As a grown woman, several years removed from college and living on my own, I should be able to do what I want with my life, spiritually or otherwise, without getting yelled at by my mother. I’m not hurting anyone by not attending church, but in her eyes she feels like she failed at “raising me right” and thinks it will affect me in the afterlife since I’ve been missing Mass. I have other friends and relatives who were raised Catholic whose parents still attend church, but their parents don’t get on their case for not attending church. I can’t help but wish my mother was more like them when it comes to churchgoing. Any tips for how I can deal with this issue? — Daughter of Religious Mom
You can’t change your mother or her behavior — you can only change your reaction to her behavior. Your desired outcome is that your mother stop berating you about not going to church, right? In a perfect world, you’d probably love it if she accepted that, just because you don’t attend church “religiously,” doesn’t mean she didn’t “raise you right.” I would try this: tell your mother that you go to church infrequently and you are no longer going to answer her when she asks if you’ve gone because: a) it’s none of her business, and b) you don’t like her reaction when the answer is one she doesn’t want to hear. Then tell her there are other ways she can measure her job as a mother who raised you, and then point out some of those ways. What are some things you’ve accomplished that she should be proud of? How has your character been exhibited in a way that would make a God-fearing mother pleased?
Then, the next time she calls you and asks if you’ve gone to church, remind her that that topic of conversation is off the table and, if she continues asking, you will have to respectfully hang up. And then hang up if she keeps asking. And keep avoiding the topic and keep hanging up when she asks. You have to set a precedent NOW about this issue and let her know you live your life how YOU want. If you get married one day or have a baby, you will have to deal with this in a bigger way (“You have to have a church wedding!” “You have to baptize your baby!”), so you need to start setting your boundaries now so they’re in place down the road when there are bigger battles to fight.
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