20 answers

Parent Vs. Grandparent

If a parent clearly states their beliefs about not having their child attend an organized religious belief, but the grandparent does it anyways...should the grandparent respect the wishes of the parent? Or the parent has not say in the matter because the grandparent has chosen to do whatever they want? What are grandparent's rights in California? Who has more say in raising the child...the parent or the grandparent? How do you handle such a situation between parent and grandparent? I personally think that how the parent wants to raise their child should be respected by the grandparent.

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if i had clearly stated my wishes and the grandparent disregarded them i would not be a happy camper. i would never deny my kids a relationship with their grandparents, but this would definitely be a big case of me sitting down with them and laying down the law in no uncertain terms.
that being said, if one is clear, there is rarely an issue. since i never feared my parents or in-laws would take my kids to a service that would do anything worse than bore them, i never needed to have a confrontation with them about it.
but if push came to shove, custodial parents win.
khairete
S.

1 mom found this helpful

I also believe that the parents have the final say. I don't think it matters what state you're in - the parents have the right to say how the child is raised. Grandparents have to learn to bite their tongue and let their children raise their children. I'm the grandmother of nine so I can tell you from first hand experience, it's not easy, but I bite my tongue and let the parents make their own choices as far as the kids go and most of the time things work out just fine even though it wasn't my way.

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Yep, grandparents must follow the parents wishes. Lots of problems happen if grandparents dont ask for parental permission.
But please remember that the grandparents love the child as much as you do and in a completely different way, this is THEIR childs child and it's an amazing thing for us. We only do what we thing is best for our grandkids, we arent their parents and we know that and so does the child. You've heard the addage "When in Rome do what the Romans do"? Well, when at Grams and Gramps you do what Grams and Gramps do. As the children get older if they dont like visiting G. and grandpa anymore I'm sure they will let you know. I think the diversity that grandparents bring to the family unit is a necessary. I loved and truly miss all of my grandparents. One set were smoking alcoholics that watched baseball and football, the other set were devout christians and G. baked pies, cookies and took us to church.
We didnt go to church with our parents, ever. But they didnt mind when the grandparents took us.
And whatever you do and believe in your home is the foundation that your kids are growing up with, it will always be the first and foremost. What happens at G. and grandpas is a totally different thing, they dont live with them, they live with you. As long as your kids know what you expect at home dont worry too much about what goes on at G. and grandpas because I'm sure it is all LOVE based and couldnt be too harmful.

ADD ON:
I re-read your post and it is somewhat ambiguous. It sounds like maybe you are a single mom living with your own mom? It's kind of hard to make all of your rights work when you are living with your parents still. If you live there and your mom is your babysitter what is she supposed to do if she wants to attend a church thing while she has your child? Obviously she has to take the child with.
If you are still dependent on your mother or mother in law, these issues just need to be worked out while you sit at the dinner table. You really cant have your cake and eat it too. It might be better if you did give us a little more info so we can make clearer answers for your situation, right now we are all assuming different scenerios.

3 moms found this helpful

I think this question indicates that there are some deep seated issues between the adult child and the grandparents that are way beyond attendance at church. Personally...I would never EVER take my grandchildren to an event, whether it was religious, political, anything, if their parents had indicated that they did not want their child there!
I am a Southern Baptist...very active in my church and have very deeply held religious beliefs. Unfortunately, none of my now adult children are involved in church any longer....when they are here at my house to visit they are free to come to church with me on Sunday morning if they would like but I would never force the issue and I certainly would not take one of my grandchildren against their wishes.
My feeling is that you, or whomever you are writing this question about needs to work on their basic relationships with the grandparent ( I am not making value judgements here and saying that I think either side is "right" or "wrong" I am simply saying that the relationship needs to be healed).
As so the "who has more say"...unless the parent has lost legal custody or has been shown to be a danger or unable to raise the child, I would think that the law would side with the parent as opposed to the grandparent. We do not have enough information to really answer that question fully.

