How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
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31-10-2015, 11:51 PM
How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
I tried searching for this topic but couldn't think of words specific enough to show me search results I was looking for, so I'm posting here. I'm sure this has been covered before, probably many times, so if someone knows of a thread about it please post it. Thanks.

My dad is 79 and my mom is 73. My mom's health is ok, but my dad has had several health issues over the past few months. Given his age and his health conditions, his time may be running out, sadly.

He and my mom are religious in that they sometimes go to church and say they believe in god (the christian version). They don't pray at home as far as I know, unless it's silent.

I saw a book my mom is reading that's about those "near death experiences" where I'm presuming everyone sees a white light, sees loved ones, etc. I'm guessing that's what's in the book since the author wants to sell copies and since the cover mentions getting to heaven. She also believes in ghosts and those "psychics" who claim they can talk to dead people but who really just throw out random names, locations, causes of death, etc., until the person they're talking to nods in agreement.

As for me, I was agnostic for probably a few decades but realized earlier this year that I'm an atheist. I think that my mom is wasting her time reading that book, that going to church is pointless, etc., but it seems to give them some reassurance. My dad and I have had some discussions about religion and local churches, but I haven't mentioned my atheism to either of my parents because I haven't seen a need to, and I don't want to rain on their parade. If believing in a god and an afterlife helps them cope with thoughts of their own eventual deaths, I don't want to try to take that reassurance away from them.

(sorry for the long post!) Anyway, I am wondering how to handle things if they comment about seeing relatives in heaven when they die, wondering if god will let them in, etc. I think the idea of a heaven and hell is ludicrous but that's not an response I'd be willing to give them. If they found out I was an atheist I'm guessing the questions would be something to the effect of "Don't you want to see us again after you die?" or "You'd better believe in god so he lets you into heaven" or something to that effect. If they weren't nearing the end of their lives I'd be ok with telling them I don't think there's a heaven or hell, but suggesting to them now that I don't think I'll see them in any afterlife doesn't seem helpful to them.

If you've been in that situation before how did you handle it? Or how would you?

Thanks!
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01-11-2015, 03:42 AM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
Just avoid the subject, but if necessary lie to them.

. . . ................................ ......................................... . [Image: 2dsmnow.gif] Eat at Joe's
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01-11-2015, 05:50 AM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
(31-10-2015 11:51 PM)smeli Wrote:  I tried searching for this topic but couldn't think of words specific enough to show me search results I was looking for, so I'm posting here. I'm sure this has been covered before, probably many times, so if someone knows of a thread about it please post it. Thanks.

My dad is 79 and my mom is 73. My mom's health is ok, but my dad has had several health issues over the past few months. Given his age and his health conditions, his time may be running out, sadly.

He and my mom are religious in that they sometimes go to church and say they believe in god (the christian version). They don't pray at home as far as I know, unless it's silent.

I saw a book my mom is reading that's about those "near death experiences" where I'm presuming everyone sees a white light, sees loved ones, etc. I'm guessing that's what's in the book since the author wants to sell copies and since the cover mentions getting to heaven. She also believes in ghosts and those "psychics" who claim they can talk to dead people but who really just throw out random names, locations, causes of death, etc., until the person they're talking to nods in agreement.

As for me, I was agnostic for probably a few decades but realized earlier this year that I'm an atheist. I think that my mom is wasting her time reading that book, that going to church is pointless, etc., but it seems to give them some reassurance. My dad and I have had some discussions about religion and local churches, but I haven't mentioned my atheism to either of my parents because I haven't seen a need to, and I don't want to rain on their parade. If believing in a god and an afterlife helps them cope with thoughts of their own eventual deaths, I don't want to try to take that reassurance away from them.

(sorry for the long post!) Anyway, I am wondering how to handle things if they comment about seeing relatives in heaven when they die, wondering if god will let them in, etc. I think the idea of a heaven and hell is ludicrous but that's not an response I'd be willing to give them. If they found out I was an atheist I'm guessing the questions would be something to the effect of "Don't you want to see us again after you die?" or "You'd better believe in god so he lets you into heaven" or something to that effect. If they weren't nearing the end of their lives I'd be ok with telling them I don't think there's a heaven or hell, but suggesting to them now that I don't think I'll see them in any afterlife doesn't seem helpful to them.

If you've been in that situation before how did you handle it? Or how would you?

Thanks!

There is no point in destroying your relationship and their lives at this point. Nothing at all is to be gained by a confrontation. Avoidance and changing the subject would likely be best.

