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question for Catholics - DH doesn't want DD baptised

(35 Posts)
mollysmum82 Thu 10-Mar-11 12:53:34

I have been doing the RCIA course to become a Catholic and I'm really enjoying it. Thank you to everyone here for your advice and inspiration to getting to this stage!

I have always believed in God but I wasn't brought up in a religious household (it was a very loving household, just not religious!) My Dad had a rough time at a Priest boarding school, far from his home when he was growing up and therefore rejected the church in later years. I always wanted to go to church but I didn't have the confidence to go on my own, plus I didn't know which church to go to and whether I'd be welcome.

It sounds really juvenile but my desire to go to church got stronger when I studied RS at school. The teachings of Jesus just all seemed to make sense to me and I started to pray regularly. I kept flitting with the idea of going to church throughout uni but still didn't have the confidence. After I graduated I started teaching in a CofE school and really loved going to services and singing and worshipping together. There still felt like there was something missing though.

When I got pregnant I'd had a lot of bleeding towards the end and almost lost my baby during the birth. But my beautiful little girl was fine and I really put this miracle down to God. Shortly afterwards my Gran passed away at the age of 98 and it was clear leading up to this how strong her Catholic faith was to her. She told me how much she would love me to find her faith so for all those reasons I was determined to start going to church.

I rang the Priest and he suggested I go to the RCIA course and start attending mass. I've been going to mass a few times a week and I just find it so humbling, fulfilling, inspiring...I can't really put it into words but I know its the right thing.

Anyway, since learning more and more about the Catholic faith it is becoming more important to me to have my 18 month old baptised. Its hard to explain why, its almost like I'm being called to do it. I also really want her to have the opportunity to grow with the faith I was never really exposed to, in the lovely Catholic community of the church and attend our local Catholic School. My husband is really uncomfortable with the idea of her being baptised though. He is a lovely, moral person but has no belief whatsoever. He thinks that by baptising DD we are pushing her into a faith and not letting her make her own choices. Do you think he is right? He says that the only reason he would have her baptised is to get her into the excellent school, but he doesn't feel right doing this (which I can understand). I've tried to explain that's its much more than this to me but he struggles see my point of view. I do think I could persuade him but I don't want to make him feel uncomfortable during the ceremony or for him to be worried if I take DD to mass.

What do you think I should do? Any advice would be so appreciated, thank you.

AMumInScotland Thu 10-Mar-11 17:26:23

How about taking your daughter to church with you, and to Sunday School when she gets older, and letting her decide for herself what she wants to do when she gets old enough to express an opinion? I don't have a problem with infant baptism, if its what both parent swant, but I don't think you have any more right to say you want her baptised than your husband does to say no - and when its 50/50, doing nothing ought to be the default, IYSWIM?

The lack of baptism doesn't stop your daughter from finding out about faith, and developing it (or not) in her own time.

Bucharest Thu 10-Mar-11 17:36:11

No real advice, other than to say, that although I'm on your husband's side of the fence (IYSWIM?) we had our daughter baptised Catholic because it was so important to dp. Because it was so unimportant to me, I had no objections. Could your husband not see it that way at all?

I also look on it that at a later date, dd will either stay in the church or not, it'll be up to her. If she didn't like going (even now at age 7) we wouldn't pressure her to.

mariamagdalena Fri 11-Mar-11 01:48:25

If you're religious, baptism means a lot. If not, it's a splash of water and a white dress. Would he feel better about it if he didn't have to re very involved?

ilovemyhens Fri 11-Mar-11 09:49:10

You're not pushing her into a faith - she can still make up her mind when she gets older. If you feel that you are being called to have her baptised Catholic then you should go for it. Talk to your husband and try to find a way through it.

My dcs go to Catholic schools and they're receiving a lovely education filled with hope and faith and they're thriving. Secular education is miserable imo.

mamalocco Fri 11-Mar-11 10:12:11

Agree with earlier post from AMumInScotland - we baptised our children - DH Catholic and wanted them to go to the local Catholic school. This was something I was never comfortable with but against better judgement went along with and I feel quite resentful towards DH for pushing us down this path. DS no longer attends the Catholic school and asked me the other day if he could be "un-baptised".

