Author Topic: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism  (Read 9836 times)

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weeblewobble

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Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:47:23 PM »
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2013/01/dear_prudence_my_brother_and_i_kiss_and_cuddle.single.html

The third letter discusses the LW's mother who decided that LW's brother and SIL baptizing their daughter in the wife's denomination wasn't good enough and did an "emergency baptism" in a sink while she was babysitting "just in case."    When the mom came home and told the rest of the family what she had done, the rest of the family was horrified.  She told them they were overreacting, and then made the family promise not to tell the parents what she'd done. The baby's parents never found out.

Now, the LW and his wife of another faith are having a son.  He wants to prevent something like this happening to his child, so he is thinking of preventing his mother from ever being alone with his son and asking family members not to leave his mom alone with the son, either.

Prudie spent most of her answer assuring the LW that emergency baptism doesn't "count" with a sort of "no harm, no foul" attitude and then told the LW that it seemed unnecessarily mean to patrol his mom's access to the child.

I think Prudie is WAAAAAAY off.  Not that "emergency baptisms" count, in my opinion, but that it's mean to prevent a woman who thinks so little of the parents' decision that she's willing to commit a fraudulent religious ceremony to make herself feel better.  I wouldn't leave my kids with her either.  What happens when she doesn't agree with their discipline decisions?  TV policies?  Dietary decisions?  She got away with it once, I think a second time around will only empower her to push her agenda further.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 06:48:55 PM by weeblewobble »

Jaelle

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 07:07:40 PM »
I agree with you.

For me, it's not about the "emergency baptism" (that wouldn't faze me much), but about the trust issue. As you say, what happens the next time she disagrees with a parenting decision?

And for many people, that baptism would be a big deal.
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
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LeveeWoman

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 07:08:52 PM »
I wanted to thump Prudie's head when I read that today! She obviously has a poor grasp of boundaries if she sees nothing wrong with this woman trying to force her beliefs onto this family.

Yankeegal77

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 07:15:13 PM »
I agree with all of you. The "baptism" is a moot issue; the real problem here is Grandma violating some serious boundaries.

I would be very open about not trusting her and why, setting boundaries very early on and enforcing them. Whether she agrees or not with the parents' decision, it's theirs to make, not hers.

Prudie was way off and didn't answer the real question.

Auntie Mame

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 07:17:35 PM »
Agreed, the baptism is a red herring.  This about how the Mother of the LW can not be trusted to respect boundaries.
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MrTango

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 07:40:12 PM »
Agreed, the baptism is a red herring.  This about how the Mother of the LW can not be trusted to respect boundaries.

I completely agree.

Sharnita

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 07:43:51 PM »
I agree that it isn't about baptism. I wouldn't trust her alone either. I might speak to her clergy person and ask him/her to explain the intended purpose of emergency baptism (I know that while the Catholic and Lutheran church gives instructions for emergency baptism neither church intends it the way she did it)

scansons

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 07:59:31 PM »
I will say this about it.  Prudie has the theological point correct.  Christians pretty much recognize Christian baptism, no matter what denomination the church who preforms the baptism happens to be.  There are exceptions.  But mostly.  Likewise baptisms done by lay people in cases of emergency are acceptable, but not the general order of the day.  And they are certainly not encouraged by most denominations outside of life and death situations. 

I'll also say this.  It's probably one of the top ten theological points most people get wrong.  I would probably cut Grandma some slack on this one.  Unless she's shown some other disrespectful tendencies, I think keeping her from her grandson is over reacting.  My first reaction would be to pull her in with her pastor, or bishop, and have a sit down.  She's obviously not clear on her own religious practices.  Which is the first thing her pastor should be worried about.  Plus, once the pastor impresses on her how out of line she was, one would hope she wouldn't be repeating this again with her grandson against his parents wishes. 

But seriously, does it really matter?  Baptism is not magic.  It doesn't make you a Christian if you don't receive the education to go with it.   Which a child in Jewish home would not be getting.    It certainly is hurtful that Grandma doesn't respect the beliefs of her son and his wife.  But that doesn't  make her automatically a disrespectful grandparent.  She could just be a grandparent with a blind spot. 

Sharnita

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 08:09:38 PM »
My concern wouldn't actually be that she would batize my kid "the right way".  it would be that she would feed/medicate/whatever my kid "the right way" in secret. I can see other family members taking this as an indicator that she feels grandma's have the authority to overrule parents on major issue.  I do think I might encourage her minister/priest/pastor to talk to her baout the baptism thing but even if they correct her on that I don't see that fixing her perception that she has the right to make decisions to take matters into her own hands if she deems it for the best.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 08:11:51 PM »
I will say this about it.  Prudie has the theological point correct.  Christians pretty much recognize Christian baptism, no matter what denomination the church who preforms the baptism happens to be.  There are exceptions.  But mostly.  Likewise baptisms done by lay people in cases of emergency are acceptable, but not the general order of the day.  And they are certainly not encouraged by most denominations outside of life and death situations. 

I'll also say this.  It's probably one of the top ten theological points most people get wrong.  I would probably cut Grandma some slack on this one.  Unless she's shown some other disrespectful tendencies, I think keeping her from her grandson is over reacting.  My first reaction would be to pull her in with her pastor, or bishop, and have a sit down.  She's obviously not clear on her own religious practices.  Which is the first thing her pastor should be worried about.  Plus, once the pastor impresses on her how out of line she was, one would hope she wouldn't be repeating this again with her grandson against his parents wishes. 

