No."

Now, I can totally relate to not wanting to hurt your mother's feelings. When my Mom was still alive, I am sure she suspected I no longer shared her beliefs, but it was something I chose not to discuss with her, because I knew how much it would hurt her to confirm it. Keep in mind, though, I had no children of my own in the equation. And that would have changed things immensely if I did have kids and my Mom had tried to influence how I raise them in regards to religion.

Now, from what you have said, your Mom already knows you no longer share her religious beliefs. So that is one major step out of the way. The next step is for you to fully understand and acknowledge that YOU are now the parent. That is YOUR child. That child is YOUR responsibility. Sure, the grandparents and other family members can and will assist you in raising your boy, and they will all in some form or fashion have an influence on how he will grow to think and act. But when it comes right down to the nitty gritty, the ultimate final call on what is allowed to be introduced into your child's life falls directly on YOUR shoulders. YOU are THE authority who has THE final say on what is allowed or not allowed into your boy's life during his critical formative years. And that is what you need to make your Mom understand. You can be as gentle and tactful as allowed, or you need to be as blunt and forceful as necessary. Either way, your Mom needs to know SHE is not the person responsible for raising YOUR child, despite how good she may believe her intentions to be.

If it helps, think of it as if you are the captain of a ship. (Granted, analogies are not perfect, but this one is close enough.) Yes, you have many other people working for you under your authority, and each of those people have specific duties to perform that allow the ship to function. On most ships, the captain has an executive officer (XO; second-in-command). In your case, that would be the baby's father. And the ship would be your son. And it is THE responsibility of the captain and XO to make sure the ship reaches its intended destination intact and fully functional, right? Does not matter that Petty Officer Slacker forgot to check the oil pressure in the engine room, causing the ship to lose power. it is still the captain's responsibility and blame if the ship does not get to where it was intended. And in your case with your son, your mother is simply a member of the crew and should be treated as such. Absolutely, a good captain can take suggestions from crew members, and determine whether or not that suggestion is beneficial for the functioning of the ship. However, a good captain also NEVER allows a crew member to dictate how that ship is run. Be the captain of your ship, young lady. Hope this helps.

Randomhero1982's picture
Blimey, that's quite the ask

Blimey, that's quite the ask if she already knows you are an atheist, quite bold too!

I would 100% say no, and in fact this was a key point in discussion with my better half when we decided to have children almost 8 years ago.

She is C of E as it's known in the UK, whilst I'm obviously atheist.

But when she mentioned wanting to try for children, one of the topics brought up was religion, christening etc... I made it clear I thought children should be left to be children and make their own decisions as they get older.

I would suggest having a calm conversation with your mum and tell her about exactly what your feelings are on the subject.
But if you have strong convictions, stick to them.

cranky47's picture
Well, I have no kids. However

Well, I have no kids. However, I had a very manipulative mother and mother in law. (now both deceased)

I fought against my mother's machinations most of my life. Was much easier to say 'no' to my mother in law.

He's a piece of my own chicanery of which I am not proud. My family and my wife's family were both devout Catholic. My in laws were very wealthy and would have been most unhappy had we married outside of the church. I agreed to be married in the Catholic Church because I wanted to stay on good terms with my in laws.

It later transpired that we were a lot short of the money to buy our last house. My in laws lent us the money, interest free.

I probably should have stuck to my principles. I caved, because in my mind it cost me nothing and gained me a lot. I'm not usually that calculating, except when I feel put upon or treated unjustly . Then I can be downright Machiavellian .

It was nobody else's business where we got married. Same with the baptism of your child;. No one else''s business . When they insist, you play the long game , doing what is best for you and your baby in the long term.

A caveat: I would only give in on this matter if you are confident it will be the end of your mother's interference. I suspect that will not be the case.

Cognostic's picture
@cranky47: You make a good

@cranky47: You make a good point. If there were a financial benefit, I too would probably endure the interference. It could indeed be best for the future. I will amend my dogmatic stance in the evaluation of cost vs. reward when the rewards may be significant. (Just getting along with the family while I endure all the interference and I am the one making all the concessions is NOT SIGNIFICANT.) Getting an intrest free loan for a house when I need it, certainly is. GOOD POINT Cranky!

Pirate Jack's picture
Absolutely no!! It won’t

Absolutely no!! It won’t stop there! If it was going to stop after that step, then what’s the point of doing so in the first place? My mother in law is a holy roller, and one of the worst people I know. I told her my kids would not be involved until they were old enough to decide for themselves. You have to be firm. Next it will be church visits at Christmas or Easter. Followed by vacation bible school. Tell her no thanks.

