A Christian Mother and Muslim Daughter Offer Tools to Bridge Divides

Acclaimed author Patricia Raybon and her daughter, Alana take a few pages from their reconciliation playbook to help mothers and daughters heal their rifts

Their rift began a little something like this:

“Mom, I have something I need to tell you…”

They didn’t talk. Not for ten years. Not about faith anyway. Instead, a mother and daughter tiptoed with pain around the deepest gulf in their lives – the daughter’s choice to leave the church, convert to Islam and become a practicing Muslim.

Patricia and Alana have co-authored Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), which is touted as their “real-time story of healing and understanding with alternating narratives from each as they struggle to learn how to love each other in a whole new way.”

Physician and best-selling author, Saundra Dalton-Smith says, “What would it be like to listen in on an intimate open conversation between a hurting mother and the daughter whose life choices are fueling her pain? In Undivided, Patricia Raybon and her daughter Alana go to that place of uncomfortable raw communication with their defenses down and their hearts surrendered to the process of healing years of family heartache. Their story is a beautiful testimony of God’s grace in mother-daughter relationships and the joy which can be found when family peace is restored.”

During a recent feature on the Today Show series Do You Believe? Faith or Friction: Does Religion Unite or Divide? Patricia and Alana offered a few tips to others experiencing a divide in their families. Below are a few from the 19 tips provided by the mother and daughter to Today.com.

Patricia’s advice for parents
1. Go to God. Take your hurt, shock, anger or whatever you’re feeling to your God.
2. Allow yourself to grieve. But don’t get stuck in hurt and guilt. Take the long view, understanding you’re on a journey with God.
3. Ask your grown child about their choice. Why? Tell me more about it. Listen without judgment or arguing.
4. Seek God for wisdom and insight. Ask: What are you teaching me in this? About you, me, my child?
5. Focus on what you can control. Look for places and people to serve by your faith, worrying less about your grown child’s faith decision.

Alana’s advice for dealing with parents
1. Initiate the discussion. Ask your parents if they are willing to talk about your conflict, then commit to having a civil conversation.
2. Keep in mind that faith traditions should be the means to resolve family conflicts, not an impediment to peace. Use your faith to help you see solutions.
3. Try to remember that God wants you to have a positive relationship with your parents. Remain hopeful that your relationship will eventually heal.
4. Be patient and empathetic. Try to understand the hurt that your parents may be experiencing and show compassion for their feelings.
5. Listen. Let your parents express their perspectives. Validate their feelings and reassure them that you care about their opinion.

If you visit the UndividedBook.com site, you will find additional resources to assist you in bridging your own familial divides. Sign up for a 10-Step Bridge the Divide Guide, a reminder card, and download a free book club kit. Undivided can be purchased in bookstores nationwide, online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and directly from the Thomas Nelson website.