Religious Inlaws

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smjandj's picture
Religious Inlaws

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Nyarlathotep's picture
I've never really been in

I've never really been in your situation, so I'm just spitballing here:

Perhaps you should be even more direct. Consider telling her that the only way you would be willing to trust her to have unsupervised time with your children, is if she agrees to your conditions. Perhaps have her sign a written, EXPLICIT, promise to never discuss religion in any way with your kids (perhaps until they are a certain age of your choosing). And make her agree that if you so much as even suspect she has violated this, that she will lose the privilege of having unsupervised time.

LogicFTW's picture


My husband and I are non-believers. I am an atheist, he considers himself agnostic.

Don't want to go to far off topic, but I want to check to know if you guys carefully looked up the words atheist and agnostic. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. You can be both, I consider myself atheist and agnostic. (atheist = not theist) and agnostic = I do not know everything. In my opinion everyone is agnostic. And everyone is born atheist.

We do not think it is our place to impose any beliefs on them

I think this is great, and makes you that much better of a parent. Children are young and impressionable and are vulnerable to what I consider the old perpetual con that is religion. Especially if it comes from the parents.

We did allow them to accompany them to church, which looking back wasn't the best choice.

Maybe not, if it is just a church sermon (not some sort of special side class for young children,) it is probably fine because they would of likely gotten bored, fidgety and uncomfortable, placing a negative connotation for them for religion in an early age. But if they took your kids to get something sweet after or rewarded them somehow, be wary, the brainwashing begins. It does however sound like some conditioning might have been done which is a bit scary, but kids are malleable with you being a reasonable guiding force in their lives I do not think you have to worry to much. But I am no parent myself, and I agree other people giving advice on how to raise kids is rude at best.

One day, MIL was visiting and my youngest (5 at the time) said "Mommy why don't you believe in Jesus?"

Now that to me looks like a conditioned almost programed question, and is a bit scary. I doubt they came up with that all on their own. A real reason for alarm and investigation to understand and fix.

Two days later, an Amazon prime package arrived. It was a kids prayer book.

I am a "strong" atheist. I was lucky enough to have my parents shelter me from religion. My grandmother of whom was quite religious, actually made a grievous mistake unbeknownst to her, first she sent me Aesop's fables, then after I read that, she sent me the children's version of the bible. I was around your kids age, it had the OPPOSITE effect on me. I read aesop's fables and understood they were just stories with some sort of morale story, (of which most flew right over my head at the time.) And without the pretext of christianity/religion and the supposed significance of the bible, I read the children's version of the bible, I read it with the same frame of mind as aesop's fables. Stories, perhaps with a point it was trying to get across, but I understood it all to be fiction. The "damage" was done, I considered it all stories, and later when I discussed the book with my parents I was actually shocked to learn people considered those events to be real. While my parents being mostly atheist (they really just did not talk about it much,) was the biggest influencing factor, reading the bible in the frame of it is all made up silly stories showed me at a young age people believe crazy stuff.

"Tell mommy and daddy to read the book".

That is BS. I would be upset about that too. While I would try and "keep the peace" with the MiL, I would draw a hard line there and explain that is not acceptable. I would converse with your husband to get to an agreement point and have a united front on this.

My husband does not like to upset his mother which is why he responded the way he did. I told him we have to do something.

Coming from a married man that also has a mother, I can understand his tactic of "telling his mother what she wants to hear." I would personally just clarify with your husband that indeed he just told the mom what the mom wanted to hear to drop the subject instead of leaving on a sour note. I don't think you "have to" do something about the mom pressuring her son to read the bible if he never intends to actually read it. But the potential "brainwashing" that your MiL is trying to do to your kids I fully agree something must be done. You need to protect your kids from all forms of brainwashing. And make no mistake that is what your MiL is taking part in, even if she (most likely) does not even realize it.

We decided not to confront her since we thought the distance would solve the problem.

I would of thought the same. I read this and thought yay problem solved, (except I noticed you had plenty more written.)

She would ask them almost every time they talked if they did them and they said no.

