I've been thinking more on yesterday's conversation, and how my friends' parents reacted to their conversions. And how parents in general react to conversions of their children, whether into another religion, or into atheism. I've also watched several episodes of Big Love recently, some of which have been dealing with people who are rejected or disowned by their parent's because of their beliefs.
My dad's first cousin married a woman who isn't Jewish. He has 3 other first cousins, and my childhood was filled with visits to those 3 other families, and I was close with many of my second cousins. (all my first cousins on my dad's side of the family lived in Israel when he was growing up, so he made a point of hanging out with his cousins and their kids, who mostly lived in the area). I didn't meet my cousin who married someone not jewish until his sister's son(my second cousin)'s bar mitzvah, when I was 14 or 15. I have not seen them since. But it turned out they had a son the exact same age as me!
When I was growing up, my mother's best friend and business parter was a women who was a baal tshuvah. Her "orthodox" husband cheated on her, and when they divorced, she had a bad experience with rabbies she talked to, and between that and the cheating, she decided she was not going to follow the orthodox religion anymore. She had a son a few weeks younger than me, who was pretty much my only friend from age 1 to age 11 or 12. We carpooled together as kids, and since our mothers were business partners, we were at each other's houses several times a week at least. When his mom decided not to be religious (and took her son with her) my mom told me I couldn't be friends with him anymore. I didn't see him again until I was 19, and randomly ran into him at a party. My mother convinced her friend to leave their business partnership, and she basically stopped talking to her, in the middle of her friend going through a really bad divorce.
She had another very close friend, who stopped being religious when SHE went through a divorce. After 15 years of living next door to each other, and being best friends, when her friend moved away and took her kids out of religious school (to put them in public school) my mom stopped talking to her.
Here are some things that have happened to me because I did not want to be orthodox jewish:
*At age 17 when I first told my parents I didn't want to be religious anymore, I was forced to go to family therapy, at a therapist who was a friend of my dad (who is also a therapist), who tried to convince me to listen to my parents, and then convinced me to 'confess' to them about specifics aspects of the faith that I wasn't following.
*My brothers both got a car when they turned 17, which they kept at older ages. I had a car for a year when I was 17 (and my parents didn't want to pay for the bus to high school) and a few months after telling me parents I was not religious, they gave the car to my brother, who had it for several years before he sold it. My (younger) brother could use it whenever he wanted without talking to my parents first, but I had ask my friend's for a ride, or talk to my parents and tell them exactly where I was going, who was going to be there, and when I would be home in order to borrow a car, which they frequently refused to lend me if they didn't like the friends I was going to hang out with, even if no one else needed any of the cars. I was still living at home (in the suburbs, with no public transit) at the time (this was when I was age 18-20).
*I was told that after I graduated college I could live at my parents house for one summer, but that after that, I had to find my own place- my (nearly 25 year old) brother still lives at home. Fortunately I started grad school soon after, and have a stipend to pay for rent.
*When I was in college, my parents would only pay for my dorm on the condition that I came home every shabbat, as they "knew I wouldn't keep shabbas at the dorm and they wouldn't pay for me to live that lifestyle." So every friday for 2 years I made the 2-3 hour treck back to my parent's house (via 4 different trains). Also they wouldn't let me dorm at all for my first 2 years, becuase of all the 'bad influences', so for my first 2 years of college I commuted for 4-5 hours each day.
*Parents refuse to meet my boyfriend/fiance who I live with/who I have dated for a year and a half, despite repeated requests.
*Parents have thus far visited me 2 times in the 4 years I have lived a 2 hour drive away from them, and one of those times was because their friend happened to be getting married in my city; they stopped by for half an hour. My dad visited on his own for a third time recently to talk about cancer (mom didn't come). They have visited my brother (who is Israel for 9 months) twice already.
*Parents have not helped me with any money (apart from the cost of visiting them, and that summer they let me live rent free at home) since I graduated college. In college they paid for my dorm and tuition, gave me $20 a week, and everything else (including food, as there was no food plan) was paid for by the 3 part-time jobs I had during all of college (which I attended full time), which was barely enough to cover my minimal bills (cell phone and food and a metrocard- I didn't even have internet, and I never went out). For a year of college I ate a taco bell bean burrito ($1.06) every day for lunch, cause I couldn't afford anything else, and at least that had fiber and protein and filled me up. I became an expert at finding places with free food, and ended up in quite an insane amount of clubs and organizations on campus. I also am somewhat ashamed to admit that I frequently stole food from the school cafeteria, as I couldn't afford to pay for it. My brother (a year younger than me) didn't have a job until almost a year after he graduated college, and still lives at my parent's house, rent free.
*My mom told me around 4 years ago that I shouldn't talk to my youngest brother if I could help it, as I would be a bad influence on him.
*I can't mention the name of the man I am in love with, without my mother talking over me or outright ignoring me and changing the subject without ever acknowledging a thing I have said about him.
I was talking to B about this earlier, and we were wondering if our parent's were especially bad, or if we were especially unable to forgive our parents for their past mistakes, the way other kids are able to? Most people I know of around my age don't seem to have as severe problems with their parents as we do. But many of them have at least some problems with their parents at some point. He thinks it's probably a combination of both...both of us with exceptionally insane parents, and exceptionally stubborn personalities. And also exceptionally stubborn parents (although his parents eventually relented when they both came down with life threatening diseases and hadn't talked to him for a few years). Just something that we have in common I guess.
So my question to you, dear readers, is: how are people in your family treated if they want to change their religion from the religion of their parents? Are my experiences normal? I sometimes lose sight of what is normal, and I need a reality check here. Also I like dramatic stories that I can relate to, so tell me some of those.