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Hello, My Mother died nine years ago, and my Father has become very involved with his religion. Whenever I speak to him he gets on a tangent about how important it is for me to join his religion in order to see my Mom in the future. I'm happy and quite secure where I am spiritually, but the constant chipping away with his belief system is VERY draining to me. If I disagree with him, and state how and why I don't follow his line of religious reasoning, he shoots any outside belief down, and actually tries to make me second guess what I follow. I feel very secure that at some point I will see my Mom and during these conversations I always remain positive, and attempt to change the subject onto something else but that grows pretty thin and mentally draining after hours of a religious beating. He lives across the country, and I just returned from spending the weekend visiting/checking up on him. Right now I am just completely drained after spending time talking to him, and his attempts to make me feel bad because I'm not a member of his religion. How do any of you deal with the topic of religion with your elderly parents, and conserve your own spiritual life?

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I like the "Woman of Faith" I dislike the word "religious".
Some Churches teach to go out and spread the Good News. Some take it too far by lecturing. Me, I am a quiet believer. Maybe telling Dad that Politics and religion are off topic if he wants you to continue to visit. Explain you ran adult and as such have chosen the way that you are comfortable with. If everyone agreed on religion we wouldn't have all the different religions in the world. Tell him you respect his beliefs and he needs to respect yours.
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First, I am a person of faith, though certainly not perfect. I was raised in a particular form of religion, and some years back, I told my mother that I had changed my mind about a particular point in my faith upbringing. It's not a major point to me, and isn't a break with my religion. Yet, to my mother it's as if I've turned my back on the faith of my childhood.

She brings it up constantly; buys me books and videos on the subject and won't let it go. I don't argue with her. I listen to her respectfully and then try to change the subject. I had to realize that she's beyond the realm of understanding any viewpoint other than her own.

I can only share what works best for me. Your situation may well be different. I've just learned with my mother that when she starts lecturing me about when she thinks Jesus is coming back, I listen a few minutes and then ask her something totally different and she'll follow that trail for a while.
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"DAD, You need to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling".
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My best friend and I (more than 50+ years) disagree vehemently on politics. We love each other but don't vote the same. So we agree that topic is off limits.

In your situation the "agreement" may have to be unilateral. Father may not agree to keep this topic out of conversation, but you can decide to not participate or even to passively listen. You cannot control Father but you have full control over your actions. Leave the room, hang up the phone -- whatever it takes to avoid listening to this topic.

It sounds like you have tried to explain yourself and you certainly have made your discomfort known. It is time to take action. Just end the conversation.
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Yes, I’ve been the captive audience of the discussion about religion with both parents. My mom was obsessed that my uncle and I were going to hell. She’d cry. I just cracked one day and got her in a hug and just whispered in her ear that I’d be there with her throughout eternity and I’d been ‘saved’ when I was 7 years old at Vacation Bible School. This was true, at 7 the neighborhood Methodist church had VBS one summer and I went on my own. I had a great time with the kind ladies at the church, who told us kids Jesus loved us and we shall love one another! It sounded sensible and I thought just count me in!

Over the years I’ve been interested in spiritual things and am comfortable with my spiritual development. My mom seems satisfied with that.

My dad used the punitive harsh battering ram approach and I’d debate him sometimes but that was an exercise in futility. I asked mom to repeat to him what she and I talked about and he finally dropped the topic.

I asked my dad once did he realize how many people are alienated by the battering ram approach to preaching his faith. Maybe he thought about it but I doubt it.
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Thank you polarbear for your thoughts, "follow through" is something I need to work on. :)
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Tell him you appreciate his concern for your soul or redemption or seeing mom, or whatever terms he uses, and that you're on your own religious journey and you're not quite where he's at but you're working on it. He himself didn't get where he's at instantly so he shouldn't expect others to do that. You might or might not get to where he's at but it's one way to keep him from nagging you.

Or tell him clearly you're quite happy with your spiritual belief and you don't want to discuss that subject if he brings it up. And FOLLOW THROUGH. When he brings it up, say I don't want to talk about it and walk away or if you're on the phone, say the same and have a nice day dad, I love you, then hang up. You do this a few times and he should learn not to bring it up again.

On a side note, I can't stand religious people who try to hound others or beat them over the heads with their religious belief. That's one sure way to drive people AWAY.
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thank you for your comment Midkid58, The constant grinding from a family member actually seems to have much more of an abrasive effect than if it came from an outsider. Your story regarding your daughter is sad, but your example of setting love as the guidepost is very encouraging. I will do my best to apply that.

Your point about your spiritual life being private really hit me because I feel the exact way. I've always felt that we individually develop our own spiritual relationship, and when people pressure me to believe their way it always causes a headache, sharing beliefs in a mutual discussion is one thing, but forcing them onto someone else has always struck me as not being very respectful.

Thank you again.
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This can be quite the dilemma. I am a "woman of faith", love and cherish my religious views and the calm security I have in my knowledge of an afterlife, a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior, who loved me so much he suffered my sins and died for me.

Now, I raised all my kids in the church. 4 of the 5 have continued on in the "faith" and they are wonderful people. My youngest daughter left our religion about 13 years ago. Complete and total break. At first, I thought my heart would break, too--not because she had chosen to leave, but because of the choices she was making in lieu of having any faith of any kind.

Time has passed, she has grown up and while she still isn't "back in the fold" and likely never will be, I have respected her for her being true to herself. We couldn't talk religion the first few years and she wouldn't "allow" us to pray in her presence (that was settle by her leaving the house if we prayed)...but over time, love has become the driving force in our relationship. She is my child, I love her unconditionally. She has not chosen any other faith, she doesn't "believe" in anything. BUT, she has the right to not believe. And I respect that 100%.

Can you explain to your dad that you also deserve the right to believe what you believe and still be his daughter and love him? If he continues to "beat you" about religion, you aren't going to want to spend time with him. Just tell him. Be kind. If he chooses to ignore your wishes, you may have to cut back the visits.

Love is always the answer. Putting it into actual use can be very hard.

My spiritual life is VERY private to me. Try to explain that to your dad. We don't trot out our spirituality to show how much better we are than others! We let them have the same rights to worship/believe as anyone else.

Worst case, dad gets this way--(beating you up over religion) just walk away. He'll get the message, Don't be mad, just walk away.
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