Religion Jitters

24 Sep

Dear LetterBalm: My daughter is a junior in college, and she has been dating a young man whose family is from India. They, including their son, are devout Hindus. We aren’t that religious, but he discusses religion with her and us, and it is clear he is adamant about his faith being the only acceptable one. (There have been some disagreements about religion between him and my daughter.) He and my daughter are becoming quite close, and he has said he cannot marry a woman who is not of his faith. We’re quite concerned, but we don’t want to pressure them into anything. What can I say to my daughter?

–Having Faith

You and your wife have understandable misgivings. Your daughter – who isn’t yet 20 – might convert to Hinduism under pressure without understanding the religion. Her boyfriend might coerce her into converting and his family might control them if they get married. All valid concerns. Ms. L.B. advises the best thing you can do is remain calm and don’t press because that will surely put her on the defensive. Say this to your daughter just once – as much for reassurance to you and your wife as to her:

Heidi, you know that we’ve had some interesting discussions with Raj about Hinduism. It is admirable that he believes so strongly about his faith. Raj and his family are good people who may or may not regard others not of their faith as less than they are. This could cause problems for you and those friends and family you love. Your mother and I have raised you to think for yourself and to consider all aspects of a situation carefully before you act. Even though we may disagree with decisions you make in life, have no doubt that we love you unconditionally no matter what path you take.

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