Religion at Thanksgiving

Hi Brooke,

Needing your help managing my thoughts around this year’s thanksgiving. About a year and a half ago I left the mormon church based on irreconcilable faith differences, and honestly haven’t been happier or looked back since I left! I grew up mormon and my parents are very devout mormons to this day (which I support since it makes them happy)! I’m not the only one in the family since my sister and her husband have left in the last year as well.

Since we have left the church my mother has insisted on inviting the mormon missionaries to holidays when we are here. She did this last year at Christmas without telling us or giving us a heads up, which felt invasive to us. It’s not so much about them being missionaries as that they are random people we don’t know and are here for holidays, which to us is special family time. It also has the potential for starting religious/political conversations that make everyone uncomfortable because we don’t all agree on our beliefs. Last year when my sister and I told my mom we don’t want them to come because we want to have private time with our family, she started crying about how they have no where else to go. (which isn’t true..other families will invite them over). So, due to the guilt trip we just kept quiet and dealt with it.

This Thanksgiving, just arrived to parents house and Mom has told us she has invited the missionaries for thanksgiving dinner again! This feels disrespectful given we already told her we prefer holidays to be private last year (esp when we pay our own money and take PTO to come visit). It makes me feel like she does not appreciate us coming to visit, and does not respect our wishes or beliefs. After getting all upset about this last night, I also started convincing myself that my mom doesn’t actually want to see me at all and must not care about me, so I don’t even know why i’m here. Everything started to manifest this “truth” in my mind. I know this all stems from my thoughts and I need help.

Unintentional model:
C: Missionaries for Thanksgiving
T: Mom doesn’t care about me/is disrespectful
F: Hurt/Angry/Frustrated
A: Distancing myself from my mom/shutting down
R: No bonding with mom

Intentional Model:
C: Missionaries for Thanksgiving
T: It’s not personal, mom just wants to help some people
F: Grateful mom is an awesome person who cares about others
A: Being myself and enjoying mom’s company
R: Having a fun thanksgiving

This second model does feel alot better to me, but i’m not quite there yet in terms of fully believing it. I was thinking through how I could hold boundaries for myself around this as well, but seems according to your definition of a boundary, this is her house and she’s allowed to invite whoever over she pleases. Is it right for me to let her know that next time i’d like a heads up on who will be here before coming for a holiday? And setting my own boundary that if missionaries will be here, i’d rather not come and just visit her another time when we can have quality time together. I just don’t want this to come across to my mother as “salty” since i’m just trying to set boundaries for my happiness and comfort. Only down side then is that I don’t get to be with my parents for thanksgiving. 🙁

Thanks for your help!