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When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Posted by ulrike1 (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 9, 09 at 11:34

Last night I composed a long message but it disappeared--are there topics that are off-limits? I am new to this forum so I might be goofing up using the text editor!

I'll try again, more briefly this time. Just because my last post was about how friendly BM is to my DH, last night they had their first rather unpleasant discussion in a very long time, and I was wondering if any of you experienced ladies have dealt with this challenge.

DH and I are both non-theists, as are my ex and his wife. BM is very religious now (her new DH is a theology professor). Their diverging cosmology was a big factor in my DH and BM's divorce. It's been a bit awkward because of the disparity in how the two sets of kids have been raised.

We assured BM early on that we would never make any negative comments about any religion in front of the girls, nor keep them from attending religious events, etc., and we have stuck to that.

Well, BM called last night and apparently she asked both girls at their respective colleges whether they were attending church and both said no. SD1, in addition, said that (BM's words) she believes that gods are mythological constructs (or something like that). BM is hopping mad and called my DH to chew him out about it!

She is also blaming my kids, claiming they have had "long discussions" with the girls about religion. I've always told my kids to avoid that topic with them, but they probably didn't--kids talk about stuff like that.

Well, if I did believe in prayer, I'd say my grousing about BM being overly friendly was handled nicely, at least, ha.

Anyway, I was wondering if in any of your stepfamily systems, you have a conflict like this?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Its frustating. No she should not have chewed him out. Newsflash to her, controlling kids in college is like herding cats. Be happy if they get good grades and dont get arrested.

I'ld probabaly ask my kids, if I had any in this situation, to do me a favor and not discuss relegion with the steps.

My X and I are of different religions, but D was raised his. I have always made every effort to see that she attends -- but now that she is in college, not easy.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

If a subject is off-limit usually you will get a message when you try to post. Off-color words will trigger it as well.

I don't have those issues. It sounds very difficult. Maybe a difference in lifestyles now that the children are grown will help ease the need to be so close. Prayers answered, indeed! ;)


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

DH and I are not overtly religious. We go to church on holidays (Thanksgiving-harvest type service, Christmas, Easter, and then a few other random times per year.) I always feel like I should make an effort to take DD (and SS when he's with us) more often but Sundays I can't seem to get up and going in the AM.

I am Episcopalian and DD was baptized in that church. DH is not really anything, though he was raised Presbyterian.

BM is Catholic (doesn't really practice, but she technically is) and SS was baptized last year in her church---he had never been baptized and when she had her baby girl baptized, SS wanted to do it, as well. :)

We have never had any religious issues, thankfully. It's about the only thing they've never fought over, LOL!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

We had the opposite problem while we were married. As a matter of fact, the scariest day of my life so far was the day my X (husband at the time) threw me up against the wall while holding my DS who was about 9 months at the time. All for going to church while he was asleep when he wanted to go grocery shopping. Something tells me it wasn't really about going to the grocery store.

As far as working it out, X knows he can't control me or my home. He can do or not do what he wants with DS when DS is at his place; and vice versa.

She needs to lighten up a bit. Even kids that come from very religious homes go through a period of self-discovery in their late teens and early twenties. It's only fair for them to use their own brains to decide for themselves.

And I feel sorry for these women if they are so easily influenced by their peers (your children) that they are so swayed from beliefs impressed on them from a young age. Because that means that they will lose their identity very easily, especially at college where there are so many weak personalities and strong personalities in one place.

I don't have a daughter, but I have nieces and I would want them to be confident in their own abilities to discern truth from bullsh*t and not sell-out just because someone is handsome or beautiful and can talk well. College is full of that stuff and I hope that my neices are well-grounded by the time they go to college.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"She is also blaming my kids, claiming they have had "long discussions" with the girls about religion. I've always told my kids to avoid that topic with them, but they probably didn't--kids talk about stuff like that."

Religion is one of those topics that regularly gets yanked by the Forum moderators, so that may have been what happened -- though your post is certainly 'mild'.

I suspect BM's "long discussions with" were probably more similar to long talks AT the girls. At least from my experiences, 'discussions with' are more two-way and involve some areas of difference, some give and take. But with a subject like religion, many people can't tolerate areas of difference and attempt to convince the other person of the speaker's beliefs. Faith seems to be non-negotiable. And simple exposure to an "I don't think so" school of thought from people to whom one is close makes the question of whether there is or is not a God practically inevitable -- which can be incendiary to someone who believes strongly but can't 'prove' their point.

I'd let it blow over and stay as far away from the fray as possible. It's a fight that can't be won.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Sweeby, I think BM was accusing the OP's bio-kids with having the long discussions with the Skids, rather than saying BM was having them personally with the her daughters.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I hate pronouns!

