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Why Can't My Parents Just Be Happy For Me?


Shawna
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Hi everyone. I know I don't post here often, but I'm feeling really depressed this afternoon and have no one to talk to about this. I'm sorry to vent a little, please bear with me.

 

5 years after leaving my parent's church and subsequent christian religion (I'm 23), I have found something that works for me in terms of spirituality. I do not believe in god and have no desire to go to a christian church. Although my parents have seemed to finally come around to the "we can disagree and still love one another" way of thinking, every so often they drive me crazy by subtly trying to re-convert me. They are doing the condescending "she is confused or doesn't understand christianity" even though I spent 18 years of my life as an avid christian. I know about the bible, I know about Jesus, I know about how to be "saved" and I have made a conscious decision to leave that way of life. So why can't they just be happy that I have found a way to live that makes me happy and fulfilled?!? Why does my mom need to send me youtube videos of some country dude singing a song about how much god loves me and wants me to come back even though I've "chosen darkness." I have been happier with my new belief system than I ever was with christianity, and I plan on continuing to be happy in it. It's not like I've decided to become a prostitute or a crack addict, I simply found my own way to be. What does it matter if our beliefs coincide? I'm tempted to just pretend that I've "found Jesus" again, just so that they'll leave me alone.

 

What they don't realize is that all of this manipulating conversion talk is exactly the reason I LEFT in the first place. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that I am weak and evil and damned from birth. I don't want to be a part of anything that denies my achievements and blows my mistakes out of proportion. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that there are certain people in the world who cannot be good, no matter how hard they try, because there is a part of them that is "broken." Fear, manipulation, and guilt are not foundations on which I want to build my life. I can't even tell them any of this, because they think that I'm attacking them personally. I have to tread on eggshells and thank my mom for loving me so much that she tries to convert me at least once a month. They have no interest in hearing about what I believe or why, and actually make fun of me when I try to explain my stance. I don't know what to do, I'm so angry and frustrated!

 

I don't know if there's an actual question in this post. Maybe, how have other people dealt with it? How can I talk to my parents without them getting defensive? How can I express that I don't appreciate them trying to emotionally manipulate me? I don't know. Help.

 

Shawna

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There is no way to make someone accept you, but if you accept them, including their seemingly inflexible views, it is possible they will eventually accept your new beliefs. Even if they don't, you'd be taking the higher ground.

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Do you live with your parents? If you do, you might have to put up with it. You can try saying "You make me uncomfortable when you try to convert me. Please accept me the way I am. If there is a god and its will is that I believe, then that will happen in good time. By pushing it, you are making it less likely."

 

If you don't live with them, just lay down the law. "We will not talk about this. Period."

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The reason they can't and won't accept your rejection of their religion is because they believe (probably sincerely) that you are destined for hell. The reason they won't listen to your reasons for leaving the faith and even laugh at you may be a number of factors. One reason may be that they are afraid to hear your reasons and their fear may be that if they listen to you your reasons just may make some sense to them, resulting in their loss of faith. Another reason may be just the opposite: that they are incapable of understanding what you say since their faith blinds them to the truth (the same way I was blinded to the truth for so many years).

 

Now what to do about it? I think Ro-bear said it very well and I endorse what he said.

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Hi Shawna! Welcome! This is so hard......If you've been reading the posts - you will see that many of us have been in the same 'boat' with friends and family. Right now - I just tell a lot of people that I am going through a 'dark night of the soul''. That seems to shut them up. I know they are praying for me. Some, I have actually spoken the truth.

 

Be patient my dear - we were all once, true bible believers and if we had to met people like us - we would think they were totally 'lost'. It's ok if they think you're lost - you'll just have to get in the habit of deleting the e-mails for now.

 

What everybody else said is very true also. Keep posting - we're here for you!! Margee

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Hi everyone. I know I don't post here often, but I'm feeling really depressed this afternoon and have no one to talk to about this. I'm sorry to vent a little, please bear with me.

