Myself and my wife are expecting our first child. We are ecstatic, but a difference of opinion on religion is casting a shadow over things.
My wife, although she was raised Catholic, now considers herself an atheist. She doesn’t want our child baptised. I was raised Catholic too and even though I’m not always the best at going to mass, I still consider myself Catholic. I want our child baptised.
She’s saying my family are influencing me on this, but genuinely they’re not. I believe in God and really think our child should be baptised.
We really can’t seem to find any middle ground on this
What harm can it do? She says that if our child wants to be a Catholic when he/she is older, that’s no problem, but it should be a personal choice.
We really can’t seem to find any middle ground on this and when we discuss it, it nearly always turns into an argument, which I feel bad about, because after all, my wife is pregnant.
Have you any advice on handling this situation, Miriam?
I don’t want to upset my wife, but also it’s really important to me that our child is baptised.
Father to Be
Dear Father to Be,
Thank you very much for getting in touch. Firstly, and most importantly, congratulations on your expectant arrival. Becoming a parent, what an exciting time in one’s life.
Now, in saying that, it doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that it is an easy time in one’s life – as you are already finding out.
As with all situations involving differing opinions, communication and compromise are needed on both sides
You and your wife are meeting your first hurdle, and you will overcome it. As with all situations involving differing opinions, communication and compromise are needed on both sides.
It is clear from your email that you do not want conflict, which is important. I think the best way to go about this is to ask your wife can you have a discussion on this. Say you want to give your perspective and hear hers.
Tell her that it is nothing got to do with your family, but it is very important to you that your child be baptised. I would also tell her at this stage that as you see it, whether your child grows up to be Catholic or not, being baptised won’t do him/her any harm – just as being baptised didn’t do either of you any harm.
Maybe she would be happy to have your child baptised but let him/her know when they are older that there are other religious options and none
Listen to what your wife has to say and see can you come to a resolution on this. It is important to ask your wife the reasons why she doesn’t want your child baptised and address these.
Maybe she would be happy to have your child baptised but let him/her know when they are older that there are other religious options and none.
Are you happy to take charge of religion in your child’s life? What does your wife feel is important that your child is told about religion?
Also, without overdrawing the issue and causing conflict, it might be an idea for you and your wife to start looking at a shared vision of what you would like your future child or children’s lives to look like. I know there is only so much you can control, but it might be no harm to touch base on where they might go to school in future, etc.
That all said, I am a firm believer that no one really knows how to be a parent until they are in the situation themselves. Parents do the best they can at the time, so don’t put too much pressure on yourselves.
Wishing you all the best in parenthood,