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Thank you all for your input.

Thank you all for your input.

My mother has tried to be clear that is simply just this one instance that she would like,
also that she has tried to by kind by offering to pay for all financial costs of the event.

But I still have my doubts to if this will be the 'only time', as this was not the case for me.
And from what I have read above, this has been a similar chain of events for most, if not all of us.

I do love my mum, but this is actually making me even more resentful to religion.

Why do I have to be put in this position?

I can understand her point of view, but for me it is still not something I wish to be a part of, nor for my baby to be.
But equally, I fear alienation from my family that I have only recently starting mending bridges with.

I also feel this has only been mooted as I have been trying desperately to mend old wounds and my child has helped that,
so in essence they are only wanting this because I showed some weakness.

It is all so confusing, but thank you all so much for taking the time to offer your advice.

LogicFTW's picture
so in essence they are only

so in essence they are only wanting this because I showed some weakness.

It is not weak to want to mend bridges with your family, it is strong. The only weakness I see is on the part of your mom trying to take advantage of you wanting to mend fences by pushing her god thing.

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Thank you @Logic, this is

Thank you @Logic, this is essentially what my partner has said.

I'm certainly starting to get some clarity on the issue, whilst being glad I'm not being awkward
by noticing that possible pit-falls and not simply over reacting in some way.

Jimmy Neutron's picture
My heart goes out to you on

My heart goes out to you on this as it is a very difficult decision, no matter how strong your principles or how unfair it is for you to be put in this situation. I think I have a slightly different take on this than what you've seen on this forum so far. I am a loving grandfather of four beautiful grandchildren that are being raised Catholic. My son actually had to convert to Catholicism to be able to marry his lovely wife in the Catholic church. Did I, or do I, like any of this? No, I don't. Not one bit. In addition, as you can probably guess, all four of them (five, counting my son) have been baptized and two of them have now had their First Communion (which I did not attend, although I did attend the after party for the First Communions). It is very difficult for me to watch these little ones that I love so dearly being forced to go down this road that I truly believe is ultimately very destructive. But you know what? It's quite clear to me that it's not up to me. As their grandfather, it's not my decision. It's obviously and quite clearly the decision of the parents and theirs alone. Do I have the right to voice my opinion? Sure. But that's where it ends. So just as this decision in their lives is not mine, neither is it your mother's. This decision is yours and the baby's father, period. Discuss it with him, follow your conscience, make the best decision you can, and stick to it. That's the best advice I can offer. Good luck.

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Thank you Jimmy,

Thank you Jimmy,

That was a wonderful read and thought provoking too.

Jimmy Neutron's picture
Hi BlindWatchmaker. When I

Hi BlindWatchmaker. When I wrote that post to you yesterday, I didn't realize that there was indeed a 'Page 2' of replies to your post and that you'd already resolved it with your mother so feel free to kindly disregard my late input. Sorry about that. Glad to hear it went so well!

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Hi Jimmy,

Hi Jimmy,

All discourse is productive, so thank you again for your comments.
I'm sure I have many more 'conversations' ahead of me in regards to my family and their religious views,
So it's nice to get these pieces of information and other thoughts, in order to be better equipped myself.

And thank you, I feel some progress has been made, but I still have some trepidation.

NewSkeptic's picture
I went through the same

I went through the same situation with my kids, although, at the time I was not as entrenched in my views. We went ahead and had them baptised, and it caused me and them no great grief. But there it ended, no religious school, no catechism, no first communion. It's just a matter of where you want to put your foot down.

NotConvinced's picture
Say NO! To me this feels like

Say NO! To me this feels like manipulation. Your mother is basically sending you a message that YOU know she is "right" and that you are afraid to admit she is right. Let her know that it is up to the child, when they grow up, to make their own decision.

Just my take. FWIW.

Cognostic's picture
@watch maker: RE: New

@watch maker: RE: New Skeptic 'It's all a matter of when you want to put your foot down,'

This really is about all that can be said. I think 'the sooner the better' as the more you give the more that will be taken. Obviously advantages must be weighed against disadvantages. Most of all, the important thing is that you have a sense that you are in control and you are making the decision for reasons that are yours alone and not because of manipulation or pressure. Be clear with yourself and with your mom. Be very clear.

xenoview's picture
Tell her no. Tell her that it

Tell her no. Tell her that it will only happen when the child is old enough to decide.

