In-Laws and Religion

Real Relationship Advice

Why is it that most married couples have an in-law story? It is amazing how many different ways in-laws can violate a couple’s boundaries. Today we have yet another question regarding faith and religion.

What is the best course of action when your in-laws take it upon themselves to educate your child about religion specifically when you are not around even though they know it is against your wishes?

Last week the question was regarding the mocking of a faith. This week is less passive aggressive and just plain aggressive. When an In-Law decides to take it upon themselves to teach your child about a religion, it goes beyond a simple boundary violation. This act goes deeper than simply a difference of opinion.

A person’s faith usually dictates how they view life and the after-life. Many people tend to believe that their religion is the ‘one true faith’ and thus the golden ticket to the pearly gates. This way of thinking can usually make us do crazy things when it comes to our loved ones. Beliefs of all kind can impede our ability to show respect for one another. Much like political beliefs, if you are on the ‘wrong side’ of an issue, it could mean your life and soul. So it follows that if an In-Law disagrees with the way their son/daughter is raising their family, there will be big issues.

In this case, your In-Law’s actions were a deliberate act of dismissing your wishes and a violation of a family boundary. Yes, we can explain away why they did it but that is not an excuse for such a flagrant act of disrespect.

You and your spouse need to discuss the ramifications of such an act. On the one hand, your child is learning that the Grandparents are teaching something that does not necessarily fall within the same beliefs that you hold. How are these distinctions presented? One can assume that because of how the information is presented that there has to be a certain amount of emphasis on ‘truth’ and not a clear attempt to temper the discussion with ‘in my belief’s’ or ‘in my opinion’. What they are doing is more than just going against your wishes, they are confusing your kids.

Also, and we will add the caveat that we have worked with abused kids so we are particularly sensitive to this issue, when our children are told something in secret or different than what we, as parents, teach them, they feel that they must hold this confidence to protect the person who told them something. Secrets are never OK!!! It places the child in a double bind that ultimately causes them stress and anxiety.

This is about the kids and as parents we hold the reigns and have the responsibility to raise responsible, hopefully healthy adults.  If people can’t understand this than maybe they just don’t get to have the honor and privilege of hanging out with them.

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