New here, have some unrelated parenting ?s dealing w holidays

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MammaBearJo's picture
New here, have some unrelated parenting ?s dealing w holidays

Hello! I just signed up, excited to check out this site and all it has to offer. However, given the season, I'm much more prompted to ask opinions and such than a simple hello. I have a 5 year old that has become quite observant and otherwise impressionable, and I am having problems specifically with one household within our family. What's left of my family celebrates Christmas, and I respect it because they are free to worship and celebrate, just as we all have that freedom to religion. I've made it abundantly clear we are not religious, and I am making a point to educate my son before he makes that choice for himself. We only celebrate so much that my son doesn't feel alienated, gets/gives gifts, eats with everyone, etc. My grandfather hosts specifically for Christmas Eve every year, and his recent wife is treading on thin ice with me..she will seek my son out after prayer (I've taught my son to simply bow his head as to be respectful of it) and confront him blatantly in front of everyone, insisting you say AMEN everyone must say AMEN. This lady loses her marbles every time and makes him feel alienated, not to mention confused, as to what this word implies, much less means. She's approached me trying to force us to services etc, but I simply refuse as I was forced enough as a child and am well aware of the damage it can cause. I'm Agnostic. I don't know what this life holds, so I don't waste my effort pushing my ideals onto others and I pride myself on being a fair person. Honestly though? I wanted to punch her teeth down her throat last time and that isn't a typical thought for me. But the look on my son's face and the pure hate on breaks my heart for my son. But my grandfather is the elder of my family and I respect him more than I can put into words. We celebrate for the ideals of giving and family, which I can definitely stand behind. But what should I do? I feel the need to approach her, yet am at a loss as to if she would even listen, or how to word it so as she actually heeds my words.



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SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
Hi MBJ and welcome to the AR.

Hi MBJ and welcome to the AR.

That's got to be super frustrating. You put in the work of teaching your child what you think is right and here comes your grandfathers wife causing confusion. The thing is, she probably STRONGLY believes what she's doing is right. So I'm not sure how willing she would be to respect your secular wishes. On the other hand, You have all the power as a parent to teach your child how to think rather than what to think. I just think it's better if at an early age, a person learns that they shouldn't feel guilty for their curiosity and that they can ask questions without reservation.They tend to make more informed decisions.

Also, how does your grandfather feel about all this? Could he help?

LogicFTW's picture


Tough situation to be in. Your grandfather and especially his wife are being totally unfair to you. Trying to push their unsupported opinion on you and your son. While you may be a guest in their house, I highly doubt it they would be willing to do the same courtesy you do for them (be respectful and even bow your heads in silence during their prayer ritual) if the roles were reversed. Do you think they would even consider for a second if they visited your home on christmas that if you spent a few minutes talking about how ridiculous all religions are that they would just respectfully stay silent and respect your opinion, and say they brought another young great grand kid of theirs to your house that they would be okay with you explaining your opinion that god is a giant lie to them and (the great grand kid from one of their other kids,) should stop going to sunday school/church?

I would suggest taking them aside and saying you will respect their beliefs and that you want to spend Christmas with them but that they need to show you the same courtesy and respect your beliefs and how you want to raise your own kid. If they are not amenable to this, perhaps suggesting they can spend a few minutes talking about their beliefs and opinions but you are allowed to do the same, explain that for every minute you guys listen to their opinions and beliefs its only fair that everyone listens to your opinions and beliefs respectfully too. I find most of the time the people would rather simply not talk about it rather then face listening to your beliefs and opinion and being respectful about it.

A crude example but: say they want to spend 1 minute bowing their heads in prayer, you can spend 1 minute talking about the latest scientific discovery that shows the noah story is utter bulls**t. If they want to invite your and your kid to go to church on sunday, you can invite them or another mother/son at the table to perhaps an atheist social gathering, or watch Neil Degrasse Tyson explain the cosmos etc.

Another favorite of mine is bringing up atheist quotes from the likes of Einstein or other highly respected highly intelligent individuals, as a sort of "counter" to prayer as a: -my turn- sort of thing.



