keeping the peace at mixed faith family gatherings? - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-16-2010, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Not entirely sure how to phrase this, but here's the background...

 

My husband and I are Pagan.  We are raising our children as such.  We believe that there are many equally valid spiritual paths and that every person should be encouraged to find the path that suits them the best.

 

My mother is a conservative Catholic.  She believes that the Catholic Chuch is basically the "one true way" and that while other religions may have their own strengths, they fall short of the Catholic Church.  My father is not well, this may be his last holiday season, and while he did not share her views in the past it is hard to say what he currently believes (due to multiple strokes affecting speech and cognative impairment affecting memory).

 

In the past we have managed to "get along" by avoiding the subject or taking the "pass the potato salad" approach.  We live near my parents and while we no longer let them have time alone with the kiddos (after a "pagans are going to hell" comment) we see then nearly every week.  We've made it work.  Now however as the children get older and the world situtaion raises fears of an "end time" my mother has found it very hard to avoid bringing up the subject of our converting to Catholicism.  And the "pass the potato salad" approach no longer works to stop the discussion.

 

If you are (or have been) in a similar situation, how have you diffused the situation or made peace with it?  As I said, this may be my dad's last holiday season and I'd hate to be the cause of unnecessary tension or harsh words.

 

(there is an added wrinkle... other family members have left the Catholic Church but not told my mother... so at extended family gatherings there are these added layers of stress.  So that's another element we need to deal with this coming week.)


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Old 12-16-2010, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post

Not entirely sure how to phrase this, but here's the background...

 

My husband and I are Pagan.  We are raising our children as such.  We believe that there are many equally valid spiritual paths and that every person should be encouraged to find the path that suits them the best.

 

My mother is a conservative Catholic.  She believes that the Catholic Chuch is basically the "one true way" and that while other religions may have their own strengths, they fall short of the Catholic Church.  My father is not well, this may be his last holiday season, and while he did not share her views in the past it is hard to say what he currently believes (due to multiple strokes affecting speech and cognative impairment affecting memory).

 

In the past we have managed to "get along" by avoiding the subject or taking the "pass the potato salad" approach.  We live near my parents and while we no longer let them have time alone with the kiddos (after a "pagans are going to hell" comment) we see then nearly every week.  We've made it work.  Now however as the children get older and the world situtaion raises fears of an "end time" my mother has found it very hard to avoid bringing up the subject of our converting to Catholicism.  And the "pass the potato salad" approach no longer works to stop the discussion.

 

If you are (or have been) in a similar situation, how have you diffused the situation or made peace with it?  As I said, this may be my dad's last holiday season and I'd hate to be the cause of unnecessary tension or harsh words.

 

(there is an added wrinkle... other family members have left the Catholic Church but not told my mother... so at extended family gatherings there are these added layers of stress.  So that's another element we need to deal with this coming week.)



Well, I have never been in your exact situation. But I did tell a particularly preachy relative once that, no matter what he BELIEVES, Heaven and Hell are only possibilities. What we have now is real. He knew that he was making me upset by the constant shoving of religion at me. I told him that if he continued, he wouldn't be seeing us anymore, and so would be sacrificing a real-life relationship for a potential afterlife-relationship.

 

Anyway, his reaction was to stop contacting me, period. I haven't heard from him in over 7 years. No skin off my nose. However, it sounds like you actually care about remaining in contact with your family. I dunno....I'm pretty direct. I would have a hard time just sitting by and letting people verbally abuse me at family gatherings, and threats of Hell are verbal abuse, IMO....especially when children are involved.

 

Maybe something like..."Mom...God created each and every one of us. He created me to follow this particular path, and who are you to question that?"

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Old 12-16-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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Maybe something like..."Mom...God created each and every one of us. He created me to follow this particular path, and who are you to question that?"


I like this line by 2xy - I think it could work.  What do you think, Wombatclay?  Wishful thinking?  Maybe a variation?  

