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At a loss with DH over DS' baptism / christening

(61 Posts)
TickleToe Tue 12-Jul-11 09:34:48

Brief overview is that I am a RC, I met my husband 4 years ago, he was a single dad with two children, who dont see their mother. He was not married to their mother. I fell in love with all three of them, have taken the children on, and me and DH were married in my local catholic church where I was brought up. Sometimes I take the children to church, and DH used to come with me. He accepted my faith and married me in our church. He now refuses to come, which is his decision. He doesnt particularly like me taking the children but has not yet opposed (I must admit I dont take them every week). 5 months ago we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, and anytime I have mentioned having him baptised, DH hits the roof. WE had briefly discussed having all 3 baptised if we had another child so they are all the same. He also came to the marriage preparation course, and made his vows with me at the altar. But he seems to have forgotten all this. He says he 'doesnt want them brought up catholic'. I feel llike I have scarificed everything for him and the children. Every time I look at my baby boy and think about it I feel broken and trapped. DH has even fallen out with my mum, refuses to speak to her (about something else), he wont come out with my friends anymore. I am mum to the first two children completely in my heart, but now everything has to be just his way, and its not what I signed up for, to sacrifice everything I believe in and who I am. Sometimes I feel like the nanny, I have no say in any of the childrens upbringing. I can't see any solution; is this how my life has to be? I feel like I am letting down DS in so many ways because I am his mum and I am helpless

FlubbaBubba Tue 12-Jul-11 09:58:43

Woah! I was about to jump on your bandwagon just about the baptism of your baby boy, but if he is also being an arse to your mum and an arse to you if he doesn't get his own way, then he's not being the person you married (I assume?).

fwiw my DH is an athiest but married me in my RC church as he understood how important it was to me (and I'm not a massive Catholic, but was dragged up that way and believe in it). When I go to church he doesn't come with me, but I do take the children. (He comes to Christmas and Easter mass with me, partly to help with all three children). He reads bible stories to the kids at bedtime if that's the story they choose. We christened our baby boy this weekend. DH is still an atheist. But he understands what he 'agreed' to when we got together and understands what it means to me. He finds it difficult but does it for me.

PorkChopSter Tue 12-Jul-11 10:18:57

Echoing with Flubba said - this is not just about baptism, no?

I am an atheist, DH is not, I agreed that our children would be brought up in his church and he takes them and I support that, because I agreed to and one day they will see the light

Your situation seems to be about control: you do not have any over your family, your DH is holding all of the cards. I guess to some extent he was used to being in charge/making all the decisions/having all the responsibility of your eldest DC when he was a single parent, and may not have moved onto being in a parenting partnership with you - and does not know how to adapt his parenting style to your "joint" DC3. Do you have parental responsibility for your eldest DC?

Alternatively, he is being an arse.

GiveMeSomeSpace Tue 12-Jul-11 10:27:41

IMO The baptism is a red herring (although I appreciate how imprtant it is to you).

To state the obvious, the bigger issue is his apparent inability to communicate in a rational manner and enter into a discussion orn compromise. Falling out with an MIL usually is a bad sign. I suspect you will get similar reactions to other "issues" that he doesn't agree with over the years. If those behaviours don't change, then resentment between you will grow. Needs to nipped in teh bud now. HTH

TickleToe Tue 12-Jul-11 10:41:28

I suppose I kind of know its about control, but every time there is an issue that affects us and our children I am blown out of the water. He 'assumes' our DS will go to the same failing school as the older children, and i havent even broached the subject that we may want to consider another school. Everything I do is for the children, yet I have no say. I have always been such a strong minded person but it all seems to have gone away and I feel a bit helpless I suppose. Thanks

oldwomaninashoe Tue 12-Jul-11 11:15:19

The baptism IS a red herring, and in the grand scheme of things it is something that can be put on "hold" for a while, until you have the underlying issues sorted out.

Re the schools issue, would your DH object to your son going to a catholic school?
You are going to have to be very subtle in how you tackle this, from a practical point of view if you have not been Chistened/baptised when you are adult , it makes getting married in church more difficult, getting a place in a faith school unlikely.

What is his objection to your faith? If you live your life in a Christian manner surely this is a good thing and you will instill good moral values in the DC's. They can when they are older, go their own way, but have a good moral background.
I cannot understand why he feels threatened by this.

I come from a strict Protestant background and my DH is RC, our children were christened in a Cof E church (a good compromise) it has never been an issue in our marriage as we share the same values.

Talk to him about his values he may find that he has more in common with your background than he realises and feel less threatened

SuchProspects Tue 12-Jul-11 14:10:25

I have a different perspective on this from most of the posters so far.

I don't really understand what you mean by you have no say?

It seems like your DH is the one who has compromised over religion - you got married in your church, he went on course prescribed by your faith, took oaths you both know he doesn't believe because they were necessary for you and you take the children to church even though you know he doesn't like it.

If I were in your husband's situation I think I'd be feeling a bit railroaded.

