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Talking to my parents

(7 Posts)
LeftInTheDust Fri 17-May-19 01:11:54


So I’ve come on here because I need advice. I’m not a parent, but my issue is my parents and I would like some advice on how to deal with my parents as I’m at a loss (as is the people on TSR and basically everyone else I’ve asked....)

So I am a twenty-year-old 2nd year university student, having moved away for university my problem is okay for the most part of the year.

My parents are very religious, the mass every week sort of parents. I got sent to a catholic primary and secondary school and when I was in school I accepted this, I lived under my parents roof and I would accept their beliefs. However, this has changed. For various reasons, I’m not a catholic anymore and I don’t want to go to mass. And I need advice on how to express my wishes to my parents.

I’ve tried talking to both my parents about this and it always ends in tears, their tears not mine, but I do feel like it’s all for show... I get the whole “we raised you right” and “how can you do this to us.” I’ve given up trying to explain to them why I’m not a catholic. I thought I was very respectful about why I don’t identify with the religion anymore. I could have said that I thought it was a f-ing joke and list all of the reasons to why I thought it was stupid. Instead, I tried to explain to them why I don’t want to go. I tried not to cause offence, when I was 18, and came back for uni for the first time in reading week, I made a joke comparing me being forced to church and prostitution, it was not my finest moment.... Since then, I do believe I’ve grown up and I want to have an adult discussion.

In response to me trying to talk like adults about it, I get the whole “you’re doing this to spite me”, “we are you parents so you do as I say” and that “it’s a mortal sin if you don’t go and we don’t want to go to hell.” I respect their beliefs, keeping my views and sarcastic comments to myself. They never giving me the chance to explain how I feel. Despite what they think, it really isn’t personal.

I also don’t point out that my mum wasn’t raise in a religion and she didn’t become catholic until I was six and my dad stopped going to mass when he was 14 until he was nearly 30 and was getting married to my mum. When my Nan (my mums mum) used to stay they used to drag her (as sixty something year old woman) to mass with ya and when we stayed we would have to be up early so they could collect us to go to mass.

Whilst I don’t believe in going to mass, I am more than willing to compromise. I want to go home to see my friends who I don’t see during the terms and our uni house lease ends in June so I have to go back home. I am more than happy to suggest me going to mass every two weeks. I would go without protest and I’d sit there and (at least try) to look interested, not going on my smart watch during mass etc, and joining in with the relevant prayers. I would get up at stupid o’clock without a fuss and be ready on time, I wouldn’t have to have them come into my room and switch on the light and off (a point I’ve made to my mum and dad about how, as a photosensitive epileptic, it could make me have a fit.) I got told to grow up because, apparently, them not letting me do certain things, after taking my medication, is a lot less dangerous than flicking my light in my bedroom pre-medication when it’s time for church...

In return, I don’t want them making any comments, e.g. them asking me to come to mass, nor telling me about mass or (and this is my favourite) putting Derry Girls on TV (currently mine and my mums favourite show) and making snide remarks about mass and me losing my religion whilst I’m trying to watch TV, it’s not needed, it’s annoying and it’s petty. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m asking too much, I wouldn’t make any comments about what they believe and I kinda want them to get off my back because I don’t go home anymore really because of the church stuff. I know the easy answer is just to suck it up, but I’m an adult and I shouldn’t have too. I don’t force them todo things they don’t agree with, I don’t force my views on them and I have to listen to them spout their views to me and to why I’m wrong about things like abortion and gay marriage. I feel like I’m just asking to be treated with a little respect....

I really wish I was joking about this post, but I’m seriously at a loss as to how to tackle my parents so they listen to me, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙏🏻

OP’s posts: |
almostn9ne Fri 17-May-19 01:43:31

Hello lovely. Gosh, there is so much in what you describe that it's hard to know where to start.

From the way you have described your parents, they sound unreasonable at best and controlling at worst. Or maybe abusive at worst, given the fucking annoying (and more importantly, physically damaging for you with your epilepsy) light switch example you gave.

Can you stay with friends when you go home in June while you sort your head out about your relationship with your parents. Sounds like you have done a LOT of growing up but it doesn't sound like they have, unfortunately.

You are an adult. You don't need to explain to them why you don't share their religious beliefs but it shows you care about them in the fact that you have tried to explain your reasons to them. Like any relationship, it takes all people in the relationship to make it work. It sounds like the efforts you're putting in are not being reciprocated.

You sound like a lovely daughter. You might need to give the relationship a bit of distance for a bit while you get your head around what's going on - what the family dynamics are etc.

