The Grandparent Talk

We finally had a more open discussion with the in-laws about what we believe and its effects.  Well, my lover did.  I stayed out and painted.

Some of the conversation got rather heated and I could hear bits and pieces.

Of course, my lover was accused of ‘dropping the baton’ of faith and rejecting ‘everything the family has stood for throughout the generations’.    He was accused of breaking his promises he made to god as a young child being coerced to accept Jesus as his saviour and all of the implications of that.  Now, I think I had promised never to be a teacher or have kids as a young child.  I’ve broken those promises with no slurs against my character, but making an uninformed promise to please an adult can’t be broken?   sigh.

He was then accused of being brainwashed.   My lover laughed and asked who was brainwashing him.  The answer they came up with was that he was brainwashing himself.

Then he was accused of thinking his parents brainwashed and ignorant and told that was very disrespectful and he should be ashamed.

When morality was brought up, I was asked to provide examples of using principles like  least harm to guide ethical behaviour.  Naturally the morality in question was brought to abortion.  I used an example in the bible of Numbers 5:11-27 where the Lord speaks to Moses and gives him instructions on how to placate a man who suspects his wife of adultery.  Apparently, the Lord in his infinite wisdom commands the woman to ingest toxic compounds and if she miscarries, she was guilty.   I asked if they thought it was moral to cause unwanted abortion if the husband was jealous.

There could have been many answers.  No pops immediately to mind.  The answer I was given was that we cherry-pick the bible.

Jaw drop for the hypocrisy of the statement.

Then we were told we just can’t understand it.  Of course it makes no sense if you think God only commands what is moral and you think abortions are immoral but your God has just caused multiple abortions for the sake of revenge.  It makes complete sense if you realize that the culture treated women as property, that her babies would be the property of her husband, and if she was carrying another man’s baby, it should die or it would unlawfully inherit another man’s wealth.  But I digress.

This is what I did for the rest of the conversation:


Then we asked the grandparents not to proseletyze to our kids.  We said we didn’t want them to hear from someone they love and trust that their parents are going to hell for having different beliefs.  The grandparents said that since they loved their grandkids, could’t we trust that anything they would say and do would be for their benefit?

Umm, no.  Loving someone doesn’t mean you never hurt them, unless you think that hurt is evidence of lack of love or that hurting causes benefit.

Then they asked what answers they could give if Lil’T asked why they prayed at meals or if we wanted them to lie.  The fact that they are asking what they can get away with makes me sad and that they are framing not proselytzing as lying disturbs me.  I don’t feel respected and I don’t feel my children are safe from being coerced, especially knowing that their church specifically teaches them to evangelize to children who are more ‘receptive’.

I has a similar conversation with my mother.  Instead of asking for loopholes, she laughed and said she was hardly qualified to tell her grandkids anything about heaven or hell since she had never been there and wasn’t sure what she knew about them.

I know both sets of grandparents love our kids.  However, love isn’t enough if it is used as a licence to hurt.

15 thoughts on “The Grandparent Talk

  1. Kirstin says:

    This conversation makes me want to cry. Our [grand]parental situation is so similar. My parents know where we stand. Brent’s parents don’t–because we know they’d freak out and try harder to teach E on the sly. Why does it have to be this way?

    I/we remain fairly happily as liberal Christians. But that section of Numbers (why have I never noticed that before???) exemplifies why I cannot interpret the bible literally. What a horrible misogynist sentiment. Ghastly.

    You are brave and strong, my friend. I wish we lived closer so we could have tea and talk.

    • prairienymph says:

      I’d love to have tea with you!
      There was a reason our church’s didn’t read too much from Numbers or Leviticus. I forget which church B’s parents go to. I’m guessing that has a big influence on them.

  2. Ahab says:

    What a mess. I’m glad your partner stood his ground, and I’m stunned at the ludicrous statements of the grandparents. As for morality, I can’t believe they never noticed the grossly immoral passages in the Bible that condone genocide, slavery, honor killing, child abuse, rape during wartime, etc.

    Wishing you and your partner courage!

