How Should I Tell My Parents that I want to convert to Orthodoxy?

Stephanos Nikolaos

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Stephanos Nikolaos said:
They seemed to be just interested in some of the concepts and eventually they just sort of accepted the fact that I am Orthodox in theology and will end up in Orthodox seminary.
Why are you talking about going to an Orthodox seminary before you are even Orthodox?
Well actually I am going to go to an Orthodox-oriented college to get my B.A. and the Priests who've I talked to so far have mostly been supportive of my enthusiasm of wanting to go to seminary eventually. Guess I shouldn't talk about it in public or before I've been an official member for a few years though. Sorry. =)

Nicholas.
 

JamesRottnek

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Stephanos Nikolaos said:
Alveus Lacuna said:
Stephanos Nikolaos said:
They seemed to be just interested in some of the concepts and eventually they just sort of accepted the fact that I am Orthodox in theology and will end up in Orthodox seminary.
Why are you talking about going to an Orthodox seminary before you are even Orthodox?
Well actually I am going to go to an Orthodox-oriented college to get my B.A. and the Priests who've I talked to so far have mostly been supportive of my enthusiasm of wanting to go to seminary eventually. Guess I shouldn't talk about it in public or before I've been an official member for a few years though. Sorry. =)

Nicholas.
If I may ask, assuming that you're going to a US college, are you going to the west coast one or Hellenic?
 

mabsoota

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i agree with gamaliel and james rottneck. keep it cool, so u don't get ismiliora's problems.
stephanos nikolaos, i am glad u didn't have much trouble, maybe it can encourage us to see it's not always hard.

i had to put up with a LOT of negative comments from people who were sure i had gone right 'off the rails' and into some kind of dodgy heresy. even if i had a hard day and was tired, i would still sometimes have to put up with a long debate on theology, and explain (again) why we don't worship saints or pictures and why we do actually focus on a personal road to salvation and a relationship with God.
it took a lot of patience, but it was good for my soul coz i had to really know my faith and really stay calm under pressure!

then recently i found out a close protestant friend had actually defended me to a pastor who was suggesting i was no longer Christian because i was orthodox. his answer was along the lines of 'well, she's a better Christian than you are so shut up!'
;)
so really, the most important thing is to keep your cool and just nod and listen well through the expected rants and then keep your cool.
as robb said, focus on the similarities and also don't expect people to accept in a day what has taken you months to decide.
:)
keep it cool
(i may have already mentioned this...)
8)
 

kurtismjohnson

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im in a similar situation, but I dont think my parents  even know what the Orthodox Church is, so theyre just like... "ehhh... whatever." but im an adult too, so at the end of the day, it doesnt really matter anyways.

isnt it sad that we have to worry about what other people think? its as if the Orthodox church was the "weird" church who changed everything and added a bunch of random stuff.  if people would educate themselves, i dont think they would have near as much of a problem!
 

IsmiLiora

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Timon said:
im in a similar situation, but I dont think my parents  even know what the Orthodox Church is, so theyre just like... "ehhh... whatever."
That was exactly the reaction of my parents too! But when they saw the church for the first time, it finally kicked in. I think they're just glad that it's closer to Catholicism.
 

kurtismjohnson

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IsmiLiora said:
Timon said:
im in a similar situation, but I dont think my parents  even know what the Orthodox Church is, so theyre just like... "ehhh... whatever."
That was exactly the reaction of my parents too! But when they saw the church for the first time, it finally kicked in. I think they're just glad that it's closer to Catholicism.
mine are the opposite. they wish it was closer to protestantism!! haha. its actually more of a problem with my inlaws.  my parents dont really mind either way. i dont think they'd even try to talk me out of becoming roman catholic. 
 

mabsoota

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it's quite close to protestantism, in that u will read the Bible a lot and study and pray every day (protestants call it a 'quiet time') and we work hard to spread our faith. we believe in personal salvation (just it's a life-long process not a 30 second prayer) and we can pray to God at any time in any place (just we also have set prayers as well).

i explained it to my 13 year old friend today that protestantism is like a fasting chocolate cake (black chocolate, veg margarine, no eggs etc) and orthodoxy is like a fully chocolate cake with cream (so sorry to mention that in the fast, just i thought it was a useful picture).
we believe in the same chocolate (sorry - God) but our faith is the full fat variety.
:)
 

Xenia1918

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My mother converted to Orthodox Judaism in 1944, from Roman Catholicism, but she did not tell her father because he was a very devout Roman Catholic.

