How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
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09-06-2014, 12:12 AM
How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
Any advise would be helpful.

I am a 15 year old guy and I am an Atheist. My family and I go to church every week. I feel like parents are pretty set in their ways. Do you think I should tell them that I am an atheist and risk punishment and scorning, or wait until I am financially dependent to tell them. Thank you so much for your help.
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09-06-2014, 03:26 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
You can try this:

Just be honest about how you feel, without going on about it too much Yes.

Or this:

Leaving on A jet Plane

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
I'm standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye

But the dawn is breaking, it's early morning
The taxi is waiting, he is blowing his horn
Already I'm so lonesome, I could die . . . Gasp

I don't recommend the latter, really.

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." Orson Welles
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09-06-2014, 04:04 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
If religion is a big deal to your parents, I recommend keeping your mouth shut until you're fully independent (small note: you have "dependent" in your OP where it should say "independent"). This doesn't mean when you're off to college or whatever; it means when you can support yourself financially.
If your parents are open-minded, you could risk telling them now, but they might dismiss it outright.

The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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09-06-2014, 06:56 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
It really depends on your relationship with your parents, as well as how they feel about atheism. If your parents love you and aren't super-judgmental, it could go over fairly well. Potential problems include:
  • Them getting dismissive of your views/concerns.
  • Them deciding to "save your soul" and getting extra preachy and/or forcing more church attendance/Bible reading.
  • Them kicking you out (That's pretty extreme, and you're young enough that it might not be a problem).
That being said, how good is your relationship with your parents? Do you talk openly with them about any big or adult topics? If you want a "safe" approach, you might be able to test the waters with them by talking to them about some religious topics and in a round-about way finding out what they think about atheism. Do they see atheists as terrible people who threaten their way of life and are ruining the country? Do they see them as confused individuals who deserve pity? Do they see it as another alternate viewpoint that just happens to be one they don't share (believe it or not, this type of Christian does exist)? Chances are, if they love you and are relatively open-minded, their stance will soften once they realize that someone they know and love is atheist.

The only other option (aside from flat out avoiding the topic) would be to discus religion with them. If you're careful about how you approach it, it can get them thinking, get them more open-minded, and not flat-out identify you as atheist. If you go this route, be sure that you know what you're talking about and that you can back your stance with evidence. The last thing you want is them writing off your concerns as the ramblings of some naive kid.
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09-06-2014, 07:06 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
Tell them you have become a Seventh day advent hopist. Like Arnold Rimmer's parents.

Mr and Mrs Rimmer were very religious, taking the Bible scriptures at face value. The Hoppists were primarily concerned with a particular verse from the New Testament. St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 13 had been misprinted in a certain edition of the Bible. In their version, the verse read "And now these three remain: Faith, Hop and Charity. But the greatest of these is Hop".
The Hoppists took this literally and insisted that their followers spent every seventh day hopping. They would hop to church, hop through the service and then hop home again. The Rimmers even served their Sunday lunch whilst hopping, causing them to wear protective clothing to avoid burning themselves.


Later when you tell them you are atheist they will feel relief. Smile

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09-06-2014, 07:54 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
(09-06-2014 07:06 AM)Banjo Wrote:  St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 13 had been misprinted in a certain edition of the Bible. In their version, the verse read "And now these three remain: Faith, Hop and Charity. But the greatest of these is Hop".
The Hoppists took this literally and insisted that their followers spent every seventh day hopping.

And here I thought you were going to say they started brewing beer. That would have been so much more awesome.
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09-06-2014, 08:32 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
Your parent’s religious affiliation, along with their backgrounds and professions, are things you want to consider. If fundamentalist, they would probably be more upset at you becoming Catholic.

You are only 15, so let me throw out two stories from my own family for some perspective.

My grandfather’s Dad left the Mormons and moved to Canada. Grandpa, (born 1897), a geologist and skeptic, married a nice Christian woman in 1927 and moved to the United States. He took Grandma to church for 65 years.

I married a practicing Roman Catholic (not really a Christian, but close). I have been making casseroles for the poor for 10 years and have sung in two Catholic choirs. My wife accepts my skepticism the same way I accept her Catholicism, and neither one of us has attempted to convert the other.

If at all possible, hang in there for a few more years. And when you decide to talk to your parents, try not to throw atheism at them in the same way a fundamentalist throws Jesus at you. If they become upset and want to pray for you, just thank them for their prayers, give them big hugs and ask that they accept your skepticism of books about the supernatural world. You just might get lucky.

In another 15 years, Heaven forbid, you might fall in love and marry a Christian.
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09-06-2014, 08:59 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
(09-06-2014 07:06 AM)Banjo Wrote:  Tell them you have become a Seventh day advent hopist. Like Arnold Rimmer's parents.

Mr and Mrs Rimmer were very religious, taking the Bible scriptures at face value. The Hoppists were primarily concerned with a particular verse from the New Testament. St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 13 had been misprinted in a certain edition of the Bible. In their version, the verse read "And now these three remain: Faith, Hop and Charity. But the greatest of these is Hop".
The Hoppists took this literally and insisted that their followers spent every seventh day hopping. They would hop to church, hop through the service and then hop home again. The Rimmers even served their Sunday lunch whilst hopping, causing them to wear protective clothing to avoid burning themselves.


Later when you tell them you are atheist they will feel relief. Smile

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09-06-2014, 09:02 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
(09-06-2014 12:12 AM)austinlachney Wrote:  Any advise would be helpful.

I am a 15 year old guy and I am an Atheist. My family and I go to church every week. I feel like parents are pretty set in their ways. Do you think I should tell them that I am an atheist and risk punishment and scorning, or wait until I am financially dependent to tell them. Thank you so much for your help.

You want to be careful here. I remember a kid who came onto AF.com who had just told his parents, and their reaction was to threaten to disenfranchise him -- including to pull him out of college and cut off his tuition.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


Magic Talking Snakes STFU -- revenantx77


You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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09-06-2014, 09:06 AM
RE: How to tell your parents that you are an atheist?
This may help you make your own decision:

Mom, Dad, I'm an Atheist book

"This essential guide to coming-out as a non-believer has been written to make it easier for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and non-believers of all ages and backgrounds to be open about their non-religiosity while minimizing the negative interactions in familial, social, and professional circles.

As a survival guide for non-believers who wish to come out, this book provides advice and resources for those interested in publically rejecting religious dogma as well as real stories from non-believers who have experienced coming-out to less-than-supportive family or friends.

Whether you're new to disbelief and looking for the cleanest possible break from your former faith or you're a lifelong atheist who wants to establish a sense of community with like-minded people, this guide provides useful resources including: tips for handling potential conflicts with believers, the author's answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on behalf of believers, and numerous references to support groups, services, and advocacy organizations dedicated to non-theists.

From dealing with grief from a secular perspective to handling potential clashes in religious worldviews between significant others, this book offers multiple perspectives from non-religious individuals who have generously shared their experiences to help those atheists who may find themselves in similar situations."

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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