Worried Teen
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20-01-2013, 05:58 AM
Worried Teen
This has been bothering me for quite a while now, and I'm here to get advice and further insight into the issue. I'll start with the background so you can better adjudicate the right thing to do in my circumstance. I know not everyone's situation is similar.

I am an atheist, and I've been an atheist for at least 3 or 4 years now. I'm 18 years old and attend a university that is 5 miles from my parents' home. I'm fortunate enough that the college is paying for most of my education, and although I'd like to have gone far away from my parents, no other college was willing to give me money.

Going a bit farther back in time, my sibling was diagnosed with a mental disorder and is now some sort of religious fanatic. She is in her 20s but I'd say she has the mental capacity of a 10 year old. My parents themselves are hardcore Christians and they believed for the longest time that my sister was just possessed. Likewise, I've been to many exorcisms for my sister and Christian soothsayers. I don't blame my parents too much because they were understandably desperate. They still believe that the voices she hears are just evil spirits although they stopped seeking exorcisms.

My mother and my sister both believe they can speak in tongues. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it's the belief that the holy spirit is speaking through you when you pray. While you are praying you slip in and out of some mystical "holy language" which no one can comprehend. It's just pure, repetitive nonsense. If it were actually random, I wouldn't be hearing the same thing over and over. For some reason, my mother and my sister have this special gift from god, and they use it as a special tool.

For the most part, this hasn't bothered me too much. I know keeping quiet and pretending to be religious is a small price to pay to keep my otherwise good parents happy. This has recently took a toll on me. I thought I'd be free once I went to college, but they're trying to make me attend church even in college. Furthermore, my sister's life is completely ruined. Although she doesn't have normal mental capabilities, she would have fared much better if she was sent to some sort of rehabilitation center or taught with other students. Instead, my mom has decided to make her a crazy religious fanatic who now has no capacity for intellectual advancement. It's a terrible thing when a person who hears voices is told that those voices are real and sent by the devil. If she believes they are real, how will she ever look past them?

Almost anything I suggest is immediately met with, "let us pray for God's will". Apparently it is imminently clear to my mother what God's will is. It is usually some very irrational and unrealistic. I suggested that we take my sister to some sort of skill center and my mother told me we ought to pray for God's will first. Needless to say, my sister still sits and home and does nothing.

I don't want to confront my parents about these issues. I know that if I confront them, they will place very hefty restrictions on me. If they doubt my piety, they may actually ask me to commute to school from home. If they think I'm atheist, they will believe they have failed as parents. Not only did they lose one child to mental illness, they lost the other child to satan. I can only imagine how devastating it would be for them, and I don't wish to inflict this harm on them.

On the flip side, I can't continue to let irrationality ruin my family's life. Religiosity is much different in my home than most other homes. My parents are fanatical, and their beliefs actually have very big consequences on the family. The unique circumstances of my sister puts her in a dangerous place where she's misled to the point of never fitting in with society and being independent. Furthermore, if I don't act, my sister will be dependent on my parents for the rest of their lives. She will then be dependent on me. I see a moral imperative to stop this madness and take executive control. I just don't know how it will end up if I act.

Can anyone offer any advice? These issues are wearing down my soul.
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20-01-2013, 08:43 AM
RE: Worried Teen
(20-01-2013 05:58 AM)Kantian Wrote:  This has been bothering me for quite a while now, and I'm here to get advice and further insight into the issue. I'll start with the background so you can better adjudicate the right thing to do in my circumstance. I know not everyone's situation is similar.

I am an atheist, and I've been an atheist for at least 3 or 4 years now. I'm 18 years old and attend a university that is 5 miles from my parents' home. I'm fortunate enough that the college is paying for most of my education, and although I'd like to have gone far away from my parents, no other college was willing to give me money.

Going a bit farther back in time, my sibling was diagnosed with a mental disorder and is now some sort of religious fanatic. She is in her 20s but I'd say she has the mental capacity of a 10 year old. My parents themselves are hardcore Christians and they believed for the longest time that my sister was just possessed. Likewise, I've been to many exorcisms for my sister and Christian soothsayers. I don't blame my parents too much because they were understandably desperate. They still believe that the voices she hears are just evil spirits although they stopped seeking exorcisms.

My mother and my sister both believe they can speak in tongues. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it's the belief that the holy spirit is speaking through you when you pray. While you are praying you slip in and out of some mystical "holy language" which no one can comprehend. It's just pure, repetitive nonsense. If it were actually random, I wouldn't be hearing the same thing over and over. For some reason, my mother and my sister have this special gift from god, and they use it as a special tool.

For the most part, this hasn't bothered me too much. I know keeping quiet and pretending to be religious is a small price to pay to keep my otherwise good parents happy. This has recently took a toll on me. I thought I'd be free once I went to college, but they're trying to make me attend church even in college. Furthermore, my sister's life is completely ruined. Although she doesn't have normal mental capabilities, she would have fared much better if she was sent to some sort of rehabilitation center or taught with other students. Instead, my mom has decided to make her a crazy religious fanatic who now has no capacity for intellectual advancement. It's a terrible thing when a person who hears voices is told that those voices are real and sent by the devil. If she believes they are real, how will she ever look past them?

