Growing up, you probably spent many unwanted hours in your parent's local church, synagogue, mosque or the like. You would have much rather spent your days playing outside, but your parents wanted to raise you right. They wanted you to be involved in their faith, so that you could have many of the same morals and values as them.
As you got older, you started to develop opinions on your own. You questioned the faith you were raised in, and didn’t know if it truly connected with you deep down. Maybe you focused on science more and doubted there was a God at all, or maybe you found the idea of karma in Buddhism much more compelling that your Jewish roots. Whatever it was, you realized you wanted to start your own faith journey. It was time to explore what else was out there.
Like many, your views on just about everything – including things like politics, the economy and health care - probably don't match up perfectly with your parents' and that's anything but easy. When it comes to having different opinions on religion, however, it really can rock the boat. It can make arguing about politics look like a walk in the park.
What Your Parents Think
Your parents thought they were doing their best by raising you in a specific religion, one that they hold so close and dear to their hearts. So you can only imagine how broken up they might feel when they find out one of their children doesn’t agree. For example, they may believe there is only one way to salvation, so it can be scary to think their children might no longer be able to join them in the afterlife. No Christian parent wants to think they will never see their child again because they were not saved by Christ.
For some parents with deeply held traditional beliefs, emotions run especially strong when their child wants to leave the faith. They may criticize or even reject their children as punishment for not remaining in the fold. These are extreme cases, but can be devastating on the family. A closed-minded approach would only push a child further way. If you have experienced this with your family, it can make you feel unwanted.
What most parents forget to realize, is that criticizing their child for their beliefs (or absence of beliefs) will not make them accept what the parents believe. In fact, given the importance that this generation places on making their own decisions, trying to force them to believe anything is more likely to make them dig in their heels and become even more resistant.
How to Cope
While it can be an incredibly difficult process on your parents, it can be an even harder one on you. You aren’t alone. Most emerging adults feel that it would be wrong for them simply to accept what their parents and others have taught them about religious issues. People want to be more involved in religion, and by doing so they are questioning what is right for them.
Regardless, having to explore a whole new world without the religion you grew up with can be confusing and scary. That journey, though, will leave you feeling happy and satisfied in the end. You will come to find your own spiritual path. This is something that you deserve that your parents cannot take away from you.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a healthy relationship with your parents even if you don't share their religious beliefs. Learning how to get along with your parents when you disagree with their ideologies can be really challenging, but if you want to continue to have a meaningful, adult relationship with them, it is also necessary.
It is possible to talk to your parents about your beliefs without those conversations turning into fights. First, you must be honest with them and be willing to listen. Make sure they understand that you aren't trying to change their minds or convert them, but you ask they respect your choices as well. There might need to be some certain topics you want to avoid for a while, but over time you can start having more rigorous discussion. It starts with you having an open mind as well.
Though you might have been raised in one faith, that doesn't mean you have to stay with that faith for the rest of your life. What you choose to believe is a very personal choice. While your parents had the best intentions, their beliefs might not be right for you. At the end of the day, that's perfectly fine.