You're right Silversword -- I misread that line to mean BM had had long discussions with the kids.


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Oh, those pronouns!

Sorry about that! Yes, BM was accusing my kids of "having discussions" with the SKs about topics like the origins and history of religions. BM has come right out and said that "faith is fragile" and that if the SKs are taught to examine their beliefs, they will "lose their faith," etc.

That one small area has been such a challenge. My son is a grad student in anthropology, doing his field work on the Samoan church. He is (though non-theist also) a great fan of all the different religions that have existed through human history and pre-history. When he comes home from school he always talks about his studies enthusiastically. SD1 and he are very much alike and close, and it has been so hard to just come right out and say to him "Yes, SD1 has been indoctrinated and she is learning to think about this stuff in her own way, but we need to remain silent because her mother will come down hard on DH," etc. My guess is that like most siblings, they don't always do what the folks say!

I'm sorry for going on and on. It is so hard to discuss this with people who are not in a stepfamily! Thanks for listening!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"BM has come right out and said that "faith is fragile" and that if the SKs are taught to examine their beliefs, they will "lose their faith," etc. "

Whew!!!! That's painful! She'd better get a little stronger if her faith is to withstand life in the "real" world. IMO, questioning faith either makes it stronger or breaks it. And if it's fragile enough to be broken it wasn't that strong to begin with.

BM is being irrational. She cannot control her dd so she is taking it out on the kids, ex-h and blaming them for her lack of control. I think critical thinking is essential, and if something doesn't add up one should seek a solution. Soon SD will meet other people who have influence (those radical college professors!!! gasp!!!) and will need to be strong in more than one way (if you know what I mean). Sheltering her now, from people who care about her and actually care about her belief system rather than wanting to systematically destroy the faith of all "believers" (as many college age people are wont to do) will make her more fragile and susceptible to losing her faith later.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

If Bm thinks "faith is fragile" I think she's missed the boat to begin with. Real faith is rock solid! I happen to believe in the things you do not believe in. I wouldn't say I am a perfect follower of said beliefs by ANY MEANS but I do believe.

I think religion and politics are two topics that are always going to come up because they are controversial subjects. In College they will be CONSTANT topics of debate. BM had might as well get used to that. The kids will ultimately decide what their beliefs are, with or without outside influence.


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Also OP

If I were you I would just roll my eyes at her accusations, her fanaticism is showing a little.


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Thanks, Boodledoo!

It's such a relief to be able to discuss this with someone! Just between you and me, it does seem grossly unfair that we have had to muzzle ourselves so much, so that the girls will not have to apply the usual investigative standards that they would otherwise be encouraged to use. BM has said things like "If you think about faith, you don't have it. You just have to close your eyes and shut out logic." As if logic is bad....

I am tempted to tell DH that the rules could change now. That if they ask us why we do not believe in the supernatural, that we could just come right out and tell them! The whole thing seems so dysfunctional, now that I am writing about it. Ha!

But, we did make a deal over a decade ago. We would say nothing...and in return, BM did not make the girls go to a very repressive school she had in mind.

Just a little while ago DH e-mailed me that BM called about a totally unrelated matter and was sweet as pie. Back to normal, I guess!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I believe in nothing, lol, it sounds so funny typing it. Ok, rather I fall under secular humanism if it needs a name. DD's father believes in a Christian religion.

We don't really concern ourselves with what the other one believes in. We have a "pact" where when we are discussing something with DD, we make sure to say this is what *I* believe...you are free to make your own decisions and we will both support you in that. There are many, MANY things that he tells DD...it's a tightrope for me because I don't want to say anything to discount how he feels, but I also don't want to compromise how I feel.

But at the end of the day, I am confident that DD will make the best choices for her and I will respect those. I also respect his belief's, even if I dont share them. I think if we ever come to a cross roads like you have, I would want to make it clear that DD's fathers beliefs are just as important as mine are -- no matter what decision she makes. Not make it sound like one of us is better than the other for believing something else. I think that's slippery slope.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

""faith is fragile" and that if the SKs are taught to examine their beliefs, they will "lose their faith," etc. "

That sounds like something those cult-like religious groups tell their followers! ICK!!!

College age people should be able to make up their own minds on religion and their beliefs. BM was able to bring them up in what religion she saw fit, now they are adults and have the right to choose their beliefs!

If I was your DH I would be really mad at bm for calling him and complaining about this!! Really, how dare she try to decide what her adult daughters believe about religion!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"Don't think too hard or you won't believe?"

That's a good message to send your children...


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Once again, thank you all so much for your input! This is really helping me work through this issue. (Not helping me work so much, ha! Oh well, we all need to goof off sometimes!)

