Jump to content

Dealing With Xtian Parents...sobbing Over The Phone


StandingRoomOnly
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have been an ex-christian for about 4 years now. My husband is also an ex-Christian. I come here fairly often, but rarely post. I wanted to write after what happened today.

 

My mom called me up today. Her birthday is tomorrow and she, my dad and my brother were going to drive to our town to go to church and then out to lunch. She asked us to go to church with them. My husband and I (although have been lenient about it in the past) decided we would not go to church with them this time and would probably turn them down from now on.

 

I tell my mom we won't be going with them to church because we are no longer Christians and we don't believe in most of what the church represents and believes. Before I know it, my mom is sobbing over the phone going on and on, telling me that I am only fooling myself, I'm running away from God, and that she doesn't want to see her daughter go to hell. My mom is a very strong fundamentalist Christian and has known about my deconversion (in her terms: backsliding) for about 3 years now. I do understand where she is coming from. She is completely sincere with what she believes. If I believed so strongly in hell, I'd be worried about my "backsliden" daughter too.

 

Apart of me just wants to be understood...or even her desire to understand where I am coming from. She doesn't even want to know how I got to where I am today...why I'm not a Christian. It's hard, because I want some sort of relationship with my family. I feel as though I have been treated differently since I've "come out" to them, and a normal fun relationship may not be possible. I don't appreciate the mindless preaching when they won't even listen.

 

::Sigh::

 

I suppose this is more of a rant than anything. It's just getting me a little down...I so badly want them to care--to try to understand. But maybe I should just give up. I've tried to be fairly quiet about why I deconverted since I initially told them the reasons why...maybe I should continue to stay quiet for the sake of "keeping the peace"...Although I don't know how peaceful they (particularly my mom) will keep it.

 

For those in a similar situation--would you try to dialogue with your family more about why you don't believe, even if you feel deep down they may never understand or care? Or just let it go and continue to try to have a relationship, tolerating the occational preaching? I honestly don't mind the occational preaching. What annoys me is that my parents don't really want to understand where I'm at now or are empathic in any way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Note: All Regularly Contributing Patrons enjoy Ex-Christian.net advertisement free.

My husband has similar issues with his parents. At first, he tried giving her books to read and such to help her understand his position, but because her reaction is based in emotion, rational arguments and understanding will never come. I think they have both learned to accept it (um... sort of, she still sobs on the phone to him too) save for the occasional discussion on the phone. ONE time they actually got somewhere and she doesn't think he's as much of a heathen as before, but there is still the emotional aspect that keeps her from just respecting her views. Like you, I understand this... she truly believes her only son is going to hell. Ironically, this same woman thinks devout Hindus, Muslims, etc... will get to heaven through God's grace... but only those who backslide go to hell in her opinion... the whole "once you know the truth and reject it, you are damned" kind of thinking. :whatever:

 

Hang in there... things will cycle through. It's a grieving process for her, just like it was for you (I am guessing) when you first deconverted. Not to say the occasional discussion won't turn into tears and anger, but they will be less often and things will return to normal again someday. It takes time though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I may not be in the best place to give advice here, because I have not told my folks about my deconversion, but in your case the cat's already out of the bag. Right now, the best thing to do is deal with each encounter as diplomatically as you can. You don't have to fake a reconversion or anything like that, just deal with your parents politely and try to reason with them if and when religious talk comes up.

 

I know, reasoning with fundies is nearly impossible, but your wild card here is that they are your folks. In the end, that natural bond only you three can share could win out, and they will at least begin to soften and be more civil. Or at least that's the hope to which you can cling. They are your parents and you their daughter - in the end, they will remember that, and after the fundie bluster it is possible they will simmer down and learn to accept you. Who knows, you could be the first thing that gets them to calm down about their fundyism. You never know...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Standing,

 

It's really hard to take the dramatics of family. I feel for you. At least you have the support of your husband and you are not alone.

 

Basically, from you mom's standpoint you don't have a side. She knows the truth and you have rejected it. Case closed. That's their reasoning. You will either have to live with the closed mindedness of her faith or not have a relationship with her. Sadly, fundy's choose belief and faith over the people who are important. And Fundy's say their religion isn't a cult?

 

Taph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, that sucks. No one wants to make their mom cry!

