My (32F) SIL, “Lucy” became a Jehovah’s Witness a couple of years ago. It caused a bit of a problem in her marriage as my brother, “Todd”, didn’t want to convert and the church (at least the one she attends) encourages you to cut out those who will not follow the teachings.
I’m not sure exactly what happened but Todd and Lucy have remained married. He hasn’t joined the church; she attends and said they’d raise their future children doing so. Our family has been supportive, once we got over the hurdle of her trying to convert us.
It has been a little tricky as Lucy doesn’t celebrate holidays and will scoff if invited. So, Todd will go by himself and she resents not being invited. We’ve let it be known, if she wants to come, then she’s more than welcome, but we’re not going to just not have celebrations.
Lucy has also told us since she joined the church to not get her gifts and she won’t get us any. We were okay with that.
Last year, Lucy and Todd welcomed their son, “Andrew”. His first birthday was on Saturday. I wasn’t expecting a party but then Lucy said they were having an “I love you” party for him. It seemed like a cop out but my husband and I agreed to bring our daughter (2) to the party.
Again, Lucy has stated several times that she and Andrew cannot give or receive gifts on holidays and birthdays. She even said no birthday gifts. So, I didn’t get him anything, though I helped my daughter make a card that just said “We love you, Andrew!”
The party was mostly Lucy’s church friends. She doesn’t have a large extended family, myself and Todd’s lives in a different state. When we arrived, the table was stacked with presents. We were the only ones who didn’t get him something. I heard someone from the church calling it an “I love you” gift but didn’t want to make a thing of it.
Monday, Lucy called and the subject of the party came up. I was trying to understand the difference between a birthday and what the party was. She just kept saying it was different and they weren’t technically celebrating his birthday.
I said it was semantics really. It’d be one thing if they celebrated it on a random day but it was on his birthday. She accused me of judging her religion and I said no, I just think that this is a cop out. It’s totally fine to celebrate your child.
I love my nephew and will do my best to be at every party. But that 100% was a birthday party. She can dress it up as she wants, but that’s what it is.
Lucy said I was a judgmental b*tch and hung up. Todd is actually on my side but feels I shouldn’t have said it. He wanted to keep quiet to keep peace. AITA?
NTA, but be careful. High control religions often manufacture opportunities for families to fight and for their members to become separated from their families. Don't do their work for them. Sometimes it's best to make a statement about reality and just leave it there.
This feels like Bizzarroworld to me. I grew up with friends who were JW and their family was VERY strict and adamant about holidays and birthdays. What your SIL had was a bday party, no way around it. Very confusing. But you're NTA.
NTA- LOL totally was a birthday party. If it was just some random I love you party WHY was it on his birthday?? We have lots of JW's in my area, and some are coworkers. None of them have these types of parties. I wonder if your SILs church is mostly converted people?
NTA. I mean, at some level you just need to learn to live with Lucy's hypocrisy. The writing is on the wall here. Lucy wants to constantly say one thing ('No gifts!' 'No invitations!') and then do another ('Where's my gift?' 'Why wasn't I invited?'), and I think you've learned the code at this point. If you want to keep the peace, you'll have to play along.
But no, taking her at her word doesn't make you an asshole. Pointing out the glaringly obvious about that 'i love you' party doesn't make you an asshole. Lucy is basically demanding that everyone join her in a whole series of thinly-veiled lies and she is the a**hole. But sometimes life is about learning to live with an asshole in the family.
NTA. And I am shocked her church friends attended and bought gifts. I grew up going to school with a JW family and then had a friend in college that was JW and they don’t really allow for any loopholes.