I think I will talk to DH about us loosening up a little bit. Not so much to support the girls as they develop better critical thinking skills (though I must admit that would be nice) but so that he and I and my kids could relax a little bit more. Though the girls are pretty much aware of the situation.

This makes me think of Christmas a few years ago. My daughter is the youngest and she said something about Santa (determined as little kids are to have Santa be real) and my SD closest to her age said sort of meanly, "Santa is just made up." And my daughter scowled and said "Well so is Jesus and God and Allah and the Easter Bunny!" There was this silence in the room and I saw my son giggle and make a knife-across-the-throat gesture to DD (just in fun) that the SDs couldn't see. It was kind of cute, but at the same time, it had a separating effect on the two sets of kids. Who have otherwise been really close.

Bottom line, I think DH and I have been walking on eggshells and need to lighten up a little bit. I think on some level we are still scared BM might withhold the kids. Vestiges of the old days.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Ilrike,

It wasnt very nice when your SD said no Santa to your younger D. But I also detect a mocking tone in your attitude about your sons response. I think you delight in some of this. If your DH has made promises about religion, I have to question whether your heart is in it.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"faith is fragile" and that if the SKs are taught to examine their beliefs, they will "lose their faith,"

AND

her new DH is a theology professor

????

isn't examining your beliefs kind of the whole point of theology?


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I think that bm is a control freak. She is pretty much saying that she does not want her girls thinking for themselves because otherwise they will not believe what they are told! Sounds like a form of brainwashing!!

It sounds like OP went along with bm's ways all these years. But she surely can not control if her children's views are different from her stepchildren and they voice that.

And looking back I would probably be giggling a bit too because bm in this case is being ridiculous! Calling her ex to complain and blame him that her adult daughters are not going to church.....I mean really, come on!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"I have to question whether your heart is in it."

Why would her heart be in it?
Giving lip service to ideas that she does not believe in?
Because she's being blackmailed by BioMom?


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

No, because she said she would -- from first post

"We assured BM early on that we would never make any negative comments about any religion in front of the girls, nor keep them from attending religious events, etc., and we have stuck to that. "

I think keeping one's word is important.


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Two houses

Many divorced parents do not agree on religion, yet agree as to how children should be handled.


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Precisely, Sweeby!

Our hearts were most assuredly NOT in it. We had to promise BM that she could teach them supernatural beliefs even though for us, this is pretty much tantamount to intellectual child abuse. And KKNY, SDs did not see my kids and us exchange glances...that has always been what we have had to do, to hide the most basic understanding of the world, to keep BM happy. We have "kept our word," but at the cost of allowing the girls to be taught a way of thinking that makes it very hard for us to fully communicate with them.

Still, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, because now they are over 18--they can make up their own minds.


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Quirk

I hear ya, Quirk! BM's DH is an absolutely wonderful, sweet, adorable man and he loves to think, think, think. But, all within a certain context...he won't think beyond a particular point, of course. Like, there has to be a "given" that certain things are true, and then he can parse the particulars all to heck! (So to speak.)


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"We had to promise BM that she could teach them supernatural beliefs even though for us, this is pretty much tantamount to intellectual child abuse"

Her DH is a theology professor, so I assume this is recognized religion. And you regard teaching it as intellectual child abuse? Do you think maybe the mother has picked up on this, and it has generated conflict. As I said, many divorcing people have different views on religion.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

My husband and I are not religous at all...we see things more from a scientific perspective. we decided long ago, that we wanted our children, SD included, to make up their own minds about what they believed. We do not push our views on our children, and if asked, we will explain our beliefs, what we have pushed for the children to do, is to learn as much as they can about ALL religions and decide for themselves what they believe. Many times my children have gone to Sunday school or another religous activity with a friend just for the experience.
IMO these children are old enough to make their own opinions about religion, it is also my opinion that at this stage in the game, you shouldn't have to be dealing w/ BM very much at all. I think it is a disservice to all children involved, if you aren't able to discuss and explain your beliefs if the children ask you. You and DH have nothing to be ashamed of, your beliefs are your beliefs, and with these children in college they are def old enough to understand that people are different, and different people have different beliefs.
Personally, id tell BM to kiss off, and inform her that you will no longer be "hiding" your beliefs.....


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

It's one thing to be openly derisive on someone's religion, to ridicule or scorn someone for deeply-held religious convictions. That would be hurtful, and IMO, wrong. But I think it's also wrong to be required to silence your own deeply held convictions.

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and BioMom was the non-religious one. And Dad and StepMom wanted to explain their deeply-held Christian beliefs to the children, to share their love of Jesus and guide the children into the light... NOT require them to go to church or be baptised, but gently sharing the joy of Christ's love. Who here would be chastising them then?

