For the first time in my life, I am facing a bit of force-fed dogma over the holidays. A family member is newly insisting that Christ be kept in Christmas, and when I refused to bow my head in prayer at Thanksgiving—as three other relatives did, mind you—it was deemed “rude.” So now it’s rude to practice your own religious freedom with your own family.
The thing is, we have lots of religious friends—deeply religious friends—who don’t care that we don’t bow our heads when they eat, or even during the prayer before an event like, say, the art show at the church. If it’s okay with all of these people who’ve been raised in religion, why is it not okay with someone who’s “born-again” or whatever?
The worst part is that another relative forced my daughter to bow her head when she wouldn’t. I’ve always heavily insisted on her own choices—whether they be her haircut or clothing or anything else—and the fact that this person did this makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t feel safe anymore. I don’t feel like I can raise a thoughtful, true to herself human being if people around me aren’t respecting my parenting choices. The mothers and fathers in my co-op give me more credit than that—and we are often in the minority among several Catholics and Mormons. If my own family can’t, I’m not sure if the holidays with them will even occur.
This saddens me so much because as much as I want a huge family, I can’t produce one—and I want my daughter to be close to her family. That said, I don’t want her being indoctrinated by others’ beliefs, either. That’s why we homeschool—so she can learn and make her own conclusions and choices.
What do you do when faced with occurrences like these over the holidays? I think it’s wrong to force someone to bow their head to acknowledge a god you don’t believe in. I would never ask these people to smudge my house to cleanse it like we do, or to meditate with my daughter and me if they were uncomfortable. Invite, yes; demand, no. And I definitely would not consider it rude if a “No, thank you” were simply stated, either. I am sure there are families who celebrate the holidays with a mixture of faiths (and non-faiths); how do you work it out peacefully?