How do I tell my Baptist parents I've converted to Catholicism?

My wife and I just went through the RCIA and were recently confirmed (very exciting!). Everyone was there to witness it and it was a very joyful occasion – except for my parents. A few years ago, we had mentioned to my very Southern Baptist parents that we had attended a few Masses. This deeply upset them and caused a lot of trouble not only with my parents but my older brother who is a Southern Baptist minister. My dad cried when he found out and called me telling me the Catholic Church was evil and that they worshipped Mary, and all the other standard misconceptions he knew.

Now that we are more prepared to handle their criticism, how do we go about telling them that we are confirmed in the Church and have baptized my infant daughter and 2-year-old son? A priest told me I don’t have to tell them unless they ask. Is this true? Part of me feels that this is none of their business, and the other part knows that they’ll tell everyone at their church how upset they are about it and we’ll get put on their “prayer list.” How do I go about this without beating the Catholic beliefs into them?

Your priest is correct that you are not required to tell your parents anything unless you are directly asked. When the news of conversion can cause great trauma for loved ones, sometimes converts choose not to make their conversions known. This would be a particularly viable option if there is little chance that your parents would find out unless you specifically told them.

That said, unless there is substantial and serious reason why your parents would be unable to handle news of your conversion (e.g., frail health), personally I find the idea of hiding your conversion from them to be distasteful. They are your parents and, as such, presumably love you and want what’s best for you. If they want to tell all their friends you’ve become Catholic and put you on prayer lists, why should that bother you? (Should God answer their prayers for your spiritual well-being, you will only become that much stronger in your Catholic faith.) If you end up getting “love bombed” (i.e., sent all sorts of communications telling you how much these people love you and worry that you’re going to hell because you’re Catholic), then you can take the steps necessary to avoid, ignore, or respond to such messages (depending on the merits of the individual appeal).

But that shouldn’t keep you from sharing with your parents and the rest of your family an important event in your life. If at all possible, tell them now and worry about their response later.

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