Cognostic's picture
@TheBlindWatchmaker: Give

@TheBlindWatchmaker: Give this some thought. As long as you do not baptize your child, your grandmother will do everything in her power to keep the child alive. However, if you baptize the child, grandma will be content and will have no reason to care any more. I say you keep the kid unbaptized for as long as possible, thus insuring its health and protection here in this life. :-)

Think about it. The child has medical bills but has not been baptized. Grandma to the rescue. The child has medical bills but has been baptized. As far as grandma is concerned, it is god's will now.

Think this through :-)

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
I have certainly given it a

I have certainly given it a lot of thought.

It's not something I want and personally I feel it should be his decision once he comes of age.

This should make for an interesting visit to my family this weekend. :/

David Killens's picture
Plan for the worst, hope for

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

I wish you the best.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture


And the very best of luck!

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
@Old ma shouts Thank you x

@Old ma shouts

Thank you x

Tin-Man's picture
@TBW Re: "This should make

@TBW Re: "This should make for an interesting visit to my family this weekend. :/"

Excellent. Remember, you are the captain of your ship, and the captain never allows the crew to control the ship. And your Mom is only a part of the crew. Moreover, she is part of the crew ONLY AS LONG AS YOU ALLOW IT. In other words, she needs to be aware that it is up to YOU whether or not she is allowed further access to the ship.

Granted, I am well aware of stress and uncertainty involved in confronting parents about touchy matters. (Been there, done that.) It is not easy, I know, because those of us who were "properly" raised are naturally concerned about not wanting to be disrespectful. Fair enough. However, if it helps you any, here is something you might want to keep in mind...

Say, for instance, your Mom is totally against drinking alcohol because she believes it is "immoral". Fine. No problem. Silly, of course, but she is entitled to her belief. Still, knowing this, let's say you decide to go visit your Mom one day with a couple of friends, and you each bring your preferred adult beverage of choice to drink while sitting around and chatting. To me, THAT would be very disrespectful to your Mom. Even though you see nothing wrong with drinking a beer or a glass of wine, you brought it into the home of your Mom knowing she does not approve of it. And your Mom has every right at that point to tell you and your friends to either get rid of the drinks or leave. And she really doesn't even have to give you the option to ditch the drinks. Now, in the case of your son, you do not approve of his being exposed to the religious ritual. Your Mom knows how you feel about religion, yet she still has the audacity to ask you to have your son christened..... for HER own peace of mind. Call me crazy, but that sounds fairly disrespectful to me, even though your Mom may not see it that way in her mind. Therefore, you are not being disrespectful to your Mom in telling her that is YOUR child and that you will raise him as you see fit.

As I said before, you can be as "gentle" and as tactful as you are allowed to be in relaying this message to her. Or, you need to be as blunt and as forceful as necessary to get it through to her. You know your Mom better than anybody here, obviously, so you know what will or will not be effective. But based on what you have told us in this thread so far, my gut feeling is that if you give in to her on this, she will not stop there. She will have her foot in the door, and she will not stop pushing until the door is wide open or off the hinges. Again, you are now the Mom, and that is YOUR child.

(My apologies for the long post, but I hope something I said helps you in some way.)

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Thank you @Tin-Man,

Thank you @Tin-Man,

That was a very helpful comment and echoed a lot of my own thoughts on this.

I know my answer is 100% no, but it now feels like a case of putting this across in a way that isn't insulting.
After all, she was very polite and respectful when she asked and I wouldn't want to lower the bar so to speak.

Confrontation is always something that I have always tried to avoid and stay far away from.

And please, no need to apologise for the lengthy comment, I loved it. :)
Especially with the analogy of the visiting with friends and taking drinks with 'us', so to speak.
This really echoed how I felt at the time, after all, it is not as if I haven't been very clear in regards to my atheism.

Also, part of the 'mending of bridges' was an agreement to not discuss religion or politics anymore,
this to me felt like a violation of this, despite when I believe was honest intentions on her behalf.

LogicFTW's picture
I think you got a good handle

I think you got a good handle on this now TheBlindWatchmaker

Remember you all love each other, and this should be fine. It is also a big factor that you both agreed to not talk religion/politics anymore, and that you recognize ultimately your mom does not purposely want to do you or your kid harm.

Conflict does suck, especially with parents, but just about all of us has dealt with conflict with our parents, very much not alone in that.

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Thank you Logic, I certainly

Thank you Logic, I certainly am trying to do my best in the situation.

It has not been without difficulty and it has heightened my difficulties in dealing with anxiety,
but I certainly feel that my though processes were rational and fair.

That said, I feel so much better having an outlet such as here, in order to post my concerns.

So many like minded people, most of whom appear to have already been down this path.


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