3 moms found this helpful

I get what you are saying but am not understanding why this has to be a fight. Is the organzied religion that the grandparents want to expose the child to illegal? Does it expose the child to certain danger? If it is simply a matter of the grandparents want to take their grandchildren to a Catholic church service because they are Catholic, for example, and you do not agree with the ideaolgy of the Catholic church, what really is the harm of allowing your child to go to a Catholic church service here and there with their grandparent. Why engage in that power struggle? Your child will be exposed to a lot of things that are outside of your control during his life time and I just don't think that sharing in a part of something that is part of their grandparents' heritage is going to do a lot of damage in the long run. You are still the parent and you still have the greatest influence on your child of anyone that your child will come in contact with in this lifetime, including their grandparents. Just relax and trust that your child will make the right decision for him/her and that you are still Numero Uno in their eyes -- unless you do something brash, controlling and irrational and blow it.

Now, if the organzed religion that you are talking about involves child sacrafices, certain molestation, and crimes against humanity and the law, then I would say that the parents' rights trump grandparents' rights each and every time. But really, do you really want to involve yourself in such ugliness and power struggle if you don't have to?

My suggestion would be to sleep on this for a few days and figure out what's really yanking your chain here before you declare all out war. I just hate to see people get to be so fighty with each other.

Please take care and understand that this post is just intended for you to get a little bit different perspective on this situation. That's all.

Updated

I get what you are saying but am not understanding why this has to be a fight. Is the organzied religion that the grandparents want to expose the child to illegal? Does it expose the child to certain danger? If it is simply a matter of the grandparents want to take their grandchildren to a Catholic church service because they are Catholic, for example, and you do not agree with the ideaolgy of the Catholic church, what really is the harm of allowing your child to go to a Catholic church service here and there with their grandparent. Why engage in that power struggle? Your child will be exposed to a lot of things that are outside of your control during his life time and I just don't think that sharing in a part of something that is part of their grandparents' heritage is going to do a lot of damage in the long run. You are still the parent and you still have the greatest influence on your child of anyone that your child will come in contact with in this lifetime, including their grandparents. Just relax and trust that your child will make the right decision for him/her and that you are still Numero Uno in their eyes -- unless you do something brash, controlling and irrational and blow it.

Now, if the organzed religion that you are talking about involves child sacrafices, certain molestation, and crimes against humanity and the law, then I would say that the parents' rights trump grandparents' rights each and every time. But really, do you really want to involve yourself in such ugliness and power struggle if you don't have to?

My suggestion would be to sleep on this for a few days and figure out what's really yanking your chain here before you declare all out war. I just hate to see people get to be so fighty with each other.

Please take care and understand that this post is just intended for you to get a little bit different perspective on this situation. This is written by a person who never really had grandparents so I the thought of being able to spend special time with them. My mother's parents died when I was very little and, because my parents split when I was very young and my mother did what she could to keep us kids from having any kind of relationship with my father's side of the family because her bitterness overroad her better reasoning. I would have killed to have some kind of family connection with my grandparents on both sides of the family even if it meant spending time attending meaningless ceremonies like attending a church ceremony. That's all I am trying to impress upon you now. Food for thought. I hope that you will be able to resolve this disagreement very soon.

2 moms found this helpful

The parents should have more say in raising a child, unless the grandparents share custody of the child. However, I think I would pick my battles carefully. If your parents normally attend a mainstream church and they are keeping your child for the weekend and want to take the child with them to services, that should be fine. They are probably not going to indoctrinate your child with a visit to a church or a sunday school class.
If you are ambivalent about religion or want to let your child choose when he is old enough, then exposing him/her to religion should be fine. A visit to church is not joining the church. However, if your parents belong to a religious group or sect that you find appalling or dangerous, then you should not allow your child to attend and you should discuss that with your parents and not leave your child with them during that time.

2 moms found this helpful

I am very anti-organized religion... and feel each child needs to grow up a bit in order to make their own choices. Having said that, I gave my Catholic parents permission to baptize her and take her occasionally to church with them. Reason behind that is, how can one make a balanced and objective choice if both sides aren't explored?