▮          I am an atheist that always likes a good debate.          ▮
▮   Please include @LogicFTW in responses directed to me.    ▮
▮        Useful list on forum usage. A.R. Member since 2016.      ▮

CyberLN's picture
Hi Jo, welcome to A R. Lots

Hi Jo, welcome to A R. Lots of folks go thru stuff like this, especially during the holidays. When you stop and think about it, tho, religion isn’t required for the existence of assholes. They will be around with or without it. As a parent, you get to be front and center in the decision about what to teach your son about how to respond to them. I’d suggest you use this as an opportunity to provide him with the tools to deal with what he will encounter (assholes) on and off for the rest of his life. Providing him with this skill set will provide a lot of dividends in the years to come.

Rohan M.'s picture
Welcome to ARep, sister! Feel

Welcome to ARep, sister! Feel free to join our family.

It sounds like you’re in a pretty tough situation. As others on here have noted, it appears to me that your grandfather’s wife is not being very fair to you or your son. >:(

I would suggest that you privately talk to your son and tell him to not be ashamed of not being religious, and tell him that if he doesn’t want to join in the family prayers, then you and him can just feel free to just stand there and patiently wait for everyone else to finish, and then bow your heads down and fold your hands when the time comes for them to say “Amen” and say it with them, so as to make it seem like you were praying. That’s what I always do at Scout meetings when it’s time for prayers at the beginning, and also when everyone else in my family says prayers at the end of a vacation with my grandparents.

Or, if you don’t want to fake anything, then just stand there and wait. If your grandfather’s wife really insists that your son pray, then tell him to do what I suggested in the above paragraph.

I hope your relationship with your family stays nice and healthy, and Goatspeed! Don’t let theists get you down.

arakish's picture
@ MamaBear

@ MamaBear

Additionally, explain to them what the First Amendment says. The one part in particular, "the free exercise of religion," or the lack thereof. Basically, it states that ALL persons have the right to believe what they wish to believe. Kind of like my Fourth Commandment of Humanity:

"You shall respect the right of ALL persons to believe whatsoever they wish to believe; even if contradictory to your beliefs. You may discuss beliefs; however, forcing your beliefs onto others is condemnable."

Also notice this Commandment says nothing about respecting the beliefs themselves, just the right of the person to have them.

As others stated, I would have a heart-to-heart discussion with them. Tell them you have your beliefs, they have theirs, and forcing their beliefs onto you and/or your child is condemnable. They do not have to like it, but by law they have to respect it.

As for an example, this past Thanksgiving, I had dinner at me mom's with her brother, one his friends, me brother, and his son. Everybody else said a prayer. I did not. Nor did I participate. In other words, I did not bow my head, nor did I say Amen afterwords. Later on, my uncle's friend and I were washing, rinsing, drying the dishes and while we were alone she asked me why. I simply said I am atheist. But also I am an anti-theist and anti-religionist. And, yes, in some things, I am agnostic. We then began discussing why I am atheist, with everyone else leaving us alone, and she really seemed very interested in what I had to say. Who knows. I may have planted some seeds.

Let me shut up before I cannot stop. Sometimes I can be quite verbose.


Rohan M.'s picture
Same here! When commenting on

Same here! When commenting on this forum, I often end up writing entire essays of responses! LOL

Cognostic's picture
Unfortunately, you have run

Unfortunately, you have run into a "Loving Christian" who want's to prevent you from damning your child to eternal torment. It's a sad thing that we can not make these assholes eat their own bibles.

Matt Dillahaunty has a solution that he used on his family. You may need to tell her forcefully to keep her "fking" opinion to herself and to leave your child alone. At the same time, work into the conversation the idea that if her god is all powerful and omnipotent and all that other crap, that she should pray to her god to change your mind and leave you the fk alone. After all, if her god answers prayers, and if her god is all powerful, then she can pray to it and allow her god to take care of it. Matt obviously sells the idea more eloquently.

"If there is such a being as a god, he would know exactly what would change my mind. He is capable of changing my mind. Obviously you have not talked to him because what you are saying is not working. Why don't you pray to your god and when he gives you the answer that will change my mind, then come and talk to me. "

"Why don't you love your god? Why don't you trust your god? Obviously you don't. He made me an atheist and you think he is wrong for doing so. Shouldn't you be talking to your god and not to me."

Obviously if god is all powerful and prayer works, they should be talking to their god and not to you.

Rohan M.'s picture
Oh, it then again, he gave

Oh, but then again, he gave us free will... he just s wants us to use it exactly as he commands us to, so that he can save us from what he will do us if we don’t symbolically eat the flesh and drink the blood of his son (who was also him) and telepathically tell him that we are ready to stop using our heads and believe in ghost stories, dead people magically re-animating themselves 3 days after kicking the bucket, and talking snakes convincing women created from ribs and magic to eat apples- all so that he can remove an evil force from our bodies that is present in humanity because some lady was trolled into eating an apple.

