What Happens When You’re Atheist, He’s Religious, And You Have Kids
Atheists and religious individuals get together all of the time. People of two different religions can be tricky but, when one person just doesn’t have a religion, it doesn’t cause that much tension at first. During the dating stage and early stages of marriage, the atheist individual just understands that once or several times a week, her partner is going to go to his place of worship. Maybe he has certain pieces of literature he likes to read before bed. The atheist might even accompany her partner to religious events with his family and friends—she can attend, without necessarily participating or buying into it all—it’s just part of spending time together. But when that couple brings kids into the mix, things change. Drastically. Both parents can feel pretty strongly about raising their kids their way. Here’s what it’s like when you’re an atheist, he’s religious, and you have kids.
His parents will be pushy
Even if his parents try not to push their religion onto their grandkids, they will. Even the mildest, least aggressive ones can’t help but push their agenda onto the kids a bit. Their religion is part of their subconscious at this point, so you often have to ask them not to use certain language around the kids—leading, biased language.
You want them to make their own choices
You probably want your kids to make their own choice, like you did. Maybe one of the issues you have with religion is the fact that people are phased into it by their families when they’re too young to question it. You don’t want to do that to your kids.
Your partner loses some childhood traditions
If your partner grew up very religious then, even if you still allow some of his childhood religious traditions in the house, it will still feel like a drastic downgrade to him. He may not be appreciative that you’re compromising—he may just feel like he’s losing.
But you leave room for a few
On your end, you’re biting your tongue while you allow your kids to participate in things you do not believe in. You try to keep propaganda and jargon low but, how are you to know how much your children will be influenced?
You always fear he pushes them
Any time your partner says anything to your kids about religion, your ears perk up. You are very critical of his language. You want to make sure he isn’t trying to persuade them or push them one way or the other.
He always fears you push them
Likewise, your partner thinks that you push your kids into not believing in any sort of religion. It’s sort of a chicken or the egg thing. You say you’re not pushing ideas onto them; you’re just not allowing him to influence them, and he says that you are the one actively influencing them not to believe.
Your partner feels solo on holidays
When major holidays come along for your partner, even if you’ve agreed you can celebrate them, your partner feels rather alone in his preparation. You just aren’t as enthusiastic about making the traditional meals and decorating the home.
He has a special weekend day with them
You might give your partner one day a week, when he can take the kids to place of worship, and teach them a bit about it. When they come back, you want to have an open discussion about what they learned, and how they felt about it.
Your kids question your differences
You have to answer your children’s questions about why you don’t come along to church/synagogue/mosque or other places of worship. Answering these questions is very difficult because you don’t want to say anything negative about your partner’s religion.
You see the value in tradition
You do see the value in tradition. You do, actually, appreciate how nice it is that your partner and his family have things they’ve been doing, every year, month, or week together since he was a child—religious or not.
You just want your own traditions
You want to develop your own traditions as a family, but you don’t want them to be religious. But if you open the discussion for forming traditions, you open the possibility your partner might pounce and say, “Then why don’t they just become religious?”
Major milestones are tricky
When certain major milestones within your partner’s religion come along—perhaps ones in a person’s childhood or adolescent years when they’d go through some sort of ceremony—there are a lot of arguments in your home.
His family/friends make assumptions
It can really bother you that sometimes, his friends and family ask you questions like, “So where are you two spending this holiday?” or “Where do you go to church?” You don’t like that they assume you’re in the religion.
You can feel they’re judgmental
You see the looks on their faces when you tell your partner’s religious friends that you are an atheist. They try to be polite but, they give him a surprised/worried look.
They believe you’re soul-less
You can’t stand some of the high and mightiness you sometimes get from religious followers who clearly believe you are lost or soulless or damned. It would actually be better if they just came out and said that but instead, they take pity on you that you didn’t ask for.