We're talking basic freedom of speech here! Not malicious speech. Not lies or distortions -- but the sharing of opinions and experiences. That should never be stifled.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

BM is unfair and you have been more than accomodating. Why on earth would one side be silent while the other isn't?

Of course faith is shaky! It is not based on anything factual or proven. Religion depends entirely on that leap of faith.

BM will go plum crazy trying to protect her daughters' tenuous faith!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

So its OK for me to tell my D that her Dads religion is wrong and bad and is the route of evil and terrorism? OK.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I don't know if you are talking to me, kkny, but I didn't say that, nor did anyone else, I don't think.

I just think things should be fair. If she agreed not to say anything bad about BM's religion, it doesn't mean she (or the kids) cannot discuss their beliefs in their own house. It does not mean they can't express their beliefs about Santa out loud if they want to, for example.

There are more non-theists in the closet in this country than gays these days. . .


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Different belief systems

I think divorced parents should agree on what they are going to communicate to their kids re religion and stick by what they say -- and not call it intellectual child abuse. And dad should tell SM what the deal is. And she shoudl live with it.


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inetllectual abuse?

I don't believe that teaching religion is intellectual child abuse. I am Jewish and raised my DD in that relgion, moderatelly though since we are Reform Jews. DD attended hebrew school on sundays and graduated from it. No i do not think i intellectually abused my child. We have atheists, Catholics, Jews, eastern Orthodox, Muslims in our family and we do not think anyone is intellectually abusing anyone. inappropriate concept in my opinion.

My SO is muslim and i am jewish and we are not bothered by that.

i think intellectual abuse is to tell your children that what others believe is wrong.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"There are more non-theists in the closet in this country than gays these days. . . "

no, there are not


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I'd put that clearly in the category of derisive or scornful speech.

But IMO, it WOULD be OK for you to tell your DD that you don't agree with Dad's religion and feel the emphasis on 'jihad' catalyzes unnecessary conflicts that could be better handled through diplomacy.

In this case, Dad and StepMom agreed not to say anything against BioMom's faith or to promote their own non-theist views. And they did! You criticized them for "not having their heart in it!"

How can you 'have your heart in it' short of converting? By being a 'really good' hypocrite?

And I'm with you StepMomof4 about closeted non-theists. The U.S. deosn't seem the be a very tolerant place for non-theists right now.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"The U.S. doesn't seem the be a very tolerant place for non-theists right now".

i have to disagree. yes US is much less tolerant than Europe, but US is a very diverse country. most of my coleagues are nontheists and are very open about it. most people i know are not religious and even oppose organized religion. then of course if one lives in Bible belt, it is a different story.

I think it is somewhat fasionable now to be a victim or to fall into a minority category. Now nontheists equate themselves with gays (in their need to protect themselves and hide their identity). i think it is unfair to trully discriminated people. I think it is unfair to equate open declaration of lack of faith and declaration of one's sexual identity.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"i think intellectual abuse is to tell your children that what others believe is wrong."

I agree, well said. I also think it is abuse to someone else's intellect to "teach them" seriously about something that does not exist, or rather something for which there is no proof, or teaching them that faith is all that is required to have a belief.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

so you are saying that nonthesists are forced to be in a closet in this country yet you saying that raising children in religion is child abuse.

so if it is not OK to say bad things about nontheists, why is it OK to bash the ones who do raise their children in religion?

i think what you saying in your posts is deeply offensive to people on this forum and this is one of the topics that needs to be discussed very carefully. you are crossing the line here.


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Sorry for the can of worms!

Goodness, folks, I certainly didn't mean to get a holy war going on the stepmom's board. When one lives in a country with freedom of religion, people are free to decide what they want to believe. That's really the only way to handle a species like ours, that evolved so fast that over history we have invented thousands of fascinating ways to explain the natural world around us.

To clarify, I have no problem with teaching children ABOUT religion--historically, it has been an important repository for some of the most fundamental things that helped our species survive. Heck, when we are traveling anywhere in the world, the first thing we do is make a beeline to the temples to see the pretty stuff and hear the pretty music. We love the part of the human brain that wants to make sense of the universe, whether that be a science lab or a mosque.

On the other hand, we are wary of anyone who tries to convince kids (or adults) that they should not subject a certain belief to systematic testing--that certain things should not open to critical thinking. Teaching children to behave in a certain way because a supernatural creature of some kind says they must can make them more subject to manipulation in other areas of life.

I agree from experience that it's frightening to be a non-theist in some situations. But if we all work together to find common ground and find answers through sensible inquiry, I believe there's hope for our wonderful, diverse world.


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Finedreams

You said: "I think intellectual abuse is to tell your children that what others believe is wrong." (hey, how do I make italics?)

