This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
Mark it on your calendars folks, MJ and I are at our first parenting stalemate. The issue is religion, specifically choices concerning Will’s baptism and whether or not he should be raised with religion in his life.
It’s a tough issue and a very personal one. I was baptized in a protestant church but truthfully, that was only to appease my grandmother who was a stalwart in the church and would’ve been devastated if I had told her I don’t truly believe in religion. MJ was raised Catholic. So the problem is, MJ wants to baptize Will in a Catholic church and raise him accordingly. I, on the other hand, don’t want him baptized at all until he is old enough to decide for himself what he wants as far as spirituality in his life.
We ran into this problem before we were married. MJ wanted to get married in a Catholic church and I said I would get married in a church, just as long as it wasn’t Catholic. We eventually compromised with an Episcopalian church. I thought it was too Catholic and she didn’t think it was Catholic enough, so we figured since we were both less than pleased it was perfect.
But this is different. This is our child we’re talking about. And I’m noticing MJ is being a lot less diplomatic this time around. She leaves little doubt that she will only be happy if Will is baptized in a Catholic church. I have far too many problems with Catholicism (clergy abuse, stance on abortion, intolerance toward gays, etc) to subject my son to it. The result has been a lot of procrastination. No one likes to argue about religion and that goes double for married couples. It’s uncomfortable and could lead to a lot of hurt feelings. So we avoid it and say we’ll talk about it later. But at some point later is going to have to turn into now, and we’ll have to resolve it.
Unfortunately for me, I know my place in the hierarchy of this family. If push comes to shove, I’m pretty sure I’ll be overuled because women usually get their way. If I have to, I’ll suck it up for one hour and have Will baptized because I know it’s important to MJ and I want to do whatever it takes to make her happy. But I don’t think it’s fair that my son be raised in a faith I’m strongly against, because under no circumstances will I join or participate in a Catholic church after the initial baptism. And that means I’ll be potentially absent from an entire segment of my son’s life, which saddens me.
My theory is hold off on the baptism and when he is old enough and if he expresses an interest in religion, we’ll take him to several churches of different faiths so he can sample everything. And if he finds something he likes and wants to pursue it, then I will support that wholeheartedly. But to indoctrinate him into a faith when he has no idea what’s going on seems foolish to me. I think baptisms are really for the parents and not the child, but that’s not how it should be.