 

Myself, I think relationships are more important than dogma or disbelief. You'll both have to find some middle ground to cling to when the subject turns to religion. And maybe, going to their awful fundy church once in a blue moon is just one of those unpleasant chores a good kid does for the sake of their parents. :shrug:

 

In time, they might soften a bit and accept your decision about god, and figure out a way for you to wind up in heaven anyway, regardless of your apostasy. :phew:

 

The main thing is to let them know you're still their daughter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SRO,

 

This is very tough. I have this situation, too, but reversed: my adult daughter, raised with humanistic atheism, has become a charismatic Episcopalian and her husband is a priest. They have two of my grandchildren. I came to this site 2 1/2 years ago because of my agony and anger.

 

In that time, some courtesies have been restored between us, but no connectedness.

 

I hope maybe it'll help your situation by mentally flipping it into mine.

 

These relationship changes are so painful, and I feel deeply for what you're enduring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those in a similar situation--would you try to dialogue with your family more about why you don't believe, even if you feel deep down they may never understand or care? Or just let it go and continue to try to have a relationship, tolerating the occational preaching? I honestly don't mind the occational preaching. What annoys me is that my parents don't really want to understand where I'm at now or are empathic in any way.

 

I'm in the same boat with my parents. We have never had a scene as they are either in denial or unwilling to raise the topic so as not to make a scene. I know they are worried about me though. A few years ago mom mailed me Strobel's book, but without comment.

 

My mother is a sweetheart and she just goes to church and goes along with everything, not because she has ever considered these issues on a deep level, but because that is what she has been told since birth. She never pushes it and never judges. At the same time, she is unable to process this stuff on a higher level. Perhaps because she has taken such a simple faith approach for so long that her reasoning skills have atrophied. My father just doesn't like conflict so will make an ass out of himself in an effort to make it more than clear that he wants to change the subject whenever any conflict is raised related to politics or religion.

 

Like you, I would love to help them see things in a more healthy way so that at least they wouldn't spend their time worrying that my eternal soul is in danger. They make it all but impossible to talk about though and I have qualms with disturbing their simple faith considering their age and considering the fact that more than 60 years of world view being ripped away from someone can probably cause more damage than it is worth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

During one of our recent discussions, I took her hands and said, "This is what I believe in. These hands have cared for me when I was sick, made meals for me, held me, played with our children. You are here, and you're real. Why would I believe in someone who has never spoken to me, never shown himself to me, never touched me, and never given me so much as an iota of help?! And yet, you'll put this imaginary person between us."

 

How loving. How wonderful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too have a Fundamental mother.

 

She cries over not only my 'soul' but that of my children's also. Anyways, I refuse to fall into the emotional manipulation so I keep it simple. I tell her that it's not my fault god gave me a mind to seek answers and need evidence. It's impossible for me to live on faith, I wasn't made that way, if god wants to punish me and my kids for trying to find out answers, so be it. There really isn't anything she can say to that, other then she'll pray for me. I was seeking honest answers, as I said, it's not my fault faith isn't a fact.

 

 

I do wish you much luck with this difficult heart-wrenching issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your responses! It helps knowing you're not the only one going through these issues. My mom called me again last night to let me know that if we'd show up to church we would all be able to go out to lunch together, otherwise they might go do their own thing after church without us. I hope she changes her mind and we get to spend time with them today for her birthday. We will see.

 

I feel much better today though even though things are the way they are. I feel much more "at peace" about it all. :)

 

-StandingRoomOnly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your responses! It helps knowing you're not the only one going through these issues. My mom called me again last night to let me know that if we'd show up to church we would all be able to go out to lunch together, otherwise they might go do their own thing after church without us. I hope she changes her mind and we get to spend time with them today for her birthday. We will see.

 

I feel much better today though even though things are the way they are. I feel much more "at peace" about it all. :)

 

-StandingRoomOnly

 

My mom says the exact same thing to me. I think of it like a bribe. We can spend time together IF you do what I want you to, otherwise you're on your own.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only thing that really makes me feel sorry for them is how they think forcing you to go to church will help you reconvert . They really cant seem to get that your not running away from god , but if anything he ran away from you .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'm the same way with my parents, they know about me not believing in God but yet I still go to church every week(when i turn 18 im gonna stay home on sundays) and both think im going to Hell as well. I've gotten in a few religious arguments with my Dad and he put the ignore button on no matter how good of a point i made. Now things have cooled but they could heat up any minute if the right circumstances occur.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those in a similar situation--would you try to dialogue with your family more about why you don't believe, even if you feel deep down they may never understand or care? Or just let it go and continue to try to have a relationship, tolerating the occational preaching? I honestly don't mind the occational preaching. What annoys me is that my parents don't really want to understand where I'm at now or are empathic in any way.

