Loving Family Members That Are Leaving The Church
Very recently, one of my clients recently approached me with the following questions:
The questions: “How do I have a better relationship with my daughter who has left the church? She is attacking the church on social media, and that’s all she wants to talk about with me.” And their follow-up question was, “I want to love and understand my daughter without listening and reading all the things she is listening to and reading. How do I do that?“
Here is how I answered my client:
Without taking into account your daughter’s actual words, what do you think she is thinking and feeling right now?
It sounds like she is definitely angry with the church. She probably has many negative feelings about the church and wants you to validate those feelings. This is very common for us humans. We want our family to share the same beliefs and do the same things. It sounds like she loves you and may simply want the best for you. She may believe the best thing for you – is for you to leave the church too.
You can and should validate her feelings:
Frequently, this is hard for us to do because we believe if we validate someone’s feelings, we are condoning or agreeing with their actions. Therefore, how can we love angry family members leaving the church, without accepting or agreeing with their ideas?
The word “condone” means to accept and allow something that you consider morally wrong or offensive, as acceptable.
You can validate the hurt your family member feels without agreeing with them on other issues. You can show empathy and compassion for what they are going through. Perhaps you could say something similar to: “This topic sounds like it really hurts, is that how you feel?”
Validating their feelings doesn’t mean that you have to listen to them endlessly talk negatively about the church. You don’t need to listen to all the information they is listening to. You can decide in advance how much listening you want to do, and then set a limit. Perhaps say something like: “Sweetie, I love you and want to understand your thoughts, but this stuff is hard for me to listen to. Let’s set a timer for 10 minutes, then find something else to do that we both enjoy.”
The formula I use is:
- Reassure them of your love.
- Decide how much you can listen to.
- Set a limit, and stick to it.
- Remind them we each get to choose what we believe.
- Suggest a different activity you both enjoy.
These conversations can be hard. Don’t judge yourself if you don’t have them perfectly the first few times. It’s ok and it can take practice to learn how to respond to your child. Never the less, if you use genuine love and compassion for them, you can improve your relationship with them by making the effort to understand them better.
My offer to help:
In my Becoming A Whole-Hearted Woman coaching program, I work one-on-one with women to work through things just like the above example. I help them navigate their relationships with loved ones who are leaving the church. If you are in the above situation, I can help you too. I can help you continue loving family members leaving the church – even if they are angry.
Are you worried about your eternal family? Becoming A Whole-Hearted Woman is the place for you to learn to build strong relationships within your mixed-faith family, while also using your strength and wisdom to be a light to them.
If this is something you may be interested in, let’s talk.
Click on my picture below and sign up for a free 45 minute chat.