2 moms found this helpful

My very Catholic grandmother had me baptized in secret into the catholic church (she'd get her priest to come out and do it on the sly, so to speak, with all of her grandkids "just to be safe")... and then from that point onward it was all up to her kids and she never butted into how our parents raised us. To this day, I'm not sure if my parents know.

In western culture, the buck stops with the parents... in many asian and middle eastern cultures, it's either grandparents or eldest relatives. Ditto some parts of Italy & E Europe, but not all. If you've got a culture clash going on... no one is likely to bend and decide that they are "wrong" in their views of where the buck stops.

In my own house/ family... buck stops with me. Period.

2 moms found this helpful

if i had clearly stated my wishes and the grandparent disregarded them i would not be a happy camper. i would never deny my kids a relationship with their grandparents, but this would definitely be a big case of me sitting down with them and laying down the law in no uncertain terms.
that being said, if one is clear, there is rarely an issue. since i never feared my parents or in-laws would take my kids to a service that would do anything worse than bore them, i never needed to have a confrontation with them about it.
but if push came to shove, custodial parents win.
khairete
S.

1 mom found this helpful

If I asked my parents to not do something and they did it anyways I would be furious! However, I also agree with Denise, your not very clear as to the situation. If they are babysitting your kids during their normal time for church then you need to make other arrangments for your kids at that time. It wouldnt be fair to expect them to miss something they believe in. If your parents have legal custody of your children then they of course have all the legal say as to what happens. If none of this applies and your parents mislead you by sneaking the kids to church services against your wishes then I would politly let them know they will no longer be allowed unsupervised visits until they can understand you are mom!

1 mom found this helpful

Of course, the parents have the final say so! but your question is ambiguous, and it's not clear what's going on.
Are your parents taking your child to church? Is it when they are babysitting or something like that? If so, and NOT going to church would mean that they, too, would have to miss going, then I think they are right to take her along....again, not sure in what way your child is being *forced* to "attend an organized religious belief".....

1 mom found this helpful

Grandparents do have rights - to give children cookies and presents unhindered by parents - but they do not have the right to override parental decisions such as how a child should be raised religiously. That would be overstepping it. The parent will always have more say in raising the child. If it just happened once, I would overlook it, but make sure my child is no longer with the grandparents on Sundays or whenever they attend service.

1 mom found this helpful

Parents always have main say on how the child is raised. That's why the child isn't living with the grandparents and calling them mom and dad! Tell the grandparents that you have your child's life under control. I don't mind exposing children to different religions while they're young (it will help them develop their own belief system for later in life) but if the grandparents are telling you that you should raise your child under a certain religion that you don't necessarily believe in or want your children exposed to, you should definitely speak up.

1 mom found this helpful

Do you not want the child to attend a certain type of church, or just church in general? Are you religious or atheiest? (No judgement here :))

And I'm not too sure why you are even asking about who has more right, unless you and the grandparent have shared custody.
If you are the sole caretaker of the child (or you and the father/mother), and this is what the court recognises, then the grandparent's opinion doesn't mean diddly squat.

1 mom found this helpful

I can't speak for California law; however, a parent is resposible for raising their own children. They should have the final say in everything but especially importatnt decisions involving education, religion, and safety! Many grandparents have a hard time w/ this boundary.

If the grandparent ask in opposition to the parents' wishes (if they knew what they were) then they should no longer be allowed to have the children for unsupervised visits.

Now, if this is a grandparent who is raising their grandchild (as in fully responsible) then they should have the final say just as a parent normally would. If grandparents always attend a church service and happens to be babysitting for you during that time then you should probably expect that your child would attend the church service as well.

1 mom found this helpful

I absolutely agree with you. This is hard to put into practice, though, if the grandparents share in the childcare responsibilities, as is common in many families. Good luck to you, and stick to your guns. You are the parent, and your parents and/or in-laws should show respect for your role and also recognize their own boundaries as the grandparents. Grandparents are supposed to have fun with their grandchildren. They've done the "heavy lifting" by raising their own children into adulthood. It's really an insult to their own child rearing to fail to see their grown children as independent adults capable of making intelligent decisions without their constant input. Again, it's a wonderful theory and can be put into practice, but I'm sure it's difficult.

