Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dealing with Family and Differing Religious Viewpoints?

I'll start with a brief background of myself - I grew up in Texas in a quite strict Christian household (specifically Church of Christ). My parents are missionaries by trade (they do most of their work in India, my dad makes 2 trips a year and has since the 70s) and have been utterly and completely devoted to their religion their entire lives. They very much forced this on me and from a very young age I questioned that. I went through the motions of going to church because they insisted upon it and that was quite difficult.

We mostly have avoided the topic of my feelings and beliefs but they are generally aware that I do not believe as they do. I do not like to discuss religion with them as they get very upset; not so much angry but hurt and "disappointed" that I choose not to follow the same path as them. I love them dearly and we get along incredibly well otherwise.

So, to my question. I have recently started down some kind of path (still figuring that out). I currently live in Canada and my parents still live in Texas. They are coming up for a visit soon. I have various things in my home and office that could potentially bring up questions about religion. I have some pictures of Ganesh and a small altar in my office, along with a Wheel of the Year print out. The last time they came to visit, I took them down and put them in my desk so as not to start a debate.

I do not enjoy discussing these types of things with them, if for no other reason than I don't want to upset them. At the same time, it was quite painful for me to have to "hide" those things from them. When they visit this time, I would like to leave my things around and try to deal with questions they might have. I will probably chicken out and put them away.

How do I deal with their questions, disappointment and refusal to hear my side of things?
Invariably, they will ask me to go to church with them while they are here and I will refuse. In the past they have been very hurt by this and said things like, "We want you to do what you know is right."

Do they really not realize that I am doing what I know is right for me?

I sometimes feel as if I am too old to put up with their intolerance, as I am very much an adult, but they still think of me as a child in this regard.

Anyone dealt with this kind of thing in the past?

I would appreciate any insight at all.

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