Author Topic: Belief in Angels  (Read 262 times)

momewrath

  • Padawan Learner
  • Posts: 7
Belief in Angels
« on: January 23, 2011, 08:59:17 PM »
Hi everyone, I'm new here and I have a 2 month old and very religious (Bahai) MIL. Just looking for some WWYD advice in this situation:

My husband's father has been deceased for 8 years. I never met him. My MIL over the years has given us various gifts and cards, which she always signed from herself and "Angel Poppy" or "Angel James". I mentioned it to my husband that it's kind of odd. A few times she has even gone to the lengths of including a cut-out photo-copy of his signature. Clearly, she has issues getting over his death and I feel bad for her about that. Of course I never said anything to her about it. But since I was pregnant and then gave birth to my son, we've had a new influx of gifts (mostly books) which she writes on the inside a dedication and signs them from her dead husband "Angel Poppy". Over xmas I bit my tongue about this and the hallmark cards recordable storybook "Bright and Beautiful - A Child's Blessing" which states that God created everything in a sort of non-denominational way. My MIL lives far away so I let it slide.

After her visit over the holidays, she sent me an email saying she enjoyed her visit. There was a long P.S. about how she knows Angel James is watching over us and is with his grandson all the time, etc etc. This was the first time I said anything to her about this and I replied that "I don't believe in God or angels, but I appreciate your thoughts. This year will be the 10th anniversary of my own father's death and I'm sure he would have been thrilled with his grandson. DS will have know his grandfathers through our stories and memories of them." Then I asked her for some pictures of her husband to put in DS's baby book. I thought I handled it very tactfully. She knows I am an atheist because we never had a wedding because of all the religious garbage that our families wanted us to associate with it.

So I thought she'd get the message and lay off. She's a public school teacher so she should know how to handle children without forcing religion on them. But she sent us another box of books... and in each one, she signed them from "Angel Poppy" and in some wrote about how God created and loves my son.

Now my son is only 2 months old, so this isn't affecting him. But I worry that if I continue to brush it off, it's going to snowball and she's going to keep pushing religion and serious belief in fantasy creatures on my son. I even worry about the books, because when DS is old enough to read he's going to ask "who's Angel Poppy?" "why isn't your dad an angel too?" etc.

My husband hates to even talk about this (he's ex-Bahai & agnostic), and is inclined just to let his mother do whatever she wants. I have an open line of communication with her, so I feel like I can deal with this directly. The question is, should I say anything more or wait until my son is older (with the hopes that she'll be more respectful) to ask her to please stop doing this. And what could I say to make my point more clear? I don't want to seem rude or ungrateful for her gifts. Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

Tank

  • Fed up with stupid.
  • Administrator
  • Excellent and Indefatigable Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 28855
  • Gender: Male
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2011, 09:15:19 PM »
Interesting problem. If I were you I would do my best to let your MIL do what she likes and do my best to ignore it. Eventually your son will start asking questions and as his Mum he will listen to you before his grandma. As long as you and your husband present a united front with regard to how you see the world then you will be Ok. Your son will have to face convinced and convincing theists throughout his life so you can't protect him from them and your MIL is a perfect example for you to use. You can say your world view differs from her and explain that it's perfectly Ok for different people to believe different things and still be friends.

If I were you I'd save your powder for later and not put any unnecessary stress into you and your husbands life.

Regards
Chris
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett

terranus

  • Out of the Religious Closet
  • **
  • Posts: 422
    • http://www.terranus.org/
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 05:14:08 AM »
Eh, I understand your concern for your baby. But really, when it comes to in-laws, you have to pick and choose your battles wisely. And trust me, adding a signature from "Angel Poppy" is really nothing to be concerned about. I'm sure your Mother-in-Law isn't willfully doing this just to piss you off or to try and convert your 2 month old. She's probably just overjoyed and trying to do the best she can as a grandmother. Give it time, if the fraudulent signatures don't decrease, you can at least be assured that the # of gifts will. Coming from someone who had 2 dead and 2 completely insane Grandparents growing up, I know I would've loved to receive a gift from any of them, dead or alive, and possibly even if it was signed by Hitler himself. In fact, the only thing I ever got from my grandparents was a Bible - and it came from my dead Grandmother by way of her will, which said that it was to be given to any future grandchildren she may have. Even though I'm an atheist...I still have that bible.
Trovas Veron!
--terranus | http://terranus.org--

momewrath

  • Padawan Learner
  • Posts: 7
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 04:39:28 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I supposed I'll continue to cut her some slack, but I can't help feeling disrespected (I feel like my atheism should be respected in the same way as any other religion!) I do think including her 8 yrs dead husband in every gift is odd, and teaches a poor way to deal with death imo. If it were one or two things like "your grandfather would have wanted you to have this", it'd be normal, but it's not like that at all. And part of me *does* think she's doing it on purpose. She chose to raise her children in a different religion from her parents so I'd expect her to be a little more sensitive about these things. If anything resembling a prayer book or bible comes our way, I'm definitely putting my foot down. But for the time being, I will just let it go... Thanks again.

The Magic Pudding

  • The black swan of trespass
  • Blessing Her Holy Hooves
  • *****
  • Posts: 4913
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 07:28:12 AM »
Didn't Archaeopteryx prove the existence of angels?  :)
And isn't google a wonderful thing, figuring out that my mangled spelling was really meant to be Archaeopteryx.

Tank

  • Fed up with stupid.
  • Administrator
  • Excellent and Indefatigable Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 28855
  • Gender: Male
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 01:50:56 PM »
Quote from: "momewrath"
Thanks for the replies. I supposed I'll continue to cut her some slack, but I can't help feeling disrespected (I feel like my atheism should be respected in the same way as any other religion!) I do think including her 8 yrs dead husband in every gift is odd, and teaches a poor way to deal with death imo. If it were one or two things like "your grandfather would have wanted you to have this", it'd be normal, but it's not like that at all. And part of me *does* think she's doing it on purpose. She chose to raise her children in a different religion from her parents so I'd expect her to be a little more sensitive about these things. If anything resembling a prayer book or bible comes our way, I'm definitely putting my foot down. But for the time being, I will just let it go... Thanks again.
If you get a bible then read it to your son, but explain it's just a story with some good morality and bad morality and was written thousands of years ago when people were ignorant of how things really worked and also hadn't reached our current level of understanding of right and wrong. Change a vice into a virtue!
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett

Whitney

  • Global Moderator
  • Don't Pray in My School, and I Won't Think in Your Church
  • *****
  • Posts: 7358
  • Gender: Female
  • Mysteriously Absent - Like God
    • http://fellowshipoffreethought.org
Re: Belief in Angels
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 04:53:37 PM »
I recently attended a workshop on parenting without religion hosted by Richard Haynes (aka brother richard).  He's an ex minister who has kids and due to his being fairly well known in the ministry they all caught grief after his deconversion.

I was pretty tired when I was there (was at the end of a 3 day convention I was helping organize) but what I took away from it is that he doesn't think there is any harm in allowing kids to  be exposed to religion.  I believe the same advice is given in the book "parenting beyoned belief," that you can consider this exposure teaching and discussion moments (as is age appropriate).  

I think the basic premise is that if you give your child a good foundation in skepticism and rational thinking the will be able to filter out the bs on their and will grow up to be freethinkers and that as long as they have this foundation they probably aren't going to join up with a crazy religion even if they do decide to believe in a god.