Oh God

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.

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6 thoughts on “Oh God

  1. What if you have Will baptized where MJ’s requested, but make sure as a parenting TEAM, that you BOTH want to teach him the values of intolerance, race, and how to protect himself against abuse, and be there to make sure he isn’t a subject of any of that nonsense and then let it be known that he was brought up this way “Catholic” because his mother was, and as his father you wanted to make his Mother happy. What it comes down to, when he’s 14 or 15 and decides to that he’s NOT religious, is HIS argument with Mom. If it’s really for MJ and her family, then let it be that in your mind and let it be what it is to them. My guess it’s more about the tradition at this point, and perhaps that he will be blessed.
    Luckily, Bobby and I agree that religion is more of a spiritual and less organized conform. (at least in our opinion) But we married in a Protestant Church for our Family. We held a tradition in a way, which is what we DO believe in.

  2. This was a conversation @ our house for son #1 for ALL the same reasons plus some. (Buddhism vs. Catholic) The solution was private, personal and touching though I’m not sure it would work for you guys…here it is and feel free to use it! When my hubby opposed our baptizing the kids Catholic he asked for my rationale in wanting them raised in the church. My reasons were wanting the boys to grow up in a religion/faith where they believed in something bigger than themselves, some faith that someone/something/somewhere would be watching over them, that heaven/angels are there, etc. My husband’s point…those reasons have nothing to do with a ceremony @ church and a party after. Hmmm…good point. So here’s what I did….I took my son to our Catholic church and had the priest bless (Not baptize) them privately. No pomp & circumstance, no god parents, no grandparents. I explained my desire for what I wanted him to get out of the Catholic faith. Unless I was ready to convert my hubby there wasn’t a chance at baptism anyways. It makes me feel so much better that my kid(s) can choose his faith when he’s ready, but that God is watching out for him, until then.

  3. Hi Aaron, You probably don’t remember me but we met some time ago at Toys R US when I was pregnant and you and MJ were buying gifts for Alicia’s baby. Anyway, I digress. I am a friend of your wife’s from high school and just discovered your blog today and must say…you are the perfect guy for her and I am so happy for you two (and Will!) I wanted to offer some support to MJ if I could…I don’t know whether she is going back to work or not but I meet with a mom’s group in Falmouth every other Friday for adult conversation and advice on breastfeeding and all sorts of other things first time moms don’t know too much about. If she’s interested have her email me at elhmoo1@comcast.net. Ok? Keep up the good work, the blog is great! -Erica

  4. I completely understand your situation. Since you are not over the top spiritual let me put this into terms you would understand. I believe that football is a horribly violent sport. Victor will not be particapating in it or any sports. Should he express an interest in them he can wait until college and I will support him. Victor wants him to start playing right away but the idea he could get hurt terrifies me. Its not fair that I should have to miss out on watching my son’s activities. Honestly what would you say if I meant it? I could raise all the same points about religion to some people the church is like the sox its a part of who you are. No matter what happens you and MJ are the ones who will be teaching him. If you don’t agree with something I know you both will make it known.

  5. Have you thought about Unitarian Universalists? Their theory, that the spiritual growth is important, not the doctrine, may be what can appease you both? the ceremony is a child dedication, which is NOT a baptism but does have all the ceremony of a baptism. the religious education for children encompasses all faiths; each semester (fall and spring)is dedicated to a different faith, according to the child’s age and ability. the child is taught the fundamentals of all religions, their beliefs, their doctrine, their god, making them able to make their own decision, rather than a mere appearance at a church service. the UUs have a church on Sandwich Rd in Falmouth, and one on Rt 6A in Barnstable. both are vibrant, active communities.

  6. Thank you all for your suggestions. I’m looking into all of them and I appreciate all the help!

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