Posted by Tim (22.214.171.124) on October 19, 2000 at 09:51:01:
In Reply to: telling the family posted by kundagbo on October 18, 2000 at 04:31:37:
Religion has a strong identification for us because it helps define who we are. Some religious affiliations are so strong that you have to be born into them to qualify: Hinduism and Judaism are two examples. If your family has a problem with your Buddhist beliefs, it will likely be expressed as fear for your eternal soul, but my guess is that it will actually be fear of your rejecting their innate values, as those are embodied in their religion.
You're going to have to brace yourself for repercussions. There may be shouting, silence, or other punishment. They're going to feel that you're rejecting their values, rejecting them. It may take years for them to come to terms with your decision.
My advice is to sit the family members down and say "I wanted you to know my decision, because I love and respect you all and I didn't want my choice of religion to surprise you someday. I've listened closely to your religious beliefs, and I honor them. But please understand that I have another path. I won't bring this up at family gatherings and I won't try to convert anybody. If you want to know, please ask me. But please understand if I'm a little sensitive right now and a little fearful about how you're going to take this. Just please give me a hug before you start yelling at me."
If there are problems, you'll have to handle them as best you can. Ask them "What would you have to see, hear, or experience, to make you feel better about my decision?" Just validating their feelings and letting them vent can be enough sometimes.
Good luck. Such revelations to family are often painful. Just try to accept their fear as part of who they are, even if you're hurting from it. Easy to say; hard to do. Just do your best.
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