 

Or how about trying to really empathize with her:  "I understand that you are really concerned, really afraid that we will not be with you after this life if we don't believe and worship the way you do.  I really appreciate that you love us and want what's best for us.  Thank you for that.  Can you trust me enough to believe that I also want what is best for myself and my family?"

 

I'm sure others will come up with some better ideas.  Just trying to do a little brainstorming.

 

-Dancy

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Old 12-16-2010, 07:29 PM
 
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Maybe something like..."Mom...God created each and every one of us. He created me to follow this particular path, and who are you to question that?"

 

 

honestly I do not think that line will work.  

 

But I think you should tell her what you told us. "Mom, we do not have many Christmases with dad here.  Lets make this a peaceful one and focus on having a good time as a family.  We can talk about faith later....ok?"


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Old 12-16-2010, 07:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

Maybe something like..."Mom...God created each and every one of us. He created me to follow this particular path, and who are you to question that?"

 

 

honestly I do not think that line will work.  

 

But I think you should tell her what you told us. "Mom, we do not have many Christmases with dad here.  Lets make this a peaceful one and focus on having a good time as a family.  We can talk about faith later....ok?"


Ooh - I like this one.  

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Old 12-16-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

But I think you should tell her what you told us. "Mom, we do not have many Christmases with dad here.  Lets make this a peaceful one and focus on having a good time as a family.  We can talk about faith later....ok?"


Another vote her from me on this one.  It's respectful and puts the focus back on your Dad - where it should be at this point anyway.  Having been one before (fastidiously certain that I KNEW the one and only truth that is) I don't suppose that would have silenced discussion with me either,

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Old 12-17-2010, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I like the idea of putting the focus back on my dad, thanks!  I'll add it to the "pass the salad" approach (basically non-engagement) which used to work pretty well.  I agree that it probably wont work in terms of solving anything, but it might buy us a more pleasant gathering and that's what I'm aiming for.


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Old 12-18-2010, 07:15 AM
 
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I also think lilyka 'sapproach would be best.  I'd bring it up when you are alone, before the gathering though. 


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Old 12-20-2010, 07:58 AM
 
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I also like lilyka's approach, but I would leave off the offer to discuss religion at a later date because it just begs for her to continue violating your boundaries. 

 

I would just ask her to keep the focus on your dad and enjoying each other's company, given the circumstances.  And I would have the conversation before the holiday gatherings begin.

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Old 12-21-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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I think lilyka said it best, and I definitely agree that it should be discussed prior to the visit. My mother is very devout in her beliefs as a christian, and unfortunately I have had to leave more than one family gathering when she started in and refused to knock it off. After I've left early a couple of times, she finally realized that I was not kidding around and she had two choices, hold her tongue and spend time with her grandsons, or not see them at all. She's finally learned to keep her comments to her self. winky.gif


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Old 12-23-2010, 09:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wytchywoman View Post

I think lilyka said it best, and I definitely agree that it should be discussed prior to the visit. My mother is very devout in her beliefs as a christian, and unfortunately I have had to leave more than one family gathering when she started in and refused to knock it off. After I've left early a couple of times, she finally realized that I was not kidding around and she had two choices, hold her tongue and spend time with her grandsons, or not see them at all. She's finally learned to keep her comments to her self. winky.gif


Yep, I had to do something similar. Only my dh and I get to influence our kids that way.

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Old 12-23-2010, 11:58 PM
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I don't understand catholicism, but I am Christian. I would tell them that the most effective way to bring about change in your family would be to pray about it, and at all costs make all efforts to live at peace with you, not saying anything that would cause emotions (like anger, hurt, etc) to rise up within you and thus keep you from hearing what God is trying to communicate to you about Him.  

 

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Old 01-07-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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I'm not in your exact position but my dad's side is mostly Lutheran.  My grandfather takes it especially seriously.  I'm not entirely sure what i am at this point.  (I've recently taken a liking to Zen Buddhism.)  I'm not a Christian though, I've realized.  So there is no way I'm getting baptized or anything like that no matter how many times it's brought up.  Sorry Grandpa!


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