I would let your dd find her own way - just as you did.

mollysmum82 Fri 11-Mar-11 13:13:40

Thanks for your replies everyone. This is so difficult!

GregorSamsa Fri 11-Mar-11 13:29:46

My dh is a non-believer as well, which is fine. But not having the dc baptised would have been a deal-breaker for me - there's no getting round its importance as a sacrament in the child's life, and it really mattered to me for the children to have that identity and relationship.

There are a LOT of Catholics out there married to non-catholics or non-Christians, so it's not an uncommon dilemma. It might help if you were to think of baptism as giving the child an invitation to have a particular relationship, rather than as a membership for life? What baptism does is give the child an opening into a particular world-view and relationship - it doesn't really constrain the choices they will make or the relationships they will choose as adults. It's perhaps analogous to speaking a second language with your child: as an adult they may decide that their identity lies only with one parent's language and ethnic identity, or they may go for the other one. They may balance the two, or they might move to a completely different country, learn a new language and sever all links with their parents. You can't tell what they will do as adults, you can't control it, and nor should you want to. But if you don't make that decision at the beginning to speak your own language with them, then they will never have the opportunity to develop the identity that goes with that language (or at least they will have to learn it much more laboriously as adults).

Sorry for the rather laboured extended metaphor, but I think it holds good. Catholicism does undoubtedly influence the way that people see the world, but more in the sense of giving you a philosophical structure with which to process the whole area of spirituality, ethics and religious practice. What they do with that as teenagers and adults is up to them, so I wouldn't see baptism as making a decision for them (they have make the adult commitment for themselves anyway, at Confirmation), but more as giving them access to a whole extra dimension of thinking and decision-making which they can use as they wish to inform their adult lives.

alexpolismum Thu 17-Mar-11 07:56:29

I am an atheist, but I have allowed my 3 children to be baptised in my husband's church. This is because it means nothing to me and a lot to him, as far as I am concerned a bit of water doesn't do them any harm, the prayers might be pointless and meaningless to me, but they are also harmless and again mean a lot to DH.

However, before agreeing to allow the baptisms, I set the condition that there should be no indoctrination and no propaganda. The children can of course be taught about their father's religion, but equally I shall present my point of view, and there is to be no pressure on either side. It's one thing to hear we* believe XYZ and another thing to hear *Daddy believes XYZ, while Mummy thinks ABC.

sarahtigh Fri 18-Mar-11 21:09:26

unfortunately this is one of those things with no compromise position you either baptise or not, however if you rDH does not want to, I think you have to respect that , she can be baptised later though I realise that for catholics infant baptism is more important than for some other christian denominations and some esp. baptists only believe in baptising believers.

I think catholics mostly confirm /first mass about aged 7 but your Dh may think that is too young for her to be sure of her own mind

I come from baptist background and go to church regularly i was baptised as beliver aged 21, my DH is presbyterian but does not go to hurch much, if he really wanted her baptised as a child/baby like he was I would go along with it but he is not bothered so she comes to church with me every sunday but is not baptised will wait until she wants to be herself

dont know that is much help but you need to talk to Dh more and ask f DH will talk to priest, but dont pressurise him into it, as that is a bad witness to your faith

stegasaurus Wed 23-Mar-11 17:59:33

I have much the same problem except I have always been Catholic and my DC1 is not yet born. DH is an atheist and has said he doesn't mind if I take our child to church and teach them what I believe and I agree that he can explain what he believes and that he doesn't believe the same as me. I would really like the baby to be baptised as I believe it is an important first step in growing up in the Catholic church, but I can see how it would be impossible for him to be involved in the baptism. As parents at a Catholic christening you have to profess your own beliefs in the church's teachings and make promises that he cannot make as he obviously does not believe any of these things. It is difficult as I respect his opinions and beliefs just as he respects my faith even though we do not agree. I wouldn't want him to go along with a christening and have to stand up in church and say things he really doesn't actually mean just to appease me as that would be completely hypocritical. He did once say I could get the baby christened but he wouldn't be able to be there, but I don't know if I would want that or if it would be acceptable within the church. I don't think I have any option but to not get our baby christened and to bring it up in the faith as best I can (obviously it would not be able to celebrate First Holy Communion or be confirmed as it wouldn't be christened) until it is old enough to choose itself. I am not sure how that would work either, whether it would have to go through RCIA despite being brought up in the church or whether it is possible to be baptised and confirmed at the same age its peers would be confirmed.

