Regardless of your beliefs, It's incredibly important for parents to be on the same page regarding what kind of religious education, if any, they plan to give their children to avoid any confusion or stress for the child.
If a particularly strict family member decides to get involved in a child's relationship to religion despite the parents repeatedly resisting, that's a pretty serious violation. Sometimes mother-in-law drama is more intense than a few snide comments about the stuffing recipe at Thanksgiving...
So, when a recent Reddit user needed to consult the moral compass of the internet about a conflict he was having with his wife and her mother's religious influence on their son, people were definitely eager to weigh in.
My wife and I have a 2-year old son and have been married for 4 years. Our anniversary was a month ago and we found a nice, secluded cabin on AirBnB and rented it out for a long weekend getaway. My wife asked her parents if they would be willing to watch our son and they agreed as long as we dropped him off at their house. That worked for us since it was on our way anyway.
I was raised Lutheran and my wife was raised catholic, but neither of us currently go to church and have not had our son baptized. My MIL knows this and hates it. She thinks our son needs to be baptized or he will burn in hell, she's that kind of catholic.
So we go on our trip and when we pick up our son and ask how the weekend went, MIL says everything went fine and that she has saved my son's soul from the devil. I ask her what she meant and she says she had our son baptized that morning at her church.
I tried my best to keep my cool so I didn't scream at MIL in front of my son, but I pretty much grabbed my son and left. On the car ride home I was fuming and told my wife as calmly as I could that this would be the last time her parents have our son unsupervised. She tried to downplay what her mom had done but I told her we need to wait until we get home to talk about it because I'm not fighting in front of my kid.
When we got home and had a chance to talk about it, things got heated. I told my wife I no longer trust her parents with our son and that if they did something like this behind our backs I can't trust them to respect our wishes as parents in the future.
I said this was a huge breach of trust and I will forever look at her mom differently. She continued to try to defend her mom saying that she was only doing what she thought was best for her grandson. She even downplayed it by saying that it's just a little water and a few words and we don't go to church anyway so what does it matter.
I told her that under no circumstances will I allow her parents to watch our son by themselves again. I said that we can still let them see their grandson, but only if we are present. I also said that if she doesn't see what the big deal is with this situation, that maybe we aren't on the same page as parents and maybe we need to see a counselor.
She started crying and said that this isn't the kind of decision I get to make on my own and I'm an as*hole for trying to tell her what kind of relationship her parents can have with our son.
I told her that I no longer have any trust or respect for her parents and that I don't know if there's anything they can do to repair that. I told her I don't care if that makes me an as*hole, but what her parents did was unforgivable in my eyes and they put themselves in this position to lose privileges with our son.
She's been trying to convince me to change my mind for the last month, but I'm not budging. To me this is a hill I'm willing to die on.
NTA (Not the As*hole) These types of baptisms violate church law, and if it actually was done by their priest you should contact the bishop and file a complaint. - Critical_Aspect
That was a HUGE breach of trust. Nothing religious should be done unilaterally either by the parents or in this case, grandparents. I do agree that counseling would be a good avenue for you both to get on the same page. Also apparently you're an ahole for telling her that her parents can no longer see your son unsupervised but they aren't aholes for the unauthorized baptism? What?? - Query8897
Going against the grain here apparently, but YTA (You're the As*hole). Was what your MIL did wrong, a huge breach of trust, and something to be discussed? Yes, absolutely. Did it actively hurt your child in any way? No.
I get it's an issue with respecting your choices as parents, but YTA because you're now trying to make unilateral decisions about whether your partner's mother can see your child, without considering your partner's feelings on the situation and the effect your decree (yes, decree) will have on her and her familial relations.
She's right, you're an as*hole for trying to force this decision on her on your own. This is something you and she need to agree upon, and you're telling her it's your way or the highway - and guess what, if she chooses the highway, your son IS going to see your MIL unsupervised whether you like it or not. - ShadowsObserver
ESH (Everyone Sucks Here)- So I agree with 95% if what you have said. I think in ALMOST all areas, you are completely correct. The only thing I think you're going a little too big on is the 'never can fix what they did' part of it. You and your wife are a team. You need to be on the same page about this. But you going that strong on the 'never' part of it is clearly too much for your wife.
If her parents turn their behavior around and improve, there needs to be a 'path' towards reconciliation, or your wife will not be on your side. I'd rather get 90% of what I wanted with my wife as my team vs fight for 100% and her be against it. Because that leads to resentment or secrets or lies or nothing good.
