Don’t Stop Believin’

17 Dec

Letterbalm Stained Glass CrossDear LetterBalm: My wife and I and our three children, ages 6, 9 and 12, will be visiting my parents over the Christmas holiday. My parents are religious and we aren’t. They go to church on Christmas morning, and they insist that we go with them. They’ve been doing this every year, and we have arguments. This puts a damper on the celebration. My wife and I are atheists, and, while we haven’t instilled this in our children, she and I believe it’s hypocritical to go to church and pray. How can we break this impasse and remain faithful to our beliefs?

–No Church

If you, your wife and your folks have been tussling around the tree every Christmas morning, maybe it’s time for some goodwill toward men. You and your wife need to soften your position because your parents are older and, likely, more set in their ways. Regard the one morning a year in church as an exercise in patience and tolerance. In the meantime, you have your children to consider.  Before the holiday, you can make one more try: Call your mother and father and remind them that you and your family won’t want to go to church, but don’t want to ruin Christmas. Would they consent to attending services alone? Probably they won’t. So, Ms. L.B. suggests that you and your wife talk with your kids in advance. Explain that church is important to their grandparents because they believe in God and their beliefs should be respected. Your kids are old enough to understand that. Besides, they might like the pageantry and carol singing. Try something like this:

Kids, your mom and I want to talk with you about Christmas. We’ll be with grandma and grandpa as always, and we have such a good time with them. You know we’ve not wanted to go to church on Christmas morning, but they’ve asked us to. Going to church is important to them, so we respect their beliefs and go to services on that day and be cheerful about it. Even if we don’t believe the way they do, it’s respectful to attend church because it’s something that means a lot to your grandparents. And, you always like the Christmas carols and hymns – and, being all together makes us feel good in the holiday spirit.


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