How do I tell my parents I'm an atheist? Help!

shutupcabbageshutupcabbage Milledgeville, GAPosts: 1
Have any other Nerdfighters had to do this? I love my parents, but they're very certain atheists go to hell and I'm very certain there is no hell. See my dilemma? Help!


  • McEstebanMcEsteban Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    How old are you and could you give more background?
  • BambukoBambuko Cracow, PolandPosts: 4
    I had to go through the same with my grandparents. Dont worry, just try to be delicate and not insult their reason when answering the question "why". Then give them time. Theyll manage.
  • TelMolagMoraTelMolagMora Alliance, OhioPosts: 516 ✭✭
    Perhaps its best not to tell them. I sortive have the same situation. My parents don't care that I'm an atheist; its my grandparents that worries me. They are very devote Baptists (my grandfather is also a retired pastor). If I were to tell them that I don't believe in God and all that jazz, they would be absolutely devistated. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I put them through that kind of grief. So, my best option is to feign piety and stick with duplicity. Not ideal, but its what I see as my best option. Only you will know how to best deal with your situation, so I recommend not telling them (at least immidietly). Just think this decision through thoroughly and cautiosly. You've got plenty of time for consideration, but once its out there it ain't going back.
    무세이 알렉스, remember the name.
  • clausitclausit EnglandPosts: 7,809 ✭✭✭✭
    Yeah, it may not be best to tell them. Depends on how they are likely to deal with it. However, if you think they can handle it then just be as honest as possible. Think through how youre going to explain it to them and engage with them honestly. I think as long as you arent at risk of being kicked out/disowned/attacked or anything like that then the only thing you can do is be honest and be patient.
    You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted but mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin. Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
  • turtlemcnuggetsturtlemcnuggets Posts: 3,837 ✭✭✭
    I'm in a bit of a similar situation. I have no idea how they would react, so my plan is to (perhaps a little cold/calculatedly?) wait until after they have helped my pay for college (senior in high school right now). I don't think they'd disown me or anything that extreme, but it might make them less generous towards me. So for now I just sit through church and try to find a bit of happiness in it (There is sometimes something very interesting about seeing people United for something, even if you don't beleive it). As for how to actually tell them...I need as much advice as you
  • amanb014amanb014 Atlanta, GAPosts: 4
    edited August 2015
    I have done this in the past and it was a tough time. I told my parents when I was around 15 years old that I had doubts about faith and religion that I was born into. It was definitely not an easy task, but I took it slow.

    In my religion we had to go pray every single day, but obviously not many people could realistically do that. But I had started skipping going to our worship place, and stayed home, making excuses. This made my parents upset and it would create fights at home and arguments. I started with this because it would give them an idea of what I felt towards attending prayers. After about a year of stopping or not attending regularly, I was having an argument with my parents about this subject and I told my mother that I did not believe in things I was taught anymore. She freaked out. My dad freaked out. For a couple months they threatened to take away things from me, but never did. I did my part in life - I went to school, I took care of my grades, I didn't slack off. So that helped me.

    The main thing that bothered them is me not being a believer obviously, but the fact that they are too religious did not help. My mother is a strong believer and my father is an okay believer. 

    I would not recommend people do this until they are either ready to live on their own, or would like to take a chance with their parents.

    Things that would matter are:
    • How well you do in school (if you are currently in any type of school, high school or college)
    • Your behavior at home (or what THEY think of your behavior)
    • Parent's temper with change
    • Your age
    I would say wait it out, and start hinting to them that you are not very interested in this idea, and see what happens. Don't say it directly, but express in actions. If that goes well - meaning that they are calm about it, then you can come out and express what you think.

    The worst thing that happened with me was that I was blamed for things that I could not control. I was blamed for them because I was not participating in my religion regularly, as if it would be better if I prayed or believed.

    Edit: Don't expect things to turn out well. It will take time, maybe a lot of time. I wouldn't do this if you are still living with your parents, that could be dangerous. 
  • Lavache_BeadsmanLavache_Beadsman New YorkPosts: 661 ✭✭✭
    "Hey, Mom and Dad, do you ever feel like God is dead and we have killed him?"
  • TelMolagMoraTelMolagMora Alliance, OhioPosts: 516 ✭✭
    Got ist töt.
    무세이 알렉스, remember the name.
  • clausitclausit EnglandPosts: 7,809 ✭✭✭✭
    Find an appropriate moment, say "If only God was alive to see this" to guage their reaction, and if they get angry say you were just quoting the Simpsons.
    You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted but mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin. Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
  • SchlemielSchlemiel Posts: 5
    It really depends on what your parents and the faith they follow are like. I don't think there is a pat answer. 