He died exactly 10 years later, never knowing.

I don't know if I would recommend waiting to convert until your parents are no longer with us, but I suppose its a possibility. Or maybe just not tell them, as my mother chose to do.

Another option might be to show them how close Orthodoxy is to Roman Catholicism, and remind them that although the issue of papal infallibility is a big issue, not even the RCC believed it formally until Vatican I when it was declared as a dogma every RC must believe.
 

IsmiLiora

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Xenia1918 said:
I don't know if I would recommend waiting to convert until your parents are no longer with us, but I suppose its a possibility.
Well, that's taking "obey your mother and father" a little too far, no? What if the saints had waited around until their parents had passed away? :-/
 

Xenia1918

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IsmiLiora said:
Xenia1918 said:
I don't know if I would recommend waiting to convert until your parents are no longer with us, but I suppose its a possibility.
Well, that's taking "obey your mother and father" a little too far, no? What if the saints had waited around until their parents had passed away? :-/

I agree. When I chose to become a Traditional RC back in 1978, my Mom was OK with it (probably because she had been RC once, and understood the attraction), but my Dad was not; he saw it as a betrayal of being Jewish, esp. with the history of the RCC and Jews.

I suspect he would have felt even more so re: the Orthodox Church, esp. since his parents barely survived a pogrom in Russia in the early 1900s. Its one reason why I'm frankly relieved my Dad has already passed on now that I am entering the Orthodox Church.
 

Asteriktos

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Xenia1918 said:
I don't know if I would recommend waiting to convert until your parents are no longer with us, but I suppose its a possibility. Or maybe just not tell them, as my mother chose to do.
This is not an option, IMO.
 

HabteSelassie

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Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I would like to comment as a teacher within our Youth Ministry in my local parish, and as a brother who very much works day to day to assist in the spiritual growth of teenagers and young adults.

While the OP is clearly an adult and has the right to speak for himself, for all those under-18 catechumens and interested converts, understand that a primary tenet of Orthodox is respect of parental authority.  So folks should ALWAYS consult their parents for permission and guidance when looking into new Churches including coming to Orthodox. Churches are social institutions and it of course parents' rightful business to know which social institutions their children (even as teenagers) are involved with, and it would downright wrong for any Orthodox parishes to embrace a young convert in hostility to their parents.  Further, I think any father within Orthodox would not Baptize a teenager without parental support understanding to respect the family structure.  After all, if such young people are sincerely converting, surely the will be just as available when under their own consent as adults.  I would be wary of advising teenagers to defy their parents for Orthodox, and I have spoken about this on this forum before in similar circumstances. It is a severe conflict of interest to divide families over Orthodox conversion with teenagers, this is a matter for consenting adults in this regard.

I am confident that God will bless all those who are coming to Orthodox, but such things must be orderly and in accordance with tradition.  For example, some young Catholics here have expressed interests in conversion, but that is contrary to our teaching and these should respect their parents until adulthood and then under their own rightful consent come into Orthodox.  Some of Protestant backgrounds should also respect their parents until such time. In regards to children and young adults, we in Orthodox must be reverently respectful of the Traditions of others. Of course, I would be sure that even in these instances, in the Grace of God many parents would support their children, as kids can get into much worse things then new Churches ;)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
 

Xenia1918

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HabteSelassie said:
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I would like to comment as a teacher within our Youth Ministry in my local parish, and as a brother who very much works day to day to assist in the spiritual growth of teenagers and young adults.

While the OP is clearly an adult and has the right to speak for himself, for all those under-18 catechumens and interested converts, understand that a primary tenet of Orthodox is respect of parental authority.  So folks should ALWAYS consult their parents for permission and guidance when looking into new Churches including coming to Orthodox. Churches are social institutions and it of course parents' rightful business to know which social institutions their children (even as teenagers) are involved with, and it would downright wrong for any Orthodox parishes to embrace a young convert in hostility to their parents.  Further, I think any father within Orthodox would not Baptize a teenager without parental support understanding to respect the family structure.  After all, if such young people are sincerely converting, surely the will be just as available when under their own consent as adults.  I would be wary of advising teenagers to defy their parents for Orthodox, and I have spoken about this on this forum before in similar circumstances. It is a severe conflict of interest to divide families over Orthodox conversion with teenagers, this is a matter for consenting adults in this regard.