Is there any limit, though? When they were young, my kids were very freaked out by some Santeria practitioners who were sacrificing cats. I was trying to tell them well, that's what they believe, etc., when it didn't seem right at all. My son said "I would try to stop them if I could" and I thought oh jeeze, he is going to get a neighborhood holy war going....


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"then of course if one lives in Bible belt, it is a different story."

That's where I live...
And many of my friends have even gone so far as to try to convince me that non-thiests are amoral and evil! (They don't mean ME of course... God suposedly has big plans for me, once I see the light.)

""i think intellectual abuse is to tell your children that what others believe is wrong." "

I'd quibble with this. I'd call it verbal abuse to call people stupid for believing what they do, but I can't agree that saying "I believe something else" is wrong.


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kkny

You said: "And dad should tell SM what the deal is. And she shoudl live with it."

I think maybe I haven't been clear--their dad is my husband. We are married; we make decisions together and our decisions take priority over those of other people we have had relationships with in the past. If he were to "tell me what the deal is," he would find himself standing before a judge again, just as I would never dream of telling him "what the deal is" and making decisions with my former husband that take precedence. As a couple we work together with BM and her husband to arrive at the best arrangements for the children we are all raising together.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I think you are overstepping -- there not your kids. It sounds to me that th childresn mom has tried to be accomodating to you and now you make fun of her and want to cut her out. A lesson to all moms who would try to be accomdating.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

There is a distinct difference between the abuse of the intellect, which is a vague concept to begin with, and child abuse. Why is non-theist rhetoric so offensive? Do you not think non-theists are offended deeply by the constant assumption that people are all on the Christian team? The perpetual condescension that what we believe in is not only somehow inferior but immoral as well?

As far as the quibble and the shudder about telling someone their beliefs are wrong . . there are examples like Hitler, OF COURSE, but generally it is better to say they have a different opinion, or that you disagree. Most religions are not so extreme. BTW the cat killers are terrifying.

Quit getting offended. I have a lot of friends who are Christian. Be tolerant, live and let live. My views are just as important as yours.

Peace, people. ;-]


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Where, exactly, is the OP overstepping? She has upheld her end of the deal made with BM. Her steps, who are free thinking adults, are now questioning the religion mom has shoved them into and mom is upset about it. I don't see how even you, KK, can turn that one into a overstepping SM issue.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

What happened to teaching our children religous tolerance? I am not in the "closet" and I share so openly with anyone, including my SD and bio children, including my very religous side of my family.....
I mean honestly, there are SO MANY different religions out there, how can people 100% say theirs is right or someone elses is wrong? you can't until your dead!!
OP I think that you all have kept your religous beliefs quiet for way too long, your beliefs are not "shameful" and by not being open about them to your SD's gives the appearance. I honestly would give a rats patutie what BM thinks. Does she expect her girls to never be around someone of a different religion? Perhaps she would feel better if she could keep them in a bubble and only allow people within her religion to conversate with them.....


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

JNM, as to why I say OP is overstepping --

"You [referring to me] said: "And dad should tell SM what the deal is. And she shoudl live with it."

"I think maybe I haven't been clear--their dad is my husband. We are married; we make decisions together and our decisions take priority over those of other people we have had relationships with in the past. If he were to "tell me what the deal is," he would find himself standing before a judge again, just as I would never dream of telling him "what the deal is" and making decisions with my former husband that take precedence. As a couple we work together with BM and her husband to arrive at the best arrangements for the children we are all raising together. "

It should be mom and dads decision as to the role of religion in the kids life. They have two parents, not four.

I am sooo glad when I read things like this -- its an education. Never give SM or Dads SO an inch. It his and my decisions about these things. Being dads wife doesnt give her the right to make these deicisons.


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Forgive me, KKNY

KKNY, I haven't been on the board very long, so I don't know your stepfamily story. Does your husband just go meet with your SKs' mom and then come home and issue an order to you about how things will be in your own house? What if you have concerns about his unilateral household decisions?

I know there are stepfamilies where it does come down like that, but generally because there is an irrational, jealous ex. And even in those families, the spouses talk beforehand so when the bioparent discusses kid matters with his/her ex, the two adults of the home are presenting a united front.

I do know several stepparents who genuinely aren't interested in being a parent figure to the kids, and that is certainly their right--some folks just aren't kid people! But for the most part, if children are living with two adults and there is this dynamic where one of the grown-ups has no say, that is a recipe for spoiled and often unhappy kids. Kids--even teens--do crave limits and truly, on some level, don't want to have control over adults. It's very sad to see a kid say to a stepparent, "I don't have to do what you say, my dad mom said so."

