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Author Topic: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents  (Read 3403 times)

Aine Rayne

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Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« on: February 06, 2012, 04:31:59 am »
So, I'm just starting down the pagan/semi pagan path. I have yet to inform my parents. I live with my grandmother (who either knows and doesn't care or cares and doesn't know) and I'm twenty years old. But, my parents still exert (or attempt to) a lot of control in my life. And they still demand the sort of respect one should get from a kid from me and don't respect me as an adult. My dad is better than my mom, he respects most of my decisions but doesn't fully treat me like an adult, but he's pretty much there and can be reasoned with fairly well. My mom however, much as i love her, is quite controlling, quite religious, and quite concerned to the point of paranoia over me and my soul. She truly wants nothing but the best for me and is a good mother, but we often argue because I'm not exactly living my life how she wants me to (and i don't talk to her as much because i don't want to be interrogated, argue, bossed around, or preached to). As a result, i haven't told my parents I'm no longer a Christian, or at least a conventional one.

They both would want reasons, not all of which i can fully explain or even want to explain. While I'm sure i could have a reasonable discussion with my father that would end in my favor, that doesn't make it any easier, pleasant, or desirable. I know there's no way such a conversation would end well with my mother. She's too emotional, anxious, and stubborn to have a sensible conversation. Does anyone have advice for how i can handle this? My father's already questioned me twice because i didn't hide my tarot cards and was on this website on my tablet when he picked it up out of curiosity. Although he acts playful, he's quite serious and pushy about the topic, and cornered me both times, demanding explanations on the spot.

I would greatly appreciate any encouragement and advice.
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Dul

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 04:49:32 am »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687
My father's already questioned me twice because i didn't hide my tarot cards and was on this website on my tablet when he picked it up out of curiosity. Although he acts playful, he's quite serious and pushy about the topic, and cornered me both times, demanding explanations on the spot.

 
It sounds like your parents are more tolerant than many, if they didn't yell at you and burn them! But without knowing what he said, I can't really give specific suggestions.

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with secrecy. If you still don't understand your beliefs well enough to explain them to people who could potentially be hostile, I would recommend keeping it to yourself. When you're not constantly pressured to conform, it's easier to know yourself.

I would, however, strongly suggest a gradual approach. You say you're not a conventional Christian. Does that mean you're still sort of a Christian? If so, tell them you're doubting and see where that goes. Maybe tell them you're thinking another religion would be better.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan B if things go REALLY wrong. If you think there's any chance you might get kicked out, make sure you have a sympathetic friend. If you don't think you'd get kicked out, it would still help to have a supportive friend just to talk to. It gets easier to talk about it each time you broach the subject.

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 08:15:07 am »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687
Does anyone have advice for how i can handle this?

 
How have you had conversations about religion with your parents in the past?
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HeartShadow

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 08:18:46 am »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687


 
The best advice I've heard with this is simply say that you're working on a personal spiritual relationship, and that right now you really need to be given space for that.

It's both true AND it leaves open that you might come back to being a proper good daughter later.  And a personal relationship isn't something that can be forced externally, so it will hopefully get them to back off a bit.

I would suggest NOT saying anything about paganism until you're sure of your path - talking about it before you're ready will only make you look more confused and less grown adult about it.

Maps

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 02:38:35 pm »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687
I would greatly appreciate any encouragement and advice.

 
Your parents sound like mine when I wound up coming out to them about 9 years ago, down to a tee. What I ended up doing with my dad was playing up the "reason" aspect of my interest, and explaining it to him using scholastic research, metaphor, and logic that he could understand. The thing that sealed the deal for his acceptance was reading the US Army's breakdown of Wicca, and their stats where troops are concerned. My mom couldn't be persuaded, unfortunately (especially because she was the one that had custody), and had to come around on her own after a year or two.

Since every family situation is different, no one here can outline any real strategy for you. One thing I can recommend across the board, however, is avoid the rebellious and obnoxious teenager approach. If you're still being financially supported by them, then it's important to remember that there may be terms to that continued support. As crappy as it sounds, complete transparency about your life right now may be one of them. Also remember that they're your parents, and it might do well to approach the situation from their perspective to explain how you feel in ways that they can better understand and ultimately sympathize with. Sell them on the idea.

I agree with Dul, also. It's easier for others to understand you when you understand yourself and what you're looking for.