1 mom found this helpful

I also believe that the parents have the final say. I don't think it matters what state you're in - the parents have the right to say how the child is raised. Grandparents have to learn to bite their tongue and let their children raise their children. I'm the grandmother of nine so I can tell you from first hand experience, it's not easy, but I bite my tongue and let the parents make their own choices as far as the kids go and most of the time things work out just fine even though it wasn't my way.

The fact that you are asking who has more rights is confusing. The parent should know they are responsible and the grandparent has no rights. If you (the parent) are not responsible and the grandparents need to give shelter, food, pay for medical or clothing then they may have rights (but you would know since the courts would have given them the power to make decisions). My parents passed away and my husband's dad sent an email saying "merry chistmas" because according to the email the he didnt want to wait in line to mail a letter. The grandma (who is divorced from the grandpa) sent a check to my husband for $25 for the chirstmas presents. These types of grandparents have zero rights. If I was in their area and church was going on during our visit I would not have a problem going, but since these grandparents are pretty much stangers to my kids I would go to church with them (son just turn 4 and daugher 9 months).

If your kids' grandparents watch your kids and church is part of their schedule, then i think they should take them to church. If you don't agree, pay someone who has your beliefs watch YOUR kids.

My best friends husband has decided he is an Atheist. He took the kids out of private Christian school and put them in public school, etc...they don't participate in any organized religious activities, not even Halloween or Christmas parties with friends.

But he knows if his kids are at Grandmas house to stay the night and there is church the next morning they will be going with her. If he didn't really want them exposed to that he could always choose to select a different evening to let the kids stay over.

The grandparents don't have rights to make decisions for your child if you are the custodial parent and the grandparents don't have custody and are not raising the child for you. If they are just visiting with your kid, they do not have any rights to make any decisions. It is not a legal matter. They are doing the wrong thing and the parent must put a stop to it or not allow unsupervised visits. It's an issue between the adult child and their parent. The parent has all the say unless the grandparent has custody. This is a family matter and not a legal matter.
The parents get to decide the child's religious upbringing. If the grandparents have an issue with this - because it was a mixed faith marriage and the kids are being raised in the other faith, or because the parents have decided not to raise the children in an observant home - it is up to the parents to prevent the grandparents from having this influence.
Some years back when my kids went to visit my inlaws out of state for a week, I made it clear that they were not to take my kids to church. I know the inlaws would have loved to show the kids off and let their church friends see that they had the grandkids for a week, but I didn't need the kids going to a religious service and having questions and being "educated" by grandma and grandpa when this church is not a religion that we practice nor is it the religion of either grandparent - they attend for the social aspect and that's not what Dh and I are teaching our kids that synagogue or church is about.

How can the grandparents take the children without the parents consent? I mean, if a parent is leaving the children with grandparents who they clearly know attend a certain religious service, then they should expect that the grandparents are going to take the children along. If the parents are truly concerned that their child not attend that event, then they should find other times for their child to be with the grandparents, or only let the child visit when they, the parents, can be visiting too.

MG, WOW WHAT A QUESTION!!! I have not read any of the responses so am sure to repeat some of what is said.
I will have to assume that the Grandparents have the custody of said child, or are paying the bills, or even better taking care of the child most of the time and helping out much of the time. With this thought in mind.... if you have grandparents that are active with a church then how can you expect them to seperate that side of thier life from time with the grandchild?? My children know that I will not disrespect them by forcing religion on tier families, and they show respect like the blessing of food here even though they don't choose to do it at home. It is all about respect.
I have very strong Religious feelings, but I also have several Grandchildren . Some of them are being raised like I raised the parents , some not, BUT they are all teaching the children to be good decent people and live the 10 commandments which is always a great guide to follow. If the Grandchild that are not active in a church are with me the parents know that I will still be myself and that means my beliefs. None of it will be harmful nor cause them to be anything but more respectful and open as young adults and people in the world. To ask the Grandparents to stop being themselves is beyound my comprehenion. I won't stay home from church, or church activities unless the child is ill. So again depending on what you are taking from the Grandparents in money, time and love just know the child will not be harmed by the exposure.

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