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My mom is a devout Christian, and she holds tightly to her beliefs since that is what kept her hopes up when she suffered a kidney disease. Since I was a child she has always tried to get me more involved in the faith by taking me to religious events and getting me involved into a youth group. However, I have had bad experiences with both. The former case always involved going to prayer events early in the morning or all day/all weekend while I wanted to hang out with my own friends or sleep in and watch anime/do programming. In the latter case I always felt left out of the group since the kids all grew up together while I only joined in high school and they constantly talked about memories they had before I joined (them claiming that the group was "closer" in the old days didn't help either). The former case happened when I was 11-16, while the latter happened around 16-18.

Fast forward to college years, and I've moved out on my own (and am still living away from her even after college). Despite her telling me I should call her more often I don't want to talk to her because she references God/Jesus/Christianity in everything she says to me, saying things like

  • "I'll pray for you"
  • "Having sex is against the Lord"
  • "Just keep praying and God will give you what is best for you"
  • "God has a reason for [insert bad event here] happening"
  • "Did you go to church?"

I would like to be closer to my mother, but at the same time I don't want to hear about religion every time we speak. We have had meaningful conversations before in the past, but whenever she says something religious it makes it less meaningful due to the experiences I've had.

How can my mother and I have meaningful conversations without too much mention of religion?

  • My full response was (properly) deleted. Religion is not just a quaint way to meet the neighbors, ans many in our secularized world would have us believe. It may not be possible to do what you want because, to a person of faith (any religion), their faith is the center of their life. When forced to make a choice, God must always win. If she stops making these comments, it will mean that she has given up on you and is already in mourning. – pojo-guy Jan 22 '18 at 5:50
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I wonder, does your mom have other things to talk about? Clearly she used to. Have things changed? If they have, you can find things to do and talk about together. A book you're both reading, etc.

You can't control how your mother speaks, how she thinks, what she believes, etc. You can only control your own actions. But you can talk to her about it, and you can set boundaries if something is hurtful to you.

That's what boundaries are for, to protect you against people who, through a lack of respect/empathy/kindness/other hurt us. Being a Christian shouldn't blind people to the hurt others have suffered at the hands of Christians any more than being a doctor blinds them to the harmful side effects of medication or bad doctors.

Maybe the first thing you need to decide is if your mother is disrespecting you (which includes treating you like a child who can't make up their own mind) or if she genuinely loves you and is expressing her concern for you in religious terms. Read a lot about setting healthy boundaries. Then shape your conversations with her (partly) around that.

If you're sure she loves you and respects you, you have little to lose by being completely honest with her. If you're an atheist or an agnostic or a Buddhist, whatever, tell her about it. Ask her if she can respect that you've made up your mind about it yourself and that you and she are not on the same wavelength. Also tell her how Christian lingo brings up painful, not pleasant, memories for you, how much more you would enjoy your conversations with her and might call her a lot more if they didn't bring you pain.

Listen to what she has to say in reply and adjust your expectations accordingly (or not.) Then repeat about 20 times in different contexts, because most people don't understand healthy boundaries.

As the boundary setter, you get to decide when you do and don't want to continue in conversation with her.

Call her at set times. As soon as she starts talking about sex, sin, church, or turns your sorrows into sayings, say something to the effect of,

Mom, we've talked about this. I feel ---- when you speak to me that way, and I don't want to feel ---- by you. I would feel better talking to you if (simple statement.)

Then tell her you'll be going now and that you'll call her (next set time). Then hang up politely.

She gets positive feedback when she respects you. She gets (respectful) negative feedback when she doesn't. Her beliefs do not give her a right to treat you like a child or to hurt your feelings. You can wish it were different, but if it's not, and my belief is that it's better to deal with reality. You can call her once a month, you can text her every few days, you can see her on holidays. You decide.

It's hard to face that a parent doesn't love you the way you want or need to be loved. Surround yourself with people who get you. That will help.

  • "Maybe the first thing you need to decide is if your mother is disrespecting you (which includes treating you like a child who can't make up their own mind)" What if this is the case? I've told her in the past that I don't believe in the religion as strongly as she does, but she acknowledges it as me not trying hard enough. – merinn Jul 17 '15 at 13:37
  • You know your mom. If she doesn't respect you, then go right to the boundaries setting. I was hoping she never took you seriously because you never had a big sit down. Confrontation is uncomfortable, but inevitable. (I would tell her she's welcome to pray for me any way she sees fit, and you'll be happy for her prayers. She's just not to do it out loud in front of you, and it's not a topic for discussion.) – anongoodnurse Jul 17 '15 at 17:55
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    @merinn You probably need to be more direct. Telling her you don't believe in religion as strongly is completely different than specifically telling her that you don't wan't her to speak to you that way, as anon suggests. – user11394 Jul 17 '15 at 18:31

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