    I am agnostic, but my wife and children (8 & 11) are christian. I have yet to have any real discussion on my lack of faith with my children. So I am in a sort of reverse situation to yours.

    If your parents religion is a more open one and you have already been baptized and confirmed, being atheist may not be a barrier to participation in your church. Just let them know you are in doubt and do not feel gods presence. If your parents are non participating christians or have no particular christian faith then it might be acceptable to just tell them you love the story of Jesus and believe in love and the golden rule. Maybe add that you believe that if there is a god it will not judge you for your lack of faith, but instead for your commitment to caring for others.

    If your parents are fundamentalist it might be best to let the matter go. Depending on the amount of openness in your relationship this kind of revelation can cause serious damage if real sensitivity is lacking. Avoid revealing it in an argument as this can completely alienate people that love you very much.
  • MarcellaMarcella Yeah The NetherlandsPosts: 1,378 ✭✭✭
    Ah, I had to go through this a few years ago. I slowly went to church less and less, until my mum asked what was up and then I just told her I didn't believe in God.
    She still thinks I will "find my way back to the light" at some point, which I highly doubt, but this does result in us fighting over it occasionally. That's really annoying of course, but I suppose there's no other way for us.

    I think just straight up saying it or explaining why you don't want to go to church anymore is the best way, and try not to let it get to a fight, because I can tell you from experience that that'll just end up angering both parties, but neither is willing to re-think their point.
    "If the kids don't believe, make them believe."

    - Alex Gaskarth
  • ArtsyKRArtsyKR New JerseyPosts: 11
    There is a lot of great advice on here, particularly amanb014. I just wanted to add a point; take control of the situation and make sure telling them is on your terms. This isn't something you want to just happen in an argument or finding out through the great vine.
  • AgentMAgentM Denver, ColoradoPosts: 1
    This could also just be something your family will not accept. I'd be prepared for that, too. Even as an adult my mom will say "No, you''re not an atheist. You're probably agnostic." And my Dad will just say "Yeah, well, you probably just aren't sure yet."

    It's insulting. But at least I'm being honest with everyone.
    I do the arts and the farts:
  • JokoJoko Reno, NVPosts: 5
    When I told my relatives, they were extremely upset and a bit angry. But a few weeks later it was as if nothing happened. If I were you, I would gauge how they feel about atheists in general. If they are hostile at the very mentioning of the word -- abstain until you are older. But if they are lukewarm/apathetic or even positive, find ways to bring it up politely overtime.

    As for me, I tend to be very abrasive when it comes to being forced to partake in familial customs. Don't be. Fighting back will only lead to met division.
    Participation in the political process will be key if the new generation wants to save and preserve the American Republic.
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,397 ✭✭✭
    I don't think it's something that you even need to discuss with your parents. However at the same time I also don't know what it's like having two super religious parents. My mom is Jehovah's Witness and my dad is also an Atheist... sort of. He thinks God was actually a technologically advanced alien from another planet that visited Earth thousands of years ago... and he even pointed out a passage in the Bible that seems to describe a UFO landing. (it's been years since I read it so I don't know the passage anymore.) but he basically believes that the idea of a magical sky daddy is just early humans not being able to recognize advanced technology, mistaking it for magic. Basically an Atheist.

    Anyway, I've always had the freedom to decide for myself weather I believe or not. I've never felt a need to tell my parents I'm an Atheist. It's really none of their business.

    It's not like you have to tell your parents that you're gay or transgender. I think that would be a lot harder especially if you have parents who are against that sort of thing. You kind of want to ease them into it not just make out with your partner right in front of them. I mean I find it a little awkward kissing a girl in front of my parents. You also don't want to just suddenly show up at their house one day cross dressing. You might give your parents a heart attack if you spring something like that on them like that. But being an Atheist, that seems a lot easier to slip into a casual conversation. Like just don't show up at Church and eventually they'll start wandering why you're not going. I don't think missing a few days in Church is quite as big of a deal considering a lot of religious people don't even go either so it's not the same kind of shock as showing up for the holidays wearing a dress with your same sex lover.

    I could think of a billion other things that are probably harder to tell your parents than you being Atheist. You dropped out of school. You lost your job. You're suicidal. You're actually just an alternate personality manifested from years of physical abuse and you think their real son might be dead. You hate one of your parents and wish they would just get a divorce. Even telling the one good parent how much you love them is a lot harder than telling them you're an Atheist.

    I wouldn't even rank telling parents your Atheist in the top ten... but again, it's never really been a big deal in my family. Maybe for you it's different. But still it doesn't really involve them, there's no reason they really need to know, and I don't think there's much of a shock value in it even for a really religious family. So unless it comes up naturally into a conversation don't even worry about it.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
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