I was brought up in a really strict Catholic family. It was just expected that we would go to church every Sunday and that we would "uphold the Catholic faith" as my parents put it. I never bothered to rebel against religion like many of my friends did. For some reason I couldn't quite subject myself to my parent's disappointment.
I left home at 17 to go to college. Moving away from home has totally broadened my outlook on the world and has changed my opinion on lots of issues. Over the past two years I've met the most amazing people with the most extraordinarily diverse experiences. My circle of friends includes people with different religions, beliefs, values, cultures and different ways of approaching life. But the great thing is we respect each other's opinions. I've learned to question what I've been taught and not always agree just because that is what "everybody else" thinks.
The first couple of times I went home to visit my parents I found it really hard to cope. I found it hard to deal with not being able to express my opinions as freely as I did when I was away from home. My mom didn't necessarily agree with my upfront attitude to life. While I was always out there trying to get people to take me and my beliefs and opinions seriously, her attitude was "why fight it... why not just go with the flow." It was really frustrating. I used to get really upset that my parents didn't agree with what I was doing.
I kept at it though. I used to call home and tell mom about a new project or committee I'd become involved with and even though I could just see her cringing on the other end of the phone line, I tried to remember why I was doing what I was doing or why I held the beliefs that I did. I found that I really had to remind myself that it was okay to have the opinions that I did, but also that it was okay for my mom to have her viewpoint too.
The thing I loved about my friends was that we all respected each other's opinions. I had talked to a friend about it and I eventually realized that if I wanted my parents to respect what I had to say I had to try and respect their viewpoint too. As tough as it was, once I made an effort to respect their values and opinions, getting along with my parents has been a lot easier.