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Jace

I told my parents. It wasn’t pretty.

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Hey @Blue.

 

Welcome to you all.

 

Hope you hang around and read/post.

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To Blue and Dreamer,

   I had that conversation like 56 years ago with my parents and would approach it differently today. I was reckless at the time but it is wise to consider any financial or physical support that you might have to replace before having the conversation (like college funding, room and board, etc.). When you are ready I would suggest staying away from promoting or probably even defending your lack of faith in Christianity. This kind of news about their child rejecting the family beliefs is almost certainly more than they can process on the spot anyhow. At most I would have the name of my single favorite apostate book and/or video. Offer to have a second conversation in a week or so if they would like to go over specific questions they might come up with that they feel  just need to be answered. Instead of engaging on those divisive topics stick with just explaining something along the lines of how you have researched and considered Christianity extensively and that you just don't believe that it is true and that you believe it is unlikely that new evidence will surface to change your mind.  That is the only point along these lines that you need to make in this first conversation and they probably will need time to process that. You may have to restate this point several different times in different ways. Secondly you could discuss your concerns about causing a permanent rift in the family (assuming you feel this way). Say that you still love them just as much as always and that you will work to try to keep communication open in spite of the religious differences. Maybe mention the kind of family functions that you particularly enjoy and all the future events in your life you hope they'll still want to be a part of. You told them because you wanted them to know who you are and would never do anything to intentionally hurt them.

   If you can cover all this ground in the first conversation that would be awesome. There really aren't too many points so it doesn't need to take a lot of time. Mostly you just want to give them this new information and then give them time to digest it. Remember it takes both parties to have an argument so you have control of that by choosing never to engage. You can say you don't know or that they've put out a new idea you'll need time to think about, etc. The hard part is that this conversation typically requires the child to take on the roll of the adult but nevertheless if you set a positive tone you have a pretty good chance they will follow suit at some point. Good luck.        

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14 hours ago, DanForsman said:

To Blue and Dreamer,

   I had that conversation like 56 years ago with my parents and would approach it differently today. I was reckless at the time but it is wise to consider any financial or physical support that you might have to replace before having the conversation (like college funding, room and board, etc.). When you are ready I would suggest staying away from promoting or probably even defending your lack of faith in Christianity. This kind of news about their child rejecting the family beliefs is almost certainly more than they can process on the spot anyhow. At most I would have the name of my single favorite apostate book and/or video. Offer to have a second conversation in a week or so if they would like to go over specific questions they might come up with that they feel  just need to be answered. Instead of engaging on those divisive topics stick with just explaining something along the lines of how you have researched and considered Christianity extensively and that you just don't believe that it is true and that you believe it is unlikely that new evidence will surface to change your mind.  That is the only point along these lines that you need to make in this first conversation and they probably will need time to process that. You may have to restate this point several different times in different ways. Secondly you could discuss your concerns about causing a permanent rift in the family (assuming you feel this way). Say that you still love them just as much as always and that you will work to try to keep communication open in spite of the religious differences. Maybe mention the kind of family functions that you particularly enjoy and all the future events in your life you hope they'll still want to be a part of. You told them because you wanted them to know who you are and would never do anything to intentionally hurt them.

   If you can cover all this ground in the first conversation that would be awesome. There really aren't too many points so it doesn't need to take a lot of time. Mostly you just want to give them this new information and then give them time to digest it. Remember it takes both parties to have an argument so you have control of that by choosing never to engage. You can say you don't know or that they've put out a new idea you'll need time to think about, etc. The hard part is that this conversation typically requires the child to take on the roll of the adult but nevertheless if you set a positive tone you have a pretty good chance they will follow suit at some point. Good luck.        

@DanForsman

 

Thanks for the advice. It gives us a lot to consider. We've definitely been considering the financial and physical support that we rely on them for (I can't get off the island of Hawaii without their money for a flight.) I feel like if my parents were less aggressive with their views then a civil conversation in the future could happen. However, our father is a minister who has spent his whole life studying the bible. He is the type of person that will trick you into a long drive with him just so that he can use that isolated space and time to convert you. He even admits to this behavior and is very proud of himself for forcing his views onto other people when they're trapped in a situation with him. He has also admitted this summer that he would disown me if I strayed from the path that he wants me to take. Specifically, he said he would revoke his cosign from the loan that I need for school and then also disown me.