I hope you get some good advice on here. XXX

LeftInTheDust Fri 17-May-19 12:34:12


I do love my parents and they believe they are good people, I think for them it’s more embarrassment within the community. I get this, but it’s not really my fault. I love them and they do give me money and stuff when I’m at uni, which they have threatened to cut off before. And I love seeing my younger sister.

I always get told that it’s because I’m kicking out at them and it’s because I am rebelling. I disagree with them, they know I drink and go out at uni which I know they disapprove of (the whole flashing lights stuff combined with the alcohol...). I think that they think that I’ve become some sort of selfish monster, which I totally disagree with. I’d say I’m a semi-decent person who does care about other, I volunteer at a homeless shelter and I’m a guide leader, I just don’t want to go to church, and I want to be treated with respect!

The whole friends thing is a bit more difficult, I do have friends but they are all somewhat religious which kind of defeats the point. The only other option is my Nan, who is very anti-religion but she adheres to my parents wishes and makes my sister go to the local church on her own. I guess I don’t really want to involve her because she is 80.... I don’t know I guess I’m just looking for advice on how to get them to listen, but thank you 🙏🏻

OP’s posts: |
almostn9ne Fri 17-May-19 14:16:54

I hope someone else comes along to help you since it's just you and I at the moment.

But just to respond to your question about advice on getting them to listen: I think you sound like you're doing what you can. I have looked online and the advice out there that I can find is for children who want to talk to their parents and I think the key thing here is that you're an adult. The fact that you're at University and still financially dependant on them means that you're in new territory for yourself here where you're slowly cutting ties - you haven't become a fully fledged adult yet in your parents eyes (and possibly in your own) and yet you're not a child anymore, bound by their rules and regulations.

My children are still young so I don't have experience of parenting adult children, but I am one (an adult child - that is, I'm an adult and my parents are still alive). I think right now they should be doing everything they can to help you to fledge - to be yourself in the world, to be independent of them. And if I'm right then it sounds from your account like they are not helping you to do this and conversely are in fact pulling you back to their nest - their ideology, their rules, their way.

It sounds as though you're mostly doing the right things - all the things you would do if you met me (another adult, like you and your parents are) and stayed in my house. That is, you are being polite, you are going along with some of their ways since you want to respect their choices, you are speaking to them calmly and rationally about why you don't share their views but are not totally dismissive of them. All great. But perhaps you are going too far in 'going along with things' and this lulls them into thinking they can still control you, and because you're not far away from the child you once were, their control lulls you into accepting that their control is acceptable. Which of course it isn't in an adult to adult relationship.

I think it sounds as though, if anything, you could dial back your involvement in the way they see life and how it should be lived. Keep standing your ground (without conflict - "this is my way and that is your way, both are OK with me") rather than going along with attending mass etc just because it's what they do.

Another tip is - maybe rather than focussing on your relationship with them, you could concentrate on doing more of building your sense of who you are in the world. What your beliefs are, likes/dislikes/choices etc. What drives you, what fires your imagination, where you'd like to be in 3 year's time, where you might live, what hobbies you might like to take up etc etc. That stronger sense of self will all help you in your relationship with them, and will also set you up for life.

So - focus not just on your relationship with them but on your relationship with yourself.

And maybe less of the 🙏🏻 messages since I'm pretty sure you said you're not religious....? Anyway, if you are that's all good. smile

InsulatedCup Thu 23-May-19 07:23:58

Sounds like your parents are struggling with you not being their ideal version of their child. I have to say the problem is all their's. It is pretty awful that they are implying that financial support is dependent on you playing the role they want, that is never going to work. I'd try and be polite but firm on not going to mass, hold your head high, be yourself, enjoy your time with your sister (and maybe get a summer job which involves working on a Sunday!).

April45 Fri 31-May-19 06:59:52

When you go to church there's different ways of connecting with what's being said. If your happy to go during your holidays why don't you do so and start gentle conversations with them about how you don't connect into Catholicism in the same way they do. Then start to reduce you go.

It's clearly been very important to them that you have the faith as part of your upbringing so I think you need to be respectful of that when you talk about not feeling the same.

I would fear a big statement of I'm not Catholic would result in lots of arguments and upset. Given this doesn't have a big bearing on your life gently talking about it will end in you and your parents having time to think and accept it

stucknoue Fri 31-May-19 07:08:47

I think having a frank conversation about boundaries is worth trying - I'm the parent of kids at university and we know they change! Religion is a tricky one because it's so black and white to them (oddly in the Church of England even our vicar doesn't go when he's on holidays, more laid back) but need ground rules certainly no coming into your room, no snide comments and to give you space, meanwhile going sometimes will show them respect

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