If I got wind that one of my own kids said something like that to their SM, I would give them a major lecture.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Religion is NOT a household decision, it is a parental decision. Things like cleaining up after yourself are household decisions. A house does not have different religious beliefs (other than a house of worship I guess)

I told me X I would raise D in his religion. He knows my word can be trusted. Even if I were to remarry, that decision would be a parental one, not a household one.

We were talking about religion. In general, I think the bio parents should lay down any rules for kids, but that is especially true for religion. Without knowing what you did, I dont know if the mom is justified or not in saying a child doesnt have to do what a step says.

I am sorry for the stress in your life, but I am sooo glad no one but me and my Ds father makes the important parental decisions.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Never give SM or Dads SO an inch. It his and my decisions about these things. Being dads wife doesnt give her the right to make these deicisons."

Really, KK? So you think my SD's mom is better suited to make significant decisions in her life than I am?


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I like that image!

I like your image of a house of worship having a different religion! "Darn, I'm an episcopalian, what are these snake handlers doing in me throwing around those rattlers?" :)

Ha, my stepchildren have NEVER said anything like "We don't have to do what Ulrike1 says." I hope you didn't think I was talking about my own SKs.

You said you aren't a SM? I'm sorry, I assumed everyone on this board would be in a stepfamily. Is your ex-husband remarried? Do you have problems with his new wife?

Here's my findings about stepfamilies: one can make it a good thing or a bad thing. One can cling possessively to the children who have one's own DNA (and as a BM I know well the temptation!) and get stuck in the grieving-the-nuclear-family stage indefinitely. Good for the kids?

Or, you can (ASSUMING the stepparents are decent people and certainly most are) look at it in a different way: that your kids have this incredible resource of an additional source of family connection. That they will have a greater range of experiences, a more expansive frame of reference in life, and, bottom line, have more "backup" all around. Need a peacock costume? Mom can't sew? Maybe SM can! Need a ride home from lacrosse? Which of the four parents isn't at work?

I think of my kids' SM, for example. Now she and I are very different, in age, temperament, background, ethnicity. And yes, at first it panged me when I waved goodbye to my kids and they climbed into her car and gave her a big hug and spoke to her in her language (that I didn't speak at the time but now I do a bit). But over time, I came to really like her and I have some of her artwork hanging in my house and (I admit) I brag about who she is when someone admires it.

And ditto BM and me. We enjoy each other's company most of the time and share private jokes and silly e-mails and photos of the kids. She and I communicate much more than she and DH do (unless she's mad about something, which she seems to be getting over, thank goodness).

Sorry, I am being so longwinded--it's nice to be able to think these things through.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

JNM, of course this is discussion is restricted to moms who dont have severe mental issues, drugs, etc.

Urek, I dont "grieve" the nuclear family, but that doesnt mean I abdicate responsiblity for my child. My D doesnt have 4 parents, she has 2.

I highly recommend women in the process of divorce read this board, and see how often SMs overstep. I highly recommend ROFR, no third party pick ups etc.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

So KKNY - If I'm reading this right, you and your Ex are different religions, and you agreed to raise your DD in his religion. I've certainly got no problem with that.

But that's not YOUR religion. Do you pretend it is? If DD asks you why Dad's religion believes XYZ - Do you explain why they do? What if she asks if YOU believe that? Do you say that you do even if you don't? If your DD buys into Dad's religion whole hog, then tries to convert you, what would you say?

I see your core point -- that it's the parents decision which religion to raise the child in.
But exactly what is a StepParent supposed to say when the kid asks point blank questions?


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Sweeby, I do not pretend, but I show that religion respect (actually I hope I show all religions respect), and answer whatever questions I can (most) - or suggesti she call her dad otherwisw.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

kkny said: "Religion is NOT a household decision, it is a parental decision."

It is so very true! It is certainly not up to a stepparent at all to decide re: religion.

sweeby, what a strange question: "DD asks you why Dad's religion believes XYZ - Do you explain why they do?"

why would DD ask her mom about religion that she (DD) and her dad practice? Wouldn't be logical that she would go to her dad for clrafications?

now sweeby asks: "But exactly what is a StepParent supposed to say when the kid asks point blank questions?"

If a child asks a stepparent a question about religion that stepparent clearly doesn't practice, then steparent should say i do not practice that religion and do not know the details so it would be better to ask your parents. if anyone asks me details about Islam or Christianity (not in a historical perspective-that i can answer, but in theological aspect) i would refer them to a person of that faith.


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ulrike

"We are married; we make decisions together and our decisions take priority over those of other people we have had relationships with in the past"

ulrike, I certainly hope you do not make decisions together in what religion his children will practice. that is between their mother and father. No, your decisions what their children will practice should not take over decisions of their mom and dad. You are clearly overstepping the boundaries.


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more for ulrike

"I think of my kids' SM, for example."

