blooming plant

Family first!

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

My husband and I are so happy  to be grandparents for the very first time. We waited a long time for this. Our son didn’t marry until he was 38 and he and his wife were always so dedicated to their careers. You can imagine how happy we are.

But we are very concerned about our grandsons’s religious training or should I say, lack thereof. We raised our son to be a good Christian but he left the church when he was a teenager and has never returned.  While we truly love his wife, she isn’t a practicing Christian either. (They didn’t even get married in a church, opting instead for a ceremony on the beach with some Internet minister performing the rituals.)

Sadly, we’ve all had some very heated discussions about this over the years but with the birth of our grandson, we are barely able to contain ourselves. When we asked about when the baby’s baptism would be my son reminded us that we already knew the answer to that question. (They told us months ago their child would not be raised in the church.)  Unfortunately, my husband erupted, telling both of them that rejecting God was unacceptable and cautioned them about what it means to be good parents. We left quickly and haven’t had any contact with them in over a week.

Don’t you think they owe us an apology? And don’t you think they should baptize that precious baby?  It’s one thing for an adult to risk living a non-Christian life but to subject an innocent baby to this is unforgivable. How do we get them to put their son’s well being above their own misguided beliefs?

Worried Grandma

Dear Reader,

Clearly, your religious beliefs are central to who you are and how you choose to conduct your lives. Thus, when something as profound and meaningful as this is rejected, it’s little wonder that deep pain results.

However, I can also imagine the intensity of your son and daughter-in-law’s feelings as well. They are mature, thoughtful adults and, frankly, you are equally guilty of rejecting their beliefs. My guess us that they are as hurt and frustrated by these circumstances as you two are.

Do they owe you an apology? As surprising as I know my answer may be, in fact, I believe you and your husband owe them an apology. From what you write, there have been a number of “heated discussions” about this topic. This time around, your husband “erupted” and admonished their parenting. Then you abruptly ended the conversation and have not made contact since. No, I believe you and your husband are the ones who need to pick up the phone and make amends.

Please know that I fully appreciate why this situation is so difficult, so nearly impossible for you and your husband. Your very core has been rejected – the core that defines who each of you is, what you believe is right and what you trust your life to be. Having your child turn away from such values is one of the most difficult experiences any family can navigate.

But to continue this friction, to berate your adult children for their choices, and to try to coerce them into sharing your beliefs will only lead to more heartache for all of you, including your “precious” grandson.

Instead, put your differences aside and focus on being a family bound together by love,  and respect. Enjoy each other without judgement. Be active in your grandson’s life and appreciate his miraculous presence! Remember, you are a family. Now is the time to embrace all the goodness that multi-generational relationships can be.

Please believe me when I say that based on my 35 years of professional experience, I have seen more change occur when people back off of a topic. Give it a try. By doing so, you will ultimately open the door to a richer experience for all of you.

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