Boof’s sister is getting married on Sunday, and we have “hired” my parents to come over for the weekend to help care for Potamus. They are very exuburant in their love for Potamus, with my dad always saying things like “say hi grampy!” in this funny voice. I was on-call today and so while I was taking calls and doing paperwork, Potamus got a little fussy. In the only way she really knows how, my mom bounced him on the exercise ball and sang songs ranging from “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to “Jesus Loves Me.”
For some reason, when she broke out in her rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” I got internally annoyed. Like I wanted her to ASK if it was okay to sing a song about Jesus, and not just assume that I was okay with it. But that thought process felt squicky to me, especially since we attend a church (Boof is practically an ordained minister after all), and I am an ordained elder in my church (though we only attend about 3 times a year).
I thin I was triggered because I was raised, and left, the fundamentalist conservative Christian upbringing that my parents raised me in (and the version of Christianity that they still believe). When my mom sang that song I didn’t hear it as “Jesus loves you, even if you’re gay or democrat,” but as I was raised “Jesus loves you…but it’s conditional and you might go to hell if you screw up.” Yes, my father did actually tell me two weeks ago that the Republican platform was the most “christlike” and that democrats were evil. When I turned and said, “well, I guess this conversation is over since you just called me evil.” That’s not a message I want Potamus hearing. I don’t want Potamus to be taught religion or politics from my parents. My insides feel very twisted as I even think about it. And yet, I want him to also authentically know his grandparents, in all of their imperfections. I want to feel okay about him learning to sing “Jesus Loves Me” from my parents, but I just…don’t…yet.
Boof and I have even talked about it…how we’re going to approach the religion/spirituality conversations someday. What we’ll answer when the questions come from inquiring little minds. Boof is more relaxed about it, growing up in a very open, and yet clearly Christian environment. He’s just not that worried about how we’re going to handle the whole religion/spirituality conversations as Potamus grows up.
Are you going to raise your kids with religion? Is it the same or different from how you were raised? How do you handle family members with differing religous/spiritual beliefs?