Be willing to allow them to change. Make it clear what your expectations and needs are. Make sure the 'time and actual change' part is very clear. Make that hill to climb hard to do, but don't make it impossible or you'll lose out. - thatonepersoniam
YTA (You're the As*hole) for how you went about it. You don't get to dictate terms to the person who's supposed to be your partner. You do get to tell them how you feel, tell them what you'd like to see happen, and ask them for their input, then come to a consensus, which will likely involve compromise. - Cent1234
NTA (Not the As*hole). You picked a good hill OP. It’s not their kid, it’s not their decision. If you continuously let them get away with disrespecting you and your SO’s wishes, things are just going to get worse and worse. Honestly a counselor may be a good option, as it’s a neutral party who can give an outside opinion. - Sm_Banks
NTA (Not the As*hole., I'm Catholic and my fiance is Lutheran, and I'd be livid if either of our parents baptized our future children without telling us until after the fact. She overstepped a pretty significant boundary.
Your wife is under-reacting, yes it technically is 'just a little water and a few words' but it's the meaning and the symbolism behind it. You and your wife are a united front and decided together that this wasn't something you would do, but now that it's done, your wife doesn't care? - anlasul
This is a big deal and your wife doesn’t get to downplay it. I’d absolutely lose my mind if my mom or mil pulled a stunt like this. - Headup31
While the opinions were divided about whether or not this dad made the right call, the general direction was that he has every right to be angry, but should perhaps also get counseling with his wife. While the mother-in-law was definitely not right for going against the wishes of her grandchild's parents, cutting her off forever might be too extreme.
First off I want to thank everyone who sent me supportive messages and advice, I never expected my post to get so much attention. Since many of you requested an update, here we go.
Turns out some of you were right, my wife was in on it. I confronted her a couple days after I posted and directly asked her if she knew that her parents planned this. She broke down and confessed everything to me.
MIL had been pestering her about baptizing our son nonstop and my wife finally caved. My wife has been working from home during covid while my job requires me to go into the office.
My wife and MIL started doing zoom meetings with MIL's priest to start the baptism process. They lied to the priest and told him that I was ok with baptizing our son but didn't want to be involved. The priest allowed it and they started doing online baptism classes while I was at work.
My wife admitted that she planned it around our anniversary getaway and that MIL had somehow convinced the priest that her and FIL would be the only ones in attendance. My wife told me that I wasn't supposed to find out, but MIL couldn't keep her mouth shut for even one day about it. Their intention was to keep this from me permanently.
I did contact the church to let them know the truth. I talked with the priest and he was surprisingly helpful. He said he would take the proper steps to make sure MIL is no longer welcome in their church and to reach out to the local parish to see what further steps need to be taken.
I have yet to hear back from them on that. My wife and MIL are mad that I got her kicked out of her church, but I don't care what they think or feel anymore.
These people who I love and trust had betrayed me and I felt a range emotions I didn't know existed. My wife begged for forgiveness, but the fact that she didn't come clean on her own makes me feel she would have kept this from me unless I confronted her. She's willing to do therapy, counseling, whatever it takes. I don't know if I want to put in that work, I feel like there's no coming back from this.
I contacted a divorce lawyer and started discussing what a divorce would look like and if there is any way I can add provisions to a divorce agreement that would keep my in-laws from seeing my son unsupervised.
He's been very helpful but I have not given him the go-ahead to actually file for divorce yet. I feel I am still too angry about the entire thing to think rationally and want to give myself time to fully grasp what a divorce will mean for me and my family.
My wife and I aren't talking much. I pretty much go to work, come home to play with my son, go to bed, and repeat. I don't know what the future is going to bring, but I do know that without the support and help from people here, I don't think I would have the clarity I do now.
'She started crying and said that this isn't the kind of decision I get to make on my own'...but it was the kind of decision that she got to make on her own. Classic case of 'Rules for thee but not for me.'
How could the MIL not realize it was a bad idea when she had to lie to the priest? I’ll never understand being so devout you sin in service of your faith.
It’s funny how the wife cried and begged, told him he can’t make a unilateral decision and refused counseling. Then to find out she herself made a unilateral decision, tried to cover it up, then cried and begged for counseling. Sucks when the shoe is on the other foot I guess.
My first thought once the wife starting downplaying it was, “Yeah, so — she’s in on it to appease Mommy.”