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I recently came into contact with some close relatives (my paternal grandparents) that I've never met and we've been talking on the phone and over email for a month or so. I sent them pictures of my daughter's birthday party.

My husband and I are Catholic. We are not religious zealots and not 100% devout but I still go to church every Sunday and we are going to send our kids to Catholic school. This is usually something I don't tell many people or talk to people about because it can be a source of conflict. Especially coworkers and people I don't know very well.

Some people are uncomfortable with religion and if you tell them what religion you are they might feel like you are going to try to convert them or they might dislike the religious denomination that you belong to.

My son's baptism is this weekend and it's a big event. I want to send my newfound grandparents pictures of the baptism but I'm concerned that this could cause conflict. Given that my husband is Irish and I'm a Canadian of Romanian ancestry it could easily be inferred that it's a good chance that we could be Catholic.

How to bring this topic up with them without making them feel uncomfortable? I don't think they have any religious leanings. Is it necessary to hide it and how can I deal with any negative reactions?

Edit: my maternal grandparents were the Catholic Romanian ones. I have only just came into contact with my paternal grandparents who are Canadian. They have very distant UK ancestry.

  • why might it cause conflict just photos of a baptism? – WendyG Aug 20 at 9:22
  • Some people can be irrational and emotive about religion and finding out someone's religious denomination can change your perception of a person. This is coming from a Canadian perspective. – user1261710 Aug 20 at 9:31
  • so what you actually want to know is their opinion of Catholicism, do you need to hide it from them. – WendyG Aug 20 at 9:35
  • Yeah, like if it's necessary to hide it from them and if I tell them how to manage a negative response. – user1261710 Aug 20 at 9:36
  • could you update your question with this – WendyG Aug 20 at 9:48
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First, I and statistics, think you are greatly overstating the potential for a problem. While Church attendance varies greatly, it's very common in the English speaking world so almost certainly not new or unusual to your grandparents (Church attendance).

Some people are uncomfortable with religion...

So far, this is only an assumption on your part concerning grandparents.

How to bring this topic up with them without making them feel uncomfortable?

With 100% certainty, you can't. Meaning, if you want them in your and baby's life, either you will have to guard this 'secret' forever, or just let them know and deal with the consequences.

Is it necessary to hide it and how can I deal with any negative reactions?

Now, I think what you're really concerned about is the potential consequences. Either A) they won't care and/or are Christians themselves (quite likely coming from British or Canadian heritage) or B) they find your religious practices objectionable.

We can't tell you how to deal with negative reactions, but I think you have a few unpleasant options already in mind. What I will say is that you should fully think through outcome B and agree with husband to commit to it.

Thinking of the many, many, many Brits I met over the years, it's possible their only trifling with your family is husband's Irish roots, but not in any serious or remotely detrimental way. He's probably already heard all the jokes.

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I have lived in Canada for 50 years. People have mentioned their religion and I have never seen someone react poorly to hearing someone was Catholic. 30 years ago I would hear "jokes" such as equating being Catholic with having a large family, but I never heard anyone worrying that a Catholic would try to convert them.

Further, I never heard anyone trying to guess someone's religion based on hearing about a ceremony such as a baptism. Even something as obvious as "that person has Irish heritage, bet they are Catholic" is something I do not hear.

I know you've just met these people and want them in your life, but I presume that means you want them in your whole life. Something as meaningful to you as a baptism, and of your own child, is a big deal. Share some pictures and tell them about the family aspects of the day (who came, who brought cookies, the outfit the baby wore, whatever.) Treat it just like your daughter's birthday party pictures.

I find it inconceivable that people would drop you upon learning you held a religious ceremony. It would be like not telling people you got married because the wedding was in a church. Sure, most people are not religious these days, but you're not in an obscure sect nobody has heard of, it's mainstream and ordinary.

  • I suppose it depends where in Canada. I'm from BC and it's the most secular province. Christianity is hated and is seen as bigotry and misogyny. People often say derogatory things about religious people such as claiming they are lacking in intelligence. – user1261710 Aug 20 at 13:03
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    @user1261710 I've spent lot of time the region. Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are outliers relative to their Provence/State. Victoria, Spokane, Bend all might as well be in Australia. Give grandparents the benefit of the doubt for now. – Johns-305 Aug 20 at 14:32
  • @user1261710 "People often say derogatory things ... ". I suspect that depends very much on the social group. I don't know how old your grandparents are, (60-80?) but remember that church attendance used to be much more common. Also, having your children baptised doesn't really prove you are a Christian - just that you haven't taken the decision to clearly state that you aren't Christian. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Aug 21 at 13:50

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