Author Topic: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism  (Read 9363 times)

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Pioneer

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #45 on: January 18, 2013, 01:54:16 PM »
Okay, E-Hellions.  This topic is personally a hot-button for me because one of my offspring experienced an "emergency baptism."  This isn't the <hugs> folder and you aren't my therapists, but for what it is worth . . .

First, my vote is that Grandma did exceed boundaries, and ESPECIALLY since the sacrement of Holy Baptism is so important to Grandma that she uses a kitchen faucet to perform one in a non-emergency situation . . . this is important to her, so she doubly disrespects the wishes of the parents.

I'm pretty private on E-Hell and on all electronic formats, but this time I'm going to share.  My bright beautiful 3-day old child was life-flighted to a major hospital an hour away from where she was born.  We were frightened, almost panicky.  Phone calls to our parents and grandparents were immediately made.  I was discharged a day early, and our entire family, including toddler daughter, scurried to the larger hospital to find out what was wrong.  Gathered in a small conference-sized room awaiting a consultation and hopefully a diagnosis, a nurse blithely waltzed into the room where our entire family was assembled, waved a piece of paper, and exclaimed, "I just baptized your daughter!"  Terrified, I screamed, "My baby!  She's dying!"  Nurse, "No, she's not."  Me:  "Why did you baptize our daughter if she isn't dying?"  Nurse:  "Because it says on her chart that you are Christian."  Me:  "If I had wanted our daughter baptized in a hospital by a nurse while we sat in a closed room 8-feet away, we would at the very least want to be PRESENT."

I do believe hospital or battlefield baptisms are at times appropriate, meaningful, and still a sacrament even though offered by a layperson.  It's not because she was "merely" a nurse (please take that comment in the spirit intended.)  It was because I was THERE, my ENTIRE FAMILY was there, but we have absolutely no idea what was done or what was said in that closed room between the woman and a 3-day old child.  Fast forward 13 years, it's time for her to celebrate her Affirmation of Baptism, but we still don't know.  WAS she baptized?  As Piratelvr said, we believe in ONE baptism for the forgiveness of sin, not 67 if that is more convenient.  Yes, this is etiquette but it is also Theology and Faith and a Sacrament.

Happy Ending.  Fast forward to today.  Daugher is fine, in college, and engaged to be married.  Apparently, however, I'm still angry.


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Kari

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #46 on: January 18, 2013, 02:59:37 PM »
Oh my gosh, Pioneer, that is appalling! Did the nurse get in trouble for it? Or was that par for the course at that particular hospital?

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #47 on: January 18, 2013, 03:10:37 PM »
I'd be livid too, honestly.  I knew a woman who was a retired nurse who would do that sort of thing, baptizing babies that didn't survive for one reason or another.  I once asked her "You made sure the parents were okay with it, right?" She said "It doesn't matter. It will save their souls."  This woman wasn't even related to these little children or these parents.  What if the parents were Jewish, Hindu? Muslim? Atheist? Agnostic?

Even if it doesn't hold water, the baptism, if my parents had done this I would have been livid.  Ironically, for as much as they liked to tromp boundaries, religion was one they didn't fuss about too much cause they just weren't all that religious anyway.

This thread makes me miss my own dear grandmother, who was a devout Catholic but when her second youngest married a Jewish woman in a Jewish wedding and made the decision to raise their children Jewish, Grandma supported them fully. :)
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Shea

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #48 on: January 18, 2013, 03:24:08 PM »

I think the religion(s) in question may actually make it a much  more touchy subject.

Not to delve to far into religious particulars, but there were cases in not-all-that-recent-history where Jewish children were baptized, then considered Christian, and taken from parents.

While it doesn't have that practical implication in this country, in this day and age the 'cultural memory' (I want to use a better phrase but I"m failing to come up with one) it is possible to be reasonably hyperaware of such absurd disrespect of beliefs--because of the previous persecution and abuse that is associated with such disregard for boundries..

That's the first thing I thought of, dawbs. There's some really nasty history of Jewish children being "secretly" baptized and then taken from their families. Obviously that's no longer a practical issue, but I think the religions involved make the issue thornier and more likely to evoke a strong negative reaction in the parents.

