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AIBU? not want to be a hypocrite and christen my baby?

71 replies

Moorhen · 12/05/2007 15:18

First child due in ten weeks. DH and I are absolutely non-religious, my family the same.
DH's parents, tho are very devout members of a fairly strict denomination, so much so that although they came to our wedding reception, they did not attend the civil ceremony (no hard feelings about this, BTW; they did what they felt was right and also shared our wedding with us, is the way I see it).
Anyway, with our baby en route, we're facing the christening dilemma. If we don't baptise our child, it will really distress the in-laws. Thing is, I don't just not believe in their religion - I actively disagree with many aspects of it. And I don't want to be a hypocrite and have my child join a club I don't like and won't be bringing him up to know.
Choices, as I see it, are:

  1. Don't christen at all (not nice for in-laws)

2. Ask my grandad (who is a retired vicar of a rather fluffier denomination) to dunk LO in a sink and say the right words.
3. Sneak into a similarly fluffy church after a service, confess to the vicar and ask him to do the honours quickly, with just me and DH present.

Any thoughts? Or preferably, any better ideas?
OP posts:

NutterlyUts · 12/05/2007 15:22

I feel similarly to you, as in I am non religious and don't really feel the need to bring a child up into any religion. However, I would baptise any children I have, purely to keep family happy, as its basically just a blessing to the child and although it is religious, you don't have to follow it through

(plus, a tiny tiny little bit of me wonders what if god DOES exsist, so I see it as being a safeguard for the child just in case)


NutterlyUts · 12/05/2007 15:23

Sorry that didn't answer your AIBU question


Judy1234 · 12/05/2007 15:25

Sometimes with family things it's as important to please people within the family as do what you think is right. If the christening means nothing to you then it really doesn't do any harm to go through with it, in my view. Also it might give the baby the chance to do things like get married in church later, make it easier when they're finding a spouse and possibly get into some church schools.

What about having it done in the grandparents' church in their denomination. What denomination is it?


frogs · 12/05/2007 15:25

Could you suggest to them that you understand how they feel, hope they will also understand how you feel, and suggest a welcome ceremony involving a blessing of some kind from your IL's priest?

FWIW I think you're right not to want a baptism just for the sake of family harmony -- I know loads of non-religious people who've done it just to keep family happy or because they fancied a nice party, and I think it does devalue the significance for people who do believe.


Chirpygirl · 12/05/2007 15:32

DH's mum tried to bribe us to get DD christened. We were told that if she had a baptism then certain people would give very generous presents, but if we didn't they wouldn't IYSWIM.

We didn't have her christened as although the money would have come in bloody useful, she is our daughter and we didn't want it.

I am very anti it because of my upbringing and DH didn't care, so it depends how strongly you feel, if you would be happy to have her christened inot another denomination then do that, but don't be forced into anything.


NineUnlikelyTales · 12/05/2007 15:36

The way I see it is that when you stand in church and have your baby baptised (or get married) you are making vows to do certain things. In the CofE you are also promising that you believe certain things. I couldn't stand in a civil venue and vow/promise things I don't believe in, and I don't see why you should be made to do the same thing in a church to please relatives. I think vows and promises in front of scores of people in sacred venues mean something and I wouldn't compromise that to suit anyone.

YANBU - stick to your beliefs (or lack of!) and keep your self respect.


paulaplumpbottom · 12/05/2007 15:39

I had a similar problem. I am baptist and didn't feel comftorable with a christening as I feel that it should be a descion left up to my DD when she is old enough to decide. My MIL was devestated, mostly because she wanted to buy a new hat I think. What I did instead was have a naming ceremony. We had a lovely dinner after. Everyone was happy.


Marshy · 12/05/2007 15:43

Hi Moorhen
I don't think you are being unreasonable. We faced the same decision with our 2 DC as neither self nor DH at all religious, but there was a definite expectation from grandparents, especially my mum, that christenings would happen.
In the end I felt that there was no way I could stand up in church and say the words you have to say without feeling like a complete hypocrite.
So it had to be option 1, although my mum is probably still not happy about it and my DC are 11 and 12 now!


percypig · 12/05/2007 15:43

DH and I are Christians (of the 'born again' 'happy clappy' variety! - though we'd never describe ourselves like that).

Anyway, we won't have our children baptised as we'd rather let them make the choice themselves - we will probably have them dedicated though, which will involve us making promises including to bring them up in knowing of God and His love, asking for God's help in parenting, and our church family literally standing with us in caring for our children.

Could you have some sort of 'naming' day/dedication, maybe even get your granfather to do it - express your thankfulness for your child, make promises as parents, ask your family and friends to support you as you bring up your child?


wannaBeWhateverIWannaBe · 12/05/2007 15:48

your baby, your decision. Think my ILs would have liked us to have had ds christened, although to be fair to them they never ever mentioned it, but they are devout catholics and think they would have liked it to happen, but I felt it would have been hipocritical to stand in church and vow to bring my son up to know God etc when I had absolutely no intention of doing so. Similarly I did not have a church wedding for the same reasons.

