AIBU for not wanting my MIL to discuss Jesus and heaven with my 5 year old?

(1000 Posts)
Spearshake Tue 04-Aug-15 13:29:37

I was just having breakfast with my 5 year old son and he asked me, 'do only people who love Jesus go to heaven?; I asked him who told you that.
Unfortunately, my tone must have been a bit sharp (hey, first thing in the morning) so he said, 'I don't know'

(I know it's his grandma though (my MIL) because she has been staying with us for the last week and we haven't been in contact with anyone else who is likely to make such comments) Unless he has been on the evangelical channels again

The problem is that I am an atheist, so I have a tough time with such discussions. He asked me what God is the other day, and I asked him to wait until his father gets home and he can answer (he was brought up more religiously than me)

Any ideas from fellow mumsnetters of a similar religious (or non-) bent on how to deal with such ideas would be most welcome.

Thank you!

hullabaloo234 Tue 04-Aug-15 13:34:10

My parents are very religious whilst I am definitely not! DD1 is 8 now and over the years when they have tried to "impart wisdom" on her I've made it perfectly clear I don't want them sharing their views with her. If DD asks I will happily answer her questions and have done, but I won't tolerate them trying to force it on her.
I caught my mum giving her a DIY baptism when she was approx 6 months old, I went ballistic!

woolymum Tue 04-Aug-15 13:37:38

bleugh. i firmly requested that staff at my dc's nursery included the words "in my belief" when they started up expressing their religious opinion.
in our house i tell the dc that some (not all) people believe in god. that it is a belief system, not facts, and that there are many conflicting ideas and religions about the nature of god.
i answer every question directly as possible but always phrase it as "they believe that" and at the end say something about religion providing comfort and should they choose to believe as they grow up that will be fine but neither me or their dad do and then explain what an atheist is. and then explain agnostic for the middle ground.
can't say its caused any confusion or any problems so far

SnapesCapes Tue 04-Aug-15 13:38:38

We use the "some people believe" rather than saying for definite what our DCs ought to believe. I think if you explain gently what some people believe God is, that he can choose how or what faith he likes (or none, as you have) and it helps calm any worries he might have.

My MIL is quite religious, the DCs know that she believes in God, Heaven, Church and all that. When they ask questions about her beliefs I answer honestly even if she's there, and if she disagrees she's entitled to say so. Ask her if she's been discussing religion with him, make it an open discussion so that your DS knows it's not a scary topic, let him hear her story and yours and choose for himself what he'd like to believe in.

TheHouseOnBellSt Tue 04-Aug-15 13:39:19

Try not to worry. My parents were atheists and my Nan secretly got me confirmed or blessed or something Catholic...she used to tell me about purgatory and all kinds.

I'm normal.

My parents taught me about all religions. "Some people believe"

In my opinion it's kind of hypocritical for atheists to deny their child any knowledge about religion at all....when religious people have to accept atheists.

Pardonwhat Tue 04-Aug-15 13:40:16

I'd tackle grandma head on and tell her you don't want your son being brainwashed taught about religion until he's old enough to look at it objectively.

lotrben17 Tue 04-Aug-15 13:41:36

i'm hopeful there is an afterlife where all wrongs are righted smile but i always say to DD that belief is belief - no-one knows. Talk about what the word belief means vs what can be tested. I think it's more likely dc grow up without ever setting foot in a church than they are indoctrinated by a few sessions with an over-zealous MIL. If your DS is scared by it though or doesn't like it, have a word.

Gottagetmoving Tue 04-Aug-15 13:41:49

Your DS is a bit young to understand it all but some of his family are believers and you are not. there is no harm in him learning about religion but your MIL should not be feeding him her beliefs at his age.

Your DH should speak to his mother about this and find out what she has been telling your DS before he can speak to him about it.
When my children were young and they asked questions like that I explained what some people believe and then explained I did not believe in it.
Questions followed bit by bit later but I always emphasied that different people believe differently. They got taught this stuff at school too.

EatShitDerek Tue 04-Aug-15 13:42:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lotrben17 Tue 04-Aug-15 13:42:13

yes what house said exactly.

suitsyou Tue 04-Aug-15 13:45:08

will lurk here, have an extremely similar situation.

All would be well and good if the other party would sit and listen to opposing views, but that's seen as rude hmm

FadedRed Tue 04-Aug-15 13:45:32

I think it is important that your Ds feels he can discuss any subject with you. In regard to religion, your answer can a gentle "Some people believe xxxx, but I don't etc".
Try not to let your Ds to think that his questions make you cross at him for asking. smile

takeinyourhen Tue 04-Aug-15 13:46:34

Yep, "some people believe" does the rounds in my house too.

DS (7) has spats of "not being Christian" which I do try to discourage as there are impressionable children in his school and I don't want parents having their LOs coming home with "Hen's son isn't a Christian" as I know a lot of school parents would be very cross if their LOs knew that not being Christian is an option for them.

