Ask Teen Atheist, #3 July 16, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, family, issues, teen angst.
Tags: acceptance, atheism, faith, family, rejection, religion
Hey. Okay, so I recently found your website and was reading around and I really want to talk to you. I’m 13 years old and I’m in the 9th grade. I know, some may think thats really young but I know that I don’t believe in god and I think I may be an atheist. I went to church for a couple of years with my father and believed strongly in the Roman Catholic religion. I live with my mother and she is Christian but we don’t go to church and during that time period (when I believed in God), I asked my mom if we could go to church, but we never went. I started thinking more about the religion. It just doesn’t make sense at all and I disagree with just about everything in the religion. I recently told my mom and my 18 year old sister how I feel and they we’re shocked and confused. Naturally they wanted me to go to church A.S.A.P. It’s not going to help though. I have a friend that goes to church every Sunday, takes religion classes every Monday, and is going to a catholic school next year, but doesn’t believe in God. I took it to offense that they didn’t try and accept it and they tried to convert me instead. It turned into a fight. They are not taking me seriously, they think I don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it. I would just like your help as to what to say to them or what ever you think will help me.
I think it’s wonderful that at such a young age, you’ve found the intellectual bravery to question the religion you’d been indoctrinated in. It’s very rare, even among adults — they can question anything else (their credit card bill, their boyfriend, their college professor, their salary), but religion tends to be the “untouchable” topic for most people. So kudos, Alissa!
Sadly, your family’s reaction is very common, at least in my experience. I pretty much had to go through the same thing that you did, and even now, after almost a year, they still don’t really accept it. Even if your family is not the most devout, they’ll go on “You heathen! Repent nowwww” autopilot once they’ve discovered a threat to the foundation of their beliefs (read: your newfound atheism). The first thing they’re going to want to try to do is to convert you back in order to “correct” your “mistake.”
Of anybody you’re going to have to deal with about your atheism, your parents will be the most difficult hurdle because they will always see that part of you as a disappointment, as a failure on their part. The best that you can do is to reaffirm your belief in yourself. Don’t let what they say affect you. Don’t put so much power in their words. I know they’re your parents and they’re an important part of your life, but they can’t dictate who you are and what you can and can’t do. You already have a strong sense of self, Alissa — hold on to that.
“They think [you] don’t know enough about the religion to not believe in it” is one of the first arguments my parents tried to throw my way. I directed them to an About.com page on atheism. It didn’t work, and beyond that, it got ugly. They’re really never going to listen, at least mine didn’t; the best I could hope for is their silence about it. Hopefully you’ll be luckier, and they’ll learn to accept your beliefs over time.
I also regret to inform you that since both you and I are teenagers, there are going to be a hell of a lot of people who won’t take us seriously, especially when it comes to things like this. Remind yourself: it’s NOT “just a phase.” You’re an individual, too, free to believe in whatever you want to believe. Surround yourself with friends who accept you for who you are, and adults who actually do take you seriously (perhaps a freethinking and openminded teacher, if you have one?). Also, the atheist web community is full of friendly, accepting people who would be more than glad to talk to you about your problems, and share their knowledge about atheism with you. When I was going through that big fight with my family after being outed by my brother as an atheist, a lot of the online atheists dropped by my blog and left encouraging words. Not only did I feel accepted, but I also learned a lot about my beliefs.
As for what to say to your family, I don’t think anything can change their mind about this, but you can at least assure them that nothing they say or do will convert you back, but despite your lack of belief in a god, you are still fundamentally a good person, and that you hope they still accept and love you as a daughter despite your differences.
I hope it turns out well! More power to you!
Anger management: Sporkage December 22, 2007Posted by Teen Atheist in family, rants, teen angst.
Tags: acceptance, atheism, Christmas, family, religion
I haven’t talked to
that judgmental, self-absorbed bitch Mother Dearest since last Monday’s argument, and with every day that passes, I just get more and more upset about what a total asshole she’s been.
(I’m sorry, Mom. I know I shouldn’t talk this way since you pay for all my shit, but I’m angry, and when I’m angry I get irrational.)
‘Cause, really. She’s actually talking about me behind my back now. I don’t usually eat dinner, so at one of these dinners I’m within hearing range (but not in anyone’s line of sight) and I hear her whine “She’s so disrespectful and ungrateful” to my father, who’s all “I don’t want to hear it”/ “This is between you and her, keep me out of it.” Classy, Mother Dearest. Really classy.
So I figure, if she’s doing it, I might as well continue the Mom sporkage on this blog, which by the way, is the only venue where I talk about her. My friends, save for Tyler, have no idea that I hate my family this much.
The nearer Christmas Eve looms, the more upset and restless I get about the shitty Christmas that she’s forced me into. What’s worse, spending Christmas alone or spending it with a bunch of people you hate, two of whom you’re not on speaking terms with? This has “Worst Christmas Ever” written all over it.
Sure, I could take the easy way out and offer an empty apology to her so we can at least have a Christmas that looks okay, but I’m sick of getting bent over and fucked in the ass here. I’ll tell you why I won’t apologize: BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. What do I say, “Sorry for being myself? Sorry for sticking to my convictions?”
Mother Dearest is so self-absorbed that she thinks all of the major decisions I’ve made are centered on her. She told me that she thought I became an atheist just to piss her off, and she thought that I chose Dream College over Smarty-Pants College because it would directly disobey her wishes. And now she thinks that I wanted to spend Christmas away from the family just to spite her. Not only is that theory incredibly narcissistic, but it’s also a huge insult to my intelligence and character. So, no, Mother Dearest, I’m not doing it to spite you, because you’re hardly ever a factor in my personal decisions. I wanted to spend Christmas at a hotel because a) I assumed that you were kicking me out of Christmas, and b) I’d rather be happy alone than miserable with my family, especially on Christmas Eve.
During the argument, she explained that she wasn’t kicking me out of Christmas, she was just trying to tell me that they weren’t going to give me any gift. (And let’s face it, she’s only doing this so she can buy that motherfucking digital camera.)
Mother: “I just feel that gift-giving isn’t a tradition that atheists follow.”
TA (snickering): “Why, because it’s written in the Bible somewhere that Baby Jesus wants you to buy each other Nintendo Wiis to celebrate his birthday?”
Mother: “No, but giving each other presents is a way to celebrate our Savior’s birth, and clearly you don’t believe in Him, so you’re not getting one.”
It’s not that I’m bitter about not getting a gift, since I got a good amount of money for my birthday, but who wants to spend Christmas with someone like her?
I apologize if it’s been nothing but ranty-ness so far, but I’m extremely resentful and I’m venting here. Moving on, here are the various arguments for Christianity that she made in her argument, which I will proceed to spork: (more…)