That said, I think that the parents should know that Grandma is apparently happy to stomp all over their parenting boundaries. Maybe she hasn't done anything else, but the fact that she'd blithely disregard the parents' wishes regarding their child's religious upbringing (sure, the baptism is theologically invalid, but obviously Grandma didn't know that or didn't care) makes me worry about what other parenting decisions she'd be happy to ignore if she thought she knew better. I don't think the parents should deny her the right to see the baby for this, but were I the kid's parent, I wouldn't leave him/her alone with Grandma for a long time.

And I think that getting Grandma to sit down with her pastor might be good. The pastor would, hopefully, understand why the parents aren't thrilled about the pseudo-baptism, and might be able to impress upon Grandma that it's both religiously invalid and disrespectful to the parents. Maybe she'd listen if it came from a respected religious figure, rather than her family.


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auntmeegs

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #49 on: January 18, 2013, 03:37:49 PM »
Okay, E-Hellions.  This topic is personally a hot-button for me because one of my offspring experienced an "emergency baptism."  This isn't the <hugs> folder and you aren't my therapists, but for what it is worth . . .

First, my vote is that Grandma did exceed boundaries, and ESPECIALLY since the sacrement of Holy Baptism is so important to Grandma that she uses a kitchen faucet to perform one in a non-emergency situation . . . this is important to her, so she doubly disrespects the wishes of the parents.

I'm pretty private on E-Hell and on all electronic formats, but this time I'm going to share.  My bright beautiful 3-day old child was life-flighted to a major hospital an hour away from where she was born.  We were frightened, almost panicky.  Phone calls to our parents and grandparents were immediately made.  I was discharged a day early, and our entire family, including toddler daughter, scurried to the larger hospital to find out what was wrong.  Gathered in a small conference-sized room awaiting a consultation and hopefully a diagnosis, a nurse blithely waltzed into the room where our entire family was assembled, waved a piece of paper, and exclaimed, "I just baptized your daughter!"  Terrified, I screamed, "My baby!  She's dying!"  Nurse, "No, she's not."  Me:  "Why did you baptize our daughter if she isn't dying?"  Nurse:  "Because it says on her chart that you are Christian."  Me:  "If I had wanted our daughter baptized in a hospital by a nurse while we sat in a closed room 8-feet away, we would at the very least want to be PRESENT."

I do believe hospital or battlefield baptisms are at times appropriate, meaningful, and still a sacrament even though offered by a layperson.  It's not because she was "merely" a nurse (please take that comment in the spirit intended.)  It was because I was THERE, my ENTIRE FAMILY was there, but we have absolutely no idea what was done or what was said in that closed room between the woman and a 3-day old child.  Fast forward 13 years, it's time for her to celebrate her Affirmation of Baptism, but we still don't know.  WAS she baptized?  As Piratelvr said, we believe in ONE baptism for the forgiveness of sin, not 67 if that is more convenient.  Yes, this is etiquette but it is also Theology and Faith and a Sacrament.

Happy Ending.  Fast forward to today.  Daugher is fine, in college, and engaged to be married.  Apparently, however, I'm still angry.

I know this is not really the point of the story, but you took this woman's baptism as real and did not have your daughter officially baptized in your church? 

EMuir

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #50 on: January 18, 2013, 03:43:42 PM »
I think this is one of those areas that proves that politics and religion really just shouldn't be discussed.  I can see both sides: If I had a child I'd want it baptized in my faith.  But if a relative really believed that the baby would be going to eternal damnation unless they baptized it themselves, then they are acting under the "safety is more important than etiquette" purview. Of course I would be angry at them, but I would understand why they did it (and make sure they weren't alone with my child again).

Slartibartfast

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #51 on: January 18, 2013, 03:47:53 PM »
I know this is not really the point of the story, but you took this woman's baptism as real and did not have your daughter officially baptized in your church?

Many Christians believe you get exactly one baptism.  There's no "first" baptism, or re-baptism, or "I didn't mean it last time but now I totally do" baptism, or "my parents were speaking for me before but now I speak for myself" baptism.  You get one, and if some selfish person does it without your consent or your presence, then you miss it and there's nothing you can do about that, just like if a couple has a "first wedding" at the courthouse and then wants a big re-do at the church.  Nothing's stopping them from having the party, but most eHellions agree that the second one wouldn't be a wedding, not really.