 

I'm in the same boat with my parents. We have never had a scene as they are either in denial or unwilling to raise the topic so as not to make a scene. I know they are worried about me though. A few years ago mom mailed me Strobel's book, but without comment.

 

My mother is a sweetheart and she just goes to church and goes along with everything, not because she has ever considered these issues on a deep level, but because that is what she has been told since birth. She never pushes it and never judges. At the same time, she is unable to process this stuff on a higher level. Perhaps because she has taken such a simple faith approach for so long that her reasoning skills have atrophied. My father just doesn't like conflict so will make an ass out of himself in an effort to make it more than clear that he wants to change the subject whenever any conflict is raised related to politics or religion.

 

Like you, I would love to help them see things in a more healthy way so that at least they wouldn't spend their time worrying that my eternal soul is in danger. They make it all but impossible to talk about though and I have qualms with disturbing their simple faith considering their age and considering the fact that more than 60 years of world view being ripped away from someone can probably cause more damage than it is worth.

 

Are you the lost son/daughter of my parents in law? That description could have been written by my husband.

 

 

Edit: save for the "sweetheart" part and they being older.... also, his dad is a very intelligent raging political liberal but refuses to talk about religion. Part of me thinks that he knows he's not buying into the whole Christianity thing, but goes to church because religion is "good for society" and he doesn't want to cause conflict with his wife by challenging anything religious. Also, he was an athiest when they got married.... but he converted when he went through a SEVERE bout of depression that had him hospitalized for a month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, yes, I know the feeling. My folks aren't so forceful, but I know that they worry about me and wish that I was going to church. They know that I have a zen community that provides wonderful support to me and my husband and kids, so I hope that they find some comfort in that. :scratch: We don't attempt the topic very often. My mom's lips go tense when it comes up and she keeps quiet. My dad is wise. He asked me in a very honest, sincere way once, "do you think you'll ever go to church again?" The way he asked, I was able to be open with my response and tell him that I'd go to church if it resonated with me, but I so far haven't found that church. And besides, zen practice is so completely fulfilling for me. He didn't have much to say to that.

 

Anyways, back to your situation - I agree with the above who said that you might consider going to church every once in awhile, if for nothing else than to keep things good with your parents. Otherwise, it's so much easier to just leave it unsaid! There's absolutely no way that you can show them what you believe if they are that closed-minded, nor do they have any hope in changing you. I don't know them, but this is what I suspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can definately relate to your situation. My parents are both charismatic fundamentalists, and they feel like they have done their part and are absolved of me. They don't communicate with us very much, they sometimes send e-mails that make statements but aren't conversational.

 

They did make the annual xmas trip here to see the grandkids (they live 2 hours from here), we didn't argue about anything but they only stayed for a few hours. They came two weeks after xmas, gave the kids cheap crap that wasn't even wrapped, gave me a tee-shirt, and gave nothing to my wife. Talk about passive-aggressive!

 

I can't even begin to give you advice, as we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of our issues. There is no way to start any constructive dialog with them, as far as they are concerned there is only one way to fix this: I must repent before Jesus and accept the Holy Spirit. Reason is of no use, because to them logic is just a perverted tool of Satan. Unfortunately, I think I have given up on any hope of a constructive relationship with them, it seems that this is going to keep going to the bitter end.

 

Well, sorry I can't help, but at least you know your not alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This may not work for you, because not everyone has the temperment for it, but right after the first of the year, my mother and I had approximately this conversation...

 

Blah, blah, regular talking, catching up, etc...

 

Mom - "Your father's birthday is coming up pretty soon."

 

Me - "What should I get him?"

 

Mom - "Maybe you can just come over early and take him to church."

 

Me - "You want me to wait in the car for an hour while he goes to church?"

 

Mom - "What? No! You should go with him."

 

Me - "You do realize I'm an atheist, right? We've discussed this before."

 

Mom - "Well, yes, but your father is concerned about your soul."

 

Me - "I don't have a soul. Neither does he. Neither do you."

 

Mom - (begins crying)

 

Me - "Stop it."

 

Mom - "I can't help it... (sob, sob)..."

 

Me - "Yes, you can... and when you decide your son is more important than your imaginary friend we can talk again. Until then, I love you. Goodbye."

