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Ask Teen Atheist #6 September 4, 2010

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, issues.
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Chadwell writes:

I’m a 16 year old in highschool and I guess my natural cynicism lead me to question the dogma and ignorance of religion. I was a christian but I just figured that why would god send the only salvation to man kind to a single area and practically turn his all-mighty back on the rest of the isolated world. More issues built up and I questioned more until I reached the point of atheism. I have been a self proclaimed atheist for a while now. However, I should just get to the problem I’m having. So my parents are relatively religious and always turn a blind eye to anything negative about religion. I “came out” to them two days ago and they literally laughed at me. They took nothing seriously and they said I would need to rely on my faith in god one day.

So whithout further ado, what should I do? (lol that rhymed) What should I say/do to prove to them I’m serious?

Though not all atheists had to go through the same thing I did (thankfully), I’ve been through enough to say this: it’s very, very difficult to make the religulous see our side of things. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s not worth the effort — at best, you get a fair debate, at worst you worsen the rift between yourself and the people you’re talking to.

In a situation like yours, I think the issue isn’t so much about how to convince them as it is about how to deal with them. Religious parents react in different ways upon finding out about their child’s atheism; I think you’re actually lucky your parents went for denial instead of anger, like my (estranged) parents did, but I understand how frustrating it is when your parents don’t take you seriously.

And this sounds stupidly simplistic of me, but: the best way to prove you’re serious is to be serious. As many a writing teacher would tell you, “Show, don’t tell.” You already know that your parents are likely to turn a deaf ear to anything you have to say in defense of your non-belief, so instead, be a living example of how you can be a sane, good and kind person even without God or Christianity in your life. Refine your motivations and your values system. Donate to charity because you like helping others. Study hard because you want to succeed. Don’t hurt or steal because you genuinely believe that such acts are wrong because they violate basic human rights. Be nice to other people, including your parents. That way, if your parents ever start coming at you with attacks on your beliefs, you can defend it through real-life examples.

It’s still possible that no matter how well you live your life, your parents will still refuse to show any modicum of respect or tolerance for your beliefs. My estranged parents still see my atheism as a personal failure on their part. (They failed me in countless ways, but atheism wasn’t one of those.) But if you have a life you’re proud of and a belief system and values system you’re secure in, their approval won’t (and shouldn’t) matter to you anymore. You’ve risen above them. You take yourself seriously. And that’s what’s really important.

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Comments»

1. LM - September 19, 2010

I’m younger than you… 3 years to be exact, and only my family knows of me being an atheist… my mom is like me… while my dad is like your parents.. although I did not tell him directly, he heard me talking about it. I think that your parents won’t really understand due to their religion. Although they might come to accept it. You can’t say much for them to understand. My dad won’t even talk to me about it. So I don’t have many ways to relate to your situation.. I’m way to chicken to come out to my friends about it. Me living in the Bible Belt, all of them are christian. So none of them will understand. It hurts, but when your family doesnt understand? It must be unbearable.. I’ve looked up ways to say things to them, and all you really can say right now, would be what you believe such as ‘I believe that ‘God’ is a myth’ or something along those lines your comfortable with… they may or may not come around…

2. Franck - October 17, 2011

This post is fantastic !

3. vernon - January 14, 2013

well today I told my parents I was an atheist

my mom was really upset and told me that she was going to pray for me and hope god stays over me
my dad said that I had cursed myself and that he was scared for me and told me to ask god for forgiveness and he told me his life story with god and stuff but lately I’ve felt like killing myself beacause of the stress and anger from this like my entire family hates me including my sisters and I’m honestly thinking of not coming back home after school tomorrow beacause I need a break I feel as if my family hates me now and I want to leave for a long time
but I’m only 15

(black family so if I try to sit and reason with them they’ll get mad and yell at me and say how there the adults and all that black steriotypical shit)

4. vernon - January 14, 2013

well today I told my parents I was an atheist
.
my mom was really upset and told me that she was going to pray for me and hope god stays over me
my dad said that I had cursed myself and that he was scared for me and told me to ask god for forgiveness and he told me his life story with god and stuff but lately I’ve felt like killing myself beacause of the stress and anger from this like my entire family hates me including my sisters and I’m honestly thinking of not coming back home after school tomorrow beacause I need a break I feel as if my family hates me now and I want to leave for a long time
but I’m only 15

(black family so if I try to sit and reason with them they’ll get mad and yell at me and say how there the adults and all that black steriotypical shit)

5. courtney - April 8, 2013

My sister knows im atheist and i trusted her not to tell anybody. She told my mom and my mom told me that i make her sick. It hurt when she said that. I dont know what to do. I think she hates me.


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