What Would You Do?

I’m in a bind.

Earlier this week I was picking Will up at daycare. I routinely spend a few minutes chatting with my provider. When I asked how Will did that day she smiled and told him to repeat what they say before meals. At that point, to my displeasure, Will said “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food.” Some people, like my wife, think that’s cute. I was less than amused. Because while I was fully aware my provider is very religious, I did not expect her to teach religion to my son. Frankly that’s not something I want him exposed to. But I let that one go because eventually he’ll go to church with MJ and I figure I shouldn’t get upset about harmless exposure to religion. So I sucked it up.

But she wasn’t done yet.

She then asked me about my job. I told her that next week I’m headed to Martha’s Vineyard for a few days because President Obama and the First Family are vacationing in Chilmark and I’ll be covering a portion of their visit for the paper.

Wrong move.

The mere mention of Obama’s name got her started on a mini anti-Obama tirade, which I patiently weathered with a half-hearted smile as I listened to the familiar rhetoric. But then she started telling me about a carnival somewhere (New Jersey I think, go figure!) where you could pay $5 and throw things like balls and plates at a mannequin of Obama. But regrettably, she said, it was shut down after someone was offended and complained.

“Well some people are always going to be offended by stuff like that,” I said as I collected Will and my things to leave.

And then she dropped the hammer.

“Yeah but they get offended by this kind of stuff and never the things they should be offended by,” she said. ” You know, like taking prayer out of school and gay marriage.”

I’m not usually stunned or silent. But this time I was both. Thankfully her elderly mother had just come home and that provided me with an out. Because honestly, at that point I was so angry I’m not sure if the words that came out of my mouth would’ve been advisable.

When I got home I let my anger subside and tried to think about things rationally.

On one hand, it’s a free country and everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. And this is an in-home daycare, which means she’s free to espouse any viewpoint she wants in her own house. She’s religious and conservative, just like some of my friends and family, and so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that she’d be against homosexuals having the right to marry. And if I decided to pull my son from her care simply because we disagree politically, isn’t that me being intolerant of her religious beliefs?

I pride myself on having friends from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some believe in God and others are atheist. Actually, I probably have more conservative friends than liberal, despite my left-leaning tendencies. And I’m a firm believer that our differences, and specifically our ability to get along despite those differences, are what makes the world go round.

But in the end, for me, this is about more than ideological differences.

I have friends and relatives who are gay. I have aunts who are legally married with children. MJ and I are teaching Will to be tolerant of all lifestyles, races, religions, etc. And yet the woman I pay to watch Will felt there was nothing wrong with telling us — her paying clients — that our friends and relatives are in fact, offensive.

That’s just not right.

So I confronted her the next morning and calmly told her that while I don’t want to preach or make her conform to my more liberal viewpoint, MJ and I are very much in favor of gay marriage. And I told her about our family members, and why I was insulted and offended by her remarks. Then I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I did not EVER want Will to hear her say that homosexuality is wrong.

She told me that while she won’t preach in front of Will, she firmly believes homosexuality is wrong. That it’s against God’s will and that it’s a sin. However, she oh-so-kindly said she “hates the sin and not the sinner.” As if that somehow makes the bigotry palatable. And for kickers, her ex-husband — who she is best friends with — is gay. But she still thinks he’s a sinner.

Look, I know that when you opt for daycare (as we have to), you take your chances by having someone else spend so much time with your kids. And everyone is different. I am a proponent of Will being surrounded by all types of different people with varying viewpoints.

But I think this is a different story.

This person thinks being gay is wrong. She believes a whole segment of the population, my loved ones included, shouldn’t have the same rights as she does. And I’ve witnessed first-hand that she has no problem saying so in front of my impressionable 2-year-old. Will is not dumb. Sometimes you only have to say something once and he never forgets it. And even though my provider is generally a nice enough woman, the fact that she openly looks down upon gay people for no good reason is very troubling. And unacceptable.

I’m all about celebrating differences, but there’s no room for intolerance and bigotry. And I think we’ll be finding another daycare for Will as soon as we can, because as parents we have to be comfortable with the authority figures we let into our kids lives. And if I’m paying someone for a service, I don’t think I (and especially Will) should have to be subjected to offensive remarks regarding the people I love.

What’s so hard about teaching young children love and acceptance as opposed to exclusion and derision?

