Christmas in mixed religion households

(43 Posts)
EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 14:24:38

We are already arguing in my house about who will be going to church and when and with whom. Atheist DP thinks no-one should go at all ever. In the past I've gone with the DPs to midnight mass; the DCs have gone to a carol service or kids service in the run-up to Christmas but nothing on the day / eve. I'd be happy with that kind of compromise again, though DP feels more threatened by it all this year and wants to ban the DCs from going at all.

Do other families have this issue? Any ideas on good compromises?

ShesAStar Fri 25-Sep-15 14:33:21

Your DH isn't being fair. I am Jewish DHs family are Christian, I would never ever stop the DC going to a service they were interested in. It's half their culture/family's heritage. They have a right to explore religion for themselves. Also Christmas is a religious celebration - is he demanding they don't celebrate it? Will he join in? If so he is being very hypocritical.

holmessweetholmes Fri 25-Sep-15 14:41:44

Wow. Ban them from going?! Dh and I are both atheists but I love a nice carol service. I would never go to midnight mass (past my bedtime grin). But I'd be more than happy to go to a carol service with the dc if they wanted to go. Dh probably wouldn't bother. But he's in a brass band, so will have spent weeks playing carols and will be heartily sick of them!

Although we really are staunch atheists (including the dc, aged 7 and 10, who are as atheist as you can be at that age), we (well I, at least - dh is a grinch!) adopt an 'appreciation of our cultural traditions' kind of attitude to Christmas. None of us is about to get converted, so we don't feel threatened by it at all.

EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 16:00:51

holmes that is the issue I guess. Vaguely cultural education has been our reason before. This year I've 'come out' as a sort of Christian, so that's why it's suddenly threatening. The DC are v unlikely to say whether or not they'd like to go as they won't want to take sides, so we will need to just present it as it is.

What I wanted to know is how other families who disagree about this issue generally make arrangements at Christmas?

PurpleDaisies Fri 25-Sep-15 16:12:25

My husband and I are Christians, some of our family are and some aren't. Just as it would be totally unfair of us to try and make everyone come to church, no one would be ok to say that people who want to go shouldn't. After all, for Christians Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ!

We all do what we want to do and enjoy the time we spend together. How old are your kids? Could they say what they'd prefer to do and would your dh agree to stick to that (even if it means they go to church)?

goblinhat Fri 25-Sep-15 16:38:19

Christmas is a religious celebration

Not for everyone.

PurpleDaisies Fri 25-Sep-15 16:40:54

Absolutely goblin but would you ban people who wanted to go to church from going?

AliMonkey Fri 25-Sep-15 16:45:37

I'm a Christian. DH isn't. Our families aren't. I usually take the kids to a crib service on Christmas Eve. I go to the late night communion service as well. If we are at home for Christmas then I go on my own to my church. If we are staying with family then DH comes with me to support me (as I'll be going somewhere I'm not familiar with). However I don't go to a Christmas Day service as I would like to, which is the compromise I make.

If DH is against you taking kids to church at Christmas then maybe suggest that as he doesn't want to celebrate then no presents for him this year?

goblinhat Fri 25-Sep-15 16:48:55

purple- of course not. I am an atheist and I have been known to go for a tipsy singalong. grin

But then I am an adult and immune to christian indoctrination.

PurpleDaisies Fri 25-Sep-15 17:03:49

Carol services are always better if the mulled wine is served at the beginning! grin

PesoPenguin Fri 25-Sep-15 17:08:27

I think your dh is being incredibly unfair. Where's the harm in attending one carol service? They're hardly going to become indoctrinated. What do your dc want to do? IMHO banning religion is just as bad as forcing it upon someone. In fact by banning it, he is forcing his beliefs on his children. It should be a choice, if they want to go they go; if not, they don't.

PurpleDaisies Fri 25-Sep-15 17:19:48

Usually banning someone from doing something makes them really want to do it, even if they were only half hearted about it before...