I get along wiht DD's SM great, she is really nice. But she would never ever tell (or show) DD that what she and I practice (different from her beliefs) is something to roll her eyes about. And I know she shouldn't say that what she and her DH (my X) decide should precede what I and X decided in regards to DD.

maybe she thinks that raising children jewish is intellectual abuse or maybe it is ballony or maybe it is supernatural crap (I know she doesn't think that but let's assume for a minute), she would keep it to herself, and wouldn't mock what my DD believes. I do not understand such insensitivity and lack of understanding.

I have people of all kind of religions as well as nontheists in my family and surrounding, never ever anyone of us would make inappropriate comments, mock, or encourage mockery. In fact I and my SO celebrate Christmas (I am Jewish he is Muslim) because his DDs are Christians and my niece and nephew are Catholic (while my brother and father are adamant atheists and my mom and DD are Jewish). We all are there and all get along. And then we celebrate our respective holidays. We all show respect. Not that hard.

i don't need to belive in Jesus Christ or Allah but it is not my place to mock or pock fun at those who do. And frankly knowing how many people suffered or died because of who they are or what they believe telling or showing children that this is all crap, is intolerant and wrong on every level. maybe because my people continue raising our children in our faith (or "intellectually abuse") we survive and didn't dissapear even if it is crap in others opinion.

and no, religion, is never a household decision. "what's for dinner"-is household decision.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I seem to have missed the part where Ulrike rolled her eyes and ridiculed BioMom's faith --

Maybe someone here can find it?


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I didnt see anything about rolling either, but I do see her putting down mom's faith in about as severe a way as I can see -- as in "intellectual child abuse"

Mom lived up to her part of the bargain. Now that it may be harder to control, SM decides her word and dads word is meaningless.


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Intellectual Abuse

OK - Found it:

"We had to promise BM that she could teach them supernatural beliefs even though for us, this is pretty much tantamount to intellectual child abuse."

IMO, the reasonableness of this viewpoint would vary with the degree of demonstrable scientific inaccuracy of the theology in question. Using Christianity as the sample religion, if BioMom teaches her children the conventional "there is one God, Jesus was his son, he died for our sins, ten commandments" spiel -- well I can't see that as intellectual child abuse. But if BioMom teaches an absolute and unwavering LITERAL interpretation of every single word of somebody's translation of the bible: "The bible says seven days - that means 7 days! Adam's rib means Eve was created from a rib bone from Adam's chest!" and everything else in life that doesn't fit perfectly with "God's word" needs to be twisted or disbelieved to fit that religious viewpoint -- well then yeah, I would consider that "intellectual abuse".

How can you teach a child how to think (not what to think or what to believe) when critical thinking standards can't be applied to certain subjects?

I also think the fact that Dad and SM agreed ten years ago under duress makes the agreement somewhat less 'morally binding'.

"But, we did make a deal over a decade ago. We would say nothing...and in return, BM did not make the girls go to a very repressive school she had in mind."


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Choices as to religion and education are no more under duress than anything else. As IMA always says you could take it to court. Dad gave his word. Doesnt sound to me that anyone forgot. So why is it less morally binding.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

You know what duress means --

"We would say nothing...and in return, BM did not make the girls go to a very repressive school she had in mind."


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

"As IMA always says you could take it to court."

Wait! How'd I get roped into this discussion? This is the first time I've read this thread...

Just my two cents on religion... we live in a FREE country! We have freedom of religion... and that includes our kids~ they can be whatever THEY choose. They can believe what they WANT to believe! Especially when they are college aged! I would have told her "they are adults, they have their own minds and if you have a problem with that, then it's YOUR problem!"

OP, don't waste your time worrying about what someone else thinks of your beliefs or accusing you of something you know is not true. You don't have to answer to her.. the kids are adults now.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

In my experience, children change their minds several times about their faith as they grow up. I'd adopt the attitude that whatever the kids are saying to each other will not be taken too much to heart - and even if it is, everyone has a right to freedom of thought.

I'd hope that your partner's ex would accept that, too, but some partner's exes need to do some growing up of their own, eh? ;-)

Good luck with it all, but try not to let it get you down too much. This too shall pass (without wanting to spark a debate on the infinity of the Godhead and all that ...!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Author's website - buy the book!


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Ima, I seem to recall when moms make compromises, your responmse is take it to court.

What I see here is mom made a compromise, and now SM doesnt want to live with it.