How often do they talk? If it is once a week or less the problem is not as big as if she talks to them almost daily.

One of these flyers taught kids that they were dirty and accepting Jesus was the only way to get "clean". To me, it sounded terrible and wrong. What a sick thing to tell a fragile young mind.

Fully agree. Terrible.

Final straw for me was her asking them to pray with her and watching them go through all the motions via video chat. My husband was at work and when he came home I told him this has to stop.

Fully agree.

basically placed all blame on us.

Ugh, your MiL issues stems beyond fervent religion mongering.

I didn't respond, but looking back I should have.

Maybe, if you felt you needed to for yourself. I probably would not of responded. Do know this: you are not going to change your MiL mind on this. You probably already know this, but also realize you are likely not going to change your MiL mind on also proselytizing to your kids. Just know that going forward, factor that into your plans on how to deal with this.

She made it a point to ask both kids if they knew what day it was individually. My husband said to let it go. I was irritated but did let it go.

To me this is not a very big deal. While kids constantly surprise me with their intelligence, easter is still more about candy and time with the family then it is about some vague god notion at their current age.

finally stood up for myself and it felt great.

Good on you!

Since all of this has happened, just the thought of her gives me extreme anxiety.

This is an issue, I could say "don't let her have this power over you" but I know it is not that simple. I have a step mother of whom I deeply dislike, not so much for religion reasons (although she is somewhat religious,) but due to deep political and ideological differences. For me it is pretty easy to avoid her 99% of the time so I cannot fully relate, but when I lived with her when I was younger it did create a lot of friction and tension. These days I just feel sorry for her, she is one of the most miserable, saddest, angry persons I have the misfortune to know. Your MiL may not know it, so perhaps incase she does not, tell her she, not you is creating a divide between you, her son, and her grandkids. This is not on you, you tried to tolerate it. Perhaps she may be amenable to a compromise. You guys and the grandkids can be a part of her life, as long as she keeps the religious part out of it. Unfortunately I know all to well from my own experiences quite often these people are pretty unreasonable when it comes to their religion and pushing it on others. One tactic I have done is "equal" discussion time. She can talk to you and your grandkids about her religion, while you get to spend equal amount of time talking to her about your belief system. If she wants 5 minutes to talk about her god, while on a video conference with you and your kids, you get 5 minutes to talk about why there is no god. If she interrupts you, you get to interrupt her (point this out, people are quite often not aware,) If she does not want to "talk about it anymore" then you get the same option, etc. I find quite often people do one of 2 things. Not talk about religion anymore in front of you, or not talk to you at all. If your MiL truly loves you and your grandkids, they will likely pick option one. If she does some completely unreasonable 3rd option, present this to your husband. You can easily record conversations if your husband needs "proof" to go against his mom. (It is hard for all of us to say "no" to our mothers even when we are adults with our own kids.)

Do you think I am overreacting?

Protecting your kids from indoctrination of religion? No, a mom should protect her kids. Not responding to your MiL when she upsets you? You need to be able to protect yourself.

Also realize, consciously or not, your mom is leveraging both the love you have for your husband and your husbands own love for his mom to push her religion thing on you and your kids. It is highly likely she does not see herself doing this at all her own religious indoctrination makes her think she is doing the loving and kind thing of saving you, her son and her grandkids from yourselves by being "evil" and not believing in god. She probably thinks you guys are very confused, perhaps even tricked by the devil to go down the "wrong path."

One thought that occurs to me is to get in the driver's seat: Invite your MiL to come visit, but there are your own house rules (your husband needs to be on board with this!) And those house rules include no religion discussion with you or your kids unless it is in a format of give and take. (Like I mentioned above with equal time and respect given.) Grit your teeth and give your MiL a call/video call but tell her at the start religion stays out of it. If she starts on about religion, (especially to your kids,) politely but firmly state she agreed not to do this and to stop, a 2nd violation = a hang up. I think some of the anxiety will possibly go away if you put your self in control and in the driver seat of the relation ship you and your grandkids have with your MiL.

I hope any of this helps.

If anything you know someone else that thinks similar to you has read this.