I am confident that God will bless all those who are coming to Orthodox, but such things must be orderly and in accordance with tradition.  For example, some young Catholics here have expressed interests in conversion, but that is contrary to our teaching and these should respect their parents until adulthood and then under their own rightful consent come into Orthodox.  Some of Protestant backgrounds should also respect their parents until such time. In regards to children and young adults, we in Orthodox must be reverently respectful of the Traditions of others. Of course, I would be sure that even in these instances, in the Grace of God many parents would support their children, as kids can get into much worse things then new Churches ;)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
This is why, although I first became interested in Roman Catholicism at age 16, I did not formally convert until I was 18.
 

IsmiLiora

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I really do understand the gist, and I don't entirely disagree, but what about the young saints who converted to Christianity, inciting the fury of their parents? I don't even know about too many of them, and I can think of about three, off the top of my head. Surely, there must be more.

I'm just saying that Church history has proven again and again that young people called by God have braved the ridicule and even abuse of their family to join the Church.
 

GTAsoldier

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Gamliel said:
They might wonder where you will be going.  Do you have a place in mind?
If you mean the nearest Orthodox Church in my area, well I live in Laurelton, NY. The nearest parishes to me are in Jamaica, Queens (20 minute drive) St. Demetrios (Greek Orthodox), St. Nicholas' Albanian (OCA), St. Andrews (Ukrainian).

Pardon me if I misinterpreted your question.
 

myrrhbear

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My parents had already passed when I moved over to Orthodoxy, so I was spared that aspect. Still we were movers and shakers in our former church and it caused a bit of a stir when we left, though we tried not to. We gave up what we thought was our life, our entire social life, too, in faith, for what we believed was the Truth. We call it the "pearl of great price" indeed, but we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. I believe my parents not only understand, but as someone once said, I believe they are Orthodox now!
 

GTAsoldier

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So I told my parents that I am inquiring about orthodoxy and........it did not go well at all. My mother is at church right now (I'm at home). I told her that I didn't want to come. She (and my father) noticed that I haven't been going to church with with for a while. She started to throw a big fuss and then all of a sudden I told her that I was being disillusioned by Catholicism and that I was inquiring into Orthodoxy. She got mad and she would insist for me to leave St. John's University because it was a 'Catholic' college and that it teaches Catholic theology.

When she left, I called my father on the phone. We had a 30+ minute phone conversation about this and I told him that I was interested in Orthodoxy. Then he went on to tell me that he knows about the Greek Orthodox (he passes by a Greek orthodox festival every now and then). But that's all he knows and then I try to tell him that Catholicism and Orthodoxy have much in common but that I was disagreeing with exclusive Catholic dogma (I told him about what I disagreed with and I pointed out to the Catechism of the RCC but he was like 'so what'). He then acted like a sola scriptua-ist on me and he (and my mom) sees that I am abandoning my religion. I told him that I wasn't abandoning Christianity at all. I just wasn't comfortable at a Catholic mass as of late. I told him that I was reading Orthodox books and then he claimed that I was being brainwashed. And that the [Greek] Orthodox wasn't fitting for a black man in New York and in America.  I was apalled at that statement. :mad: Then he claimed to say that the street corner churches were the closest thing to Catholicism that he would agree for me to visit. Then we got into a debate on how they weren't so close to Catholicism as Orthodoxy is. I just learned that he wasn't baptized Catholic, but that he grew up in the Church of God denom and that attending Catholic masses makes sense to him because of what the priest is saying. He won't even come to an Orthodoxy liturgy with me if I wanted to go now that I explained all of this (and I'll be explaining this to my mom when she gets home).

I can't believed all of this has happened. Now I feel more discouraged than ever.  Now I'm sure that my parents won't want me to be an Orthodox Christian :'(
 

Poppy

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he "would agree for me to visit" ?? How old are you??

crikey tell them THIS IS HOW ITS GOING TO BE but say it polite and don't wait around for a reply
 

GTAsoldier

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I'm 19. My father just arrived home. I'm going to apologize to him about our last conversation and maybe take things on a lighter note.
 
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