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Author Topic: Dealing with conservative family  (Read 1822 times)

anonymus

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Dealing with conservative family
« on: August 03, 2013, 12:10:46 pm »
Recently I've tried to be more open with my mother about my interest in paganism, she is a devout evangelical christian, so as I'm sure you have guessed things are not going well. I've tried to reason with her, show her books, etc. Nothing seems to work. She has threatened to kick me out of the house if I practice openly[which would effectively nuke me financially] and made me promise not to perform rituals or construct a shrine/alter. She does not even want me to pray to my gods because she is apparently afraid that her "God"[ I guess that would be Yahweh] will punish her or that I will unleash "evil spirits". I have no idea what to do, I'm trying to respect her beliefs but I increasingly feel that this is becoming impossible since apparently my mere presence is an offense to her god.

anonymus

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 12:24:54 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117740
Recently I've tried to be more open with my mother about my interest in paganism, she is a devout evangelical christian, so as I'm sure you have guessed things are not going well. I've tried to reason with her, show her books, etc. Nothing seems to work. She has threatened to kick me out of the house if I practice openly[which would effectively nuke me financially] and made me promise not to perform rituals or construct a shrine/alter. She does not even want me to pray to my gods because she is apparently afraid that her "God"[ I guess that would be Yahweh] will punish her or that I will unleash "evil spirits". I have no idea what to do, I'm trying to respect her beliefs but I increasingly feel that this is becoming impossible since apparently my mere presence is an offense to her god.

I feel like I'm having to choose between my faith, my family and my physical security

Snowdrop

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2013, 12:49:47 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117742
I feel like I'm having to choose between my faith, my family and my physical security

 
I think the biggest question is: to what extent do you feel the need to have an obvious practice?  (By that I mean: having an altar, doing rituals or making offerings, etc.)  

Because fundamentally, your mom has no way of knowing what you believe and whether you pray to your Gods or not.  If it were me, I think I would let the issue rest: since she's probably not going to change her mind, there's no point in trying to convince her.  I would just kind of . . . not tell her things that might upset her.

Jenett

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2013, 01:15:19 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117742
I feel like I'm having to choose between my faith, my family and my physical security

 
That's because you are. When you're financially dependent on someone else for your living arrangements, that's part of what you have to deal with.

So, look at this logically.

Your mother is probably pretty unlikely to change what she thinks to an extent that it solves this problem for you - she's pretty far to one end of the spectrum as far as tolerating other religions (especially in her home) goes.

Sometimes parents do change their minds, but usually that's because they've got misunderstandings about the topic to start with (say, someone who is only aware of mass-media depicions of Wicca) When it's "Any other God is a problem", that's not something education is going to change by itself. (And especially not when there's a lot of cultural and community pressure from her church community to believe and behave a certain way.)

So, given that, what are your choices?

Obviously, one big choice is to figure out how to not be financially independent on your mother. That's usually not something you can fix immediately, but it's a lot easier to disagree with a parent about religion if you're not living with them. (They may still be uncomfortable, but you can say "If you keep insulting my beliefs, I'm going to hang up/go away" or practice your own religion under your own roof, or whatever is necessary a lot more easily.)

You haven't, I think, mentioned your general age range, but this is somewhere where it matters. If you're in your late teens, it's different than, say, if you're in your later 20s, and working and paying half the rent, and doing your fair share of household chores. And it's even more different if you're in your 40s or 50s, and living with an elderly parent who is less able to live on their own. And each of these kinds of situations is going to have some different options.

If you're younger, then yeah, your basic choices are to hope your mother has a massive major unlikely change of belief (don't count on this) or move out. If you're older, and you're a substantial contributor to the household (even if it's the family home), you may have more leverage to negotiate something that's a compromise for both of you, but works. (But this kind of thing really does need to be people who are contributing equally: it doesn't work if you're only paying token rent, and she's the one doing most of the cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc.)

