One of my clients recently approached me with the following questions, and my answers might be helpful to you.
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 has strong negative feelings about the church and wants you to validate those feelings. This is very common for us humans. We want our group, in this case, the family, to all do the same things. It sounds like she loves you and wants the best for you, and she believes that the best thing for you is for you to leave the church too.
You can and should validate her feelings.
Sometimes this is hard for us to do because we think if we validate someone’s feelings, we are condoning their actions.
The word “condone” means to accept and allow something that you consider morally wrong or offensive, as acceptable.
You can validate the hurt your daughter feels without agreeing with her on other issues. You can show empathy and compassion for what she is going through. Perhaps you could say something similar to this, “This topic sounds like it really hurts, is that how you feel?”
Validating her feelings doesn’t mean that you have to listen to her endlessly talk negatively about the church or listen to all the information she is listening to. Decide in advance how much, if any, you want to participate in, and then set a limit. “Sweetie, I love you and want to understand you, but this stuff is hard for me to listen to. Let’s set a timer for 10 minutes, then let’s find something to do that we both enjoy.”
The formula 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 can take practice to learn how to respond to your child, but if you use genuine love and compassion for them, you can improve your relationship with them by making the effort to understand them better.
In my Becoming A Whole-Hearted Woman coaching program, I work one-on-one with women to answer questions just like the above example. I help them navigate their relationships with loved ones who are leaving the church, if you are in this situation, and I can help you too.
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, and also access your strength and wisdom to be a light to them.
If this is something you want, let’s talk. Click on my picture below and sign up for a complementary 45 minute session. We can talk about what’s going on with you and decide if we want to work together.