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40 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Oh man, unreal. If in your shoes, I’d pull out my child as well. If they’re going to spend that much time with a daycare provider, you know comments are going to be dropped which aren’t appropriate. I’m so tired of the hate towards gays. I applaud you for sticking to your values even though trying to find yet another daycare provider is going to be a royal pain in the ass.

  2. A daycare provider is almost like a 3rd Parent. If she voices these beliefs around your Son, he’s going to pick up on them. He looks up to the Adults in his life for truth and reality. When he hears her words, that is exactly what he will believe them to be.
    This is not some person he might see once a month, where you could kinda brush it off, and counterbalance with tolerant beliefs.
    It is going to be tough (mostly for her) but you already know what you have to do.

  3. I would have to pull my kid out. Even if she tries not to let her nonsensical views fall out of her mouth, in front of your son, she’ll slip at some point.

    Her ex-husband is gay…I thought good Catholics didn’t believe in divorce…And how could she be best friends with a “sinner”?

    Unreal! Maybe the wife and I should move there and open a daycare, with no religion, or political strings attached.

  4. It’s not just the explicit remarks you need to worry about – but the subconscious, systematic prejudices. Like assuming families always contain a heterosexual marriage. Like modeling the assumption that everyone goes to church on Sundays and says grace before meals. It certainly doesn’t sound like a place I would be comfortable sending my child, if nothing else because it doesn’t sound like she cares to even acknowledge, let alone examine, her assumptions that are so grossly damaging to so many people.

  5. I don’t think pulling him is intolerant. It is deciding what sort of values systems you want your son exposed to. Her belief system doesn’t line up with yours. That’s fine. It’s her prerogative to have her own beliefs. But that doesn’t mean you want will picking up on it. Especially if she’s tossing around words like sin or hell. That shit is scary to a little kid.

  6. I would do the same if I was in your shoes. There’s a line between beliefs and bigotry. Your childfree provider crossed it.

  7. Delurking to say that I’d start looking for another provider if I heard that out of my provider’s mouth. I don’t want my kid to have those influences. And as for being intolerant of her beliefs – nah, you’re just not going to spend your money someplace you don’t find comfortable any more.

  8. I would totally pull my two-year old. My brother and his husband are awesome people. And I think I would cry if I ever heard her mimic that to them. Its hurtful and intolerant and I don’t want her hearing things like that.

    Not like I want you to have to find someone new. My heart goes out to you. I wish you were able to have 3 possible home care choices like we do. All of which I love.

  9. I would pull my kid in a heartbeat just due to her bible-thumping ways. If I want my kid learning prayers then I will teach them (which I never will since I am not superstitious).

    Why do gay people bother folks so much? Does it really affect you in any way, shape, or form? Seriously, has MA crumbled due to gay marriage? The answer is no. Go into Boston and check out the neighborhoods that have large gay populations are the most desirable.

    Is it people fear what is different from them or do they get off in a voyeuristic way telling people what they can or can’t do in the bedroom?

    Stay out of peoples’ bedrooms and keep your god off my child.

  10. Bigotry is always repulsive, even when it stems from those who wrap it in the cloth of God. The grace thing, I don’t have any big problem with. But the rest is intolerable.

  11. While most religious zealots go on and on about how homosexuality is wrong, basing their entire facts on Leviticus, which is the old law that only applies to Jewish people, she should also mention that eating shellfish is an abomination or for men to shave their beards. Most religious people will “cherry pick” their scriptures, while the entire book throughout the Old and New Testament is basing the word “homosexuality” as promiscuity –especially in Romans. It’s not about two people of the same gender loving one another, it’s purely about promiscuity. Also, you may want to mention to her she should also be against premarital heterosexual sex, and if she is a divorcee remarried while her ex is still alive, then she is in fact, an adulteress. Get your child out of that hypocritical daycare—-FAST!

