Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
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24-09-2012, 06:13 PM
Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I'm not really sure how to explain it, but since I left Christianity behind, my parents have expressed hurt from that - my mother said she cries at night about it, etc. They're earnestly worried about me burning in hell - telling them that there is no hell to burn in doesn't help, as they're so far into their delusion that the concept of Christianity being false seems silly to them. They've gone so far as to say my college education was a complete waste of money, because that's when I started drifting away from belief - to them, it's more important that I believe than I get a good education, good job, and succeed (also, I was "smarter when I was 13 [and believed]" and such Dodgy ). They've even questioned whether I really ever believed, since to them it's inconceivable that a Christian could walk away from faith.

I honestly care about their feelings though, and wish I could do something... I know that they'd be thrilled if I converted back to Christianity, but I can't a) force myself to believe something against all evidence and logic or b) fake conversion - I don't like the idea of living a lie or double life to fool them into being happier. I've got as much chance of de-converting them as I do winning the lottery 50x straight, so getting them to join my side is off the table too...

How do you deal with that, for those that are in a similar situation? I know they won't be "getting over it" any time soon, so I don't have that hope... Saying "I don't want to talk about it" just prompts a "that's because you can't defend your faith in atheism, just admit you're wrong" response Rolleyes

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24-09-2012, 11:09 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Unfortunately I cannot tell you it is easy to deal with. I do suggest that you tread lightly. I always wanted my parents to see my point of view. It lead to my father seeing the light and becoming an atheist. He was and still is very depressed about it. In my opinion most believers are not like Seth Andrews. Many just can't handle losing their belief. I don't exactly pretend to be a believer around my grandmother, however I don't actively tell her that I don't believe. If she dies thinking that I believe since it is so important to her, I don't have a problem with it. If you really want to pursue de-converting your parents, I suggest leaving reading material around the house for them to read. Don't tell them that you are leaving it for them. Just be reading something you want them to see and forget to bring it with you when you leave. This is especially effective if it has a bible verse on the front of it. Again I have to warn you to be careful. If you don't think they can handle it, don't try. Just let them think what they want to think.
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25-09-2012, 07:21 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Time may be your ally here. Be the bigger person and don't flaunt your beliefs but certainly don't cheapen them by pretending just to make them feel better. IN months maybe years, you may be able to have rational discussions with them, but do it slowly. The main goal is to get them to accept you. Then once that is achieved, helping them down the path to rational thinking can be attempted. Good luck!
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25-09-2012, 07:22 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Tell them to get a grip and stop acting so childish. Big Grin

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25-09-2012, 08:31 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(24-09-2012 06:13 PM)Azaraith Wrote:  I'm not really sure how to explain it, but since I left Christianity behind, my parents have expressed hurt from that - my mother said she cries at night about it, etc. They're earnestly worried about me burning in hell - telling them that there is no hell to burn in doesn't help, as they're so far into their delusion that the concept of Christianity being false seems silly to them. They've gone so far as to say my college education was a complete waste of money, because that's when I started drifting away from belief - to them, it's more important that I believe than I get a good education, good job, and succeed (also, I was "smarter when I was 13 [and believed]" and such Dodgy ). They've even questioned whether I really ever believed, since to them it's inconceivable that a Christian could walk away from faith.

I honestly care about their feelings though, and wish I could do something... I know that they'd be thrilled if I converted back to Christianity, but I can't a) force myself to believe something against all evidence and logic or b) fake conversion - I don't like the idea of living a lie or double life to fool them into being happier. I've got as much chance of de-converting them as I do winning the lottery 50x straight, so getting them to join my side is off the table too...

How do you deal with that, for those that are in a similar situation? I know they won't be "getting over it" any time soon, so I don't have that hope... Saying "I don't want to talk about it" just prompts a "that's because you can't defend your faith in atheism, just admit you're wrong" response Rolleyes
My situation is similar. I have family members who are distraught with the whole idea that I will likely go to hell. They regularly pray for me and tell me so. I often hear expressions of grief from them and how much they wish I would reconsider. They keep telling me to learn more about Catholicism (the religion I grew up with) in the hope that it will bring me back despite my repeatedly replying that every time I read more, I find more reason to confirm my atheism.

As a former Catholic, I understand their position and why they grieve. It also tells me there is little I can do to console them. For that reason, I simply try to be as respectful as possible by making sure I am never rude about my atheism or about their religious beliefs. As much as I dislike it, I also allow them to discuss religion and my atheism as much as they want to help them process it all. I do draw the line at rudeness though. If I notice they are becoming rude, I'm not afraid to say so calmly and request that they return to more polite discussion. The bottom line is to respect their feelings and to try to maintain a state of civility between you while also remaining true to your own beliefs. Under no circumstance would I "give in" and pretend to believe, think, or do something just to make them feel better. It is them, not you, that is really causing their grief. It's hard to watch, but you likely can't relieve them of it.

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25-09-2012, 10:57 AM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
Disprove hell, also if their god rewards good deeds than if your're good you will end up in heaven.

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

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25-09-2012, 12:54 PM
NOT "deconversion"
The correct term is "apostasy". You'd have to convert first to be able to deconvert.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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25-09-2012, 05:11 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I feel for you man. I am still dealing with shit from my family about my deconversion.

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25-09-2012, 06:31 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
(25-09-2012 08:31 AM)Impulse Wrote:  As a former Catholic, I understand their position and why they grieve. It also tells me there is little I can do to console them. For that reason, I simply try to be as respectful as possible by making sure I am never rude about my atheism or about their religious beliefs. As much as I dislike it, I also allow them to discuss religion and my atheism as much as they want to help them process it all. I do draw the line at rudeness though. If I notice they are becoming rude, I'm not afraid to say so calmly and request that they return to more polite discussion. The bottom line is to respect their feelings and to try to maintain a state of civility between you while also remaining true to your own beliefs. Under no circumstance would I "give in" and pretend to believe, think, or do something just to make them feel better. It is them, not you, that is really causing their grief. It's hard to watch, but you likely can't relieve them of it.
Same. I was raised Catholic, and I wasn't totally sure I believed as a kid, but by the time I was a teenager, I was an atheist. And yet some relatives are only discovering this now, decades later. One became very upset and phoned me about it, telling me to read a certain apologetics book, to "invite God into my life" and phone her when I've accepted him (!), and most of all suggested I need to think about religion more and I'll come back to it.

Thinking about religion is what made me an atheist, some people just can't understand that. And some who can are still worried about my "soul." I don't think there's an easy answer for those in this situation. I just try not to be a jerk, and tell them I'd appreciate it if they don't act like jerks, because it's really unlikely either of us will switch sides.

If someone brings it up, I'll say I'm an atheist (I was happy to find recently out that my mom's 80 year old friend is an atheist), but I won't get confrontational for no reason. I just don't bring it up around my grandparents, for example, but, when asked why I don't go to church with them, I simply replied that I'm "not religious." I don't know if they interpreted that as atheism, apathy, or just disinterest in attending church, though.
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25-09-2012, 08:29 PM
RE: Dealing with family's "pain" caused by your deconversion...
I don't argue with anyone--knowingly--over the age of 30. I don't tell anyone about my athiesm--if I'm not provoked--over the age of 30. Thus, every member of my family does not know of my lack of belief.

If they are that old and still clinging to their religion, then they are too far gone. Telling them at that point would be simply stupid if you would lose peace of mind of any sorts.

"We Humans are capable of greatness." -Carl Sagan
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