DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents have been Mormons for their whole lives -- they grew up in a very religious culture and attended Brigham Young University. When I decided to leave the church last year, my parents were respectful, and I was quite pleased. But now I’m finding it increasingly difficult to feel like a part of my family. I’m in my last year of high school, so I still live at home, and I want to be involved in family activities. When they go to church, I stay home. In the mornings when I want to make a coffee, which is against Mormon rules, I feel like they are judging me -- even if they aren’t. I’m scared that I will just keep growing further apart from my family, which is the last thing I want. What should I do to ensure I remain connected to my family? -- Ex-Mormon
DEAR EX-MORMON: Start by giving your parents a lot of credit for being as accommodating as they have been about you leaving the church. Given that they are fully immersed in Mormonism, it must be hard for them to accept that you, their child, have turned away from their faith. While you may no longer practice the tenets of the religion or worship at their church, you should respect your parents’ way of living. That means that while you are under their roof, you shouldn’t make coffee if it is against their beliefs to drink it. Wait until you have your own place.
It’s OK for you not to go with them to church, but use that time wisely. Do something constructive. It could be exploring your understanding of faith for yourself by reading sacred texts. It could be by cleaning your room or doing other household chores. It could be by preparing breakfast for them that is ready right after they return home from church. You can choose to engage in activities that will show your family that you want to stay close to them even as you have decided not to pursue their faith.