I'm actually not able to join the church I'm currently attending because of this.  I was baptized as an infant according to the denomination I grew up in, but the denomination I attend now requires adult (or at least teen) baptism.  I can't join the church unless I'm re-baptized, but since the first one "took" I don't feel like I can do that.  Result is I attend but can't join.

MrTango

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #52 on: January 18, 2013, 03:58:07 PM »
I know this is not really the point of the story, but you took this woman's baptism as real and did not have your daughter officially baptized in your church?

Many Christians believe you get exactly one baptism.  There's no "first" baptism, or re-baptism, or "I didn't mean it last time but now I totally do" baptism, or "my parents were speaking for me before but now I speak for myself" baptism.  You get one, and if some selfish person does it without your consent or your presence, then you miss it and there's nothing you can do about that, just like if a couple has a "first wedding" at the courthouse and then wants a big re-do at the church.  Nothing's stopping them from having the party, but most eHellions agree that the second one wouldn't be a wedding, not really.

I'm actually not able to join the church I'm currently attending because of this.  I was baptized as an infant according to the denomination I grew up in, but the denomination I attend now requires adult (or at least teen) baptism.  I can't join the church unless I'm re-baptized, but since the first one "took" I don't feel like I can do that.  Result is I attend but can't join.

This is true for my denomination, however, there have been circumstances in which a person may not know if they were baptized as an infant, or there is doubt about the validity of the sacrament.  In those cases, I've seen a "Conditional" baptism.  The only difference between the regular ceremony and the "conditional" ceremony is that the priest/deacon adds "If you have not already been baptized" before the actual baptism.

ClaireC79

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #53 on: January 18, 2013, 04:12:00 PM »
I remember as a student doing a placement in NICU and one set of parents getting very upset that baptism was even suggested*, never mind performed without their consent

*baby did survive but they felt that a nurse asking them if they wanted to have the baby baptised (by a hospital chaplain) was the staff saying they were giving up on their child - if it had been done without their consent I could see them being far more upset

auntmeegs

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #54 on: January 18, 2013, 04:26:59 PM »
I know this is not really the point of the story, but you took this woman's baptism as real and did not have your daughter officially baptized in your church?

Many Christians believe you get exactly one baptism.  There's no "first" baptism, or re-baptism, or "I didn't mean it last time but now I totally do" baptism, or "my parents were speaking for me before but now I speak for myself" baptism.  You get one, and if some selfish person does it without your consent or your presence, then you miss it and there's nothing you can do about that, just like if a couple has a "first wedding" at the courthouse and then wants a big re-do at the church.  Nothing's stopping them from having the party, but most eHellions agree that the second one wouldn't be a wedding, not really.

I'm actually not able to join the church I'm currently attending because of this.  I was baptized as an infant according to the denomination I grew up in, but the denomination I attend now requires adult (or at least teen) baptism.  I can't join the church unless I'm re-baptized, but since the first one "took" I don't feel like I can do that.  Result is I attend but can't join.

Right, I get that part (I am of one of those denominations), its just that I would never have taken this woman's "baptism" seriously, withouth having been there and hearing what she said and seeing what she did.  I personally don't think it works that way. 

Pioneer

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #55 on: January 18, 2013, 05:19:11 PM »
Thanks to Slartibartfast and MrTango.  You expressed it better than I can.

A part of Holy Baptism is eliciting a vow from the parents &/or sponsors to raise the child in the Christian faith, place the Holy Bible in the hands of the child, et cetera.  So in our individual situation, in a private ceremony, our reverend offered a blessing on our daughter, and then followed the rest of the baptismal ceremony.  Her Affirmation of Baptism was before the congregation with four other youths a few weeks later.

Slartibartfast, our particular denomination will concur membership upon either a Transfer, or by Affirmation of Faith. 

Okay, back to Etiquette!  Grandma acted in a manipulative fashion on a major topic, then tried to cover her tracks.  Hurtful.  Very hurtful.
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m2kbug

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #56 on: January 18, 2013, 05:23:23 PM »
I have family that are a part of a religion I have issues with.  They subscribe to this faith, and that's fine, it's not for me or my children.  I respect them and their choices, I expect the same in return.  No matter how "fake" or "harmless" this emergency baptism was, I would be LIVID.   

