Atheist parents grieve adult daughter’s commitment to ‘extreme religious life’
Dear Amy: My husband and I raised two great kids. Our son is now 30, and our daughter is 28. Both of them finished college with high honors and with business degrees. They both got nice jobs in their professions.
We are atheists, but at 18 our daughter started dating a pastor’s son. His family and church started grooming her with their beliefs, so she would fit nicely into their family belief system and eventually marry.
After going off to college, that relationship ended, and she got serious with another pastor’s son. Again this fellow and his family groomed her to believe, get baptized and go on mission trips to South American countries with the intent of her marrying into their family. Well, he dumped her. She quit her job, moved out west and joined an evangelical Christian group.
She pays them to live on their campus while they teach her about the Bible and Jesus. She raises funds for them by asking others for money to support her.
She has been leading this extreme religious life for three years now with no intention to quit and get a paying job. She has rejected our traditional life and seldom visits.
Her professional clothes hang in our closets, and her stuff is in the basement. Her medical care is paid for by the state since she lives under the poverty level.
We are very sad about her decisions. We worry for her safety and her future.
We grieve the loss of our beautiful daughter. We miss the way our family used to be. Now we have nothing in common with her. Any suggestions on how to cope?
Atheist Mom and Dad
Atheist Mom and Dad: Some religious groups operate as more or less closed systems, and their adherents turn away from their previous lives to operate within the system. I can understand why this is such a loss for you.
You should keep the door open to a relationship with your daughter, regardless of where she is or what she believes. You are going to need to continue to grieve this loss while accepting her choice and her freedom to make it. Continue to emotionally support her while not supporting the group or cause.
Visit her. Don’t pressure her or force an ultimatum. Don’t dwell on the life and belief system she has rejected. Focus on your own acceptance, and make sure she knows you are always in her corner, no matter what.
Research the group she is in, and see if you can connect with ex-members or family members of current members. Communicating with other parents will help.
Dear Amy: “Sad Mom” reported snooping in her son’s basement and discovering that he was growing weed. I can’t believe that you admonished her for snooping! Of course she should confront her son about this! You’re Wrong
You’re Wrong: Because the mother didn’t include details about the scale of this operation, my response was nuanced, trying to account for a variety of possibilities. But, yes, when someone cops to “snooping,” my first reaction is that she shouldn’t be snooping. Amy’s column appears seven days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, Tex. 75001. You can also follow her @askingamy.