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I am a former ALC member. My parents are still members. Due to my parents' religious beliefs, my childhood was missing so many things other kids experience. Sleepovers, birthday parties, going to movies as a family, going to prom, going to concerts, drinking a first beer together, family movie nights with popcorn, etc. Now, we're all grown up and we lead our own individual lives. We imbibe every now and again, attend mainstream churches, go to movies, go to concerts, and have dinner parties. We do these things with our friends. We do not do these things with our parents. I don't even talk to my parents about these activities.
"Due to my parents' religious beliefs, my childhood was missing so many things other kids experience."
I guess I am struggling with the relationship with my parents now. I currently have a wide circle of supportive friends (and family members, too). I have been fortunate to have deep friendships. What I've come to realize is that friendship is often built around shared activities. These shared activities might include going to a movie, then getting a drink afterwards and talking about the movie. Those are the things that build deep connections. With my parents however -- so many things are off-limits for talking, or doing. Thus, the ability to build a deep relationship is stunted. And that makes me enormously sad. I'm not sad for myself. I have friends and deep connections. I am sad for my parents. They seem lonely and they don't know their kids. Why even have kids if you don't get to benefit from an adult relationship with them someday? But, they're too closed-minded to open up to experiences where they could have a deeper connection with their children. It's a one-sided relationship where I talk about things they like to talk about and we do things they like to do. They don't really engage in my personal interests. They're offended by many of my opinions, so I keep them to myself.
"I wish I could be one of those people who hangs out with their mom or dad . . . "
Providence has provided me with surrogate parents who mentored me through my late teens, 20's and 30's. But, I know my parents are hurt by my giving, in a sense, their paternal/maternal role to others. I don't actually want to do that. I crave a meaningful relationship with my parents. I wish I could be one of those people who hangs out with their mom or dad laughing, connecting, and sharing life.
I feel like this community might be a good place to start a discussion about healing relationships and managing guilt. I feel guilty that I'm not close to my parents, yet I realize it's not my fault. Now that they're aging, the broken relationship is more visible than when they were young and healthy. It all just makes me so so so sad and I don't know how to cope with all this sadness. I've kind of just accepted that this is just a burden that I have to carry.
"It all just makes me so so so sad and I don't know how to cope with all this sadness."
This is from Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy:
To honor our parents means to be thankful for for their existence and to respect their actual role as givers of life in the sequence of human existence. Of course in order to honor them in this way we need to be thankful for our own existence too. But we also will usually need to have pity on them. For, even if they are good people, it is almost always true that they have been quite wrong in many respects, and possibly still are.Commonly those who have experienced great antagonism with their parents are only able to be thankful for their existence and honor them, as they deeply need to, after the parents have grown old. Then it is possible to pity them, to have mercy on them. And that opens the door to honoring them. With a certain sadness, perhaps, but also with joy and peace at least. One of the greatest gifts of The Kingdom Among Us is the healing of the parent-child relation, “turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).
"How do you manage the sadness?"
I find that passage helpful, but I don't have peace. How do other people who grew up in Laestadian-based religions manage the sadness of the broken relationships? What about managing these uncomfortable emotions once parents have died? Has anyone had success in creating a meaningful relationship with their parents or family?