September 17, 2010 in Features

Carolyn Hax: Church switch still irks parents

Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: After I left home 13 years ago, I converted to a different religion from the one in which I was raised. This caused a great deal of friction between me and my parents, which simmers under the surface to this day.

When my first child was baptized, I invited my parents to the ceremony, and they declined to come. They cited the “problems” with our church, how disappointed they still were in me, etc. It was their right not to come, but it still hurt.

My second child is due to be baptized soon, and I don’t know if it’s rude to put my parents in the position of having to turn down another invitation (and possibly open myself up to another lecture, which I really want to avoid!) or rude not to invite them and feel as though I’m excluding them, when punitive behavior like that is the very reason I left my childhood religion in the first place. – We’re all Christians

Just some of them in name only, apparently.

As much as you dread the Lecture, please talk to your parents. Tell them the invitation is coming, and that their objections to your faith are on the record but you’d like them to be there regardless.

By both sending the invitation and communicating with your parents directly, you inoculate yourself against the two worst cases: that you give them cause to feel excluded, or ignored. If they lecture you, you can think of puppies and butterflies for 10 minutes – but if you flip them off, the chill could be lifelong.

For the record, I believe your parents’ calling you out as a disappointment, just because your ideas on faith differ from theirs, was an abuse of parental power.

Nevertheless, it seems your folks are trying to be good parents and good Christians, and to stand tall by their beliefs – and in saying this, I could also be describing you, no? If the opportunity arises, it might be worth pointing out that you honor them more than they, and possibly even you, realize.


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