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MIL violates grandson's religious beliefs; demands apology for his reaction. UPDATED

MIL violates grandson's religious beliefs; demands apology for his reaction. UPDATED


This post was updated by OP. Scroll to the bottom for the update:

AITA for not making my son apologize to his MIL after an argument?"

I (m41) am married to my wife (f37). I have two kids from my previous marriage, (b15) (g13). I am Jewish, as was my first wife before she passed. My current wife is not. We have no kids together. My kids have always got along with their stepmom and her family fairly well, until recently.

Thanksgiving with my wife’s family is a huge affair, and it’s the only chance a lot of the family has to see each other during the year. My kids and I do not eat pork, but there are always options for us or we bring something we specifically can eat, like vegetarian lasagna.

Wednesday night I had dinner with my wife’s parents at their place. I should mention that my wife is not very personally religious although she attends services with her parents monthly. My PIL are very, very conservative-style Evangelicals. We mostly don’t talk about our religious difference although I once had to stop my MIL from encouraging my daughter to be baptized.

Everything was fine until the end of the meal when my MIL crossed her arms and said “See, we told you nothing bad would happen.” I asked her what she meant. My MIL said she had mixed bacon into one of the dishes (a casserole) to prove a point to us.

I tried to ask very calmly why she would do something like that. My MIL said it was to show that there was no point in following ‘the Old Testament law’ anymore. I asked my FIL if he knew what she had done and he said yes.

He seemed more uncomfortable but he talked a bit about how Christ came to free us from the Jewish law and that they wanted to show us how we could be freed from the law as well. (He has worked as a pastor in the past).

By this time my daughter was crying and left the room. My wife got up and followed her. My son has been growing more observant as he gets older (he is more observant than me or my daughter). He flipped out. He screamed at my PIL that they were terrible people, called my MIL some very nasty names, and said he never wanted to come back.

My FIL started shouting back and my MIL started crying. I told my kids to get in the car and then told my wife we were leaving. She told me she would stay at her parents so she could help with Thanksgiving prep the next morning.

I was texting with my wife on TG and she told me my son is not welcome to come until he apologizes for the things he called my MIL. I told her that’s ridiculous, but she is siding with her parents. I told my kids we would not be attending Thanksgiving. Instead we ordered Chinese and watched movies.

My son was fine with it but I could tell my daughter was down. She missed out on seeing a lot of friends she has in my wife’s family. My wife is still at her parents as of now. I should mention that I too am very angry at what happened and what I feel is the disrespect shown to me and especially my kids.

'I am torn on whether to encourage my son to apologize contingent on a mutual apology to us. AITA?'

Here's what people think in the comments:

risen87 writes:

NTA - your MIL crossed a huge line. Was it rude for a teenager to swear at his grandmother? Yes. Was it warranted? Absolutely. They're focusing on his bad behaviour rather than dealing with how awful and abusive and disrespectful your MIL was. If your wife doesn't see the problem here, you need to leave her.

Waste-Phase-2857 writes:

I'm surprised not every comment included that OP needs to get out of this marriage if the wife sides with her parents on this! NTA!

theCaityCat writes:

I'm also Jewish. My ex-husband's family was all Evangelical Christian. His parents would never have pulled something like this. They would always have at least one main dish that was kosher when I came over.

My ex-FIL even found Old Testament verses to read at large family dinners (he and I got along really well, the divorce was all on my ex and not his family). You can respect others' religious views without giving up your own.

sweetpotatopietime writes:

NTA. Please don’t make your son apologize. I am a Jew who privately thinks the laws of kashrut are silly, but when my observant relatives come over, I bend over backwards to accommodate them. (Have you seen the price of kosher turkey lately? 🤣)

Your wife does not respect you or your children. That’s the main thing you should be focusing on. I’m so sorry for you.

Update from OP:

Wow, I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Thanks everyone.

When I wrote this post, I was still numb and paralyzed. I didn’t realize how much. Looking back, I agree with many of the commenters and wish I had had the presence of mind to communicate how heinous and violating my MIL and FIL were in the heat of the moment, instantly.

My wife came back home a few hours after the post. When I said she was taking her parents side, it was about my son apologizing for calling my MIL the b-word and c-word. She claims she had no idea what they planned to do and spent most of the holiday fighting with her parents.

On reflection though, I am very disappointed in her reaction as well as my own. After some discussion we will be taking some further steps. My son will be making no apologies for anything. My MIL and FIL are not welcome in my home nor will we be going to theirs. All contact with my kids is cut off. I have contacted my rabbi and lawyers about how best to move forward.

As to my marriage, we will be attending couples counseling. My wife has been a rock and a loving stepmother for our four year marriage, and she has particularly bonded with my daughter.

I don’t know if our marriage can survive this though, because my trust has broken, my son especially has had his trust broken, and my relationship with my PIL is irrevocably broken. I will pursue a restraining order if they try to initiate contact with my kids.

I have tried to communicate on here calmly without breaking out into how angry and violated we all feel. Thank you to everyone who validated that.

Here's what people had to say about the update:

Dumplings_Lemon writes:

Why is it so hard for some people to respect other people’s choices when it doesn’t impact or affect them in anyway?!!

GoonDocks1632 writes:

OP, please don't beat yourself up about your initial reaction. As a Christian who wasn't even there, I felt a visceral reaction reading your post. I cannot imagine how I would have reacted had I been in your shoes.

There is no way to adequately prepare yourself for such a blatant attack on something that is so wholly part of your identity. You were with people you trusted, and you had to deal with an enemy instead.

There is no rule book for that, not when you're dealing with the fight or flight response that caused both you and your son to react in such different ways. You are no more in the wrong than he was - and he wasn't in the wrong at all. Treat yourself with the same kindness that you are treating him.

As a parent, I can tell you that what matters is that you got your kids out of there, and that you are taking the right steps now to protect them. Whatever happens with your marriage, you are teaching your children that both them and your faith are worth defending. You can't put a price on that. You are being a good father, and they will carry that with them their whole lives.

Puzzleheaded_Pin9231 writes:

I don’t eat pork either and this would have had me livid. Your wife didn’t stand up for your family as she should have. I hope you can make it through this.

Orphan_Izzy writes:

Their attempt at instant conversion through lies, betrayal, and force took them down a path as far away from Christianity as you can get. Not very Christian behavior at all.

PanicTechnical writes:

I’m sorry but I don’t believe your wife one bit

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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