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.
DEAR ABBY: I am a male victim of domestic violence. I was traumatized for five years at the hands of my ex. I suffered through name-calling, physical and sexual abuse. Once, when she was upset, she hit me with her car and dragged me across our parking lot.
I tried several times to leave only to find that in my community there was no help for men in situations like mine. There are women's shelters everywhere, but none that cater to men and their children.
I ended up having to return home, and things just got worse. I finally left with the shirt on my back and a few belongings. Because I couldn't find help, I slept on the street.
I am now a survivor and attending school to become a social worker. I have been trying to raise awareness of men as abuse victims, but it's an uphill battle. Why?
DEAR EMPOWERED: It's probably because of outdated gender stereotypes and lack of awareness by law enforcement officials in your community that women as well as men can be psychopaths. When your wife ran you down in the parking lot, she should have wound up behind bars, assuming the police were called.
While female-on-male domestic violence is reported less often than male-on-female violence, it does happen, as anyone who reads my column regularly knows. Men who need help should call the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women -- the number is (888) 743-5754 -- because help is available.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
High Profile on 06/01/2014
Print Headline: Kids should know choices exist: Worship God, or not