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DEAR HARRIETTE: I grew up Christian, and I’ve raised my kids Christian; my dad is even a pastor, so we’ve lived a really faith-based life. My son introduced me to his new girlfriend a few months ago, and today the topic of faith came up. She disclosed that she does not believe in God, and she even mocked our faith, saying that what we believe in doesn’t make any sense. Should I try to share my faith with her? — Jesus Fix It
DEAR JESUS FIX IT: Start by talking to your son. Tell him what his girlfriend said to you. Ask him how he feels about her relationship to religion. Find out if the two of them talk about this and how he handles it. Be prepared to hear that he has less of a firm stance about religion than you. Sometimes when people grow up in very religious households, they rebel and veer far off the family course, at least for a while.
You may need to tread lightly here. Yes, be willing to talk about your beliefs and what you value in a way that does not diminish the fact that this woman has her own set of thoughts and beliefs. When you talk to her and to your son, describe your experience and what you have learned. Resist the temptation to pass judgment over what she believes. If you are able to talk openly with each other, especially in areas where you do not share the same belief system, you can create space for building a respectful relationship.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter’s boyfriend has been confiding in me about their relationship issues. He isn’t very close with his own mother, so he’s always considered me to be a motherly figure to him. At first, he was just asking for advice, but lately he’s been telling me about his issues with my daughter and expecting me to side with him. I don’t think he understands that at the end of the day, I’m going to take her side no matter what. It’s beyond uncomfortable for me to be in the middle of their problems. The last thing I want to do is cause unnecessary tension between my daughter and me. What should I do? — In the Middle
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Tell your daughter’s boyfriend how you feel. Acknowledge that you know he needs someone to talk to, but point out that you cannot serve as his confidant in his relationship with your daughter.
You can offer to talk to the two of them together. You can suggest that you will listen to both sides of a situation. Being a good listener may help them both. But do that only after you talk to your daughter one-on-one and let her know what’s going on.
In the end, they probably should go to a therapist to talk through their problems. You are her mother and not a professional. The current situation is a recipe for disaster.