Hey, I don't want to add yet another family rant to the board, but I'm kind of stuck on this and I want some sympathy.
I'm in a situation where I don't want to offend anyone, but it looks like I might have to. To help illustrate where I'm coming from, I have to tell you that I was raised evangelical Episcopalian, and that I don't really identify with the church anymore. My stepfather is clergy and he doesn't understand my fruity / vegan ways. When I've gone to the church in the past, my kids were always given junk treats and "snacks" with only sometimes veggie alternatives. I want to give my kids some kind of spirituality, but it's tough because I totally disagree with the church. I just don't want to hurt my mother's feelings.
I guess my question is, how do I handle this? I'm past the point of wanting to bring snacks to the church, because I just can't follow church doctrine (transubstantiation - turning wine into blood, has proven very difficult to "explain" to intelligent children), as basically, I now think it's just a bunch of spiritual woo-woo. So what to do with my mother and her pastor husband now that I've decided that church is not for me and my little ones? Why do I feel as though they are praying for my eternal salvation and a return to meat-eating? Is it possible to wake someone who feels a compassionate deity would want them to eat another living being?
Has anyone else experienced a situation like this, where they want to be kind to family members who don't grasp the benefits of a healthy vegan lifestyle? I feel trapped.
I had a somewhat similar situation with my mother, just she isn't as religious, and I gave her the China Study to read, and she understood after. The problem is that if you try that with your mother, she might just dismiss it as scientific work of the devil or something similar to that remark. I personally was actually REALLY religious for a while, but after eating like this and seeing people like Harley who are really compassionate and just so chill and want to actually help humanity I had to rethink a lot and now I'm an atheist.
Honestly, you could kind of try to get them to understand by going with the argument that in the garden of eden all they ate were fruits and vegetables since it was a perfect world and there was no death, but I find that in general, religious folk (as I use to be) have their opinions locked in place as if their life depended on it. If you can't get them to support you and your family then it'd be best to just cut your ties with them as much as possible.
Your family helped raise you, but your parents initially chose to have you as a child. If they were going to have a child, they should know that one day the child will grow up and will have the ability to make their own choices. If they want to change you after you have grown up, it just shows that they do not trust you to make your own choices and that they didn't form a proper relationship with you as you were growing up (imo at least). Therefore I believe you really shouldn't feel trapped as you have no reason to be obligated to people that you didn't choose nor that want to let you choose.
People are always going to be offended no matter what you do, so it's best to have people hate you for doing good things than like you for doing nothing.
You know that's sort of how I feel, and I guess you could classify me as a humanist but not an atheist.
As far as the whole "Garden of Eden" approach is concerned, it really has nothing to do with theology: I think what it comes down to is control. With respect to mum, I guess she sees that I'm doing the right thing, but she can't do what I do because of her relationship with her husband. Funny and strange that they can consider alcohol abuse to have co-dependance but they cannot diagnose the same behavior with respect to food. So sometimes I do feel like a kind of "red-headed step child."
I don't feel obligated to do anything to help them out (they are in their mid 60s and of course in poor health), but I want to "do the right thing" if possible. I'm totally uncertain how to help someone in such a personal dynamic.
Ask them to read 'The China Study' or 'The 80/10/10 Diet' my own mother, who is ninety, was initially sceptical of my new diet until she understood the reasoning behind it.
My mother and brother pray from me all the time. We all have some form of praying even if it's just, "I wish my father's colon had more vegetables in it." So I let them do it, but I honestly say that I won't go to church with my family. They don't really like that, so I take the hour while they're at church to work on my own spiritual stuff. They seem to understand that.
Once we got over the initial friction, they've just realized that I'm happy and I have strong beliefs in something. I don't have children so can't understand that situation. But it has taken time and I honestly believe that my father trusts me more for standing up for myself. In a conversation not that long ago my father told me, "I know you'll do what's right for you. You always have."
WHAT?! My father has never ever been so affirming like that to me in my life. It took years of standing up for myself for him to see my strength.
There are many families that hold hostility for years, but when you are soft, gentle, and loving they can't remain a cold stone forever.
It sounds like you love and respect your mother. Just remember you have to love yourself before you can fully love others.
To your point, and thank you, I love my father as well. The problem that I've faced is that he doesn't really care for himself. So really it is like watching someone die a slow death, and to teach my son that life can be so much better is a challenge.
Addiction can be a strange and overwhelming thing. I'm beginning to wonder if someone can be addicted to church?
I take my children to the church house sometimes to compost, garden, etc. but there is great misunderstanding when it comes to my responsibilities. I don't want to be the person to carry elderly people who have no desire to live. Frankly, I resent the idea that it *should* be my responsibility. Not exactly sure what to say / do.
Hahaha, I've considered that. :-D
Actually my family has been much more understanding about my fruity lifestyle than my shunning our church life. I grew up in a Catholic family, church weekly, and at time daily during 7 years of Catholic School. Once I was 18 I was completely done with organized religion. I know it still bothers my parents and mother in law (hubby was also Catholic) but I see them all the time and I think they feel I am a 'moral' person, but still I think hoping I'll return to church.
We have 3 kids now and it was pretty tricky with no baptisms, etc. I have taught my kids lots ABOUT religion, (all of them) and they know far more about it than I did at their age. They recently went to their first mass, a family funeral, and boy did THEY have questions. But basically what's important in religion and without religion is love, and having love for yourself and for others.
I think for now if I were you I would tell your family you are taking time off from church to really think about religion, what it means to you and how it fits into your life. Let them know you understand how important it is to them. Tell them you still pray if you want to, just in your own way.
You could also tell them you are glad for the way they brought you up and you will do your best to instill all the values they taught them. As for the vegan lifestlye, emphasize the health benefits, how great you've been feeling lately, all the energy, say you would feel negligant if you didn't teach your children this lifestyle.
Just ideas, hope something here helps.
Thanks Mary TG,
I know exactly where you're coming from. The funny thing is that I've been vegan for almost 10 years now and the attempt at coercion is still ongoing!
When I was just 15, we had a really awesome Sunday school teacher who showed us that there is hidden meaning beyond the text, and that it's okay to disagree with your parents. How odd it is that her being vegan was the reason most of the parents found her objectionable. Said teacher is now a magisterial judge who continues to poke Democratic principles all through the cloth.
My kids are all three baptized, mostly because I didn't really know how to figure out my parents. I guess there really is nothing to "figure out" because there is no reason behind addiction.
I honestly believe that for many people, that much change just isn't doable in their current life. It's too much I think. And every personality and set of circumstances is different.
:-) thank you
To love others, you must love yourself first.
If your mother and father feel hurt or don't like your decision and think you are a bad person because of it, they are conditionally loving you.
Those who conditionally love only love themselves; If you do what they would do they love you, but that's not you, that is themselves that they love.
Sometimes, to truly help others is to hurt them. You are not responsible for the way other people feel, they completely decide that for themselves, don't take that responsibility.
With that said, just give them the respect for making their own decisions. That very same respect you are asking in return.
It'll all be okay. :]