too many invites to church

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shrinkingsusie
shrinkingsusie Posts: 40 Member
My neighbors are opposite of my family on the Christianity scale. They're at church twice a week and send their kids to a christian private school. I was raised buddhist but now my husband and I are nonbelievers/not religious/atheist/whatever.

My neighbors keep inviting my son (11) to church and it's starting (for like the last 2 years) to bother me. Our boys love spending time together no matter where they are and so I'm hoping it comes up something like this. "Mom, can he go to church with us?" and she says, "Sure, why not?" I'm worried her answer is more like "yes, he needs to be saved!"

Last night, my kid called over there to see if he could play with his friend. Their dad answered and said that his kid wasn't home but maybe my kid could go to church with them later. So my kid hangs up and tells me about it and I blow it off. An hour later our neighbors are at our door to pick him up! I try to keep a lid on the little things, like when their little ones tell my little ones that we're going to hell for not going to church. Last night, hubs and I felt very undermined. If we would've told him no, we would be the bad guys, and it's hard to look good when you are already the heathens!! <sarcasm>

I've tried to think about this from all angles and I'm not sure how to talk to our neighbors about this or if I should just let it be and focus on my own family and beliefs. We do have fun together, go out together and have each other over. It's really nice and I don't want to damage our friendship.

Religious or not, what's your take on this?
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Replies

  • k8blujay2
    k8blujay2 Posts: 4,941 Member
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    I would hope that they aren't saying that your kid would go to hell... As a Christian myself, who also attends church multiple times a week, I would hope the are just inviting your son because of the activities and it gives both of your kids something to do and somewhere to go that is safe. At least that would be how I would approach it if I were doing the inviting.
  • Game8
    Game8 Posts: 442
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    I think giving your kids proper education and critical thinking skills/ common sense is all the protection they ever need. Let him go to church and even buy him a copy of the bible. Kids can be surprisingly good at detecting bullshyt
  • rjt1000
    rjt1000 Posts: 700 Member
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    my kids (10 and 12) often invite friends to church activities. My wife and I do not invite, not our place to be inviting other kids to anything, that's not only crossing a line but creepy. If same situation came up with my kid's friend, friend calling, my kid not home, I'd have said she wasn't home and that would end it. I would not invite kid to anything.

    If YOU called and started conversation and said "hey, we should do something together tomorrow", I might say "hey, our church is having a cookout/spring picnic type of thing tomorrow that we're going to, you're welcome to join us." And if my kid asked "can jackie come over tomorrow" I might tell my kid "we're going to church for whatever event, you can invite jackie to go with us"....

    I think the dad inviting your kid is crossing the line. Not malicious or anything but adults shouldn't be inviting kids to anything. And if their kids are saying anything about your kids going to hell, that's way past the line. My kids might talk with your kids about beliefs but they will not say anything about YOUR beliefs other than maybe to ask quesitons so they understand what you believe better. My youngest might go so far as to say "that's not what I believe" but that's the harshest religious comment I've ever heard from either of them.
  • jeremyw1977
    jeremyw1977 Posts: 505 Member
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    I had something like this happen with family.
    I and my wife are complete non-believers, Atheists, if we wish to assign a label.

    For a few years, my wife's aunt would consistently buy my kids religious gifts on Christmas..........and they were blatantly religious, no subtlety about them. The first year, I blew it off. The second year, I kind of groaned. The third year, I had to have a direct conversation and let her know that her imposition of their beliefs on my kids was offensive.

    She completely understood, and backed off. Despite the importance of religion to her, our family relationship was not strained, and she was completely apologetic.
    I understand that you wish to maintain your friendship, but they also need to recognize boundaries.