  12. oh man… i’ve been waiting with bated breath for you to post about this, especially after reading your tweets. i feel you and i feel for you. i am very much in favor of gay marriage and equal rights. VERY MUCH. and since you and i have little boys who are the same age, i guess it’s appropriate to tell you that this is something i researched when choosing which 2 year old program to put jackson in, starting next month. like you, i do NOT want any care provider teaching my son ugliness in the form of bigotry and hate. and… like you, i’m not a particularly religious person. my husband and i enrolled jackson in a school program that prides itself in tolerance and acceptance… and this was like THE FIRST thing i read on the FIRST PAGE of the packet of info i received from this school. it was honestly my dream for my son on paper.

    crap, i’m rambling…

    this school program is costing us an arm and a leg. we’re going to have to cut our expenses elsewhere in order to make it work. but, we’re going to make it work because this is what we want for our son. and i guess what i’m trying to say (in waaay too many words) is that you and MJ will have to decide what it is that you want for Will.

    from this post alone, it sounds like you know exactly what you DON’T want for Will… and that’s a great place to start. and since you titled this “What Would You Do?” i guess that would lead me to answer you with figuring out what it is that you DO want for Will.

    (not sure if this is making sense… i need more coffee…)

    often times, it’s easy for people (myself included) to focus on what we DON’T want to do, to listen to, to be a part of… but when it comes down to someone asking, “well ok, so what DO you want?” not everyone can answer that.

    so that’s what i would do. i would figure out specifically what it is that you DO want for Will in terms of daycare, and go from there whether that means removing him from this one or keeping him there.

    good luck my friend. this sure as shit ain’t easy… but you are a fantastic dad and are doing a terrific job as a father.

  13. You are bringing him there for daycare, not religious and/or moral instruction. If the woman can’t separate her beliefs from her business and you think that her beliefs are being bestowed upon your child (which clearly they are), it is time to find a new daycare. End of story.

  14. @Nic: I know exactly what I would do if I could. I’d put him in the preschool my wife and I love. Where the teachers all have degrees and there’s a good mix of playtime and curriculum. The problem is if we did that, it’s an extra $400 a month on top of what we pay now.

    Frankly, all our ends don’t meet as it is. And realistically there’s just no way to swing an additional $400 every month. If it were an extra $50-$100 we’d do it. But $400? It just isn’t possible right now, even if we cut back elsewhere it wouldn’t be enough.

    I’m trying to score some more freelance gigs and MJ is considering picking up a waitressing job one or two nights a week. If that happens then maybe. But until then we’ll have to either stay there or find another place that’s more moderately priced.

  15. I totally disagree with you on most of your views but if your child is in an environment that goes against your convictions then you have to make the choice that works best for your family. I would do the same if I found out a person of influence was spouting atheist views and things that went against my beliefs.

    Side note: It bothers me that “sinner” is thrown around by Christians as a label of anger and hate and by non Christians as a word exemplifying how judgmental religious people are. In my religious upbringing I have always learned “ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.” So I am a sinner, my husband is a sinner, my neighbors are sinners because none of us are perfect and all of us have some flaws. So it bothers me that Christians speak of sinners as though it is separate from themselves. I could go on but I’m just going to rant if I do.

  16. I don’t mind my son learning to say grace before meals, but I would mind hugely for him to learn bigotry and intolerance. I’d put him in a different daycare.

  17. @Andrea: Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. If religion is important to you and you want to make sure your child is brought up by someone who believes in God, a provider who spouts atheist rhetoric would be just as bad.

    Honestly if I thought she could keep her religious beliefs to herself it wouldn’t be a problem. But obviously religion is popping up because he’s praying and she made the gay marriage crack while he was in the room.

  18. I think it’s unanimous. Put that sweet little boy in a different daycare as soon as you can. And when you tell her that you are pulling him out, I sure hope you give her a list of the reasons why. Maybe then she’ll learn to keep her bigoted mouth shut. (But, sadly, probably not.)

  19. While I don’t necessarily support gay marriage, I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the subject. However, for or against it, I don’t think it’s a subject that is appropriate to be discussed in front of a two-year old. I would be moving my son because who knows what other inappropriate things are being said/taught while I’m not present.

  20. I would pull him. I use in-home daycare for my son, and i know absolutely NOTHING regarding the religious or political leanings that my provider has. And this is due to the fact that she does not announce them, nor preach them around any of the children she cares for. As it should be. Regardless of it being an “in-home” center, it’s still a business, and should be run as one. The fact that she thought it was “ok” to teach your child about god WITHOUT asking you and your wife first is a HUGE no-no. So yeah, as soon as you can secure some alternate care for the boy, pull him out! I’m sure she’s a nice lady, despite the bigotry and preaching, but still, that is not her child, she has no right to indoctrinate him.