Etheric1

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 04:11:01 pm »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687
So, I'm just starting down the pagan/semi pagan path. I have yet to inform my parents. I live with my grandmother (who either knows and doesn't care or cares and doesn't know) and I'm twenty years old. But, my parents still exert (or attempt to) a lot of control in my life. And they still demand the sort of respect one should get from a kid from me and don't respect me as an adult. My dad is better than my mom, he respects most of my decisions but doesn't fully treat me like an adult, but he's pretty much there and can be reasoned with fairly well. My mom however, much as i love her, is quite controlling, quite religious, and quite concerned to the point of paranoia over me and my soul. She truly wants nothing but the best for me and is a good mother, but we often argue because I'm not exactly living my life how she wants me to (and i don't talk to her as much because i don't want to be interrogated, argue, bossed around, or preached to). As a result, i haven't told my parents I'm no longer a Christian, or at least a conventional one.

They both would want reasons, not all of which i can fully explain or even want to explain. While I'm sure i could have a reasonable discussion with my father that would end in my favor, that doesn't make it any easier, pleasant, or desirable. I know there's no way such a conversation would end well with my mother. She's too emotional, anxious, and stubborn to have a sensible conversation. Does anyone have advice for how i can handle this? My father's already questioned me twice because i didn't hide my tarot cards and was on this website on my tablet when he picked it up out of curiosity. Although he acts playful, he's quite serious and pushy about the topic, and cornered me both times, demanding explanations on the spot.

I would greatly appreciate any encouragement and advice.

I would first start off with: do they really need to know your decision on this matter?  What religion you identify with is your own business, not anyone else's.  What will be gained/lost by telling them?  I'm not saying you need to lie, or be deceitful, but you do not have to volunteer this info to them either.  

If you decide that you need to bring this up to them, you need to prepare yourself for them not accepting this at all and possibly being angry.  They might not be, and if they react well, then there's no problem.  But it's possible things may go poorly too and you need to be ready for that as best you can.  So if you go through with this, I'd start off with telling them what you'd decided and why it matters to you.  You can also be very upfront and tell them exactly why you're reluctant to say things, for example: this is my choice and I have to do what's right by me.  I am not a child anymore and I do not appreciate being talked down to or be judged.  What may or may not happen to my soul is NOT your choice, nor your decision.  Whatever higher power makes the actual decision what, if anything, happens.  It's better to be on your own path honestly rather than live a lie, in my opinion anyways. ;)  But that's just me, and it's easy to say this since I don't have to deal with the repercussions.  You can also tell them you appreciate where they are coming from and that they want the right things for you, but at the same time, you have to be allowed to live your life, not anyone else's.

It sounds like they do truly love you and you said they want what's best - but sometimes that can be clouded by what a parent's wishes are.  A therapist once told me a great quote: "Sometimes the most dangerous thing to a child's development are the parent's unfulfilled dreams."  We see this when parents try to force a child to grow up an take a job in a particular career.  But I think it also applies to a lot more things, such as our spiritual choice.  

That's just my take on it. ;)
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 04:12:22 pm by Etheric1 »
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Gore

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 06:15:37 pm »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41687
>snip snip snip>

 
Find your path first. But i suggest eventually telling them. In my opinion and experience, it is better to have the elephant in the room than the snake in the corner.

Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 12:27:41 am »
Quote from: Dul;41688
It sounds like your parents are more tolerant than many, if they didn't yell at you and burn them! But without knowing what he said, I can't really give specific suggestions.

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with secrecy. If you still don't understand your beliefs well enough to explain them to people who could potentially be hostile, I would recommend keeping it to yourself. When you're not constantly pressured to conform, it's easier to know yourself.

I would, however, strongly suggest a gradual approach. You say you're not a conventional Christian. Does that mean you're still sort of a Christian? If so, tell them you're doubting and see where that goes. Maybe tell them you're thinking another religion would be better.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan B if things go REALLY wrong. If you think there's any chance you might get kicked out, make sure you have a sympathetic friend. If you don't think you'd get kicked out, it would still help to have a supportive friend just to talk to. It gets easier to talk about it each time you broach the subject.

 
Correction, my dad is more tolerant than most. My mom wants to be, and tries, but she's not. And yes, I am sortof a Christian. I still believe in God of the Bible (specifically New Testament) and Jesus. I still pray to them both, I didn't grow up Catholic so no saints and whatnot. But otherwise I hold multiple unconventional and "non-Christian" beliefs, such as belief in reincarnation, karma, that the Holy Spirit is the feminine aspect of God, aka a Goddess of sorts (since technically Deity doesn't have gender, kinda doesn't matter, but hey, humans gotta have a way to relate yes?). My dad didn't get angry about the cards, but he was like "is this in line with the Christian beliefs we raised you with? These are dangerous you know." etc.