So, what does that mean for your religious practice? She's said what she's okay and not okay with. You might be able to negotiate some other specifics (you've agreed not to do rituals or have a shrine or altar, okay.)

She can't limit what you do inside your head, *however* doing it under someone's roof when you know it makes them deeply uncomfortable is a religiously problematic thing in a lot of religions, because it contradicts obligations of hospitality, family, fair dealing, or other ethical considerations. (Some of which may well apply to you.)

In which case, your choices are to do some things (say, prayer in your own head - the things you do in private, that she cannot possibly see- anyway), or to do things in other places (take your ritual practice outside or to a rented space or a friend's home or a bunch of other options) - ideally while you're also putting as much work into being able to be financially independent and move out as possible.

My mother is not as conservative as yours (she's a fairly moderate Catholic, but she was deeply uncomfortable when I became Pagan in my 20s - after I'd stopped living with her.) But I would never dream of doing ritual work under her roof when I visit, because it's her home. I do occasionally check in with my deities when I'm visiting, or will read or write Pagan-related material, and I do keep up with not-obvious personal devotions like wearing specific jewelry (none of the stuff I wear daily is obviously Pagan) or having my toenails painted blue (a long-running religious devotional for me: I would not unpaint them because I'm going to see her, but I wouldn't repaint them while there, though, f'ex.)
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anonymus

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2013, 02:27:10 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;117744
That's because you are. When you're financially dependent on someone else for your living arrangements, that's part of what you have to deal with.

So, look at this logically.

Your mother is probably pretty unlikely to change what she thinks to an extent that it solves this problem for you - she's pretty far to one end of the spectrum as far as tolerating other religions (especially in her home) goes.

Sometimes parents do change their minds, but usually that's because they've got misunderstandings about the topic to start with (say, someone who is only aware of mass-media depicions of Wicca) When it's "Any other God is a problem", that's not something education is going to change by itself. (And especially not when there's a lot of cultural and community pressure from her church community to believe and behave a certain way.)

So, given that, what are your choices?

Obviously, one big choice is to figure out how to not be financially independent on your mother. That's usually not something you can fix immediately, but it's a lot easier to disagree with a parent about religion if you're not living with them. (They may still be uncomfortable, but you can say "If you keep insulting my beliefs, I'm going to hang up/go away" or practice your own religion under your own roof, or whatever is necessary a lot more easily.)

You haven't, I think, mentioned your general age range, but this is somewhere where it matters. If you're in your late teens, it's different than, say, if you're in your later 20s, and working and paying half the rent, and doing your fair share of household chores. And it's even more different if you're in your 40s or 50s, and living with an elderly parent who is less able to live on their own. And each of these kinds of situations is going to have some different options.

If you're younger, then yeah, your basic choices are to hope your mother has a massive major unlikely change of belief (don't count on this) or move out. If you're older, and you're a substantial contributor to the household (even if it's the family home), you may have more leverage to negotiate something that's a compromise for both of you, but works. (But this kind of thing really does need to be people who are contributing equally: it doesn't work if you're only paying token rent, and she's the one doing most of the cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc.)

So, what does that mean for your religious practice? She's said what she's okay and not okay with. You might be able to negotiate some other specifics (you've agreed not to do rituals or have a shrine or altar, okay.)

She can't limit what you do inside your head, *however* doing it under someone's roof when you know it makes them deeply uncomfortable is a religiously problematic thing in a lot of religions, because it contradicts obligations of hospitality, family, fair dealing, or other ethical considerations. (Some of which may well apply to you.)

In which case, your choices are to do some things (say, prayer in your own head - the things you do in private, that she cannot possibly see- anyway), or to do things in other places (take your ritual practice outside or to a rented space or a friend's home or a bunch of other options) - ideally while you're also putting as much work into being able to be financially independent and move out as possible.


