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Nanny Promoting her Religion to Kids
I am blessed to have found the perfect babysitter to watch over my
children at night. I am a single mom with little support from my husband.
My kids are in very good hands as I must work nights now. The thing is my
daughter is now getting a lot of religious teachings by hearing bedtime
stories about Jesus and saying her prayers. I think my Nanny assumes all
chidren do this even though we are not Christians. Now my daughter wants
to believe even though she knows I am an athiest. How do I handle this
situation? I do not want to lose my nanny or offend her. My kids have
gone through so much by missing their Dad and seeing me work at nights.
I also do not want to raise my daughter as a Christian. From my own
religious background I know that my Nanny is very evangelical which means
she believes that she needs to bear witness to my daughter so that she can
come to Jesus and go to Heaven. I feel like I always have these issues
with being an atheist in the closet! I was raised a Southern Baptist by a
Catholic and a Buddhist BTW!
However, when he got older it got much harder and she crossed a line a few times (my son's father made a decision and she communicated to my son ''I hope Jesus changes his heart'', totally inappropriate). We had to pull my son out of there in a hurry. I wanted my son to keep contact with her, but when they spoke she kept getting very emotional and referring to Jesus intervening in our decisions. We had to end contact. It was very difficult and confusing for a 9 year old boy, and I think he still (at 13) feels the pain of that sudden separation. Also, it is only now that I am realizing the extent of her attempt to indoctrinate him. He told me recently that he once asked her who Darwin was and her response ''a very bad man.'' Yikes.
Now we are both members of the local Unitarian/Universalist congregation. I'm a long time UU but probably would not have gone back to church had I not felt that my son needed to actively process his own religious/spiritual beliefs. This is partly to sort out those confusing early teachings.
Bottom line: I think this harmed my son and I have a lot of guilt about it. You should at least make some guidelines clear. In our case, we thought we had, but it turned out our wishes were not respected. To her, ''saving'' our son was more important than respecting our parenting decisions. You may want to evaluate whether there is a risk of that in your situation. Anon
Does your nanny even KNOW that you and your daughter are not Christians? Are you afraid she'd quit if she did know? I think you simply need to be upfront with her, and if she is offended...well, as wonderful as she may be otherwise, she is not the right caregiver for your family. ''I am not a Christian and Susie is not being raised as a Christian. I do not mind you telling her Bible stories, as STORIES, but please do not ask her to say prayers, and if she has questions about God or Jesus, I would like you to let me know so that I can answer those myself.'' (Incidentally, saying ''I am not a Christian'' may be easier than ''I am an atheist.'' Try it. You'll get used to it. :-) )
You may also want to get a few children's books about different religions, myths, holidays and rituals. The nanny's religious influence will be better understood in the context of teaching tolerance and respect for all sorts of different religious beliefs. Your daughter will end up believing whatever she believes -- but she is a lot more likely to make the ''right'' decisions about that if she is exposed to a wider range than just the nanny's evangelical fervor and your own ''closet'' atheism. (For that matter, if your parents are still around, perhaps your daughter would enjoy visiting their respective church and temple with them and learning more about their very different spiritual practices.) Humanist Mom
My toddler son learned little songs about Jesus in Spanish, drove all over town in a car that had a Jesus is my Savior bumpersticker on it, and even went to church with her a few times. At the age of 4 he would say things like ''You don't have to worry about that, Mommy, because God is watching over you and He will take care of you.'' I thought it was sweet, so I'd just say that was sweet of him to say so.
Now that he is almost 7, we are able to talk more about religion and God and about what different people believe, and I know these kinds of discussions will continue throughout his childhood and adulthood. I am not at all concerned that his love for his religious nanny is going to determine his religious beliefs, and I don;t expect him to accept mine, either, at least not when he is 7! I think it is very comforting for children to have the concept of a loving and protecting God. I did, when I was little. I just came to not believe, later, and it will be up to him later to come to his own beliefs.
It is really kind of ironic: I moved here in part so I could raise my kids in a place where they would not feel oppressed, like I did, by the overwhelming influence and constant proselytizing from evangelical Christians, and I end up with an evangelical Christian helping me raise my son! Only in California! I'm OK with it
If the situation were reversed; if this was a deeply religious family and the nanny was discovered to be trying to disturb the faith of a young child, would anyone be counseling handling the situation with patience and broadmindedness?
It is not her place to be inculcating her beliefs to your child. You have a family value system, and it doesn't rely on believing in the singular truth of Christian teachings, so why are you allowing your young child to be proselytized? If you do want to teach your child the beliefs of many different peoples, certainly, do so.
But this woman is teaching him her values as the one and only truth, and if you remain silent and allow her to continue doing so, then this is the only truth you are teaching him. Unless you actually want to raise him as a Christian, why are you doing this to him? anon
''(Also, it's worth noting that ''atheist'' denotes an absence of belief. You should decide what you DO believe in so that you can explain that to your child. Are you a humanist? A pagan? Or actually an agnostic?''
The webster definition of Atheist ''one who believes that there is no deity'' There is no requirement to subscribe to any other belief. Anon
Now as for Christians... some are very cool and respectful. But have you heard the term neo-con? There is a fervency in some Christians, and they believe that conversion to their agenda is more important than professionalism or respecting boundaries or free will (which is interesting since their bible specifically states that everyone gets to make their own free will choice). I already feel she has a huge strike against her in crossing this boundary, but perhaps she made an assumption or just didn't know. With that in mind, I would have a talk with my nanny to be fair to her, asking for her compliance to not interfere spiritually and see if she completely respects this from now on. One whiff of her doing it again, though, and she'd be gone. But then I have strong feelings about proselytizing. anon
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