Question: Dear Luise: My son and I were always close. We could read each other’s thoughts, laughed together a lot and he was always proud to include me in his life even through those awkward teen-age years. He was hard working, West Point graduate; first in his class in law school and it took many sacrifices to get him to where he is today. I was glad to do all I could for him. He married 6 years ago and I have a beautiful granddaughter. The problem is that he became a Baptist, which I might add, was one of the things he was told he would HAVE to do, in order to marry my daughter-in-law. I would have never placed such a stipulation on someone and I have a very free spiritual philosophy. I don’t judge and don’t expect to be judged. My husband and I cannot explain the change in his personality over the years with any reason, except his new found religion. He is very close to my daughter-in-law’s family, which I think is great, since we live in another town. However, these people, picked out the house they felt the kids should live in, they decorated it, they see them at least 5 times a week when we are there, we are made to feel like we just aren’t part of the elite Baptists. It’s so obvious, but when I approach this with my son, he becomes overly defensive. It’s heartbreaking, because we could talk about anything. He recently took her whole family on a trip and said he just had to do it, because they have done SO MUCH for them. I know the numbers of things we have done but apparently 30 years in his life doesn’t compare to their 6 years. He accused me of being jealous of them just because they live close by. I am not jealous, but thrilled that they are so happy. All I want is to be treated with the same kindness and consideration. The last time we were there, we had to attend a gathering at their home and it was just full of people from their church. He didn’t introduce me to anyone and my husband and I felt strange and unwelcome. Nobody talked to us and I just couldn’t wait to leave and go back to the hotel. I suppose I know the answer already, which is, accept the things I cannot change for the sake of peace and hopefully a relationship with our granddaughter, but we fear, that the same thing may happen with her in the future when they can keep her in their elite group and exclude us from her as well. Thanks for listening. S.
Answer: Dear S.: I took your question to a friend of mine who happens to be a retired minister. He reminded me that we all know Baptists that aren’t like that. He also said that when organized religion becomes exclusive something is lost in the translation because Jesus had some pretty “raunchy”, (his word), friends. My friend says he has seen the same thing in every known denomination and feels it often, (but not always), reflects more about the people involved than it does about any particular sect.
He stated further that when a religious BE RIGHT posture is taken, it often spells trouble for those who do not belong to the select group. Obviously, the non-believers are WRONG. Those not “in” can feel horribly “out”…and for good reason. They can even be seen as in league with the Devil, which then justifies the mistreatment.
You gave your son every advantage and tremendous support. He may come to his senses but if he does, it will be in his own timeframe…and probably at great cost. It’s pretty obvious that he’s made his choice. That probably doesn’t bode well for your future relationship with your granddaughter, since you may be seen as a “bad influence”. And I know none of this is what you wanted to hear.
Many years ago, I knew someone who ran into a similar situation. I’m not sure I could do what she did but it worked for her. She went to the church of their denomination in her own town and became a member. She attended services regularly and felt no harm was being done to anyone. There was no longer any bone of contention…just rejoicing that they had “saved” her by example. Pretty drastic but the “if you can’t fight ’em…join ’em” principle worked its wonders in her case.
I don’t see how you can “accept what you can’t change”…it’s totally unacceptable. However, it is how it is and you can’t help but have a big hole in your heart and life. Blessings, Luise