 I think your right I'll just have to keep things low key until I move out. I guess I just wanted someone to talk to, thanks for listening. Gods I cannot wait till I finish my associates and transfer to an actual University

EclecticWheel

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2013, 03:28:25 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117748
I think your right I'll just have to keep things low key until I move out. I guess I just wanted someone to talk to, thanks for listening. Gods I cannot wait till I finish my associates and transfer to an actual University

Do what I do with some of my more eccentric devotions: practice in secret!

Find something you can create a small portable altar or shrine with if you must have this for your practice.  Put it away when you're done.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 03:29:58 pm by EclecticWheel »
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Oíche

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2013, 07:34:31 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;117757
Do what I do with some of my more eccentric devotions: practice in secret!

Find something you can create a small portable altar or shrine with if you must have this for your practice.  Put it away when you're done.

 
This but be very careful.

I'd also advise going outside as often as possible if you want to do rituals. Maybe to a park or a beach? :)
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anonymus

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2013, 08:37:56 pm »
Quote from: Cág;117785
This but be very careful.

I'd also advise going outside as often as possible if you want to do rituals. Maybe to a park or a beach? :)

 
there is this small park type area near my house that should work although it's pretty close to some other houses; do you think seeing some random guy standing there waving his arms and chanting would freak them out?

EclecticWheel

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2013, 09:57:30 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117792
there is this small park type area near my house that should work although it's pretty close to some other houses; do you think seeing some random guy standing there waving his arms and chanting would freak them out?

Probably.  Most of the rituals I've done outside were in the woods at night so I didn't have to worry about it.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2013, 09:58:11 pm by EclecticWheel »
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ALiteraryLady

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2013, 10:35:27 pm »
Quote from: anonymus;117792
there is this small park type area near my house that should work although it's pretty close to some other houses; do you think seeing some random guy standing there waving his arms and chanting would freak them out?

 
Perhaps you should re-evaluate what you see as a ritual, at least as long as you are in this situation. Do you really need to have chanting and the like to feel like you are connecting to your deities? Perhaps just taking a stroll in this park area, or even just enjoying dinner or lunch out there will give you enough space away from your mother to have "mental ritual space" where you can meditate, and still feel like you are practicing some aspect of your path.

I do agree with the general tone of replies, that you should respect your mother's home because it's hers and you live there due to her letting you live there. It's gonna suck for a while, but if you respect her wishes now, and later on down the road when you are independent of her and more established in your path, there is the possibility that she'll respect (or at least not tremble with fear from her god) you for minding her rules. I wish you good luck.

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Re: Dealing with conservative family
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 09:49:27 am »
Quote from: anonymus;117792
there is this small park type area near my house that should work although it's pretty close to some other houses; do you think seeing some random guy standing there waving his arms and chanting would freak them out?

 
You don't need to wave arms or chant loudly :)
I'd whisper even.
I'll be in a slightly similar situation soon as I'll be renting a room in a family home so I'll be keeping my paganism quiet just to be sure (I dunno how they'd react and I'd rather not go there as it's not needed) so I'll be doing smaller rituals on my college campus in a park area.

Quote from: ALiteraryLady;117803
Perhaps you should re-evaluate what you see as a ritual, at least as long as you are in this situation. Do you really need to have chanting and the like to feel like you are connecting to your deities? Perhaps just taking a stroll in this park area, or even just enjoying dinner or lunch out there will give you enough space away from your mother to have "mental ritual space" where you can meditate, and still feel like you are practicing some aspect of your path.

I do agree with the general tone of replies, that you should respect your mother's home because it's hers and you live there due to her letting you live there. It's gonna suck for a while, but if you respect her wishes now, and later on down the road when you are independent of her and more established in your path, there is the possibility that she'll respect (or at least not tremble with fear from her god) you for minding her rules. I wish you good luck.

 
I agree with this. Also ritual does not need to be a big affair, most of my recent ones have been quiet and simple and they're just as effective :)
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