And if you don’t believe all of this without question, God will show you His Love.

MammaBearJo's picture
I tend to get a bit wordy

I tend to get a bit wordy with things like this, as well. Thank you so much for the welcome and input. My main hangup is the wife here..unfortunately my grandfather is up there in age and hard of hearing so he is unaware she has been doing this. He wasn't happy to know I'm not religious, but he knows I'm an altruist so found no faults with it. It's pretty much been an issue since my son could talk with her. I asked her to refrain from it a couple years back to no avail. Last Christmas I mom eyed her so hard she looked fit to shit herself, but as she's quite persistent I am certain she will do a repeat performance. Thanksgiving was elsewhere this year thankfully, in my uncle's home with mixed religions in the household, so they were respectful and only asked what everyone was thankful for. Honestly? Thought that was an amazing compromise. However, at my grandfather's they do this giant circle of everyone holding hands..and she makes sure to be near my son. I was thinking of pushing him further out from her this year, but for my sanity's sake I've been trying to come up with a civil solution. Just trying to find a respectful tactful way of solving this without having to make a scene. Still rolling it over in my head, really.

David Killens's picture
Unfortunately MammaBearJo,

Unfortunately MammaBearJo, your reluctance to make any noise allows her to walk all over you.

If you wish to break this cycle, you must make a stand. It does not have to be loud or have anger, but she needs to be told in no uncertain terms to butt out. But the most difficult part comes .. what would be the consequences? Personally, I am quite extreme on these matters, and at the first offense, I would take my child and leave. All I would say is that I am leaving because of HER harassment.

There are different levels of consequences, choose very carefully.

Cognostic's picture

Here is a link for you right on this site.

I live in Korea and buy most of the books I read used.

MammaBearJo's picture
I've unfortunately already

I've unfortunately already faced it to a degree with her, but it's honestly more harmful as my son ages. @Cognostic thank you so much for that link I should have known there would be something like that on this page lol. Oh I love Thriftbooks, I order from them all the time. =)

Cognostic's picture


Tin-Man's picture
Hey there, MammaBear. Sorry I

Hey there, MammaBear. Sorry I'm a little late chiming in here. Welcome to the AR. Hate that you are having to deal with such a tough situation. Looks like you have been getting some good advice, though. We do have some great folks around here. For what it's worth, here are a couple of my own thoughts on the subject of your grandfather's wife....

Based on how you said she acts with your son, I can totally understand your anger and frustration. And, honestly, you are being much nicer about it than I probably would be at this point.... *chuckle*... Still, I also understand your respect for your grandfather and trying not to cause too much of a fuss for him. That being said, if you play your cards right, this could end up working in your favor and be a valuable learning/growing experience for your son. You said he is five, and he is very observant and inquisitive, right? Guessing he is a fairly smart little fella, too. Excellent. Use that to your advantage. As your son at his age, he will naturally take his cues on how to act and respond to things based on how YOU (his mommy) act and respond to things. If, for example, the step-grandmother happens to pull him aside and try to embarrass him in front of others regarding his not saying, "Amen", you could immediately walk over beside him and tell him in front of her loud enough for everybody to hear, "It is okay if you do not say "Amen". Mommy does not say it either." And then look directly at the grandmother. Personally, I would make my voice very cheery and happy sounding, and have a big smile plastered on my face the whole time. Then, as soon as possible afterward, I would take your son aside and explain to him the meaning of why people say prayer and "amen" and why you choose not to do so. (Okay, you may have already explained these things to him, I realize, but reinforcing does not hurt.) And, if time/circumstances permit, I would also explain to him (in kid terms) that his grandmother is not actually trying to be mean to him on purpose. It is just that she believes she is doing what she thinks is best for him, but sometimes people do "bad" things while thinking they are doing a "good" thing. Basically, word it however you need to do that will allow him to understand. Very important, though, is that you do not "talk bad about her" or make disparaging remarks about her to him. (Save all of your bad remarks about her for us on here. lol) Keep in mind, I don't know your entire situation or how your son actually feels about her, so feel free to toss out any of the stuff I say if it does not apply to you. Look at it this way, though..... If your step-grandmother is the one acting angry/hateful/condescending toward you and your son, then she is likely the one he will end up relating mostly to religion/Christianity, right? At the same time, if you are the one acting nonchalant and smiling and having a good attitude about everything, then you are the one he will associate with non-religion. Basically, it looks to me like the grandmother is shooting herself in her own foot. Use her own motion against her like judo and aikido. Personally, I am a big fan of allowing people to dig their own holes.... *mischievous grin*... Anyway, just my two cents worth...