As far as being kicked out goes, I live with my grandmother. She won't kick me out over my beliefs, as long as I don't hold like seances and whatnot in the house. The only reason I even have a curfew is because I'm five foot even and severely asthmatic. Chores and letting her know when I'm not gonna be home (and my boyfriend can't come over without permission) are really the main rules here. So, if they get upset, they can't kick me out, and my grandmother doesn't pay mind to them if she doesn't want to. Though, while I'm sure she'd be just as calm as my father, I can't predict her reaction. I just know she won't put me out (really none of them would, but doesn't mean I want to be forced home to my mother's).

I have several supportive friends, at least four who are on non-conventional paths themselves. I'm not really worried about that. I don't think telling them I'm doubting would work on them. The first thing they'll ask is why and I already know what my reasons are and I know my mom will just be in denial and throw more suggestions or scriptures at me that I probably already know by heart or something and then bother me about going to a different church than my childhood one. I don't want to go to another church, I just don't want to be a conventional Christian anymore. Really I just don't want to be answering all the inevitable questions and rebuttals and the anger from my mother and tears and her attempts at guilting and blackmailing me into doing what she really wants. My father will just have loads of very annoying questions and such that I just don't want to be bothered with. This is one topic where they just will not leave me to my own devices.
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Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 12:36:13 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;41698
How have you had conversations about religion with your parents in the past?

 
Yeah, I haven't. We've had conversations about other people's religion, just not mine. I think there was always an assumption from myself and my parents that I'd always be a firm Christian. I didn't get my first non-Christian friend until 10th grade. I didn't get my first kiss until 12th. So, I'm a particularly sheltered child. While other religions were never presented to me as evil and something to be squashed and chased out of other people, they were portrayed as wrong and lies by Satan. Research into other religions were assumed to be for general knowledge use or to better understand what my friends believed in the interest of being a better friend and the possibility of "introducing" them to Christianity. Or at least to be better able to argue a point in a religious debate. Never for the purpose of expanding my own spiritual beliefs, perhaps to the point of stretching out of Christianity.
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Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 12:56:30 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;41700
The best advice I've heard with this is simply say that you're working on a personal spiritual relationship, and that right now you really need to be given space for that.

It's both true AND it leaves open that you might come back to being a proper good daughter later.  And a personal relationship isn't something that can be forced externally, so it will hopefully get them to back off a bit.

I would suggest NOT saying anything about paganism until you're sure of your path - talking about it before you're ready will only make you look more confused and less grown adult about it.

 
heh, yeah, my mom missed that memo that relationships cannot be forced. She won't do anything but question me. Or, she'll seem like she's leaving it alone, and then ask me questions every chance she gets like with my mental health. It's why I don't talk to her about my depression, because then she'll ask well what's wrong, what caused it, have you prayed about it? And it's like, nothing's wrong, it's a chronic condition that doesn't need anything to set it off, no i haven't prayed about it because that hasn't helped in the past. And then we'll get into this argument, especially since she refuses to believe there's no cause, so then she'll start nagging me about my diet and about exercise and whether I'm reading my Bible and such. And it's like, not everything has a logical answer woman or is as easily fixed as eating five servings of vegetables every day and exercising. She loves me but she's very difficult to talk to because she has a curious set of narrow views of the world. It's weird, she is really getting into the natural health scene and even ayurveda (though she doesn't like yoga cuz of its connection to hinduism, she does pilates instead) but as a result she's closing the curtains (though not necessarily the window) on mainstream medicine. And she does that with a lot of stuff, where she's somehow both narrow minded and openminded at the same time. Regardless she still just thinks she knows what's right for me and it'll take a lot of fighting and arguing and silence to get her to back off. It took her two years to finally back off on me and college, I'm currently not in school, much to her displeasure. It took her just as long to stop satanizing my relationship with my boyfriend and proclaiming it bad for my spiritual health and risking my soul to Hell over a boy, and reading me very judgemental scriptures to try and prove her point that I need to do what she wants me to do. And although she stopped doing that, she still makes annoying, aggravating, and/or snide or snarky comments about my relationship and my boyfriend.