 

5 years after leaving my parent's church and subsequent christian religion (I'm 23), I have found something that works for me in terms of spirituality. I do not believe in god and have no desire to go to a christian church. Although my parents have seemed to finally come around to the "we can disagree and still love one another" way of thinking, every so often they drive me crazy by subtly trying to re-convert me. They are doing the condescending "she is confused or doesn't understand christianity" even though I spent 18 years of my life as an avid christian. I know about the bible, I know about Jesus, I know about how to be "saved" and I have made a conscious decision to leave that way of life. So why can't they just be happy that I have found a way to live that makes me happy and fulfilled?!? Why does my mom need to send me youtube videos of some country dude singing a song about how much god loves me and wants me to come back even though I've "chosen darkness." I have been happier with my new belief system than I ever was with christianity, and I plan on continuing to be happy in it. It's not like I've decided to become a prostitute or a crack addict, I simply found my own way to be. What does it matter if our beliefs coincide? I'm tempted to just pretend that I've "found Jesus" again, just so that they'll leave me alone.

 

What they don't realize is that all of this manipulating conversion talk is exactly the reason I LEFT in the first place. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that I am weak and evil and damned from birth. I don't want to be a part of anything that denies my achievements and blows my mistakes out of proportion. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that there are certain people in the world who cannot be good, no matter how hard they try, because there is a part of them that is "broken." Fear, manipulation, and guilt are not foundations on which I want to build my life. I can't even tell them any of this, because they think that I'm attacking them personally. I have to tread on eggshells and thank my mom for loving me so much that she tries to convert me at least once a month. They have no interest in hearing about what I believe or why, and actually make fun of me when I try to explain my stance. I don't know what to do, I'm so angry and frustrated!

 

I don't know if there's an actual question in this post. Maybe, how have other people dealt with it? How can I talk to my parents without them getting defensive? How can I express that I don't appreciate them trying to emotionally manipulate me? I don't know. Help.

 

Shawna

 

You could send them a copy of this post you wrote. But it may not make any difference. You could try some avoidance. You could tell your parents that you don't appreciate their trying to convert you all the time and that it is pushing you away from them. You might ask mom if she loves you as a person (as her daughter) or only if you are a Christian. I've discovered that parents tend to think they know best whether it is religion or some other topic and you generally don't try to 'school' them because it pisses them off. With age and years of doing something or believing a certain way one tends to think it is the 'right' way or even the 'only' way. When I was about 25 years old mom and I clashed on several non-religion topics but I didn't live at home anymore so it wasn't that big of a deal.

 

One simple thing to do when they bring up religion is say, "I'd rather not talk about that" and if they continue, stand up and say, "Well, I think I'll be going now."

 

You might also weigh how much their conversion attempts anger you. Is it enough to stop visiting them? Or can you just tell yourself that mom is trying to look out after you and blow it off. The 'acquired wisdom' that a parent will credit to their child grows with years. They are still trying to tell you how to think as to religion. Maybe as the years go by and you are still doing that 'crazy spiritual' thing, they will either give up trying to reconvert you or at least give you some credit for life wisdom. Or maybe they wont. :)

 

Good luck.

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There is no way to make someone accept you, but if you accept them, including their seemingly inflexible views, it is possible they will eventually accept your new beliefs. Even if they don't, you'd be taking the higher ground.

I need to read this advice a few times before my fundy friends come and stay thanksgiving week with us. They are praying for me, you know.

*rolls eyes* I am "praying" that the week will go quickly.

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Thank you everyone. :) The advice and encouragement was so warm and friendly, even though I'm new here!

 

I don't live with my parents anymore, and haven't for 4 years, but that doesn't stop them from trying. We actually had a bad falling out when I first moved out and stopped "believing," and it is only now (4 years later) that we are starting to patch things up. What's frustrating is that I know their words don't come from malice or some kind of hatred toward me; it's actually the opposite. They love me a lot and want me to go to heaven, or whatever. After so many years of complete animosity, I'm afraid to tell them to stop because I'm scared to push them away from me again. I'm scared that they'll stop loving me, so I avoid the conversations and delete the emails. But it still hurts me so badly because every email means that although their mouths say "we love you the way you are no matter what," their actions are showing that they'd love me better if I was a christian again.

