What do I say now?

So my parents are finally at the point that I feel like we could actually have a productive conversation about my conversion to Catholicism. Which has been many years coming. And at this point, I’m comfortable that I made the right decision not telling them - they weren’t ready to hear it and it would have caused a lot of trouble. So they think I’m still an atheist because I stopped talking to them about religion for several years and that what the state things where in when I made that decision.

The difficulty for me is, while I want to broach the subject, I’m not sure my parents ever got why I stopped talking to them about religion for several years. They always put it off as being “mad at God” or something and that I was completely closed off and such. Truth is, there wasn’t any point in discussing the subject until we’d made some significant progress in how my mother spoke to me - there wasn’t any point telling my parents things until we’d gotten to the point where they would let me have actual reasons for my decisions. I know I said something to that effect but I don’t think it ever got through.

I think that conversation, about why I didn’t talk about religion, needs to be had first. But I’m not sure how to bring it up or how to explain it, especially in a way that doesn’t cause more hurt than necessary.

I think it’s OK (and even preferable) to do this one briefly by email.

"Mom and Dad,

"There’s something it’s time for you to know. I converted to Catholicism in 20[fill in] and have been a practicing Catholic since then.

"This is not up for debate, but if you have any questions, I would be happy to recommend a book or two that will explain where I’m coming from.

"Love,

“Dark Light”

Given your mom’s unique conversational “gifts,” I would suggest keeping it brief, keeping it to print, and whenever possible, just sharing a link or a book title, rather than attempting to be an apologetics goddess to your family.

In a somewhat different context, Dave Ramsey (the personal finance guy) talks about “powdered butt syndrome.” What he means by that is that parents often cannot take seriously financial or other serious advice from any individual that they remember diapering and powdering the bottoms of. They might even take the same advice pretty well from any other adult, but it’s absurd from their point of view to think that their adult child might understand something better than they do–even if their adult child is a highly educated adult with letters after their name. So, at least that dimension of your relationship with your mom is part of the normal human condition.

The main thing is I feel like we need to get past why I didn’t talk to her about religion, before I update her on anything. She was always convinced that I didn’t talk to her because I “hated God”.

I don’t want her to think that her behavior has paid off. Her evangelism was at best silly and at worst rude, passive-aggressive, and just plain inappropriate. But with my mother, if she thinks it’s paid off even once we’ll be set back years of trying to get her to understand that it was inappropriate.

She’s not going to think that her behavior has paid off. Trust me on this one.

It’s as if she had been pressuring you and pressuring you to go into the military…and you joined the Albanian Air Force.

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