DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Mike,” and I are young newlyweds and adjusting to our new life quite well. However, while we both come from deeply religious families, we are both nonbelievers, which has caused some strife within the family.
Mike has several nieces and nephews (ages 4 to 9) who have asked us repeatedly why we don’t go to church with them, since the whole family attends together. Their mother has made it clear that they do not want the children knowing there is another option besides Christianity, and I understand, since their faith is so important to them. But I don’t want to lie to the kids or ignore their questions. Is there a tactful way to answer their questions without stepping on toes? — NEVER ON SUNDAY
DEAR NEVER: You could respond by saying, “Your uncle and I have other plans.” And if the kids ask what they are, tell them what you plan to do that day. If they ask why you don’t come to church like they do, tell them that because they are children they need to learn about their religion. When they are adults, they can choose to go — or not.
While I respect your in-laws’ desire to practice their faith, I think it is unrealistic to try to keep children in the dark because as soon as they hit school — unless they are home-schooled or in a church-run school — they are going to meet other kids who worship differently or not at all.