Dear Ex-wife: Pls, thank your imaginary god for giving my son nightmares!


I have a 13yo autistic son. He has problems with nightmares. Over the past few years, I have spent a significant amount of time teaching him how ghosts and other stuff like that he sees on TV is not real.

I’ve gone into detail. I’ve explained to him how trick photography and film editing works to make all these things look real. After much explanation, he finally came to understand. His bad dreams were less frequent.

So the other day I pick my son up from school. The first thing he asks me when he gets in the car is:

Son: “Are demons real?”

Me: “No they are not.”

Son: “Mom says they are real.”

Me: " I’m sure she doesn’t think that. She probably meant something else."

The conversation dropped from there.

When I got home, I made a call to my dear ex-wife. In private so my son couldn’t hear. At this point I wasn’t pissed. Despite being divorced, my ex and I are pretty good at compromise when it comes to raising our children:

Me: [after discussing about his school, etc…] “…BTW, I know you’re a Christian and I’m not asking you stop teaching our son about your beliefs. But can you please NOT tell him demons are real? It will give him nightmares.”

Her: “But demons ARE real”

Me: “Why would you tell our son that?”

Her: “He needs to know about demons because there are evil infuences in this world…”

Me: “OK, yeah, that’s great. Thanks, bye.” [click]

I’ll admit hanging up on her was a dick move. My emotions got the better of me.

So yeah, now I’m going to vent. In the past I’ve always taken a hands off approach when it comes to religion and my children. When asked, I tell them that I personally don’t believe but a lot of people do. You have to decide for yourself what suits you.

Now, I fucking regret that. I should have just told them from day one that it’s all BS.

Seriously, WTF is wrong with you ex-wife? You’d risk giving your own son nightmares just to satisfy your own self righteous beliefs in some unproven sky fairy?


The belief in demons is one of the worst characteristics of Christianity.
It ranks right up there with the belief that no other religion has anything to offer.

That is one of the things that bothers me about a couple of the current crop of paranormal shows. It seems that they are not satisfied on seeing if there is a ghost there, everywhere seems to have a handy dandy portal to hell with demons on the side.:dubious:

I have no problems with ghosts as either dead people or animals. I have no problem with the idea of nature spirits in the form of small capricious pranksters. I have seen some whacked things happen over the years. I do have a problem with the idea that there are fallen angels [I don’t actually believe in the angels/demons form of Christianity. If you want my beliefs without discussion, I believe there probably was a rabbi that we base Jesus on. He may or may have not given all the speeches attributed to him. He may or may not have been executed. A whole industry has grown up around his apparent teachings, with one main interpreter winging it after never having actually met him. I have no problem with the golden rule version of teachings but I think the churches themselves are very wrong about many things.]

“‘Demons’ is a word your mom and some other people use to talk about people who do bad things and try to get you to do bad things. People like that exist, but they’re not going to get into this house.”

That’s not going to work. If he is having a problem with nightmares, he is going to remember the bigger and more powerful monsters his mother is describing.

In fairness to Christianity, it’s only certain sects that believe in demons - or talk about them as if they’re real and not metaphors; and believing that no other religion has anything to offer is also something that’s not universal in Christianity, and certainly something that’s shared by most religions.

Look at me, defending Christianity in the Pit! WTF?

As a practical suggestion, I’m not familiar with how much metaphor autistic kids can grasp, and am aware that it can be a problem, but would this approach work? “Some people - including your mom - believe in those things, but other people think they’re just stories to frighten kids. I think they’re just stories - don’t you?” and demonstrate the imaginary nature of such things immediately by using a story that contains benign mythical creatures that he knows are fictitious?

We used to think that demons caused disease and earthquakes. We now know better. Ask your Ex if they still do and the germ theory and plate techtonics is nonsense?

The louder and more strident voice will still win out.

I’m convinced that metaphorical demons are real. But I don’t know how well an autistic 13-year-old would understand the concept of metaphorical demons, and in any case, that’s not what your ex-wife is telling him.

I am agnostic as to the existence or nature of real, non-metaphorical demons; nothing in my own experience qualifies me to say one way or the other. But I have never, in my considerable time on this earth, encountered any, or seen any reason to worry about them. I’m guessing you haven’t either; would it comfort your son to tell him so?

If you follow Bettelheim’s approach (meant for young children who still believe the world is magical) you tell him how to kill demons.

In that case, with a crucifix or similar, which will also suit your ex-wife.

If you follow Bettelheim’s approach (meant for young children who still believe the world is magical) you tell him how to kill demons.

In that case, with a crucifix or similar, which will also suit your ex-wife.

I think if she believes in demons, she believes in demons. It’s her right to educate your son about her religion…BUT…isn’t there a better way to go about this? If she believes in Jesus, can’t she tell him that Jesus will protect him? Or wait til he’s older to talk about scary stuff?

The fear is irrational. Telling him any bad guy is out there but don’t worry, he won’t get in here won’t work. His fear is that the bad stuff is stronger than they are and will get in.

The next time you do movie night with the kid, do not rent The Exorcist.

Authoritative sources* suggest a cold iron (or was it solid silver ? I forget) firepoker. As a bonus, it also works on non-supernatural threats like muggers or mathematics teachers.

  • Sir T. Pratchett, in Hogfather

Yes, a sharpened crucifix. And then tell him his mommy is a demon and must be stopped.

Wait, what’s this with the sharpened crucifix? My mother told me if I was ever threatened by Dracula to make the sign of the cross with my fingers. It worked. I dreamed terrorists, werewolves, cops, mobsters, the CIA and whatever were coming to get me but I never had a problem with Dracula.

FWIW, I don’t think it was a dick move. If you’d stayed on the phone there would have been a screaming match and at best your position would not have improved but it could well have it made it worse.

In that short post we just witnessed a reenactment of the birth of most organized religions.:wink:

My sister- a very intelligent (albeit completely acritical) and successful woman- not only believes in demons but thinks they’re responsible for a lot of mental and physical illnesses, drug addiction, Barack Obama (wish I could say I was making that up), etc… She would scoff at the concept of a 9 year old who still believes in Santa Claus or an adult who goes to psychics, she’s scoffed at ads for Ghost Tours in cities like New Orleans and St. Augustine that we’ve been to together (I always enjoy those- have no doubts that any truth in them is wildly distorted but the legends themselves are interested), and polytheism is just plain silly, but demons, of course they’re real! I’ve never understood that sort of dissonance.

Exactly. You may not share a person’s beliefs but you shouldn’t act like their beliefs aren’t sincerely held. If a mother sincerely believes that demons exist, she’s going to feel she needs to protect her children against demons by warning them.

Look at it this way. Suppose you were a devout Christian Scientist and your ex-wife wasn’t. Would you get mad if she warned your child he needed to wash his hands before eating? Or would you tell her not to scare your kid with her made-up talk about these invisible things called “germs” that you know aren’t real?

Put a bible or a crucifix in the kid’s room and tell him that the people who believe in demons also believe that a demon can’t come into any room that has a bible or cross in it. Later on, he may decide on his own that demons don’t exist and bibles and crosses have no special powers. But for now, don’t turn this into a confrontation over religion. Put your son’s well-being above the need to argue beliefs with your ex-wife.