    If they can't respect these boundaries, then it may be time to have a hard look at your friendship.
  • MorgueBabe
    MorgueBabe Posts: 1,188 Member
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    I would just be honest with them, and ask them to stop if it bother you. If you're non believers that is fine, do you care if your kid goes to church and 'finds religion'. If the answer is yes, just tell the neighbors you enjoy spending time with them and are glad your kids are pals, but would rather time together remain as secular as possible.
  • shrinkingsusie
    shrinkingsusie Posts: 40 Member
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    I would hope that they aren't saying that your kid would go to hell... As a Christian myself, who also attends church multiple times a week, I would hope the are just inviting your son because of the activities and it gives both of your kids something to do and somewhere to go that is safe. At least that would be how I would approach it if I were doing the inviting.

    It's just the little ones that say these things about hell to my little ones. I don't blame them. They take everything so literally.
  • Anthonydaman
    Anthonydaman Posts: 854 Member
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    It's pretty passive aggressive, however I don't think it's too big of a deal. You and hubby sound like free thinkers, and your child is probably one as well. Let him go so he can make his own determinations. I am not religious at all but I think church can teach a kid some decent ground rules for life.
  • dsjohndrow
    dsjohndrow Posts: 1,820 Member
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    It's your kid be honest with them. I think you are lucky to have a neighbor that your lid can play with - BTW.

    If it was me, I would go once with my kid and check it out. 30 years ago I did that, and it turned out to be an awesome time.
  • rduhlir
    rduhlir Posts: 3,550 Member
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    I would have a talk with your neighbors about what their children are saying. It is quite possible the parents dont' realize it, and that their offers to your son to go to church with them are innocent. Just ask them the reason why they want to take the your son and express your concern and fears. It is possible that they over looked the fact of explaining to their children that people believe different things and that is okay.

    If their parents dont' mean anything by it and it is merely a friendly hand just explain to your son that it is another person's belief, etc..
  • bronnyd
    bronnyd Posts: 278 Member
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    Have you asked your son whether or not he enjoys going? I grew up in a non-religious household, however, for a while I went through this phase when I was about 9 or 10 where I ALWAYS wanted to go to church with my Mormon friend and her family would always invite me along. It wasn't because they thought our family was heathens or anything...it was just a nice thing to do. I think I just loved the community aspect of it. Maybe your son enjoys it too?

    Also for what it's worth, I remember being told (by other kids) as a child from a non-religious household that I was going to hell since I my family didn't go to church. It has had absolutely no lasting negative effects on my life or my religious beliefs today. I wouldn't worry about it so much, unless it really bothers you and you are opposed to your son going, then you could sit down and talk with the parents.

    :smile:
  • Ivian_
    Ivian_ Posts: 276 Member
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    So, wait, they just came to take him without you agreeing to it?


    You're not taking my kid anywhere without my permission. IDGAF where you're going. Whether it be church, Disney World or to meet Jesus himself. If I don't explicitly say yes, he's not going.
  • thefarside79
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    Paint a giant pentagram on your front lawn - I bet they will stop asking.

    In all seriousness though - treat them like you would expect to be treated and have a blunt (but friendly conversation) about the subject in hopes of reducing the frequency of the invites. Most logical people (understandably, if they are "hardcore" Christians the logic may be missing) would understand your POV and reduce their invitation behavior accordingly.
  • theCarlton
    theCarlton Posts: 1,344 Member
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    Just wanted to invite you to check out this group so you have some like-minded parents to interact with as well:
    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/forums/show/145-mfp-atheists

    The tough thing about being a non-believer is that some people really treat you differently when you finally draw the line in the sand and say, "Hey, this is really not for us, and we don't believe." I personally don't feel that it's appropriate to send a child to a church for their religious education if the parent's not going to be present to discuss it with them. But I totally understand your dilemma.

    I let my sons go with my ex, and they came back having misinterpreted the entire universe, and it took a while for me to bring them into the reality of the things we know to be true, and the things we don't understand without being insulting of the people who taught them the things they'd learned at church. I didn't want them to end up having to debate these things on their own with other children, or be shamed by the adults either.