She loves me to death, and unfortunately has a lot of the same habits her mom had. It's hard to deal with because we're both incredibly stubborn and emotional and she's always worried about me, but neither of us is super great at verbalizing ourselves in a non-offensive or judgmental way. I know I have a terrible tendency to come off arrogant and hostile and it just makes arguments worse. It's why I would prefer not to have this conversation at all.
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Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 01:07:45 am »
Quote from: Maps;41732
Your parents sound like mine when I wound up coming out to them about 9 years ago, down to a tee. What I ended up doing with my dad was playing up the "reason" aspect of my interest, and explaining it to him using scholastic research, metaphor, and logic that he could understand... My mom couldn't be persuaded, unfortunately (especially because she was the one that had custody), and had to come around on her own after a year or two.

Since every family situation is different, no one here can outline any real strategy for you. One thing I can recommend across the board, however, is avoid the rebellious and obnoxious teenager approach. If you're still being financially supported by them, then it's important to remember that there may be terms to that continued support. As crappy as it sounds, complete transparency about your life right now may be one of them. Also remember that they're your parents, and it might do well to approach the situation from their perspective to explain how you feel in ways that they can better understand and ultimately sympathize with. Sell them on the idea.

I agree with Dul, also. It's easier for others to understand you when you understand yourself and what you're looking for.

 
For the most part I'm not being supported by them. My father still has to support my six younger brothers and sisters, and like I said in other posts, I live with my grandmother. My mom gives me money when she can, but for the most part I don't ask her for anything, and I have a job (paltry as it is). All in all I can see everyone's repeated point, which is to keep a lid on it if I can and keep studying until I'm sure of myself and can explain it to them.

And although my dad can be reasoned with, it's more a "reason through emotions" approach. I live in a very emotional family and you'll find out I'm a very emotional person myself XD he'll ask basic questions and probably in the end just go with the "well it's your life and you're an adult" approach and mention that I should talk to my mom or grandmother. He won't care that much about statistics and metaphor, just reasons.
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Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 01:32:37 am »
Quote from: Etheric1;41742

So far my father hasn't said anything more to me on the subject. I imagine he suspects that I'm not on this website for general research for knowledge's sake. I haven't hidden anything in my room, I have several very obvious books on witchcraft in general and my tarot cards where in super plain sight. I guess he's just not sure whether to confront me a third time. My mother, well I'm avoiding that conversation for as long as possible and preferably until I can get a neutral party to be there with me to force her to stop talking and listen without interrupting and stop both of us from being hostile or rude to each other.

That upfront stuff will work on my father, not my mother. The first thing she'll start with is that I'm being disrespectful and that she's still my mother and I need to respect her and she's not one of my friends to talk to any old kinda way, and because I'm still her child these things do matter to her and are still her business, and she's not talking down to me or trying to judge me, and i want to be an adult without all the responsibilities and I'm not grown til she says I am, etc. And yes these are all things she's said to me before about similarly personal subjects about the direction of my life. Oh and she'll probably start in on how I'm making Jesus sad and how I'm turning my back on God and listening to the devil's lies and how Jesus gave up his life for me and now I just tell him I don't care and whatever. Even though as far as deities go I'm still firmly in the Christian pantheon and the basic Christian belief that Jesus was both God and man and the savior of the world. Either that or she'll just get really really upset and feel like I'm abandoning her and telling her to get out of my life. Or just get very upset and concerned. I don't know, my mother is borderline bipolar and can be very hard to predict.

She's so fearful that she isn't doing enough to protect me and keep me well and taking care of me and teaching me right and that i'll struggle like her or worse, go to hell, that she's a very controlling person as a result. I don't think she realizes that she's downright paranoid. It's like, I can be mad and angry about how she behaves and the things she says, but in the end she's just trying to be the best mother she knows how and that neither of us are superb at articulating ourselves. I like that quote from that therapist, it applies quite well to me and my mother I think.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 03:57:10 pm by SunflowerP »
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Darkhawk

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 10:26:23 am »
Quote from: Aine Rayne;41788
Yeah, I haven't. We've had conversations about other people's religion, just not mine.

 
One of the things that always strikes me about this question is that for a lot of people, talking about their personal religious beliefs is introducing a new subject to a relationship.  This is a vastly more difficult process than if you were already in the habit of having your religion be a topic you could have conversations about.

In this case, you have more experience talking with your parents about religion than I do, because it was simply not a topic of conversation for us (at least before I was in my late twenties and my father got interested in Pelagius).  However, that conversation has not been personal for you.

That means that if you open the subject with them, you are inviting a greater level of intimacy than you currently have with your parents.  Is that something you want?
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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2012, 09:55:54 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;41814
That means that if you open the subject with them, you are inviting a greater level of intimacy than you currently have with your parents.  Is that something you want?

