Judgement, pride, and control.


#1

I didn’t know where to post this, so I hope this section works.

As you have already noticed (username), I (age 21) am agnostic (undeclared). I do not plan on regularly posting on this forum, well, because I’m not Catholic. But I feel I must discuss some issues that seems to eat at my insides. Who better to talk to than those who follow a strong faith?

Ok, so here it goes…

My girlfriend (age 20) comes from a “devout” Catholic family, but she is not Catholic, on the contrary, she is closer to an atheist. We both go to college together and are currently sharing a place with other roommates. We are in an honest, open, supportive, loving relationship of 17 months. We are in no rush to marry, let alone have kids for quite some time in the future, when we are better off financially (aka not a student), but certainly have aspirations.

I pay for my own way through college (loans, loans, and more loans), however, her parents pay her way (tuition and living costs, all covered). This is where things get more complicated (IMO, it doesn’t have to be). Her parents are an older group of conservative Roman Catholics with heavy opinions (followed by her oldest sister whom has a family of her own). My girlfriend has recently tried to open up a bit to her parents because she has always felt like a failure and fears their judgment. Me and her decided to approach her parents with the idea of renting an apartment together, just me and her. At first, she tried the idea of renting an apartment for herself, alone, listing very reasonable, logical reasons to do so (cost, location to campus, etc). Her parents were worried about her “security”, and I happened to be looking for a place, so we decided to address this “security” issue of living alone and bring up the idea. As soon as this happened, her mother wrote back in an email saying that they would disown her if any cohabitation took place as well as take away her funds for a higher education (apparently security wasn’t the issue after all and the GF knew it). Mother flipped out. After a few exchanges of emails and “this-is-who-I-am” information (her mother claims that her daughter does not tell her things that are important to them, and fear of this kind of response has a lot to do with it) it was useless to try and reason with her mother. So after all was said and done, she said she would continue financing her daughter’s education only as long as no cohabitation of any kind takes place (it was a hurdle just to allow roommates of the male gender). At least the father was willing to look at the situation reasonably as he broke apart our emails and commented on them thoughtfully, which I certainly appreciated, however there was fear that I was somehow playing a manipulator role (absolutely not, I encourage my girlfriend to make her own decisions - I am by no means that kind of person).

In the last email I received from her mother, she told me it wasn’t personal and that it doesn’t matter who it is, the answer would be no. Cohabitation is an “ill of society”. You’re probably asking yourself a question right now, and I will answer it: Yes, I have acquainted myself with my girlfriend’s parents on brief occasions, chatted with them, been to their place, and at the end of the year last year, they were even introduced to my mother. They do not know much about me, that is true, and throughout our recent communications, I have offered information about me (history, belief, etc) and my intent (that I’ll be around for a while :slight_smile: ). I have also proposed to meet with them and discuss myself and our relationship more, and on a deeper level, which I hope will occur sometime in the near future. At this point in time, however, her parents wish to speak to their daughter alone and in person soon.

To paint a better picture of my girlfriend’s issues with her parents, besides the obvious issue of her parents not being straight with her (apparently my girlfriend was never given the birds and bees talk, for one :eek: ), here is an example: My girlfriend was waiting for some information after applying for a credit card. Her mother found this information, as it was addressed to their house, and threatened her daughter not to get a credit card or no more college - as she was “cutting up the card into many pieces”. This was a blow to my GF because it just made her feel more miserable, like she could never do anything right. She feels like a possession to her parents, and that makes me very concerned. Under no circumstances should a child (an ADULT mind you) feel like a mere possession to their parents :(. It was a good thing my GF told her oldest sister about it, who then proceeded to talk some sense into their mother about it. Well, what do you know, she now has a credit card /cheer.


#2

*(cont.)

Is it wrong to begin to make your own decisions as a young adult? I think not. How does one progress into the real world when you are forbidden to make some important choices, either personal or financial, and learn from them? Those of you with a strong faith, perhaps a family of their own, what say you?

