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home : columns : dear harriette May 13, 2021

3/19/2021 10:19:00 AM
In-laws make agnostic reader uncomfortable

DEAR HARRIETTE: I try hard to stay away from the topic of religion when I'm with my in-laws, but I'm starting to realize how unavoidable this topic is. My husband comes from a very religious background, and I simply wasn't raised to subscribe to any particular religion myself. I feel that my in-laws impose their views on me every time we see them. I also believe that they judge me because I do not believe in the same things that they do. I talk to my husband about how uncomfortable they've made me, but since those are the people who raised him, I feel that he is biased and only halfway understands why I'm so frustrated. What can I say or do? -- Religious In-Laws

DEAR RELIGIOUS IN LAWS: I hate to say this, but you knew who they were when you married your husband. It sounds like none of you has changed, but all of you wish that you had; hence the friction. Since you can only control yourself, make the decision that you will accept them for who they are and stop being affected by their proselytizing. Their way is to talk about their religion. Your way can become to change the subject, excuse yourself from the conversation and remark only on the topics that stir you the most. In other words, agree to disagree with them on particular points.

If you and your husband are considering having children, you should talk about how you will raise them. It is highly likely that your in-laws will push hard to have your children reared in their religious practices. The only way that this won't happen is if you and your husband discuss and firmly agree on a different plan that he is willing to back you up on when the time comes.

DEAR HARRIETTE: How do I get my confidence back after dealing with internet trolls? While I know the best thing to do is ignore people who have nothing positive to say, I also can't help but feel that with every harsh joke, there's some truth. I've been struggling with my confidence after a bunch of people attacked my pictures online. My pictures usually get a lot of attention because of my online presence, but this time, a lot of the attention came with negativity. I want to tune it out and get back to feeling like myself, but I cannot help but look at myself a little differently. How can I go back to feeling like my usual confident self? -- Internet Trolls

DEAR INTERNET TROLLS: There are real consequences to getting caught up in the wheel of likes and dislikes on the internet. Honestly, whenever people rely too heavily on other people's opinions, it can be detrimental to their mental health. The internet has only made it worse because people can anonymously post anything, and often they are unkind.

Building self-esteem requires you to evaluate yourself for who you are and what you value, not what other people say. Unless you did something scandalous for which you honestly feel regret, take these comments with a grain of salt. Perhaps somebody was jealous or bored and decided to pick on you. Do not react to the negative comments. If they warrant deletion, take them down. If they should be reported, do that. But don't fight back. Your best defense is radio silence. If you do not engage these trolls, they will lose their power over you.

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