  21. Mom of five, both a former daycare provider and customer weighing in here. Regardless of your views or her views, it’s the job of a daycare provider to provide care. That’s it. The weighting of your child’s moral compass is your responsibility, no one else’s. Any one you allow into contact with that impressionable little mind should be someone who either walks a similar path to yours or who knows when to speak and when to be silent.

    Though she didn’t mention these things directly to your child, it’s clear she’ll speak about them openly in front of her charges. I’d quietly, politely pull my child and I would tell her why. She may possibly have something to learn from this. Business is business and politics is politics: bring one into the other and risk the ruin of both.

    Great blog, btw!

  22. I have been in your shoes, and I did move my child. Being tolerant and respectful of others is an excellent value … and you demonstrated great respect by speaking with your provider the next day. There’s no obligation to stick around for folks who won’t return that courtesy.

    You’re doing a great job!

  23. What would I do???? you hit the nail on the head when you said: “because as parents we have to be comfortable with the authority figures we let into our kids lives”. BINGO. So I would say See-ya! I would have my kid out of there… and as I was reading your blog I was thinking, “please tell me he is going to get Will out of there….”. SOON.

  24. Okay, here are my two cents which are probably worth nothing BUT the person I feel badly for is little Will. This is his second daycare? You told the provider how you felt, do you now not trust her to at least keep her opinions to herself? If you cannot trust her to do so, then by all means pull Will from her care. I agree the lady is a bigot. The world is full of them. I would not want my child to overhear any bigoted talk. The Grace before meals would not bother me. I would also make sure that I laid out the ground rules to my next provider where this type of issue is concerned. Perhaps this should have been done with this woman, but who would even think of this when the main concern is the health and safety of your child while in her care. I guess the lesson is parents need to look at the health and safety of the child’s mind while in daycare also.

  25. After careful consideration, it seems the problem may be more venue than ideology. A home daycare is a different ambiance than public schools or daycare centers. It’s a more relaxed environment. The essence of home is comfort and relaxation. No matter how professional she may be, it’s still a different landscape than a classroom or center. If she presented her views in a way you found offensive it may be indicative of a personality defect. One of those people that aren’t content enough with their views to keep them to their selves. Blind obstinacy isn’t a good look. I believe that people who need to shove their beliefs on other people do it at as a defensive action stemming from their subconscious recognition of their own ignorance.

    A lack of respect for your views doesn’t bode well. If you take away the content of her stance and take an objective look at her delivery, you’ll know whether to leave Will with her.

  26. I would pull Will out as well. A daycare provider can spend more waking hours with our children than we do and that makes a huge influence on them. I would never allow someone to spend that much time with my children that has so much hate in their body. Plus how do you know that she will not treat Will differently after knowing your stance? How do you know that she will not see this as her chance to “save” him? That would scare me and we are conservative in nature (very much for gay marriage which sets us apart I am aware).

    I provide daycare for a number of children, and WOULD NEVER step on their parents toes like she did (which she basically spat in your face). My job as a daycare provider is to support the children and bring them up in my house the way the parents feel comfortable and feel is benefiting their child for the house they are here. Yes I am generally more strict than most parents, but they understand that I have to be with this many kids.

  27. Oh Boy – I’m in The South…. Every day care provider around here preaches. I’m used to it (as we say in The South). My only advice is this….. Will is going to form his on opinion on EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. As a matter of fact things you or your wife believe in – he may actually take the opposite approach just because he is a teenager or something like that.

    If I were you (and I’m not sure this will be a popular answer but I’ll explain why) I’d let it all go. Stop listening to her or even making small talk. Let Will form his own opinion. Try to ignore it all. Everything will change. He is so young I’d rather him say ‘God is good’, etc than the opposite at his young age. He can revolt against the world later. Then he’ll form his own opinion.

    What you should look at is the quality of care he is getting. Is he happy? Class sizes small? Etc. Sure, you wouldn’t be friends with this woman but if Will is well adjusted I’d let it go.

    *I grew up in a family where I was told how to think, dress, etc. Basically ALL my decisions were made for me b/c of the way my mother thought. She valued her own opinion over everyone else’s…therefore I had to follow hers. Never making my own opinion. Well college was a shock to me. And what did I do? I dropped every ball I was handed. I’d never formed my own beliefs, opinions. Therefore I was weak and miserable.