There is something here that eats me up inside… the feeling I get is a combination of anger, frustration, helplessness, and a failure to accept these kinds of things:

Judgement, pride, and control.

To top the story off with my GF’s family, I get the impression that they are quick to judge. I recently met with her oldest sister for the first time - maybe a few hours total - and apparently she “wasn’t impressed”. How is this a fair assessment? We had chatted through some pleasant conversations, I had met her husband and children, and so on. I did nothing out of the ordinary (me being a socially anxious person is HIGHLY aware of these things), certainly nothing to deserve such a judgment. This seems to be a common thread in the family as they have very strong opinions, including stereotypes. The times I have visited their place (parents’), I have seen things like Ann Coulter books lying around and the such, which needless to say, burns me.

Pride is another thing. How is it that people can be so sure of themselves that they’d attempt to alter others around them to fit a mold? If it were up to my GF’s mother, her sons (if she had had any) would have served in the military (with a smug certainty, she told me this). But beyond this, there is an issue I have in stuff like missionary work and the such - religious based themes . Please explain this to me, for I have run this around in my head countless times and come up only this: the drive for control. History has shown that the arrogance of few leads to the demise of many, and it frightens me that it is still considered noble to play on the emotions of others (due to lack of quality living conditions or whatever) for this intent. “I am right, and you would be wise to follow, for the day of judgment will surely come.”

Can you look me in the eyes and tell me, with absolute and unwavering certainty, that you know the way? Tell me, how is it that you do? Is it your choice; Have you spontaneously found this path or was it introduced to you (ie upbringing) and you’d thought you’d just go along with it? How many of you with rock-like faith have ever practiced, or even researched other systems of belief? It’s a shame - jumping back to GF’s father as an example this time - my GF told her father that she was taking a World Religions class and that she was enjoying it. Her father told her that it’s only important to know that there are other religions out there, not to know what they’re about. What is this? Why not? These are sincere questions I have, for I really fail to understand why we can’t live and let live… why such a black and white, us vs. them mentality (No, this is not a bash on Catholics, but more aimed at monotheistic ideology, in general - it just so happens that a few Catholics I know are very staunch in their views, hence I am here)? Do you find the religion, or does the religion find you - meaning whatever belief system best suites your personality?

I tend to analyze these kinds of things with a
’common sense" psychological perspective, so bear with me :). I can only help but think that being human beings have a common denominator - a common motivation/drive for control. The sense of control is what keeps us going. We organize all the information we have about the world into categories to best make sense of all the overwhelming senses our body processes. Is it no different with a “divine” experience? “I felt this way, so it must be the work of God (really, enter any entity here), for what else could it be?” If we feel that we have control (not necessarily have control, but the illusion that we do), that is enough to meet the goal of such a complex living organism like us: to survive. Control and existence; hand in hand. If you read a book, such as the Bible, it tells you the order of things, how they were, how they should be, and how it will come to pass. There is the feeling of security in this, is there not? It gives you a reason to exist.

The will to control others, either through direct or indirect means, is what I seem to struggle the most with. While it is true that we must exert some amount of control over others to keep some peace within society, why is it so important that souls be saved for whatever cause you promote? Isn’t it enough to discipline yourself and follow the convictions of your own beliefs? What is it that one could want?

Perhaps better seats in heaven? :confused:


#3

*(and again, cont.)

Is it all that matters that we accept ______ as our Lord and Savior/Almighty/Absolute/High Power or whatever you want to call it?

Perhaps I have answered my own question, because it is certainly difficult to live life to it’s “fullest” with so much uncertainty and contempt for those who seem to know it all. Perhaps it is easier to accept than to inquire. It would support the idea that the feeling of control is important to have in one’s life.

Perhaps… this is why you choose to believe?