I am an atheist that always likes a good debate
Please include @LogicFTW for responses to me
Tips on forum use. ▮ A.R. Member since 2016.

CyberLN's picture
Hi smjandj, bottom line:

Hi smjandj, bottom line: your kids, your rules. You get to tell them to stop teaching your children these things are real.

I wonder how she would have reacted had her mother taught your spouse all about the truth of Thor.

Cognostic's picture
Someone needs to lay down the

Someone needs to lay down the law to MIL. It is your child. He will learn from you as that is the parent's job. MIL is not the parent. Her continued visitations are contingent on this simple fact sinking in.. BUTT THE FUCK OUT! Either you stop talking religious nonsense with the kids or you go find yourself a new set of grand kids to indoctrinate.

My only question would be "Why in the hell are you putting up with her nonsense.?"

(Wow, spell check did a number on my post. Edited for corrections.)

arakish's picture
I shall be terse. Here are

I shall be terse. Here are the definitions I have used for over 50 years.

  • Agnostic – This means nothing more than “without knowledge.”
    Agnostic, from the Greek: γνοσι (gnosi) = knowledge;
    ενα- [usually shortened to α-] (ena- [usually shortened to a-]) = to be without;
    thus, αγνοσι (agnosi) agnostic = to be without knowledge.
    I am agnostic in there are many things I do not know. Thus, I am without that knowledge, thus agnostic. Everyone is agnostic to a certain point. I cannot put this any simpler.
  • Atheist – If translated literally, this means “without god.”
    Atheist, from the Greek: θεος (theos) = God, Lord, Creator;
    ενα- [usually shortened to α-] (ena- [usually shortened to a-]) = to be without;
    thus, αθεος (atheos) atheist = to be without God.
    However, in today’s terminology, and more accurate, atheism actually means “a lack of or disbelief in any claims for the existence of any deity.”
  • Anti-theist – This one, in my definition, means exactly as it says; anti- = “against,” theist = “belief in one god.” Or better, “against belief in any deity.”
  • Anti-religionist – This one is exactly as it says: “against religion.”
  • Apistevist – lack of blind faith; one who does not rely on religious blind faith in order to discern true facts.

How about another example breakdown?

  • Agnosticism: I do NOT know whether an Umaäxalis (V: All Creator) and Athanorama (V: Lord Fatherer) exists or does not exist.
  • Atheism: I do NOT believe the preposterous claims without substantiation whether an Umaäxalis (V: All Creator) and Athanorama (V: Lord Fatherer) exists or does not exist.
  • Anti-theist: I am against believing the preposterous claims without substantiation in the existence/non-existence of Umaäxalis (V: All Creator) and Athanorama (V: Lord Fatherer).
  • Anti-religion: I am against all harmful religions that do believe without substantiation in the existence of an Umaäxalis (V: All Creator) and Athanorama (V: Lord Fatherer).
  • Apistevism: I refuse to utilize blind faith in believing without substantiation whether an Umaäxalis (V: All Creator) and Athanorama (V: Lord Fatherer) exists or does not exist.

I am ALL five of these. As LogicFTW said, they are not exclusive. They can be inclusive. Just depends on how far you carry your atheism.

By the way, regardless of how you and/or your husband believes, he is NOT just agnostic. If he does not believe in a deity, he is atheist. Even if he claims "I do not know" he is just a wishy-washy weenie afraid to admit he is atheist. There is no between. It is a binary choice. You are or are not a theist. Period. Exclamation Point!

As for any other family members, ALWAYS remember that they are YOUR children. It is YOUR law that dictates how you wish for them to be raised. If your family members do not like it, too bad for them.

Put your foot down. If they disobey, then more visitation rights. Period. Exclamation Point!


Rohan M.'s picture
Typical underhanded

Typical underhanded indoctrination tactics and then playing the victim. You're not overreacting at all. This kind of thing happens all the time. Since this mother-in-law apparently can't respect you and your immediate family's life choices, then it's not your fault- and really, you can't blame her either, as she was brainwashed into believing the fucked-up things that she believes from an early age- just as she wants to do with your kids.

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