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 24-Mar-11 13:31:31

We are in the exact polar extreme. DH is a practicing catholic and it was important to him that DD be baptised. I am a practicing atheist. For me, a splash of water followed by a big party is no big deal.
DD is now nearly 10 and knows I don't believe in God. It isn't a problem for us.
Your DH sounds a tiny bit controlling TBH.

zanzibarmum Thu 24-Mar-11 20:18:10

Get the child baptised (it is more than a splash of water and there is nothing in the sacrament about a party)
Did you take a vow to bring up any children as Catholics when you got married?

feministmama Thu 24-Mar-11 20:22:40

poor you! I have no answers but will say a prayer it all works out the right way.

mercibucket Thu 24-Mar-11 20:27:45

can you do a dedication instead in the catholic church? I won't baptise ours because I feel it's their decision to make as adults but we can do a dedication instead. tbh I wouldn't even bother with that except the secondary school wants proof of one or the other. don't think Jesus did many dedications smile. Are there child baptisms in the bible? I was told so, but don't think I've ever read that part. Jesus was baptised as an adult not a child if that is helpful at all - wwjd

Carikube Thu 24-Mar-11 20:35:04

I can't offer any advice as your situation is different to mine; DH is a baptised non-believer (he lapsed about 30 years ago) but we reached a compromise before we married that I would get to raise the DCs Catholic and he would get to raise them as supporters of his football team hmm. Strange compromise I know, but it worked for us! He really enjoyed both baptisms though (I think because he enjoyed having his DCs as the centre of attention amongst the people he loves/is friends with) and is happy for me to take them to church each week and have them go to the local Catholic school when the time arises...
I hope you manage to reach a compromise that keeps you both happy.

Abr1de Thu 24-Mar-11 20:43:08

'I think catholics mostly confirm /first mass about aged 7'

This is not true. Catholic children in England are usually confirmed when they are about 14. They usually have First Holy Communion aged around nine.

TheDailyWail Sat 02-Apr-11 17:55:35

I think that both parents must agree to baptism. I talked to my priest about a family member whose husband was against this and he said there was nothing he could do if one parent was against it.

sarahtigh Sat 02-Apr-11 21:53:50

stand corrected re first mass I forgot they separated first communion and confirmation

re there is no direct biblical references to child baptism but it does refer to various people being baptised and their household which in least some cases would have included children I am sure and probably servants/ slaves

some argue that as ever jewish boy was circiumised whether his parents were outwardly or inwardly religious some would argue that the new church would not be more restrcitive but rather was more inclusive as baptism unlike circumscion was a sacrament for both sexes and baptism replaces circumscion like ciommunion /mass replaces the passover as both were symbolic

christians and theologians have disagreed for centuries about mode immersion/sprinkling and subject of baptism whether children in general, children of commited believers only or adults as believers only

hope mollysmum can find solution

frantic51 Mon 11-Apr-11 21:20:38

Having your DD baptised would not be "pushing her into the religion" I know many baptised Catholics who are now practising atheists (for want of a better term iykwim) some of these even took First Holy Communion. Why would your DH even consider having her baptised to "get her into the excellent school" if he was going to object to you taking her to Mass? Pupils at RC schools have to attend Mass regularly.

FWIW all my three DCs were baptised and took First Holy Communion aged 7. DD1 decided, aged 13, that she did not want to attend Mass any more, so she didn't. DS and DD2 were confirmed aged 14, DD2 still attends Mass regularly and voluntarily aged 16. DS, now 17, doesn't bother most of the time and says he "doesn't know" how he feels about the RC church. DD1 started to attend Mass regularly again aged 16 and was confirmed, at her own request, soon after.

