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How do you handle a grandparent who trys to force her beliefs on her grandkids?

My best friend has a 12 year old son, she has her own set of beliefs and does her best to teach her son what those beliefs are and how to have a better, closer relationship with God. The problem is that her mother has a completly different set of beliefs and what a persons relationship with God should be. Long story short, he spent the weekend with grandma this past weekend, and when he came home monday morning he was a completly different child. Grandma has convinced him that her way is the ONLY way it should be and if he chooses to do it any other way he will spend eternity in hell, which she also told him is where his mother will be if he doesn't convince her to believe this way too. This is a normally happy, pretty well behaved child, who is now terrified to speak out of turn for fear that God will punish him. Grandma is the only family they have and she doesn't want to take her out of this life, but what else can she do?

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:38 PM on Mar. 18, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Answers (16)
  • She needs to call Grandma's pastor/priest/whatever and have a long talk with him. If he's a nutjob too, there aren't many options, but, if he's more rational, her best bet is to have him explain to grandma that it's not Christian (or whatever she is) to traumatize and psychologically abuse a child.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:44 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • Well, either she lets it go on and he is completely "devoured" by his grandma's way of thinking or she nips it in the bud toot sweet.

    If she doesnt want him taken out of grandmas life then perhaps she can limit the exposure by allowing writing/emails instead of physical visits til grandma gets it through her skull that she is NOT the sayer of how he's raised,etc.

    Answer by BonesDragonDew at 1:45 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • I would not allow the G-Mom time alone with her G-child if she doesn't have the good sense to respect his parents wishes. The topics are unimportant in my opinion whether it is religion or another issue; the G-Ma needs to respect the parents. If she is unable to do that the G-Ma has made the choice to be less involved in her G-childs life in my opinion. I would not let anyone instruct my children in a way that I didn't feel was for thier well-being. TheG-Ma believes she is doing the right hing or she is controlling but, regardless these choices aren't up to her in my opinion.


    Answer by BubbaLuva at 1:47 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • This is a tough one for me since Gma might very well be right.

    However, with a child that age, even with Gma's beliefs, I would not approach faith through fear but through love. As a Christian I do believe the only way to eternal life and heaven is through faith in Jesus. I believe we need to spread this faith through love and not fear, especially with children.


    Answer by Praying at 2:00 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • I'd tell Grandma to keep her opinions to herself or to not see her grandchild.

    Answer by Marwill at 2:01 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • This is a tough one for me since Gma might very well be right.

    Nope, G-Ma is not right.  The child is not hers.  The child isn't being physically harmed or misstreated so really it's none of her business.  She needs to respect the wishes of the child's mother wheather she agrees with them or not.  There is absolutely no excuse to go behind a parents back and brainwash a child.  There is absolutely no excuse to put fear into a child's heart when all they should be thinking about is being a child.  I've went through this so I sympathise with the Mom.  I have no problem telling a grandparent to cool it and keep their religious opinions to themselves if they want to have a relationship at all with their grandchildren.


    Answer by ShutterBug77 at 2:21 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • She needs to speak with G-ma and explain to her that tho she has her own beliefs, it is not hers and how she is raising HER child...
    Using fear is not the right way and by allowing this will only push the child away from religion in the future... (IMO)


    Answer by gmasboy at 2:30 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • My mom is going to try and force her Christian beliefs on our daughter. I have told my mom time and time again that if she does, she will not be permitted to see our daughter unless we're supervising. We want our daughter to make her own decisions, not be forced into believing one thing and being terrified of eternal damnation unless she believes just that.

    *sigh* It's tough.

    Answer by caitxrawks at 2:50 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • I would have a private talk with the gma about what was said and how her beliefs are not the same as thiers (or what she wants to teach her son). I would then have gma, mom, and the son all sit down and have gma herself tell the son that she was wrong for scaring him and that while she may believe differently than his mother, she will not go to hell (and niether will he). If gma refuses to apologize and/or talk to the son, then mom should make it clear that she can not be unsupervised with her child any longer.

    Answer by ozarkgirl3 at 2:54 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

  • I told my childrens grandparnets that I was there mother and what I say goes. Either they could go by how I wanted them raised or they couldn't see them. I know that sounds cruel, but it worked and I had my kids to love and raise them, no one else. Good luck to your friend.

    Answer by jamicofer at 3:14 PM on Mar. 18, 2009

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