Dear Amy: My husband and I raised two great kids. Our son is now 30, and our daughter, 28. Both finished college with high honors and business degrees. Both got nice jobs in their professions.
We are atheists, but at 18, our daughter starting dating a pastor’s son. His family and church started grooming her with their beliefs so she would fit nicely into their family belief system and eventually marry.
After going off to college, that relationship ended, and she got serious with another pastor’s son. Again, this fellow and his family groomed her to believe, get baptized and go on mission trips to South American countries with the intent of her marrying into their family. Well, he dumped her. She quit her job, moved out West and joined an evangelical Christian group.
She pays them to live on their campus while they teach her about the Bible and Jesus. She raises funds for them by asking others for money to support her. She has been leading this extreme religious life for three years now with no intention to quit and get a paying job. She has rejected our traditional life and seldom visits.
Her professional clothes hang in our closets, and her stuff is in the basement. Her medical care is paid for by the state since she lives under the poverty level. We are very sad about her decisions. We worry for her safety and her future.
We grieve the loss of our beautiful daughter. We miss the way our family used to be. Now we have nothing in common with her. Any suggestions on how to cope? — Atheist Mom and Dad
Dear Mom and Dad: I can understand why this is such a loss for you. You should keep the door open to a relationship with your daughter, regardless of where she is or what she believes. You are going to need to continue to grieve this loss, while accepting her choice and her freedom to make it.
Visit her. Don’t pressure her or force an ultimatum. Don’t dwell on the life and belief system she rejected. Make sure she knows you are always in her corner, no matter what.
Research the group she is in and see if you can connect with ex-members or family members of current members. Communicating with other parents will help.