Almost anything I suggest is immediately met with, "let us pray for God's will". Apparently it is imminently clear to my mother what God's will is. It is usually some very irrational and unrealistic. I suggested that we take my sister to some sort of skill center and my mother told me we ought to pray for God's will first. Needless to say, my sister still sits and home and does nothing.

I don't want to confront my parents about these issues. I know that if I confront them, they will place very hefty restrictions on me. If they doubt my piety, they may actually ask me to commute to school from home. If they think I'm atheist, they will believe they have failed as parents. Not only did they lose one child to mental illness, they lost the other child to satan. I can only imagine how devastating it would be for them, and I don't wish to inflict this harm on them.

On the flip side, I can't continue to let irrationality ruin my family's life. Religiosity is much different in my home than most other homes. My parents are fanatical, and their beliefs actually have very big consequences on the family. The unique circumstances of my sister puts her in a dangerous place where she's misled to the point of never fitting in with society and being independent. Furthermore, if I don't act, my sister will be dependent on my parents for the rest of their lives. She will then be dependent on me. I see a moral imperative to stop this madness and take executive control. I just don't know how it will end up if I act.

Can anyone offer any advice? These issues are wearing down my soul.


First you need to clarify your situation.

If worst comes to worst, can you support yourself? You are 18.... can you put yourself through school?

How do you propose to act? Suggestions you make are not accepted. You can't abduct your sister. So what are you thinking of?

Your parent's delusions sound pretty bad. Your sister's life is screwed. She needs to go to learn to support herself - I understand Goodwill has some good programs that might be a possibility. A 10 year old - that's not too bad.

But before you can even think about acting, you need to be sure you are able to support yourself while you go to school. You don't want your life ruined too.

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20-01-2013, 08:52 AM
RE: Worried Teen
Consider telling your mother that you prayed for God's will and the answer you got was to send your sister to a program or institution.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-01-2013, 09:35 AM
RE: Worried Teen
The way they are treating your sister is so mid evil. It's like me being epileptic (seizure free for 10 years ). If I had been born in another century I could have been burned at the stake for being a witch or they would have did like with your sister try to cast out the demons in me or even kill me for it. I just can't comprehend that their are still ppl that believe this way. They do have meds of schizophrenia these days. Just venting at the ignorance not you. Wink
Advice, contact your local mental health community. Support groups can be helpful as well. For you to get advice from. I really don't know what else to say.

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20-01-2013, 01:15 PM
RE: Worried Teen
"I know keeping quiet and pretending to be religious is a small price to pay to keep my otherwise good parents happy."

A few questions...

If I dropped quarters in every homeless person's cup, helped little old ladies across the street, was employee of the month 12 months out of the year and went home every day and beat the shit out of my wife would you say that I was an "otherwise" good person?

What price were your parents willing to pay in order that their children were raised without the burden of mental disease, confusion and ambivalence?

What responsibility does an innocent child have to adults who terrify them with lies about invisible beings who will torture them for eternity?
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20-01-2013, 04:50 PM
RE: Worried Teen
(20-01-2013 01:15 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  "I know keeping quiet and pretending to be religious is a small price to pay to keep my otherwise good parents happy."

A few questions...

If I dropped quarters in every homeless person's cup, helped little old ladies across the street, was employee of the month 12 months out of the year and went home every day and beat the shit out of my wife would you say that I was an "otherwise" good person?

What price were your parents willing to pay in order that their children were raised without the burden of mental disease, confusion and ambivalence?

What responsibility does an innocent child have to adults who terrify them with lies about invisible beings who will torture them for eternity?
I think he knows all this, but of course he loves his parents too. That's part of the issue. If he can be financially independent, he may gain the distance to look closer... (sounds contradictory, doesn't it, lol)

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12-07-2013, 04:02 PM
RE: Worried Teen
(20-01-2013 05:58 AM)Kantian Wrote:  they lost the other child to satan.
I loved this.

I totally feel for you. I understand how difficult your situation is, especially because religion tends to close people's minds, and they refuse to listen to reason. I would advise you to sit your parents down and talk to them about what happens when they die (not to them, obviously). Tell them that your sister needs to learn how to support herself if worst comes to worst. Hopefully they'll see things in perspective and maybe consider sending her to one of these places.

You should also try looking up those kind of places with the word "Christian" in their name. I know you probably don't want to send your sister to some bonus indoctrination level, but she will learn stuff she needs to know, and it might even appeal to your parents. Just a thought.
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13-07-2013, 11:05 PM
RE: Worried Teen
A couple things jump out at me.

First, I think you have to be honest about how much influence you can really have in this situation. Don't make yourself responsible for the actions of your parents toward your sister. To be frank, at 18, attempting to take 'executive control' of your family is likely to turn out badly.

Second, you need to be careful how you speak to your parents. Like it or not, you're only 18, and they will still view you as a child. If you come off as superior to them it won't matter if you're correct - they'll dismiss what you say and will likely be even more resistant to further suggestions.

What about talking to your sister directly? Could you pique her interest in any of these programs? How would your parents respond to your sister asking to go to a skills training class?

The nuclear option is to contact social services in your area and explain the situation and ask if there is anything that can be done. But, if social services get involved it will come out that you called them and you'll likely be disowned.

All that aside, I sympathize with your anger over the situation. It's absolutely appropriate to be angry at your parents over this. It sounds like from your post that your parents still exercise significant control in your life, perhaps because they're supporting you financially or in some other form? A good first step would be to make yourself entirely independent of them.
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