It's never too early to teach children about respecting other people's religious beliefs though, so I always talk to DS about how each different God that people pray to, the prayers all go to the same place and we must never make fun of anyone for what they believe. When he's found humour talking about Hindu Gods, I shift the emphasis onto how beautiful/imaginative/amazing etc they each are rather than how funny they look etc.

takeinyourhen Tue 04-Aug-15 13:51:59

We also had a Big Chat during one of his "Not being Christian" phases as a lot of the teachings from the Bible are relevant to everybody - love your neighbour, being kind and offering help etc and so perhaps you could talk to MIL and ask her instead of trying to scare DS into being a believer, tell him stories from the Bible and use those stories to help him to be kind, honest and a good person, not just a good Christian?

fourtothedozen Tue 04-Aug-15 13:55:01

I would be furious too.

I have been careful not to leave my kids alone with some close family members because of this very reason.

It's never too early to teach children about respecting other people's religious beliefs though,

I don't respect those beliefs. I respect people's right to hold those beliefs, but I don't respect the beliefs themselves.

pinktrufflechoc Tue 04-Aug-15 13:55:52

We've had a lot of bereavement in our family and have told the children that people go to heaven when they die although neither of us are particularly religious.

Some people believe is the best way of approaching it. I've also told them God is just another word for Good which of course it is technically.

Spearshake Tue 04-Aug-15 14:13:28

No, no - you're misreading things. I'm not trying to deny any knowledge of religion, as if it doesn't exist. Surely, that is impossible.

However, it's the idea that if you don't love Jesus you won't get into heaven that riles me (immensely)

I will likely tactfully bring this up with DH to see what his views are

In the meantime, for those who are secular minded but need an alternative way of explaining death

: www.ahaparenting.com/ask-the-doctor-1/explaining-death-to-children?utm_source=Aha!+Parenting+List&utm_campaign=05a18eb3d6-Weekly_8_2_15_Savor_Summer&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_45e38f2e1a-05a18eb3d6-209732997#.VcCoJkS_z_E.mailto

This made me bawl my eyes out ... so beautiful I have to share

Euphemia Tue 04-Aug-15 14:15:23

I think you need to be better prepared for these discussions. Your DS has a natural curiosity, a desire to understand. You need to help him, not fluster or get cross.

In the end he'll make up his own mind, so asking MIL not to talk him about Jesus is daft. He'll hear about all the major world religions at school and you need to be ready to discuss people's belief systems with him.

Be proactive!

duckydinosaur Tue 04-Aug-15 14:18:32

YANBU it is not her place to tell her such lies and nonsense. How dare she!!! If grown adults want to believe such silly stories then fair enough - but when they start trying to indoctinate young children it really annoys me.

CaveMum Tue 04-Aug-15 14:22:31

I can see this situation arising in the future with my mother. She's a JW (converted when I was 10) and has form for "leaving" Watchtowers and the like lying around. When DD (17 months) was born she gave us a JW produced children's book of bible stories. When I asked her what she meant by it she said "oh it's just some stories she might like when she's older" hmm

DH has already put down a marker saying he won't tolerate her trying to push her beliefs on DD.

ghostyslovesheep Tue 04-Aug-15 14:23:45

Heaven is a Christian concept so if you don't love Jesus it's entirely possible you won't get in

I don't get the issue - I am humanist and don't ban religion or talk or religious ideas or views - my children have a right to knowledge and to their own beliefs

SmillasSenseOfSnow Tue 04-Aug-15 14:26:37

In the end he'll make up his own mind, so asking MIL not to talk him about Jesus is daft. He'll hear about all the major world religions at school and you need to be ready to discuss people's belief systems with him.

Generally one hopes that schools are not teaching small children dogma as fact - which is obviously what the MIL is doing.

And that's without reopening a discussion of the outrageous compulsory worship in schools bullshit.

DoraGora Tue 04-Aug-15 14:27:01

My own view is that discussing common and pleasant subjects does no harm. We are churchgoers. However, some of the ladies who run the children's groups are very literal. They say things like Jesus is your best friend. You can always talk to Jesus, and so on, to three and four year olds. Of course, this prompts the question, how do I talk to Jesus, mummy? Of course, I need to do some head scratching in order to come up with a reasonable answer. Would I rather the ladies didn't say that kind of thing to my children? Not really. It confuses them. It confuses me too. But, their whole lives are going to be spent among people with various interpretations of all sorts of things. This is a fairly harmless way to learn that. So, after mulling the whole thing over for a while, I tend to say...

well, there are some people who believe...

PetraStrorm Tue 04-Aug-15 14:29:55

My DD is 5 and at a catholic primary (father is Catholic, I am an atheist). I've had this with DS ten years ago and now with DD. I used to feel extremely uncomfortable discussing religion, but now I see it as just another way of looking at the world.

We discuss it openly and casually, trying to steer a path that makes it plain that different people believe different things and none of them are known to be true, while not undermining her lovely teachers who she adores.

DS is now 15 and at a catholic secondary school, and is a very thoughtful, tolerant atheist grin

SmillasSenseOfSnow Tue 04-Aug-15 14:30:03

my children have a right to knowledge and to their own beliefs

Children have a right not to be indoctrinated at the most impressionable stages of their lives. They have a right to be protected from that.

I certainly wouldn't allow people to fill my children's heads with lies and then just hope for the best as they grew up. They would hear exactly how valid those opinions were if they had the misfortune of being exposed to them.

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