 
/picks up a lightbulb

Huh. This certainly explains why I have such a strong aversion to discussing anything me!religion related with my parents.
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Aine Rayne

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Re: Advice for Discussing New Religion with Parents
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2012, 08:36:52 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;41814

That means that if you open the subject with them, you are inviting a greater level of intimacy than you currently have with your parents.  Is that something you want?

 
Honestly, no, it's not. I'm a very personal person and don't even share everything going on in my mind with my closest friends and my boyfriend. It's not so much that I want to isolate myself as it is I'm not always comfortable with or able to fully articulate my thoughts and feelings and desires. Religion is a nice conversation to have and debate about, but otherwise I don't readily share my own feelings about it unless asked. Even in debates it's an intellectual study, not necessarily an emotional discussion. But I think it's also because my mom tends to just want to insert herself into everything I tell her, and not always in the most helpful way. Sometimes she's just very annoying and nagging, or she's pushy and controlling, or I just don't feel like hearing her talk and give suggestions I don't want. There are times where even she's like "should I just not make suggestions?" and it's like "yeah ma, I'm honestly not gonna take you up on any of these offers". And it's doubtless she'll be the same way about this topic. And considering the way she talks to me simply when I don't feel like getting up for church, it's likely she won't take this line of thinking well. The only reason she leaves me alone about the subject currently is because I have a job that frequently has me working Sundays.

As far as my dad goes, although he's calm and reasonable and won't swear I'll be damned or something, he's still naggy and pushy and quite frankly I just don't feel like putting forth the effort to explain myself to him. It's too much work for someone who will leave me to my own devices either way and let me live my life regardless. The only reason my friends have any idea is because religion is a common topic for us, most of my friends are spiritual in some way, but only a few of them are still solid Christians, the rest are on some other path or still searching for another path like I am. That and we don't judge each other based on religion. My best friend is Wiccan and I became her friend back when I was still strong in Christianity. My other best friend is gay and non-Christian. I have no problems with their lifestyles.

The only reason I'm looking to bring up the subject with my parents is because it's very tiring dodging them. My father is only easy to dodge because he currently lives in Florida. He's visiting because my sister is having a baby (actually, he was born this morning. I be an auntie :D:) which is why he had the opportunity to see my tarot cards and start this conversation. But I can't even carry my non-Christian books when I'm out with my mother because if she catches those titles it'll be an instantaneous rage. And that won't end well. She doesn't fight fair, and when she gets upset, it's all her talk and all me frustrated and angry and tearful, and she'll be tossing scriptures and essentially damnation and curses at me. The only way to have this conversation is to start with my dad and have him mediate. Which I don't feel like doing for two reasons: a) I really don't want to explain anything to him either, as I said before, and b) because that's really unfair to use him as a wall. My mother is a small woman, but she makes up for it spectacularly with her words and mind and emotions.

She's still essentially denying my adulthood, which makes it hard to feel validated in making my own choices and telling her I have my own lifestyle and am determined to have it. She's aware I'm an adult and am independent, but she certainly doesn't like it. But at the same time there's this underlying expectation that I take care of myself while staying under her rules. And then she gets upset when I don't tell her anything because I don't feel like arguing or being yelled down to. It's like "you're still my child and I want you to stay that way and be under my rules, but you still have to take care of yourself and act like an adult while remaining a child." I'm like gee now I know what all those people get angry at their parents about. She's still trying too hard to protect me from the world while at the same time trying to make me a capable adult. I love my mother but she makes me want to bang my head against a wall and just scream "make up your mind!" Every opinion she has is contradictory and double-sided and she truly doesn't even know it. As an example, she wants me to be happy with my boyfriend, but she doesn't want me to even lean against him in her presence. And says I don't have to throw my "impurity" in her face. Like, I'm not sitting here making out with him, I'm just leaning on his shoulder while watching anime on the computer. It's not like you caught us in my room doing something "special". I can develop my own spirituality and personal relationship with God, as long as it's her approved version, ie what we're taught in the Bible. So, such a conversation is not easy, it doesn't help I'm not always great at remaining calm and articulate.

You see why I jumped on the chance to ask someone for advice? Everyone on this forum has a stranger's perspective and a good portion of you know about the issue of presenting a non-standard lifestyle/religion to people who have always known the standard and taught you the standard and who don't like the non-standard because they're personally afraid of it or fear you are getting into something dangerous. At least some of you have similar situations to mine.
Finding the Secret Places This is my new blog

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