    And for the record, I’m in a strange situation here. I live in Alabama. I voted for Obama. I have no problems what-so-ever with homosexuality. I want people to think for themselves. To make their own opinions. And I’m in the minority here buddy. I’ll tell you that one!

    This teacher sounds like she is from the south or should be here…. Again, I’d say if Will was happy, I’d just stop the small talk with her and continue to agree to disagree. But it all depends on Will and his happiness in my opinion.

    Thanks for the post…I love reading your blog and alway get so much out of it!

  28. Take this advice/rambling with a grain of salt, as I don’t have kids and have no idea what it is like to let your kid out in to this crazy world, but…

    I agree that what she said was ignorant. I personally would not choose to spend much time around her. But as has been mentioned, Will is very young. Yes, he’s impressionable, but then too, how many memories do we remember from when we are under 4 years old? Worst case scenario, he would stay in daycare for a year or two. You and MJ, the people he loves and looks up to the most, will still be instilling in him YOUR values and I’d imagine he would hold on to those more.

    And too, unfortunately he will keep running into those people for the rest of his life. You won’t be able to shelter him entirely. You will have to teach and re-teach him to stick to his own beliefs and how to deal with others who don’t think the same way.

    That said, I don’t what is important right now for his development. It sounds like you guys could go either way and Will would turn out alright. But I think I agree that if she is a good CAREtaker in the basic sense of the word (if not the philosophical/theological sense), then sticking with her seems like what I would go with.

    But like I said, its not like I have personal experience raising a child.

  29. I send my kids to religious school because it meets our needs and because we choose to have them somewhere that has similar values to us. But I would be intolerant of it in an environment that is not explicitly set up to be pro or anti whatever.

    I am huge believer in separation of church and state. Don’t want to religion in the public venues, regardless of whether it is mine or not. You and MJ will be the people who push Will in one direction or another, but that doesn’t change the long hours he’ll spend elsewhere. So it is important to try and find a place that is in line with your beliefs.

  30. I might tell her why-she shouldn’t be as vocally pro-anti with YOUR child…who may only be 2.5, it still makes a big impression.

    I used to nanny and I once got into discussion some stuff with their girls, and the mom called me out on and it and I felt horrible about it…i didn’t realize that what I said made such an impact and I vowed not not do it again-she was totally understanding and that I had made a mistake.

    Perhaps she is just a good person will ill informed opinions. I think perhaps you could tell her that you would like to keep god and policital opionions out of the daycare environment and if she has a problem with that you’ll have to take Will else where.

    He will one day hear opinions and may even have different opinions than yours, but it’s not necessary in daycare…

  31. Just like you’d pull your child from a daycare with a racist provider, get him out of there! Bigots with irrational viewpoints about one thing tend to be irrational about a lot of things. It is completely within your rights to choose to give business to whomever you want for any reason. You’re not being intolerant because of her religious beliefs: you’re being intolerant because she chooses to shove her own moral prejudices into your-and Will’s-face.

    This woman, if she didn’t know how to tone down her attitude, wouldn’t be able to keep a position in a public school. She’d be fired in a heartbeat, because the attitudes of teachers DO get passed down to kids. Will’s already repeating prayers, how long before he starts repeating hate speeches?

  32. I’d pull my kid out in a heart beat. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, yes, but that’s why we have the right to vote. We don’t need to get our toddlers involved in politics just yet!

  33. The problem is the woman it’s your kid’s parents.

    Too bad you don’t love your kid enough to watch him yourself. Instead you shuffle it off to the lowest bidder.

    Neglect is worse than bigotry.

  34. Chris, you’re a fucking idiot.

    I don’t know what world you live in, but here on Earth my wife & I both have to work full time. Just like most parents. I’d loveo to be home with my son or have my wife do it, but its impossible. Daycare is a necessity.

    But that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t care about my son. And to say otherwise is completely idiotic. So go fuck yourself you ignorant jackass.

  35. Hi Aaron, it was so good to see you at the wedding…I just found and started reading your site and will pass it along to Troy.
    What I would have done was to never take my kid back to that house again. What she is is poison. I’ve been asking myself the same question as you posed at the end of your post and I don’t get it.
    Sad isn’t it.

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