And it is not SMs business as to religous choices. Again, I urge all moms to read these threads, and see how SMs think relegion of stepchildren is in their court.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

oh, come on, kkny. SM never said she didn't want to live with the agreement, or that she's not living by it. What she said was that her and her husband have lived by it, but that BM is upset because BMs now college age kids and SMs now college age kids have (GASP) had conversations with each other about their differing beliefs. Bet they've also had conversations about sex and politics and drugs and alcohol and tattoos, and who knows what else. The "kids" are all grown now. Neither BM nor SM at this point can control what they talk to each other about. College age kids are going to be exposed to things their parents wish they weren't, (such as BMs kids being exposed to different religious beliefs) and do thing their parents have told them not to (such as SMs kids talking to their step-siblings about religion). There's a point at which parents just have to accept that and let go a bit; trying to lay blame because the world doesn't operate the way you want it to just doesn't do any good.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I think OP has made it pretty clear what she thinks of whatever religion the mom is of, and is clearly wavering on it. As I said, I think she should tell her kids pls dont discuss religion with your stepsisters.

The stepkids can talk about whatever they want outside of the house -- the point is there was an arrangmeent that AT HOME - the moms religion would be respected.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

What is the court going to do with this issue? Kids are in college and have had plenty of years to develop their own opinions on religion... just as they will form their own opinions on politics. If you were talking about 5 year olds, then maybe the court would care... but then both parents have a right to share 'their' beliefs. I agree that it's overstepping by anyone to say someone is WRONG... just as it would be wrong for a parent to say the other parent's sexuality is WRONG because it is different than theirs. But, I still can't imagine a court getting involved when kids are college aged... maybe tender years but then both parents have rights to share their values with their kids... until the court says it's detrimental to the child or decides one parent does NOT have the right.


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keeping your word

Ima, I meant that when OP said that her DH agreed to the religion issue UNDER DURESS, he should have dealt with it then. Instead Dad agreed to it. He should keep his word. If I agreed to my Ds religion, and then now said, Oh too bad, that would be going back on my word. I wouldnt do it. D may or may not attend, etc., but in my house we repsect Dads religion, as I said I would.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I haven't read too closely through all the responses, but didn't OP say somewhere that this agreement was made 10 yrs ago?

Bottom line, these "kids" are now college-aged and from my experience in highschool AND college, religion is a hot topic of debate. The SKs cannot be expected to live in a bubble. Surely, by now, they've discovered that---gasp---others have different beliefs than them.

I haven't read anything in this thread that said SM or DH badmouthed BM's religion. It sounds like they've been close-mouthed about their own beliefs for years. And let's remember that it's not SM who is being "accused" of talking about religion/beliefs to the steps, it's her own bio-children who, I might add, are also college and grad school age. Sorry, but I don't think even their own mom has the "right" to tell them "please don't discuss religion with your step-siblings."

College-age people are free to form their own thoughts and form their own decisions. I can say for d*mn sure that the stepkids are going to be exposed to a LOT MORE controversial discussions in their lives, and if their faith is THAT shaky, then it wasn't really there to begin with.

I think SM/DH have done what they said they would do, and it doesn't sound to me like they're doing anything wrong now.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

I won't go to the church where BM and SD take the kids. I used to if the kids were in special program or something, but no more...

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it with my own ears, but I do know what hate speech sounds like--and I heard it from their pastor one Sunday night that DH and I were sitting there.

You can bet DH talked to the kids about it...and that neither of us will go anywhere near that place again.

But yeah, before that, the kids' religious education had been left up to BM.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Yes, love college age kids will be exposed tomore -- the question is what they are exposed to in their own home.

Vivian, I have seen what borders on hatred of, not by, religion here.


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And what is it REALLY about?

Sweeby, Imamommy, Intheblender, Quirk, Lovehadley and Vivian31, thanks so much for your great input! Indeed, I'm not sure where the idea came from that (a) we "badmouth" BM's supernatural beliefs to SKs or (b) that it is exclusively MY life view. DH and I are in personal accord and we've never said anything negative to the girls. We have made the basic statement which was agreed on with BM and her DH, which is, "keep an open but discerning mind about anything anyone tells you about anything." We think that's pretty safe, and they are obviously following it. I think maybe BM is having second thoughts about that policy; when they were little, it was easy enough to get them to believe that certain information sources were of equal validity to verifiable facts, but as they are growing up, as many of you have pointed out, their intellects are maturing and they are becoming their own people.

But changing the subject a little bit, yesterday BM called DH about a totally different matter, something not having to do with the girls. Listening to her, it suddenly occured to me that maybe her anger the other day was largely a mask for anxiety...she does try to approach my DH when she is worried about something. Like, even though she knows well that he does not share her supernatural beliefs, she was feeling disappointed and felt the need to connect with him. I'm still wondering what her DH thinks about her many phone calls to my DH...her continued attempt to get my DH to be her shoulder to cry on, even though DH is totally businesslike. We talked about it more over the weekend.


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RE: When the Two Houses Have Different Belief Systems

Are we talking about religion? Or is that what you call supernatural??


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