 

And then I hung up.

 

About a week ago, she wanted me to come over and talk. I asked her what about and she told me that they (my parents) wanted me to hear "their side" of the religion issue.

 

I said, "I heard 'your side' of your religion for twenty years. You still haven't heard mine and show no interest in it whatsoever. I love you, goodbye."

 

And then I hung up.

 

Last night around eleven o'clock (later than my parents are usually up, so I'm pretty sure they were talking about this for the better part of the night) I got a voicemail saying that they would not talk to me about religion ever again unless I initiated the conversation. I also got an unconditional apology for their behavior the last few times I've been over there (crying, screaming, attempting to guilt me into religion, etc).

 

So, it was emotional extortion, but it worked. The problem is being strong enough to stick to your guns.

 

It was difficult, but I think it'll be worth it in the long run to spend some quality time with my (now elderly) parents before they die that isn't a constant argument about religion from the time I hit the door.

 

Like I said, it's not for everyone, but it worked for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I absolutely HATE the guilt trip to church thing... my monster in law does it too. >(

 

That is awesome about your parents, Jose... I wish my inlaws would be like that. They often bring it up whenever something else somewhat related comes up... father in law tells us to shut up and stop arguing while monster in law cries and continues to push it with my husband. It's awful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hearing these stories is exactly why I have not told my parents or friends. I don't want to become their “prayer project” and I have not fortitude for sobbing parents or any type of emotional episodes.

 

I did tell one of my best friends, and his response was typical:

 

1. What's the purpose of life (as if it stops having a purpose when the imaginery friend goes poof)

2. What do you base morality on? (Yawn ...)

 

Makes me think religious people are all pre-programmed with those two questions as the sole reason for their faith. Heck, not even as a Christian did those two things strike me as a "reason" to worship Jesus.

 

I think if I am asked outright, I will spill the beans, but I won't raise the subject ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
Guest Ghost In The Machine

Sory for your particular situation. It's not easy when a parent is so deeply entangled by fundamentalism. They simply cannot see the other person's point of view because they can't imagine being in heaven without everyone else they've ever known and loved being right there with them. Unfortunately, there is very little that will open their eyes, so to speak. I believe you are taking the right path, trying to make your own decisions. You obviously already have some morals, or you wouldn't be in this dilemma to begin with.

 

Hopefully your mother will come around sooner or later. My father is still coming to grips with my atheism. My grandparents would never have understood my point of view. Don't give up hope. Mothers are a pretty resilient lot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. Don't give up hope. Mothers are a pretty resilient lot.

Yeah thats true. I had alot of hassle from mum some years back....however, we now agree to disagree. I get the feeling that my mum says all the right things, but deep down her heart is still there for her kids (none of whom are "born again") and doesn,t really, really believe in hell for her children. You never know....by sticking to our guns we may help them to grow beyond the cult of christianity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of what you tell others, especially those you care about, almost needs to be situationally dependent. I am pretty sure if I let my entire family know the whole deal with me, both in terms of religion and sexulaity, there'd be one hell of a fight. I have no desire to cause such an event right now, and so, I bite my tongue.

 

Really, though, I don't know any good way to get apostacy across.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm dealing with similar issues with family, especially my wife (I envy you having your spouse to lean on). During one of our recent discussions, I took her hands and said, "This is what I believe in. These hands have cared for me when I was sick, made meals for me, held me, played with our children. You are here, and you're real. Why would I believe in someone who has never spoken to me, never shown himself to me, never touched me, and never given me so much as an iota of help?! And yet, you'll put this imaginary person between us.".

 

Artur,

 

What a beautiful and kind way to get your point across. If you don't mind telling us, what was your wife's response? Do you feel that you reached her at all?

 

I have been trying to help my fundamentalist christian mother understand my point of view for years now and have been met with silence or tears but no sign of understanding. I hadn't thought of contrasting her very real love for me with the non-existant effects of the "love" shown by her god. It might help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My parents have been pretty accepting so far, but they are still of the "church is good for you because it gets you out of the house and meeting people" opinion. Well, mostly my stepmom. But I think they have dealt with it pretty well. At least they aren't fundies.

 

I have a couple of interest-related organizations that I belong to in RL, so I think that helps my parents see that I don't need church for social interaction.

 

But every once in a while, I still get the nagging "You really should go to church with us" speech. At least they don't act like children and cry when I say no, thank you, but I'd rather not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.