Constructive comments would be appreciated, I’m already anticipating the “I pray for you” or “Have a nice swim in the Lake of Fire!” responses


#4

I don’t have much time as I’m just about to leave to teach a class, so I’ll be back to offer help later.
Have a nice swim in the Lake of Fire
Peter

Just kidding about the Lake of Fire, you’ll find most people on here are not judgemental and as Catholics we do not have the right to condemn anyone to Hell, that’s God’s place. Welcome to the forums, I hope you stick around, if you look you’ll see theres a few Agnostics, Muslims, Protestants, JWs and Mormons here aswel as the Catholics. Anyway hope I can help later


#5

I will try to address the situation as you described it with your girlfriend’s parents and the pressures you see them placing on her.

Let’s just consider a general example.

Would you feel comfortable financially supporting a person who, under all current laws would be considered an adult, and capable of supporting themselves, that were using that support to do something that you did not aggree with? Or are you of the mind that it is the responsibility of a parent to support their adult child, no questions, no pressure, no expression that they think their adult child is making any form of mistake?

You state that you currently put yourself through college based completely on student loans, and other forms of income that you yourself are responsible for. What prevents your girlfriend, if she is so sure that the decisions she is making are the right one’s from sticking to her guns and telling her parents that she will finance her own education from this point forward?

It is not quite at the same level of if she was still living in her parents’ house, but her parents still have the right to declare rules for the continued support of their child, and if the child doesn’t aggree with those rules, she is of an age where she is an adult, and can make her own decisions. She just has to be prepared to live with those decisions.


#6

Hi Agnostic,

First off, welcome to CA!

As background, I’m a lifelong Catholic who “fell away” from the Church during college for some of the same reasons you seem to be wrestling with. My mother grew up Methodist, and one of my grandmothers is agnostic to this day…she was married to my very Catholic granddad, who is now deceased.

No, it’s not wrong for young adults to make their own decisions. But if you want the financial support of your family, you do have to make concessions. There’s a saying…the borrower is slave to the lender. Them’s the shakes when you can’t yet support yourself. There’s the additional question of emotional support…is your GF’s “freedom” worth a break with her family? This isn’t a religious question, it’s just the kind of compromise you sometimes have to make when you’re part of a community.

I understand that you feel her family is judgemental but think about this: Are you being judgemental (stereotyping) against them because you see Anne Coulter books in their home? Isn’t that drawing a conclusion about a group of people instead of getting to know the individual? And is that maybe a little bit of you, yourself, being so sure of yourself that you expect others around you to fit a mold? It cuts both ways. “Openmindedness” implies open to ALL ideas…even Anne Coulter, sorry. :slight_smile:

I can look others in the eyes and tell them, with absolute and unwavering certainty, that I know the way. It’s not because I’m smarter or better, it’s because I got an undeserved gift of faith from God (at a certain point in my life…I was not always this way). Others don’t have to accept it, but I know it’s the right way to live. This isn’t to say I or other faithful people do/should go around judging others. There’s a difference between knowing the truth and looking down on others. I have no reason to look down on others…I did nothing to deserve the knowledge and faith I have now.

I don’t really see her parents as being unreasonable (“disown” seems a strong word to me but I can understand the financial side). As a daughter, I can bet that most fathers, religious reasons or not, would NOT pay to help their little girl sleep with a guy. That sort of thing sends dads into a rage! Step lightly. :o


#7

Thanks for all your responses, btw.

Would I financially support my child if I didn’t agree with that he/she was doing? Very good question. That really depends. If that money was being siphoned for a heavy drug habit, or something that destructive, it would behoove me to withhold the funds. That being said, I certainly would not disown my child over it. When is it ever the right thing to do to simply dismiss a family member? And what about the credit card example? That does not deserve a withholding of funds, because it is a step toward financial independence.

To answer the latter question, my GF is under the impression that her father will not list any income - whether on a FAFSA or what not. So, even if she wanted to - and I’m sure she does - she cannot pay her own way, atm. She does not qualify as an independent.