GinandJag Fri 25-Sep-15 17:26:32

I could not have married an atheist, especially a controlling one.

In this country, we have freedom of religion, and that should be within a family as well as for the general community.

EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 17:46:05

yes purple that has been the effect of DP's horror at my initially half-serious attempts to go... so she's well aware of that pitfall. I will remind her wink

ginandjag she married an atheist. so did I. I moved the goalposts as it were, to be fair to her.

peso how do we go about finding out if they would want to go when they know that if they say yes M1 is sad and if they say no M2 is sad... ? I don't think we can reasonably ask them to decide

goblinhat Fri 25-Sep-15 17:54:13

It's no a "mixed religion" home though is it?

Atheism is not a religion.

EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 17:58:55

goblin sorry, I don't get you. I am a Christian, DP isn't. That's kind of mixed, no? Is it a pendant point? In which case I agree. My bad. Or did you mean something else?

WorzelsCornyBrows Fri 25-Sep-15 17:59:48

DH and I are both atheists but we love a good Christmas carol service and I'm mega excited for DD's first nativity play.

Your DH is being unreasonable.

EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 18:02:07

pedant, not pendant!

PesoPenguin Fri 25-Sep-15 18:06:33

I thint that's kind of my point; your dh shouldn't be putting them in the position of feeling guilty for wanting to go to a flaming carol concert ( although you shouldn't be making them feel guilty if they don't want to too). It's not fair on the kids.

goblinhat Fri 25-Sep-15 18:11:38

I don't think it is a pedant point, I think it's quite important.

Your OH is atheist- all kids are born with no belief too. Presumably your OH wants to keep them that way.
THis isn't a conflict between two faiths, it's a conflict between indoctrination or none.

EdithSimcox Fri 25-Sep-15 18:12:06

No of course not. We're not. They would be astonished that we are even talking about it. But if it did come up, they would almost certainly just go with the flow. Which means that we need to pre-decide what flow they are expected to go with... does that make sense?
With the best will in the world I'm not sure it would be possible to present it as a purely open question. It would go like this:
'do you want to go to a carol service this year?'
'are you going?
'yes'
'is M1 going?'
'no'
'I don't know then'

PurpleDaisies Fri 25-Sep-15 18:35:45

You and your dp need to work out some way to make the kids feel like it's ok whether then go or not. That's not a conversation to have around the kids.

I think it would be better for them to actively choose up go to the church service so you could concede that the default will be that they're not coming unless they say they want to. It would be really unfair to put them in the position of choosing which parent they want to upset so you and your dp need to try and come to some sort of agreement about it before involving them.

NeverNic Fri 25-Sep-15 21:44:50

I agree with Peso's first point and with Purple. Make it 'would you like to come' rather than 'you must pick'.

I would say that you have as much right though to encourage your Christian views as he does to encourage atheism.

goblinhat Fri 25-Sep-15 21:53:21

encourage atheism.

But atheism is the default position. Children are born without knowledge of a god or any belief in one. Atheism has no dogma- it is a lack of belief.

You talk of "rights". What about the rights of the children?

Perhaps this father want his children to grow up unbiased so they have a clean slate to decide for themselves which faith if any they choose to follow.

I would agree if the OP and her OH were at odds over Christianity or Islam for instance- in which case each would have an equal "right" to impose their faith.
But bringing up a child free of indoctrination is simply preserving their right to choose for themselves when they are consenting adults.

The child's rights are far more important that the parents'.

NeverNic Fri 25-Sep-15 22:39:53

Okay, I think it is getting a bit AIBU. Maybe my choice of 'right' isn't correct here, but blanket banning them going to any service to me says that he is enforcing his non-belief, and that doesn't sound fair to Op or his children because it's removing any aspect of choice when it was there before. This situation is one that's only happened since op became more committed. Last year her husband permitted his children going to services, so the children haven't been brought up purely as atheists. Also I don't think any child becomes a practicing Christian off the back of a carol service.

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