This is not your mil's decision, and imo she doesn't even have the right to be upset about it.


wheresmysuntan · 12/05/2007 15:49

It is your child - not the in-laws'. Why should you have to stand up and vow things you don't believe in just to please in-laws? Give in on this and there is also a danger they might interfere regarding which school your child goes to and they might start suggesting that as the child is christened perhaps they should take him/her to church.


Elasticwoman · 12/05/2007 16:01

Be consistent. Either christen the child and bring up with Christian ethos (which doesn't necessarily mean spending EVERY Sunday in church)or don't christen the child and feel free to let child know that you don't believe in the Christian faith. Would standing up in your parents' or in-laws' church and make promises you have no intention of keeping, really please them? I suspect not. If they want you to christen your dc it's because they're hoping you will bring them up in the faith.


Elasticwoman · 12/05/2007 16:02

ps: and if you think the grandparents just want a social event where the family can meet up and celebrate a new baby, then have a social event but keep God out of it.


newgirl · 12/05/2007 16:23

what does your dh think? i think that with you being pregnant he should be dealing with this and not allowing any stress/pressure from his family to find its way to you

anyway, if it does fall to you - lots of people leave christenings til six months/one year old so you could say that you want to think about it in six months time etc to avoid the conversation if it helps?

we did not have christenings although my mil would have liked it because to stand up and make promises about something that does not mean anything to us seemed a bit weird though you would not be alone if you did do it for the sake of family harmony


Pitchounette · 12/05/2007 16:40

Message withdrawn


agnesnitt · 12/05/2007 17:50

Elasticwoman speaks sense



handlemecarefully · 12/05/2007 17:57


It really is quite lovely of you to be concerned about how you in laws will feel regarding this - but at the end of the day you and your dh are the parents and must do what feels right for you.


dinosaur · 12/05/2007 18:00

This reply has been withdrawn

This has been withdrawn by MNHQ at the poster's request.

Moorhen · 12/05/2007 18:09

LOL dinosaur, you're probably right! Was hoping it would at least ease their fears a bit (I think they would genuinely worry that DC won't get to heaven unless he is christened), but maybe it has to be exactly the right font you're dunked in...

I don't want them to worry, but OTOH I just can't have my child baptised into a faith that condemns a lot of things I feel are basic human rights.

I think putting it off for a few months, as suggested, is a good starting tactic. Then we can see how much it bothers them and plan accordingly.

OP posts:

currantbunmum · 12/05/2007 19:22

We haven't had our dd's christened. I went to Church and Sunday School since being a tot, and then onto 2 C of E Schools, Secondary very strict, letter of recomendation from the Vicar etc. DH really is a total non believer and I haven't stepped foot in a Church (apart from Weddings and Funearals) since I left school. DH said he would go along with it if I felt strongly about Christening them, but I didn't.

I have talked to dd1 about Jesus around Christmas, and she now knows the Christmas Story, but thats all, if they want religeon to have a part in their lives when they are older they will both be free to do so.

Our family and friends knew how DH felt before we had children, we were married in a Country House, and he had to sadly turn down the chance of being godfather to his best friends son, as he couldn't stand up in Church and promise things he dosen't believe in.

I would also feel like a bit of a hypocrite, as I don't intend to start going back to Church, for no particullar reason, and I couldn't do it just to make others happy, they have to respect your wishes for your family.


VoodooMama · 12/05/2007 19:29

we had pressure to 'do' dd too, she is now 1omths old and Ive just let the whole issue drift away, Im just not mentioning it....
I will be working every sunday and a couple of weeknights so it isnt feasible to stert attending church, for if I did get her christeneed I prob. would like to follow it up with sunday school,#anyway, hopefully everyone else will just forget too!


Lwatkins · 13/05/2007 01:44

I find it incredibly hypocrytical when people get married in a church or christen their children etc and they either don't 'believe' or don't keep their vows iyswim? I'm not religious in the slightest, and wasn't christened, neither were my sisters. My mum was bought up in a strong catholic family and was pressurised into having a catholic wedding by her mum etc. My dad isn't religious in the slightest either.

My mum always wanted us to be able to make our own decisions, if we chose to get christened when we were older that was our decision but she didn't want to be the one making it for us and I thank her everyday for it! The pressure from her family has almost driven her away from the faith she was bought up in and isn't religious at all any more.

My baby is due in less than 2 weeks and no way will I be getting her christened. My mums family will just hve to accept that, it is my baby - not their's. I do think however that it is a lovely idea to have a big family celebration for a new baby. So instead of a religious ceromony I am having a 'Welcome to the World' party for my little girl at the begining of July. Family and close friends all coming for a big bbq, lots of cake and a snuggle of the baby. Can't wait and will be getting a special photo album just for that day to put all the pictures in


KerryMum · 13/05/2007 01:48

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

alipiggie · 13/05/2007 05:32

Neither of my children have been baptized. I'm C of E by upbringing and H is a lapsed Catholic. We both decided that the boys could decide later in life if they wanted religion in their lives or not. They are your children - your decision IMO.


helenhismadwife · 14/05/2007 17:43

my il's are committed pratcising christians, dh and I are not and have not had our dd's christened or baptised. I respect other peoples beliefs and feel that making promises that I wont keep in a church is actually quite disrespectful to others beliefs. We didnt marry in a church either.
My in laws respected our choice

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