The Sassy Housewife is weekly advice column on Momaha.com by Danielle Herzog. She’ll cover the adventures in housewifery — from parenting, entertaining and recipes to the interests of a been-there-done-that and somewhat-know-it-all wife. Sassy Housewife runs every Saturday. Have a question for her? Email email@example.com
* * *
Dear Sassy Housewife,
My husband and I are not religious and aren’t raising our children with any specific religious focus. My daughters are ages 5 and 2. Recently, my 5-year-old came home from a play date and mentioned to us that the parents of her friend made them all say a prayer before dinner. I told her that it was OK for them to pray and she didn’t need to join in. She then informed me that the parents made my daughter say the words and told her she couldn’t eat until she did. My daughter went along with it but didn’t understand what she was really saying. I’m furious but am unsure how to proceed. Any advice?
One Pagan Parent
The first question I have for you is – what was for dinner? I mean if it was something like filet mignon then heck, I’d say 10 Hail Mary’s just to be grateful that I didn’t have to cook. However, I’m guessing that’s not what you are writing about, right?
Before jumping the gun and running over there with your finger wagging, I think it’s important to find out the other side of the story. Believe it or not, kids versions of stories can sometimes be… well… how do I say this? Completely and utterly inaccurate. I’m not saying your daughter lied – absolutely not. I’m simply saying that perhaps the parents asked her to say something she was thankful for or something to that regard. Perhaps there is more to the story than what she shared.
I’m a firm believer in being direct and going right to the source. Call the parents. Tell them that your daughter was upset about what happened but you wanted to talk to them about it before making any assumptions. Share what your daughter said and see what they have to say.
Now here’s the tricky part.
If she/he does tell you they do indeed make everyone pray at the table, ask if they would mind if your daughter simply bow her head. Explain that your family doesn’t participate in praying but respect and would never want to take away from their ritual. A quiet moment should suffice.
If that doesn’t suffice, then try to keep play dates to non-eating times. However, I would definitely make sure they don’t also pray over snacks – heck, maybe they feel they need to give thanks for Goldfish. Come to think of it, the joy those little crackers give my kids might truly be something to thank God for.
Danielle Herzog, a married mother to two, blogs for momaha every Wednesday. She taught middle and high school students and served as a student counseling advisor in the Washington D.C. area prior to moving to Omaha. She was a project manager for the Washington D.C.-area’s Boys and Girls Club and is currently completing her master’s degree in counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
* * *