Mumfun Tue 12-Jul-11 14:19:26

He has compromised a lot. Where is your compromising as he isnt catholic? You seem to want everything in your own way.

diddl Tue 12-Jul-11 17:46:22

TBH I´m with the last two posters.

What have you "sacrificed" so far?

Why should he want his children brought up RC if he isn´t?

wtfdoido Tue 12-Jul-11 21:36:26

My first instinct was to agree with diddl Mumfun and SuchProspects iin that the huge sacrifice you talk about isnt immediately obvious to me!

What do you feel you have sacrificed?

I can understand why, as an RC, baptism is so important to you, it a big part of your faith and at some point you do need to try and come to some compromise about that but....he seems angry at you about something and rather than accusing him of selfishness, why dont you try and find out what that is and consider that perhaps you are being selfish yourself?

Your beliefs are not more important than his, and you dont seem to understand that.

And as the others have said, he has given you alot and you dont seem to appreciate that.

buzzsore Tue 12-Jul-11 21:39:45

I think he compromised quite a lot by doing the course etc, and he is the biological parent of the two older children - so I do think he gets the last word about baptism, church and where & how they're schooled.

Your child together is a stickier one and your view should hold equal weight with his.

TickleToe Wed 13-Jul-11 10:07:10

I am the primary carer of all three children. I do every meal, every school run, all the angst, homework, reading etc. Thats what mums do right? I have parental responsibility for all there children. I would always have planned to have my children baptised. As for what I have sacrificed, I have sacrificed my career, my old home, the area I live, spending time with my family (who he has caused problems with as mentioned before and my poor mum hardly gets to see DCs), and every aspect of how we live our lives is because of the way he was already living with the children (ie I have fitted in with it all and become their primary carer and I am mum to them). That was my choice because I love them. MOst people would agree it takes a lot to take on someone else's children and they are 100% mine in my heart. But surely I should have a say in the way my first born son is raised? And if they all have to be the same and we are a family and I am their primary carer then surely I shoudl have a say in their upbringing or Id just be like a nanny right? I am not pushing to have the older DCs baptised, it would be much easier to have just my son baptised, but we make decisions together and they are asking to be christened. I should have a say in my DC's religious upbringing as his mum and primary carer or do you really think I shoudlnt have a say?

Toadinthehole Wed 13-Jul-11 10:10:10

I don't see how he can reasonably complain about the children getting baptised. If he's not religious, what meaning can the baptism have for him? Surely from a non-religious perspective, having the children undergo a ceremony is quite a different matter from what morals you intend to bring them up with.

The irony is that he accepted you as a Roman Catholic, and unless he is particularly dense, he would have realised that your life and morals would have at least some influence on his children.

I'd want to do exactly the same if I were in your position.

diddl Wed 13-Jul-11 10:19:57

Of course you should have a say, & so should your husband.

Is it baptism he objects to, or just RC?

But I disagree that just because he has accepted OP as RC means that he wants the sme for his children.

Toadinthehole Wed 13-Jul-11 10:21:35

Hi again Tickletoe,

Cross posted with your post at 10.07.

My view is that you formed a new family with this man and his children, and if what you say is accurate, you put your RC cards on the table clearly enough. That means a) although the children are his and b) although you are the primary caregiver, you both have to make the decisions together.

As I said before, I don't see how he can complain about the baptism (which from an non-religious point of view is just a quaint ceremony) but I do wonder why he has become increasingly hostile to your religion.

FWIW, I am Anglican, my wife is RC, our children are baptised Anglicans but go to a RC school. So my wife and I do have somewhat different beliefs, but - crucially - our general moral outlook on things is the same. Is that so with your DH?

IloveJudgeJudy Wed 13-Jul-11 10:35:39

Surely when you got married he had to sign something to say that he was fine with at least your joint DC being baptised and brought up RC?

My DH is a non-practising Anglican, but signed to say the DC would be baptised and brought up RC. I do all the taking to church. DH will come at Christmas, and to First Holy Communion and related Masses, but other than that, he doesn't. I knew that when we married, as did he about the DC. Works for us.

SuchProspects Wed 13-Jul-11 10:59:16

Tickle I absolutely agree you should have a say. But from what you've put in your posts it sounds like you do have a say.

The sacrifices you are making are significant, they give you more influence over your children than if the day to day care was split 50/50. But they don't give you more right to insist on things like baptism.

You take the DCs to church. You presumably teach them what you believe about God and faith. It's not as though he's insisting they be formally introduced and welcomed into an institution at odds with what you believe.

Of course this doesn't mean he can't also be controlling. I'm just saying I don't think it is unreasonable for a parent to object to religious ceremonies for their child if they don't share the faith.

To be honest it sounds like you (and possibly your DH) have some quite firm ideas about how children ought to be brought up, but haven't really voiced your expectations to each other in a way that's stuck (and I do not mean to imply here that this is all down to you).