But seriously, does it really matter?  Baptism is not magic.  It doesn't make you a Christian if you don't receive the education to go with it.   Which a child in Jewish home would not be getting.    It certainly is hurtful that Grandma doesn't respect the beliefs of her son and his wife. But that doesn't  make her automatically a disrespectful grandparent.  She could just be a grandparent with a blind spot.

Yes, it does make her a disrespectful grandparent. She substituted her beliefs for those of the child's parents.

scansons

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2013, 08:20:01 PM »
I will say this about it.  Prudie has the theological point correct.  Christians pretty much recognize Christian baptism, no matter what denomination the church who preforms the baptism happens to be.  There are exceptions.  But mostly.  Likewise baptisms done by lay people in cases of emergency are acceptable, but not the general order of the day.  And they are certainly not encouraged by most denominations outside of life and death situations. 

I'll also say this.  It's probably one of the top ten theological points most people get wrong.  I would probably cut Grandma some slack on this one.  Unless she's shown some other disrespectful tendencies, I think keeping her from her grandson is over reacting.  My first reaction would be to pull her in with her pastor, or bishop, and have a sit down.  She's obviously not clear on her own religious practices.  Which is the first thing her pastor should be worried about.  Plus, once the pastor impresses on her how out of line she was, one would hope she wouldn't be repeating this again with her grandson against his parents wishes. 

But seriously, does it really matter?  Baptism is not magic.  It doesn't make you a Christian if you don't receive the education to go with it.   Which a child in Jewish home would not be getting.    It certainly is hurtful that Grandma doesn't respect the beliefs of her son and his wife. But that doesn't  make her automatically a disrespectful grandparent.  She could just be a grandparent with a blind spot.

Yes, it does make her a disrespectful grandparent. She substituted her beliefs for those of the child's parents.

I guess I consider spiritual matters a thing unto themselves.  It's the only example we're given in the letter.  Surely, if there is a pattern of her disrespecting her grandchildren's parents, beyond this.  I can see the constant monitoring.  However, many people consider spiritual matters the most important thing.  I know grandparents who would never consider deviating from a child's feeding schedule but who would absolutely (and wrongly) baptizes that same child in secret. 

For many people the spiritual issue is about a thousand times bigger than any other issue.  So it depends.  If this is part of a larger pattern.  Sure, monitor grandma.  But I consider it just as big a chance that this is grandma's one issue.  Sadly the LW dosen't say.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 08:22:55 PM by scansons »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2013, 08:31:28 PM »
I guess I always sort of expect some boundary pushing with grand parents or siblings and as long as it is no long term harm and only happens occasionally, I'm not going to get too bent out if shape about it.  I laughed when I read this and I thought the GM did it as a joke so was a little suprised that it was taken seriously by the family because a GM putting a babys head under a tap ismabout as effective as me declaring my DD US president and performing a swearing in ceremony. But since the sons concerns are because of a completely different faith, it made since that he was so concerned by her actions.

I think in my case if this was out of the norm and the GM usually doesn't try to manage everyone's lives, I'd just have a strong discussion with her about respecting their chosen faith.  But if this is a pattern, then I might restrict her access until the child is verbal and can tattle on GM.

Sharnita

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2013, 08:35:04 PM »
I guess I always sort of expect some boundary pushing with grand parents or siblings and as long as it is no long term harm and only happens occasionally, I'm not going to get too bent out if shape about it.  I laughed when I read this and I thought the GM did it as a joke so was a little suprised that it was taken seriously by the family because a GM putting a babys head under a tap ismabout as effective as me declaring my DD US president and performing a swearing in ceremony. But since the sons concerns are because of a completely different faith, it made since that he was so concerned by her actions.

I think in my case if this was out of the norm and the GM usually doesn't try to manage everyone's lives, I'd just have a strong discussion with her about respecting their chosen faith.  But if this is a pattern, then I might restrict her access until the child is verbal and can tattle on GM.

There are churches that give instructions for emergency baptisms, though they are for those who are unbaptized and in life and death situations.  In those cases putting somebody's head under a tap or using tap water would be considered valid, as would baptism by a lay person.

briarrose

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2013, 08:44:31 PM »
This is actually the joke in my family. I am Jewish. Raised Jewish. My father converted from Catholicism to Judaism before my parents got married. My mother always said that my aunt (his sister) secretly baptized me while she was baby-sitting. I don't know if it made my mom mad or not, but she always said at least all the bases were covered, so at least she had a sense of humor about this.

Should someone baptize another person's child? No, of course not. It's rude. But, if it's the only "out there" thing that the person pulls and the person doesn't put down the chosen religion or talk about how one religion is "better" than the other (whatever the religion -- not stating a preference here), probably not worth a cut off.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2013, 08:47:26 PM »
I guess I always sort of expect some boundary pushing with grand parents or siblings and as long as it is no long term harm and only happens occasionally, I'm not going to get too bent out if shape about it.  I laughed when I read this and I thought the GM did it as a joke so was a little suprised that it was taken seriously by the family because a GM putting a babys head under a tap ismabout as effective as me declaring my DD US president and performing a swearing in ceremony. But since the sons concerns are because of a completely different faith, it made since that he was so concerned by her actions.

I think in my case if this was out of the norm and the GM usually doesn't try to manage everyone's lives, I'd just have a strong discussion with her about respecting their chosen faith.  But if this is a pattern, then I might restrict her access until the child is verbal and can tattle on GM.

There are churches that give instructions for emergency baptisms, though they are for those who are unbaptized and in life and death situations.  In those cases putting somebody's head under a tap or using tap water would be considered valid, as would baptism by a lay person.

Exactly, her actions were a pseudo baptism, no different then a re-enactment as part of a play.  Just because crazy GM thought it was valid didn't make it valid.  I would be laughing at her asking when she had become ordained.