Meanwhile, if you want to chill a bit, stroll on over to the "Why can't all see the truth" thread in the Debate forum. We're having eggnog there... *chuckle*

Rohan M.'s picture
And don’t forget your bingo

And don’t forget your bingo sheet when you go to the debate room...

Cognostic's picture
Jesus is Santa Claus for big

Jesus is Santa Claus for big people.
I had to go and look at some of these "children's books." I am LAUGHING MY ASS OFF. These are great.


Attach Image/Video?: 

Cognostic's picture
Ha ha ha ha ha !

Ha ha ha ha ha !


Attach Image/Video?: 

Cognostic's picture
Only Joking. I would not

Only Joking. I would not share these stories with children. Unless they were really really bad. Then I would sit them in the corner and force them to read their Bible stories. :-)

Bad Santa's picture
That is a fucking imposter

That is a fucking imposter Cog... It's not me... Not fair!!!

Diotrephes's picture


If you really want to screw with your grandfather's wife you can quote some Bible verses to her.

1. Jesus said that people should do their praying in private in a closet, which is why you don't go in for that public praying BS.
Matthew 6:5-8 (CEV) = "5 When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward.

6 When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.

7 When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. 8 Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask."

2. You did some genological research and you found out that one of your ancestors was a bastard so, per Deuteronomy 23:2, you can't enter the assembly of the Lord because 10 generations haven't pass. It's not your fault but it's the rule. That might piss your grandfather off so be carefule with that nuke.
Deuteronomy 23:2 (NKJV) = 2 “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord."

3. You were reading the Bible and it says in Titus 1:14 that people shouldn't believe in Jewish fairy tales.
Titus 1:14 (CEV) = "14 Don’t pay any attention to any of those senseless Jewish stories and human commands. These are made up by people who won’t obey the truth."
Since that is what the Bible is about how can you believe any of it?

4. Proverbs 5:8 (CEV) = "Stay away from a bad woman. Don't even go near the door of her house". Since she is acting bad you might soon have to take that advice.

5. Proverbs 21:9 (TLB) = "It is better to live in the corner of an attic than with a crabby woman in a lovely home."

6. Proverbs 21:19 (KJV) = "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman."

7: Proverbs 27:15 (TLB) = "A constant dripping on a rainy day and a cranky woman are much alike!"

8. Colossians 2:16 (CEV) = "Don’t let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don’t let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival."

9. The Bible says that people should mind their own business so why are you minding mine?
1 Thessalonians 4:11 (TLB) = "This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and doing your own work, just as we told you before."

If you play those cards it might keep you from getting upset. If she doesn't take the hints tell your grandfather he is welcome to vist but to leave the crab at home.

arakish's picture
Yep. You can also tell your

Yep. You can also tell your kid that Christians are the first one to disobey their Holy Book.


Cognostic's picture
Something that popped up

Something that popped up (Secular Parenting Meetups) Is there one near you?

MammaBearJo's picture
Sorry I've been MIA I was a

Sorry I've been MIA I was a victim of a pretty brutal hit and run and things have been stressful to say the least. I'm keeping everything in mind and planning on playing it all by ear. And I checked out my area, and it's one lone guy in my area who's like an hour or so out. And I'm certainly not looking for any weird hookup scenarios.. O.o

arakish's picture
MamaBearJo Re: "any weird

MamaBearJo Re: "any weird hookup scenarios"

Definitely do not want any of that. You be careful, ya hear?! Always remember, we are for you. Even if all you want to do is rant and rave. Can't keep that stuff bottled up. Again, be careful. Be wary.

The hit and run thing I hope was the car and not you. Can't have no harm to that beauty, if avatar is you.

Above all other considerations, be careful. We are here for you.


Cognostic's picture
Sorry to hear it. Take care

Sorry to hear it. Take care of yourself first. Be sure to record everything should you have any contact . And certainly, be careful, there is at least one person I am aware of who relies on you.

Be safe.

Rohan M.'s picture
Oh my goodness. What do you

Oh my goodness. What do you think their intentions were/are?

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