I absolutely agree - if only she had the opportunity to make decisions of the sort.


#8

She would say that freedom is worth paying her own way (but she can’t, read the most recent post above :slight_smile: ). However, I do not see how disowning your child is necessary. What good is that? Is it not a sin to do so?

look others in the eyes and tell them, with absolute and unwavering certainty, that I know the way. It’s not because I’m smarter or better, it’s because I got an undeserved gift of faith from God (at a certain point in my life…I was not always this way).

Please explain this, elaborate. What is this gift of faith you speak of? Did you have some sort of divine experience?

Is faith any different than an assumption? Blind belief?

That is another thing I don’t understand. Reality says both sexes will mingle among each other at some point in time. We are adults.
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#9

That’s why divorce is such a brisk business. Funny, I never found adultery to be adult behavior.

I’ve just skimmed through the posts, and from what I see, I can say this:

Your GF obviously has problems with her parents. She should sort through those first before she starts major relationships.

Mind you, I only know what you have posted from your angle, but I can say perhaps the problems are on the parents end too.

They are however, under no obligation, if she is of age to make “adult” decisions to give her a dime. None. No moral obligation, no legal obligation.

I personally find the power of the purse strings a poor means of persuasion. And if she is of age, their power to make decisios for her is over. I hope they made good use of the time raising her. They can’t make her believe as they do, but they don’t have to subsudize the contrary. But it’s their call.

All I can say is if you want to get in the middle of all this, you have to do so with open eyes. And not complain later.

As we say, there are no fans in hell.

Good luck.
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#10

The point is, if you’re both adults, don’t ask her mom and dad to pay for something they don’t believe in. That’s not an adult thing to do. She can continue to accept their support and respect their views, or frankly, grow some cahones and take financial responsibility for herself. She has total choice in this situation.

Faith is hard to explain. It’s not blind…the Catholic faith is actually very reasonable and logical but I’m honestly not an apologist so I try leave those discussions for folks who are into that sort of thing. There are lots of books out there, too.

Yes, I’ve had several “divine experiences” I suppose, but I don’t usually share them with people outside my close circle, if at all. The best I can explain “gift of faith” to you is that I grew up in the Catholic church and had all the religious education, knew the stuff, etc. I went off to college and got lazy about Mass attendence, sowed my wild oats. I married and divorced. And during this awful time in my life (the divorce) I suddenly had faith in God. I knew God was protecting me and bolstering me during the hard parts. It wasn’t anything new I learned or did, it just happened to me. It’s totally different than the faith I thought I had during my childhood. And this all may sound very fluffly but I’m really a very practical and logical gal with a degree in computer science. Trying to explain it is a little like describing Mozart to a deaf person. Those are the best words I can find.


#11

She cannot pay her own way in the current situation. To be eligible for loans, she would need a parent’s income listed. She is a dependent, according to the government.


#12

Why can’t she get a job? My ex paid his way through college with jobs and he was a “dependent” on his parents’ tax return. Dependent doesn’t mean you can’t work.


#13

She can work and she does. A year costs ~ 16 grand (tuition, living expenses, books etc) at Oregon State University - which pales in comparison to other notable universities, really. If she chose to work through this, she would be choosing a delay in education. Community college would be a better way to go, but that’s the sacrifice she’d have to make, I suppose. It is her decision in the end.

It is a shame, though, that she could continue her education uninterrupted if only a parent would list and income on the FAFSA. How likely that is to happen… is a big question mark. They’d be indirectly supporting of her activities if they did that.