 

The biggest problem is that I'm moving out of the country in a month (going to Japan to teach English), so I really value the time that we get to spend together. I want to hang out and visit with them frequently, but I find myself avoiding them because of incidents like the email. Part of me is "escaping" to Japan since it is a country with a much much smaller fundamentalist christian population, and I know there won't be people trying to convert me at every turn. I know that me leaving scares them, which is probably why they've upped the ante in terms of witnessing to me. It ends up pushing me away, but if I tell them then I push them away. My number one fear is having to stand at either my mom or dad's death bed and have them urge me to become a christian, and having to either lie or refuse. So my plan is to run away to Japan and avoid the confrontation. How cowardly is that?

 

Ugh, you guys are right though. I just need to learn to delete the emails and ignore it. I really am much more mentally healthy and happy the way I am now, and honestly wish I could share my beliefs with them so they could be too, but for now I guess we'll just have to keep taking baby steps. In comparison to some of the people on this board, I've only been dealing with my parents for a short time (in comparison with like 20 years, 4 isn't very much), so maybe it's normal for it to take a bit longer for us to come to a healthier place. Thankfully I have this board, lol. :) You all are awesome!

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Their pushing is partly for you, but a lot of it is for them. You have rejected their worldview, and that puts them in an awkward position. To them, the best way to deal with it is to put you back where they think you belong. They are stuck on the inside, and they can't see it any other way.

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I have the same situation -- my parents think that the thing I need most is to come to believe that "Jesus died for my sins." *gag* My mother tries to bring up Jesus and God almost every time I speak to her on the telephone. I'm just amazed that I was able to emerge as an adult from that household fairly healthy.

 

What I do is simply try to find some way that I can agree with her and state that partial agreement in order to satisfy her. She knows how I disagree with her, but it's just too stressful to argue with her every time we talk. In general I try to avoid talking to her, and the relationship would be a lot closer if she could just keep her hell/God ideas to herself.

 

Christians who encounter non-Christians, especially non-Christian children are in a "viral shedding" mode where they can hardly help themselves from pushing onto us ideas of Jesus, atonement, God's love, etc. -- as if we've never heard it before and as if we don't know exactly what it is we reject.

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Yes, I know only too well the sensation of treading on eggshells around religious parents. Smile and nod is really my only suggestion. You know it and I know it; they are far too set in their ways and their thinking, so making any attempt at changing those ways will be met with contempt and indignation. Your parents haven't applied critical thought to their religion for years, so why should they start now?

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Why does my mom need to send me youtube videos of some country dude singing a song about how much god loves me and wants me to come back even though I've "chosen darkness."

lol that would be Don Francisco! I used to listen to his songs.

 

Part of me is "escaping" to Japan since it is a country with a much much smaller fundamentalist christian population, and I know there won't be people trying to convert me at every turn.

I went to the Hiroshima memorial park, and guess who hands me a tract? A Jehovah's Witness lol Of all the places to bump into a JW, it has to be Japan where in general christianity is looked upon as some quirky religion that only gaijin believe.

 

In my experiences so far with my fundamentalist family, I've found the only thing that shuts them up is offering to delve into the core doctrines that caused me to leave christianity. I don't know if it's some strange coincidence, but every time I'm about to go into whether Jesus is actually the messiah, the conversation comes to a halt with "we can talk about it some other time".

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Hi everyone. I know I don't post here often, but I'm feeling really depressed this afternoon and have no one to talk to about this. I'm sorry to vent a little, please bear with me.

 

5 years after leaving my parent's church and subsequent christian religion (I'm 23), I have found something that works for me in terms of spirituality. I do not believe in god and have no desire to go to a christian church. Although my parents have seemed to finally come around to the "we can disagree and still love one another" way of thinking, every so often they drive me crazy by subtly trying to re-convert me. They are doing the condescending "she is confused or doesn't understand christianity" even though I spent 18 years of my life as an avid christian. I know about the bible, I know about Jesus, I know about how to be "saved" and I have made a conscious decision to leave that way of life. So why can't they just be happy that I have found a way to live that makes me happy and fulfilled?!? Why does my mom need to send me youtube videos of some country dude singing a song about how much god loves me and wants me to come back even though I've "chosen darkness." I have been happier with my new belief system than I ever was with christianity, and I plan on continuing to be happy in it. It's not like I've decided to become a prostitute or a crack addict, I simply found my own way to be. What does it matter if our beliefs coincide? I'm tempted to just pretend that I've "found Jesus" again, just so that they'll leave me alone.