So, being baptised in the RC faith doesn't "push" one into anything if one has sensible parents who allow one wide experience and exposure to many beliefs and points of view. It all comes down to which of you feels the most strongly. Does it matter more to you that your DD is* baptised than it does to your DH that she *isn't, or vice versa? Only the two of you can decide that.

Either way, being baptised won't push her into the church, not being baptised won't exclude her from it later, if that's what she wants. smile

bubblecoral Thu 14-Apr-11 23:20:14

I agree with your dh. You say it feels right, but you have to realise that just because it feels right to you, does not mean it is right for her.

Take her to mass, teach her what you believe and encourage your dh to do teach her what he believes. Support her in whatever choice she makes. But don't make that choice for her.

IngridBergman Tue 19-Apr-11 20:20:08

I don't know, there's not much room for compromise when you are so opposed. All I can think is what are the other issues going to be, if you can't have the same faith? It's not going to be an easy basis for any sort of major decision.

I'm commenting as an ex Catholic who was brought up in the church, became incredibly disillusioned with it (not that it was ever my choice) and feel quite damaged by it. My mother is vehemently Catholic since recently rediscovering her faith and said the other week that it was her 'greatest wish' that my two children be baptised.

The idea of it makes me feel horrified as i remember what I went through as a child and I have a faith, most of the time, but it doesn't involve a human doctrine and I am (sorry) deeply suspicious of my mother's need for this set of rules and regulations to tell her what to do especially as it has such a negative impact n her relationships with other people (including me and my sister).

I'm sure you find it really important and I understand that too but just trying to put the other side - people can feel SO uncomfortable with it that it would feel awful to comply with the wishes of a church you just don't trust or subscribe to.

I hope you can reach a decision together.

IngridBergman Tue 19-Apr-11 20:23:59

' As parents at a Catholic christening you have to profess your own beliefs in the church's teachings and make promises that he cannot make as he obviously does not believe any of these things.'

This is what I told my mother but she said all I had to do was promise to reject satan. I don't think she is correct and I suspect she wants me to do the hypocritical thing sad No way.

venusandmars Wed 11-May-11 11:15:29

I think that due to Canon Law (the laws governing the Church) I'd be very certain about what I was doing before I baptised a child.

I work with lots of couples who are preparing for marriage, and several have had difficult issues to discuss. According to Canon Law, anyone who is baptised as Catholic must also marry according to Canon Law for that marriage to be recognised by the Catholic Church. With one couple recently, both had been baptised but neither are now practicing Catholics, and they do not want to have a Catholic wedding. Despite their disbeliefs, they (she) still feels the burden of "sin" (sorry if that sounds melodramatic, but that is how she puts it) if they are going against the wishes of the church. She feels limited in her choices, to either formally renounce her faith, or to be married outwith the church and to know that the marriage is not accepted by the church; or to marry in a Catholic wedding which does not at the moment feel right and truthful for them.

The situation came to the bride's attention because her god-mother 'helpfully' pointed it out to her. I am sure that they will resolve it, but at the moment, her non-catholic father is rather regretting that he agreed with the baptism.

mollysmum82 Sat 28-May-11 20:44:17

I wanted to thank you all so much for your messages. I really appreciate the support and guidance and I found your experiences incredibly interesting to read.

I think we're swaying towards not having her baptised. DH feels so strongly against it and since joining the faith has been relatively new to me I should really respect his wishes. We didn't talk about how we would bring our children up in a religious sense when we got married as it wasn't an issue then - so for me to throw this on him now seems unfair. There is also the logistical issue of baptism as we don't have any close family or friends who are Catholics who we could ask to be godparents. And DH just wouldn't be able to stand up and lie in church.

It was always my plan to bring my daughter up saying "mummy believes this, daddy believes that and that's okay, you can believe whatever you want" regardless of baptism. And I know she will be able to persue any faith she wants when she is older. But I do still feel a little sad about it all.

Nothing is set in stone yet and I will update you, but thanks again in the mean time for everything x

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