    • prairienymph says:

      Oh, they noticed the passages. In fact, they gave us a bible study booklet on Leviticus several years ago that first made me really think about it. I just came to a different conclusion than they did since I couldn’t find a way to call genocide moral.

  3. ... Zoe ~ says:

    Stay strong prairie, stay strong.


  4. I have had this conversation with my mom and my mother in law. Neither one of them liked it, but MIL said she would honor our wishes because she loves us and her grandkids. My mom said that she will not be told what to say or do in her house, therefor for that reason and a few others I no longer trust her to watch my children. It has been difficult to stand my ground because I think sometimes she forgets just why we have this rule. She thinks we are just being mean because she is the only one that is not watching them any longer. I wish it were not this way. She no longer comes to visit and hardly see the kids. Only at family functions.

    Good job staying strong. I’ve been accused of the brainwashing and being weak minded. However they say that my husband is the one doing the brainwashing to me.

    Hope things cans smooth over and trust can be recovered because that’s not been the case here.

    Wishing you the best. 🙂

    • prairienymph says:

      I’m really glad you’ve shared so much of your journey on your blog. Its been very helpful. Its probably easier for us since we live a good day’s drive away from the grandparents.
      I’m actually surprised my lover wasn’t accused of being brainwashed by me. I guess I’ve done a better job of keeping quiet than I thought. Or maybe they underestimate my mind too?

  5. ... Zoe ~ says:

    And . . . I forgot! Love your art. The colours, the movement, her hair and her expression. Makes me smile and well, wish I was there with her. My boots are pink. 🙂

  6. TWF says:

    Glad to see you had a productive conversation… at least in one way. 🙂

    Though I’m sure it was tense, I’m guessing that you have some relief now that everything is out in the open.

    You would know more if this approach is appropriate, but I would suggest that you consider (after the tension settles) just keeping things open with the grandparents. Try not to pull away unless they really do seem to be using hurtful language on an intentional basis.

    My thoughts here are that this could serve as a great life lesson for Lil’ T. You can explain how people that you love and respect can still have wrong views, that people can passionately believe things which just aren’t true, and that it is possible to respect people who hold views different than your own, among other lessons. She’s going to encounter such opposition in life. What better way to plant the seeds now of how to appropriately handle these moments.

    Although, from many of your other posts, it seems like Lil’T already has a good head on her shoulders, so maybe she doesn’t need these lessons. 🙂


    • prairienymph says:

      We are trying to stay close. I have to tell myself that my right to be part of the family is not trumped by the possibility of someone feeling uncomfortable around me. Christmas will be fun but I am glad we’ve gotten things out first.

      We have decided to tell LilT more bible stories since this conversation. We stopped because so many of them are bogeyman stories (obey or be afraid). I’ve always loved Ruth though. Its fantastic protest literature against racism.

  7. Quince says:

    You are brave and have accomplished much just getting the conversation out in the open. The grandparents may never understand, but they *may* in time accept your choices. That is the best scenario you can wish for I think, being realistic.

    I wonder myself how useful it is, sometimes, to use the Bible as answers to their questioning your morality or otherwise. It seems false to me prove your ethics with the one source you are not trying to take literally. But then again, it’s fun to point out the hypocrisy as you mention 🙂

  8. PNL says:

    To clarify, the Bible was being used to question their ethics, not support ours.

    Even if the grandparents promise to respect the request not to proselytize, you can never know for sure if they’ll honour this as they would see breaking this promise behind our back as in the best interest of the kids. In fact, more than just their best interest – they would see it as critical to their salvation from hell, the ends justifying unethical means (like genocide in the OT).

  9. hausdorff says:

    Great post. At some point my wife and I are planning on having kids, and we will have to have some version of a talk like this with my parents. I don’t imagine it will go particularly well, I’m dreading it already.

    By the way, the idea of someone brainwashing themselves made me literally laugh out loud. Great stuff 🙂

    • prairienymph says:

      I thought it was funny too! No need to worry about this sort of talk with your parents – it may go over well. It went much better than I hoped with my mom and my follow-up conversation with my m-i-l went quite smoothly.

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