#14

the world is black and white. there are absolute truths. relativism is a feel good thing.
you want to feel good with your GF, but her parents don’t feel good with that. there is a right and a wrong here, there is a moral code of conduct that you should live by. so who is right? you say you’re in this relationship for the long haul, but financially you’re only in it for the good time right now. do you respect your GF? if so, then treat her with respect. she shouldn’t be just a good time for you.

you’ve been given some good comments already. please consider them.

unfortunately, catholic teaching is very lax. and while your GF’s parents are devout catholics, they didn’t share their faith and morals with their daughter very well. and now that she is out in the world they are finding that out. if they don’t like the way she is living her life, they have every right to cut her off financially. and believe me, it will hurt them just as much as it will hurt her.

also, it’s not about control, it’s about love. if you love someone you want to do what’s best for them. you want them to have a good life, but you have to be careful not to fall back into that relativism mindset here. good is pure. are you being pure with your GF???

we’ll all be praying that you and your GF find God, he’s waiting for you to look for him. peace. :slight_smile:


#15

I think what you misunderstand is to a Catholic parent a child living in mortal sin is that destructive. As a Catholic if you die in state if mortal sin you go to hell for all eternity. You may not believe that but her parents do.

When I graduated highschool I decided to marry my highschool sweetheart at the age of 18 outside the church. I knew my parents would not approve. I did not expect my parents to pay for the wedding. We paid for it on our own. (We have since been married in the church after returning to the faith.)

If your fiance’ wants to make her own decisions, she needs to do what all adults do -pay her own way. The parents of your fiance’ are doing what they feel is in the best interest of their daughter. I will tell you if my daughter chose to move in with her boyfriend/fiance’ while she was at college, I would also refuse to finance her education. If she’s that grown up to rebel against her faith she is grown up enough to pay her own way. I am certainly not going to make it easy for her to offend God or endanger her soul. I love her too much for that.

You do know that statistically couples that live together first have a 50% higher rate of divorce than those who don’t. I think if you are serious about spending the rest of your life with this woman you would take that into consideration. Not to mention offending her parents faith is not a good way to start off a relationship with your future inlaws.


#16

Those sound like typical college costs. She does have choices, they’re just not ideal ones. Really though, if you saw her having to choose between slower/cheaper education and living with you, wouldn’t you want her to chose the better education and just wait until she had her degree and a career? That’s the selfless choice true love would make, IMHO.

If she chose you over Oregon State, would you worry that she would regret that choice later? If you don’t end up staying together, would you feel guilt over breaking up with her after she’d made such a sacrifice? Would either of you feel pressure to stay in an unhappy relationship because so much sacrifice was already invested in it? (Stranger things have happened)


#17

Living together is something we both want. It is mutual. I do not, and would not, force her in to making a decision like this. She is trying to let her parents know this is what she wants. I am not going to make her choices. That is selfless, IMO.


#18

And this is something I struggle with. This is what it all boils down to (the point of my post). This situation is merely an example to better describe the thoughts/feelings that pass through my mind on a regular basis.

As I said, perhaps it is easier for some to accept than to question their own faith.


#19

Nothing you’ve said implies you’re forcing her to do anything. But it isn’t exactly clear that you want what’s best for her, given the parameters you both have to work within (her financial situation). Community college, taking longer to graduate, or having to work longer hours don’t sound even like your own idea of what’s best for her, or you wouldn’t be upset that her parents may withdraw financial support.

Selfless would be something like "honey, we have plenty of time to live together in the future but now is the time we’re supposed to be getting our education, and my wish is for you to have the best education you can get so I don’t want to get between you and your folks (and your folks’ $$$).

I bet you’re not about to change your mind so I’m going to eat dinner now. But I hope it works out for the best for all of you, really. :slight_smile:


#20

Thank you.

There is more to this than I’ve explained, thus far. She has personal issues (depression and the like) that are not helped by the possessive qualities of her family. I’ve seen her in tears… she has always felt that she’s had to hide herself from them. It is easy to see why as evident by her mother’s response to things like a credit card…

What her family believes is best for their daughter often works against her. As you can see, this is deeper than $$ for an education… this is her health… her well-being at stake (which takes priority/is ultimately is what’s “best” for her - and I support her). She has the need to explore her options - but can’t - because her family insists on holding her back from making certain decisions on her own.


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