Have you ever sat down and discussed them in a manner designed to come up with something you are both comfortable with? On the school issue for instance, you are dissatisfied with the school your kids currently attend, but you haven't mentioned this. I would have thought this was something you'd talk about before you got married.

iggagog Wed 13-Jul-11 11:07:20

I don't think the Catholic church would have married you if they didn't assume any "issue" would be brought up catholic. Did the course not make that clear? This is an issue that isn't going to go away. I wouldn't worry too much about school if ds is still small. If you do all the day-to-day care, I doubt your Dh will be filling in the school application forms anyway!

Allinabinbag Wed 13-Jul-11 11:09:19

Difficult one, there isn't a middle way with baptism or RC schools, I know a couple who just can't agree on which church the child should be baptized in, so they are getting baptized in neither!

You do sound worn down from not getting your voice heard, beyond just not heard about the religious things. This is more of an issue. With schools, it would be wrong of you to just insist your DS goes to a RC against your husband's wishes, but equally, there should be discussion about which school he does attend, not him assuming that they will just do what his other children are doing.

You do seem to be struggling to make yourself function as a whole family, not just you as the 'add-on', Things like cutting you off from your own family are a bit worrying and you should challenge this immediately (and if you don't feel you can, that is even more worrying).

bejeezus Wed 13-Jul-11 11:19:32

I have no say in any of the childrens upbringing

what other stuff, besides the baptism, do you have no say in?

what did he fall out with your mum about? why dont you and your son spend time with her?

tadpoles Wed 13-Jul-11 11:20:08

It's not reasonable for him to be 'hitting the roof' when you mention baptism, though. Also, it sounds as though you are not a particularly 'strict' Catholic in any case. My partner is Catholic, I am agnostic but it has never really been a problem - except once when I took the children to a Church of England Christmas service and he moaned. I was furious as I never object to him taking the children to Catholic church services and our children were all baptised as catholics.

Why do his children never see their mother? That is quite an unusual situation.

holyShmoley Wed 13-Jul-11 11:31:39

does this situation apply: he gets to choose the big issue decisions for the older two with no input from you, and then all the kids have to be the same on those issues, so by default you have no say in how your bio-child is being raised.

I think you need to dismantle that structure for him. Can you use some formal mediation techniques on him to get him to a true Win/win solution.

Why is it important to him to send his kids to a failing school?

turquoisetumble Wed 13-Jul-11 11:50:29

Honestly, I think the baptism is a red herring. There are a number of other huge red flags for me.

He has fallen out with your mother and refuses to speak to her. That's an extreme thing to do and must cause you a lot of distress. I wonder what offensive thing your mother did to cause that situation, seeing as you have a new baby and need support. Do you think he was right to do so? Does your mother regularly offend people to the point that they refuse to speak to her?

And he won't come out with your friends any more? Has he fallen out with them too? Is he trying to distance you from them?

He 'hits the roof' when you mention baptism, even though you'd previously discussed all three children getting baptised? Not a respectful way to communicate with his wife, is it?

You also feel trapped, have made huge sacrifices for him, and I'm guessing are feeling completely unappreciated. He SHOULD be treating you with love and respect, regardless of the fact that you have taken on his children - but doubly so, considering.

Now I really hope I'm wrong here, but my worry is that he saw in you someone good, kind and moral. A genuine catholic girl who would take on his family, love them and provide them with a mother. Be a good wife that won't divorce him or leave. He played the game - getting married in a church etc. and even coming to mass occasionally - but now you've got a baby, and you're trapped the true colours are showing. Unfortunately, a lot of abusive men only show their true colours when the wife is pregnant or has a child with them.

Ask him again to sit down with you, at a convenient time, to discuss the upbringing/baptism or your child. If he cannot do this with respect to you as the child's mother, I'm afraid you have your answer. Good luck.

tadpoles Wed 13-Jul-11 12:16:28

His children by his previous relationship never see their mother (???).
He won't come out with you and your friends.
He has fallen out with your mother and refuses to speak to her.
Your own mother hardly ever gets to see the children.....

As the previous poster wrote, I see all these as red flags.

OF COURSE you have a say in how your children are being brought up - equal to his. As you say, you are happy with a baptism for just your joint child, which seems completely reasonable to me. Why does he have such an agenda with this? He can't have it always - you are bringing up his first two children as your own - therefore the decisions are joint decision, just as they are for the third child.

"He has given you alot and you dont seem to appreciate that." I disagree with that statement. The OP could just as well have met someone else and had three children who were hers biologically.

It IS a big deal to take on the complete role of a mother with two children who are not yours biologically. I only know of one other person who has done this successfully (and the children were very, very young and their mother had died).

Many men struggle hugely with the role of step-parent. She has made big sacrifices - particularly in view of the situation whereby the relationship she has with him seems to be alienating her friends and family.

Also the OP is a Catholic - she has every right to be one. He knew that when he married her so it is a bit rich to start getting huffy about it now.

tadpoles Wed 13-Jul-11 12:20:08

Recommend couples and family counselling asap.

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