Ask Angela: Interview with “Home for the Holidays”

“Home for the Holidays” submitted this week’s Ask Angela topic that is running in the Deseret News. Read the article here.

Here is her question, the interview is below: 

Dear Angela,

My parents surprised us with the news that they’re leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church they raised us in. They love the gospel, but feel like the people in their ward mistreat them, and have always mistreated them, and I guess this is the only solution they can think of.

Now my older siblings are angry with them (my parents) and have decided that if they don’t go back to church, then they (my siblings) won’t go home for the holidays. My parents are very hurt, and this is just hardening their hearts even more. I want to go home and I want everyone else to be there too, my siblings, their kids, it’s not home without all of us — even if things are tense.

I’ve voiced this opinion to my siblings who have said that if I go home it’s like I’m condoning their actions, which makes me “just as bad as they are.” I’m not happy about my parents’ decision, but regardless, I love them and really look forward to my school breaks so that I can see them. I don’t have a specific question, just looking for some general advice on how to handle this. Thoughts?

Sincerely,

Home for the holidays

***************

Angela: Thanks you for submitting this topic! Let’s get right to it, how are things with your family right now?

Home for the holidays: Things are cold, distant and silent. Lots of silence. We went from talking to each other all the time to everyone more or less going their separate ways. 

Angela: I’m really sorry to hear that. You mentioned in your question that you felt stuck in the middle. Are people speaking to you? Do you still feel in the middle? Talk to us about that. 

Home for the holidays: My family isn’t really speaking to me either, but that’s okay for right now, I guess. My siblings just want to bash my parents, and my parents just want to defend their actions. I don’t really want to be apart of either of those conversations. I recognize that my parents have their agency, but I’m very sad about what they are doing. I think that’s what my siblings don’t understand. They seem to think “if you were really angry, you would be acting how we are acting…therefore you must not care.” When that isn’t true at all. 

Angela: Why do you think you and siblings are reacting so differently?

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HFTH: I think…well, I don’t know. They are a bit older than I am. I come home more often because of school breaks, etc. I’ve been at church with my parents and I’ve seen how people treat them. My dad recently lost his job and people feign interest in him but the first chance they get they’ll ask him questions like “Now, where did you say you were working?” or “I heard your not with X company anymore…what happened?” Just bringing up a very painful situation for my parents. So, I’ve seen that. I don’t think it’s an excuse to leave the church but I can understand why they are struggling to go. 

Angela: Do you think your siblings will go through with black listing your parents for the holidays?

HFTH: Yes. They’re already making different plans. 

Angela: It’s such a shame. It’s just such a shame. Well, I’m really sorry that your family is going through this difficult period. This article will come out Monday morning and I hope some good advice will come out of it. What are you hoping to learn from the discussion?

HFTH: I hope to understand how I can communicate with my siblings in a way that they don’t feel threatened. I want to know if they’re right, am I being a “traitor” to my siblings by going home? Will my parents ever snap out of it? I guess I’m hoping to learn a lot!

Angela: Those are great questions and I hope I learn a lot, too. 

 

Check out the article and discussion here

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6 thoughts on “Ask Angela: Interview with “Home for the Holidays”

  1. I can empathize with all sides of this situation. When I got divorced my ward treated me horribly and my ex is the one who left the church but somehow I was blamed for it. My kids remained faithful to the way they were raised even though they were still young. I encouraged them to live their beliefs and standards but not to condemn their mom. Only love will change hearts.
    It seems to me that your siblings are being no better to your parents than the judgemental members of their ward. Their actions are showing the worst of how LDS people can be. The scriptures say to act with an increase of love. I don’t think the Savior would stand with the siblings. His concern would be for the hearts of your parents and how to heal them. By leaving the church they are rejecting truth based on actions of people. The only way I was able to get through it was to not look at church attendance socially but personally. I will admit I spent some time going to a friends ward and that helped.
    Good luck and remember that it’s about love, charity, compassion, patience, faith, and prayer.

  2. I believe you should visit your parents. We all have free agency, they are using theirs and you can use yours. You already know what you should do..Maybe this is the test for your family. Love is more of the answer than anything else. Don’t feel guilty about wanting to be with your family. Time will probably resolve this problem…Love them all!!

  3. By saying that you won’t visit your parents because of their choices is just like them saying they aren’t going to church anymore. Because you have hardened your hearts against your parents. The only way things can heal is if you show unconditional love. I have family members some distant and some of my own children, leave the church. I decided I wanted them in my life! I am still me and I still talk about the gospel and how we were raised and my love for the church. I do not change who ‘I’ am, and I try my hardest to accept them the way they are. That is what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do. They love us and accept us unconditionally despite our choices and are there when we need them. You need to do the same for your parents. It’s hard, really hard. But the love of a family will never end. No matter who believes what, you are still a family.

  4. Don’t you wish there were an easy answer? I agree with the comments already left. Love is the most powerful motive/catalyst and when you don’t feel it sincerely, pray for it (towards your siblings and parents so you will receive answers and guidance).

    A little, helpful thing to do today, is to just begin expressing gratitude, even for the smallest of blessings and for the smallest acts of kindness on both parties. A sincere compliment, or expression of kindness will begin healing process.

  5. Angela, as a parent on the opposite side of the fence, I have had children who were raised in church but later strayed and quit going to church and taking their children. some because of bad experiences with church members/leaders. It hurts very much but we pray for them every day. On one occasion after praying, yrs ago, I had a strong impression that I should show my child all the love I felt. And through the yrs I have learned that I can’t change them but I can continue to show them love without conditions and hope they would feel the true love of Christ . If I had only showed them love by how they were acting. I would have been showing no better judgement than some of those who had hurt feelings to begin with.

    Also, they are your parents no matter what and I’m sure they love you all. There is nothing wrong with you loving your parents no matter what. Even if they were athiest, heaven forbid, they would still be your parents. I hope your brothers and sisters will reconsider and try to show your parents the love they deserve. Also the grandkids need to spend time with them and continue traditions. It is extremely hard to mend those feelings should they decide to continue with plans to punish your parents. You mights suggest they visit another ward and talk with their bishop. You will be in my prayers.

  6. Your parents need to feel the love of the Savior not condemnation. Though their choice may not be the one you and your siblings like, they are still beloved children of our Heavenly Father. They need to feel that love. You go home for the holidays and show them all the love you’ve got. That love will have more influence than you can ever imagine.
    Pray for your parents and your sibling. Pray that your siblings will have their hearts softened toward your parents and feel how the Savior feels for them. Be Christ like to them and remind them of the Saviors love for every one. If they really ever want your parents to return to the gospel, it will be because they loved them not because they hated them.
    I recently had an adult child with a family decide to leave the church. My heart is broken and is still stinging. I cannot have any influence on that child if I don’t show love and associate with them. Your are never wrong when you walk in the Saviors footsteps.

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