 

What they don't realize is that all of this manipulating conversion talk is exactly the reason I LEFT in the first place. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that I am weak and evil and damned from birth. I don't want to be a part of anything that denies my achievements and blows my mistakes out of proportion. I don't want to be a part of anything that tells me that there are certain people in the world who cannot be good, no matter how hard they try, because there is a part of them that is "broken." Fear, manipulation, and guilt are not foundations on which I want to build my life. I can't even tell them any of this, because they think that I'm attacking them personally. I have to tread on eggshells and thank my mom for loving me so much that she tries to convert me at least once a month. They have no interest in hearing about what I believe or why, and actually make fun of me when I try to explain my stance. I don't know what to do, I'm so angry and frustrated!

 

I don't know if there's an actual question in this post. Maybe, how have other people dealt with it? How can I talk to my parents without them getting defensive? How can I express that I don't appreciate them trying to emotionally manipulate me? I don't know. Help.

 

Shawna

 

Hi Shawna, thanks for the post! I definitely hear you on this. The reason your parents can't be happy for you though is simply because of their world view. They actually believe that if you don't repent and believe, then you'll spend an eternity in everlasting torment in hell. In their minds, they want to "tell you the truth", even if it's uncomfortable, damages their relationship with you, etc. I guess I can see their perspective. It just sucks though, because once you realize that the whole thing is a farce then you see the things that really are important in life, and that is family. If anything this further angers me about religion - not about your parents. Unfortunately your parents are victim to the system, which means that they will be willing to damage their relationship with their daughter. What a shame.

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I have no doubt that if my parents knew I was no longer a christian, they would be the same way. I know eventually they would have to accept it, but not before doing their damnest to try and convince me to go back. I can't really blame them for that. Their beliefs about what happens to those who do not accept their god are very real to them, and I would think your parents are reacting this way mostly because they love you.

 

Right now, for me, I just avoid religious conversation and do my best to keep my non-belief to myself. It's funny because I don't even think they notice the little things I do to avoid the topic when it comes up.

 

Hope things get better for you, and welcome to the site. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Shawna, thanks for the post! I definitely hear you on this. The reason your parents can't be happy for you though is simply because of their world view. They actually believe that if you don't repent and believe, then you'll spend an eternity in everlasting torment in hell. In their minds, they want to "tell you the truth", even if it's uncomfortable, damages their relationship with you, etc. I guess I can see their perspective. It just sucks though, because once you realize that the whole thing is a farce then you see the things that really are important in life, and that is family. If anything this further angers me about religion - not about your parents. Unfortunately your parents are victim to the system, which means that they will be willing to damage their relationship with their daughter. What a shame.

 

This - exactly. To them your happiness is not only empty, it's dangerous, because it means you don't recognize your terrible, eternal danger. It's not about whether you're happy here - only that you get to go there. It's one of the grossest distortions of reality that comes from being Christian (or part of almost any my-way-or-the-highway belief system) - Everyone's so worried about who's going where that we can't enjoy being here for the time we are.

 

There is no easy answer. Someone else mentioned that your happiness also presented a danger to your parents, because in order for them to accept you and be happy for you, they have to allow the possibility that they are wrong. Admitting that might put them in danger of hell too - and who's going to do that?

 

I really feel for you - I'm fortunate that I was the odd man out as a Christian in our family, so when I deconverted, everyone shrugged and said, "Oh, well, cool." However, one of my best friends has taken the tack of your parents - there is no reasoning with them in that state.

 

You might have to sacrifice some good vibes and feelings while gently deflecting their re-proselytization attempts for the sake of being honest and true to yourself, and just hope that they come around eventually.

 

Good luck.

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