It's the young where it matters, and the middle aged, people who still influence society. With elderly people, there is nothing to be gained and it would shake up their lives and cause worry and depression.

Leave the dogma to the churches. I'd like to think that we are better than that.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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01-11-2015, 06:41 AM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
(31-10-2015 11:51 PM)smeli Wrote:  I tried searching for this topic but couldn't think of words specific enough to show me search results I was looking for, so I'm posting here. I'm sure this has been covered before, probably many times, so if someone knows of a thread about it please post it. Thanks.

My dad is 79 and my mom is 73. My mom's health is ok, but my dad has had several health issues over the past few months. Given his age and his health conditions, his time may be running out, sadly.

He and my mom are religious in that they sometimes go to church and say they believe in god (the christian version). They don't pray at home as far as I know, unless it's silent.

I saw a book my mom is reading that's about those "near death experiences" where I'm presuming everyone sees a white light, sees loved ones, etc. I'm guessing that's what's in the book since the author wants to sell copies and since the cover mentions getting to heaven. She also believes in ghosts and those "psychics" who claim they can talk to dead people but who really just throw out random names, locations, causes of death, etc., until the person they're talking to nods in agreement.

As for me, I was agnostic for probably a few decades but realized earlier this year that I'm an atheist. I think that my mom is wasting her time reading that book, that going to church is pointless, etc., but it seems to give them some reassurance. My dad and I have had some discussions about religion and local churches, but I haven't mentioned my atheism to either of my parents because I haven't seen a need to, and I don't want to rain on their parade. If believing in a god and an afterlife helps them cope with thoughts of their own eventual deaths, I don't want to try to take that reassurance away from them.

(sorry for the long post!) Anyway, I am wondering how to handle things if they comment about seeing relatives in heaven when they die, wondering if god will let them in, etc. I think the idea of a heaven and hell is ludicrous but that's not an response I'd be willing to give them. If they found out I was an atheist I'm guessing the questions would be something to the effect of "Don't you want to see us again after you die?" or "You'd better believe in god so he lets you into heaven" or something to that effect. If they weren't nearing the end of their lives I'd be ok with telling them I don't think there's a heaven or hell, but suggesting to them now that I don't think I'll see them in any afterlife doesn't seem helpful to them.

If you've been in that situation before how did you handle it? Or how would you?

Thanks!

You and I are in the same boat and this question is what brought me to TTA three years ago.

After much thought and consideration I have decided that on their death bed I will tell them what they want to hear. A white lie at worst. I would rather give them a few moments of inner peace than the alternative. It hurts no one and it will give me no regrets.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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01-11-2015, 09:30 AM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
Having had many combatative nights over religion with my parents who are in their 70s, I can honestly say it's not worth it. Would I change history and not tell them I'm an atheist? No, but I would handle it differently. I can't give you perfect advice because I don't know you or your parents, but if it's something that doesn't truly upset you then just keep quiet and enjoy the time you have left with them.

Check out my now-defunct atheism blog. It's just a blog, no ads, no revenue, no gods.
----
Atheism promotes critical thinking; theism promotes hypocritical thinking. -- Me
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01-11-2015, 10:47 AM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
I think everyone uses different coping mechanisms to deal with death. There are certain people in my life who I will not debate on topics of religion. Some of my older family members fall into this category. As long as someone is not being harmed by religion or hurting others due to religion or being militant about religion--I just let the topic be.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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01-11-2015, 03:22 PM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
avoid the topic or deflect it to "hmm, that's a good question, I don't know the answer"

Most people just want others to listen to their concerns.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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01-11-2015, 04:54 PM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
Thanks very much for your comments, all of you. I think I'll do what you all suggested. I knew I could count on folks here for some great advice and you didn't let me down. It's much appreciated.
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02-11-2015, 02:46 PM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
It's not about being right or wrong, it's about what gives them some peace of mind. When she mentions looking forward to seeing someone why not ask her about that person? I don't think you want it hanging on your conscience that you were right but you managed to make her waning time on earth miserable.
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05-11-2015, 08:09 PM
RE: How to handle religious topics with religious, aging parents?
(02-11-2015 02:46 PM)Takelababy Wrote:  It's not about being right or wrong, it's about what gives them some peace of mind. When she mentions looking forward to seeing someone why not ask her about that person? I don't think you want it hanging on your conscience that you were right but you managed to make her waning time on earth miserable.

No, it's never been my intention to make my parents' life miserable. It's not in me to want to make anyone's life miserable. I was just trying to find ways to respond if the topic ever came up, which it probably will at some point.
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