    If you want your children to learn about Christianity, I would advise you to teach them yourself so the boundaries are set. Christianity is the unofficial religion in this country, and it is important to know biblical stories and teachings because they are relevant if your child ends up studying/enjoying history or literature/English. I was totally lost when placed in settings where these things were meant to be understood, common knowledge.
  • VorJoshigan
    VorJoshigan Posts: 1,106 Member
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    I think giving your kids proper education and critical thinking skills/ common sense is all the protection they ever need. Let him go to church and even buy him a copy of the bible. Kids can be surprisingly good at detecting bullshyt

    This. I was a churchgoing Christian. Until I read the bible.

    It's kind of like speech - the best response to speech you don't like isn't to shut it down - it's more speech.
  • ashlinmarie
    ashlinmarie Posts: 1,263 Member
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    I agree with whoever said that if the kids invite your children, it is a non-issue but it is a little pushy of the father to invite your child. I am a spiritual person myself, but I disagree with organized religion. Too many hypocrites for me to get passive-aggressive with. You live your life and they live their own....

    But I do think it is good for kids to experience religion. One thing that bothers me is when parents push their beliefs (or non-beliefs) onto their kids. Kids are smart...they are smarter than a lot of adults. I picked my own beliefs to my family's dismay, but it has led me to be a happy, healthy person and I am tolerant and understanding and even if I disagree with you or your beliefs, that is your own prerogative. I will share them with you if asked, but I won't force them. And I was 12 when I came up with a lot of this on my own.

    Of course, they are your kids, so if you don't want them going to church at all, that's your right. I may not agree with it as I believe there should be a valid reason....your beliefs could be just as wrong as a Christian's or Jew's, or whomever...
  • polarsjewel
    polarsjewel Posts: 1,726 Member
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    So, wait, they just came to take him without you agreeing to it?


    You're not taking my kid anywhere without my permission. IDGAF where you're going. Whether it be church, Disney World or to meet Jesus himself. If I don't explicitly say yes, he's not going.


    ^^ This x pi x infinity!
  • shrinkingsusie
    shrinkingsusie Posts: 40 Member
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    So, wait, they just came to take him without you agreeing to it?


    You're not taking my kid anywhere without my permission. IDGAF where you're going. Whether it be church, Disney World or to meet Jesus himself. If I don't explicitly say yes, he's not going.

    You're right, this is a lot of what's bothering me about the whole situation. I let him leave but the fact that they didn't ask me before they showed up at the door was bothersome.
  • moustache_flavored_lube
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    I am agnostic bordering on atheist. I grew up going to church all the time. I think there are a lot of positive things about the experience.

    I would say let him go to church (assuming he wants to) then encourage an open and honest discussion that spurs him to think for himself and not just be spoonfed beliefs
  • Ivian_
    Ivian_ Posts: 276 Member
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    So, wait, they just came to take him without you agreeing to it?


    You're not taking my kid anywhere without my permission. IDGAF where you're going. Whether it be church, Disney World or to meet Jesus himself. If I don't explicitly say yes, he's not going.

    You're right, this is a lot of what's bothering me about the whole situation. I let him leave but the fact that they didn't ask me before they showed up at the door was bothersome.

    Exactly! I don't even think it's about the going to church part. And it's not that you don't know them. It seems you and your neighbors have a healthy, friendly relationship, and that's awesome but it's YOUR kid and you dictate where he goes and where he doesn't go. He's 11. You wouldn't just show up and take their kids to the movies, park, etc. You'd ask. Parent to parent. Have a talk with them. The next time they want to invite him somewhere, wherever it may be, it needs to go through you first.
  • jenilla1
    jenilla1 Posts: 11,118 Member
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    My parents let me go to church (various denominations) with various friends as a teenager. I was invited by my friends, though. Their parents really had nothing to do with it other than agreeing to give us rides to church.

    I thought it was kind of interesting to see the similarities and differences between them and my parents weren't threatened by it. I was never "converted" by any of these groups and never really felt pressured. Interesting experiences and I feel like I may be more tolerant and open-minded to different views because of it.

    However, I think it's kind of inappropriate for people to be trolling other people's little kids, though. It wouldn't bother me if my kid's friend invited him to church activities, but it would probably bother me if the friend's parents were directly recruiting my kid without talking to me about it.