Add to that, this grandparent completely undermining my choices as a parent and disrespecting our faith, and keeping it a secret, we've got a double whammy here. 

Trust=Gone. 

I can't add much more than what has already been said, but my children would not be left alone with her ever again until she has proven I can trust her, and certainly warn other siblings if their faith choices were other than gramma's.  If they think it's "no biggie," so be it.  Gramma overstepped her bounds big time.

scansons

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #57 on: January 19, 2013, 06:31:24 PM »
scansons wrote:

"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."

The baptism doesn't matter at all, because it's a red herring.  My take on the whole thing is that she knows that it was overstepping to do it, she did it anyway, and then she's put continued effort into hiding it.  That's the start and the end of it.  To illustrate my point, simply imagine telling her to admit to what she did.  Why doesn't she?  The reason is that she knows that the real issue is that she knowingly and purposefully breached their trust because she decided that she knew better than they did what was best for their child.  That does indeed make her a disrespectful grandparent, as evidenced by her continued action to hide what she did.  Seeing as she's made no effort toward correcting that breach of trust nor showing any remorse for doing it in the first place, I have to say she's untrustworthy and that is quite enough reason never to trust her alone with the child.

"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."

This strikes to the heart of the matter.  She did something that she knew the child's parents didn't want and wouldn't allow if given the chance, and so she did it in secret and has hidden it from them ever since.  That means that she can't be trusted not to do it regarding any given parenting decision, and it's not reasonable to dump that on the LW to try to figure out, especially since he's got hard evidence that she'll do it if she decides that she's right about something and then bury it so he'll never find out.  The very existence of the letter shows that the breach of trust doesn't just involve the other family, as the LW himself feels that she's untrustworthy.

Virg

Acting out of fear for someone you love is not the same thing as acting out of know-it-all-ism.  While it may seem silly or unrealistic to many, if Grandma is really acting because she's afraid her grandchild will burn in hell, that's pretty different, than acting because she simply knows best.   Which is to say, if she acted from a genuine, if misguided belief, I'd be inclined to give her a pass.  If it was me.  But then I have my own very defined beliefs, and I would find the fact that she felt the need to do this rather silly, and sad. 

If she acted because she just knows best, and I had reason to think she would be disregarding feeding schedules, and giving baby things baby should not have.  Well that's a different issue.  I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect LW to know his mother well enough to know the difference.  A tendency to be a know it all will show up in more than one area of Grandma's life.  As will a genuine fear of hell. 

Grandma didn't get how she is, whichever way she is, yesterday.  These are long term tendencies. 

RooRoo

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #58 on: January 19, 2013, 08:02:28 PM »
It is precisely because religion is such a hot-button issue that Grandma's kitchen-sink baptism is such a huge boundary violation.

And that is what we should address - the boundary violation. Whether or not this act is, to anyone but the OP letter writer, a big deal or not is a non-issue, except as it relates to keeping the thread open...  ;)

No, I would not trust this woman to oversee my (fictional) children in any way, until the kids were old enough to take care of themselves. If Granny complains, my answer would be, "Mom, you demonstrated that you cannot be trusted to respect our decisions as the parents if you disagree with them. Since you lied about it, and we can't read your mind, we can't know what things you will disagree with in the future. Because of that, we cannot leave our children with you."
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 08:05:07 PM by RooRoo »
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blarg314

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Re: Dear Prudie and the Emergency Baptism
« Reply #59 on: January 19, 2013, 09:05:09 PM »
I would put Grandma's behaviour up as a serious red flag.

It's possible that the *only* thing she's nuts about is the baptism issue and its coverup, and that other than that she will be an exemplary grandmother who follows the parents' lead in how she deals with the child, and is open and honest about her interactions with the child.

But I wouldn't hold my breath. She's demonstrated that she will follow her own ideas about child rearing, against the parents' wishes and behind their backs, and then demand that people keep her secret. And she'll do it based on her own crazy ideas - as others have said, even from a strict theological perspective, what she did was bizarre, and her own minister would likely tell her that the previous baptism was recognized by her church.

So in the parents' place, if I knew about this, I would be angry, and I would be very carefully watching Grandma to how it progresses, but I would know that she was not someone I could automatically trust to 1) follow my wishes 2) respect my beliefs or 3) tell me the truth.