My dad is not a member of the Church. Since my mom, brothers and sisters, and I are all active in the Church, we are sometimes at odds with him. There was a time in my life when my father and I just couldn’t seem to get along because he was unkind about my beliefs and I was angry at him for not agreeing with me.
In an effort to smooth things over between us, my mom tried to help me see things through Dad’s eyes. “How would a person without the gospel see this situation?” she asked me gently.
Since that time, I have thought a lot about what she said. I have tried to be more patient and forgiving, and I am trying to improve my relationship with my father.
Here are some of the things I have come to understand about living with a nonmember parent:
Realize that it is hard for your parent(s) to understand why you would choose to follow the teachings of a church they may not agree with.
Respect is key in any relationship, especially with your parents. Always show your parents that you’re willing to listen and try to see things from their point of view. Remember, honoring your parents is a commandment.
Keeping rule number two in mind, stand up for what you believe. Don’t be rude, but make a conscious effort to help your parents understand what you believe and why you believe it. Be sure your life is consistent with your beliefs.
Spend time with your parents. You are their child, and they love you. Making the best of the time you spend with them can soften feelings and open doors to better communication.
Know that there are many people who love you and understand what you are going through. Friends, parents, advisers, and bishops are there to help. Writing in your journal also helps relieve tension.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to others about your situation, don’t panic. You can always go to your Heavenly Father. In fact, you should always counsel with him regardless of whom else you talk with.
It has helped me to know that Heavenly Father will not give me anything I can’t handle. It has also helped me to know that my earthly father loves me, even though we may not always agree.
I still pray for my father to join the Church, but he now knows that I love and respect him no matter what.