What would you suggest for a situation like this? It's really good to hear other people's opinions and suggestions. We really appreciate it. It would be really nice to have a civil and mature conversation like you laid out, however, I just have to wonder if it would be too exhausting to have if they only want to talk about converting me back into the faith. Would we just have to walk away from every conversation that starts towards conversion? Thanks to everyone for the support! 

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4 hours ago, Dreamer said:

@DanForsman

 

Thanks for the advice. It gives us a lot to consider. We've definitely been considering the financial and physical support that we rely on them for (I can't get off the island of Hawaii without their money for a flight.) I feel like if my parents were less aggressive with their views then a civil conversation in the future could happen. However, our father is a minister who has spent his whole life studying the bible. He is the type of person that will trick you into a long drive with him just so that he can use that isolated space and time to convert you. He even admits to this behavior and is very proud of himself for forcing his views onto other people when they're trapped in a situation with him. He has also admitted this summer that he would disown me if I strayed from the path that he wants me to take. Specifically, he said he would revoke his cosign from the loan that I need for school and then also disown me.

What would you suggest for a situation like this? It's really good to hear other people's opinions and suggestions. We really appreciate it. It would be really nice to have a civil and mature conversation like you laid out, however, I just have to wonder if it would be too exhausting to have if they only want to talk about converting me back into the faith. Would we just have to walk away from every conversation that starts towards conversion? Thanks to everyone for the support! 

 

Wow! Your father really seems like a piece of work! And I don't mean that in a good way..... 

 

I sure hope that you can get through the situation. I'm sure that you will. You need to put some good distance between you and the control-freak!

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This is much better with the specifics. First off you should look hard at just not rocking the boat and going to church like they want etc. until you have a reasonable shot at financial independence. You can probably pull off going through a trial of faith or period of questioning to give yourself some breathing room but if not faking it could be your only course of action to maintaining a peaceful home life. You can always vent here.  Don't contradict your father but a threat to "revoke a cosign" is an empty threat assuming the loan is with a bank or government agency. Cosigning creates a legal agreement that commits your father (in addition to your commitment the agreement holds your father equally and separately responsible) to make all payments until the loan is paid in full. He would need to file for bankrupcy  to find out if he could persuade the judge to release him from that obligation and that would be an entirely different situation that almost certainly won't happen. But you probably don't want him hysterically trying to get back at you if you can avoid that. You father is trying to find a way to control your thoughts but he can't do that unless you let him. I know the power dynamics mostly all favor your father but that doesn't mean he has unlimited control of every conversation. Try to imagine that your father is the child and you are the adult. You love your child but your child has some crazy ideas that he is desperate to sell you on. You don't want to hurt your childs feelings but you don't want to go to the extent of saying you agree with what he is promoting. You clearly have all the power here and all you're hoping to do is let him know you don't agree without devastating your child or making him feel like you think he is stupid or even bursting his joie de vivre balloon. When you do have this conversation with you father this is the position you have. He can't force his will on you no matter how much he wants to or believes he can. The temptation is for you to go in with guns blazing and point out how ridiculous your father's thoughts are but it is better to bite the bullet and not engage on any specific topic. Always remember you control everything. This is your mind and your thoughts that are being discussed and they belong exclusively to you. You could say something like his questions may seem simple but in your mind they are complicated. You don't have a short answer. You respect that his view can be very different from your own. Offer to do, for example,  an email response to any and possibly all  specific questions he wants to email to you. Say you won't discuss any specifics until he does a sincere reading of such and such book or such and such video. Say you love him and understand his fears and frustrations but that you have spent considerable time and effort researching and reasoning and at this point are comfortable with the conclusions you have drawn. You have no need to sell you point of view to anyone else but it is your point of view and a considered opinion. You want to subtly suggest alternatives to disowning you like your acknowledging the he strongly disapproves of your position and for the sake of avoiding arguments no one can win agreeing to keep religion out of discussions with him unless you let him know you've had a change of heart. Whatever you do resist the temptation to say harsh words that can last a lifetime. After all he is your little boy. 

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Could you also speak to an experienced counselor of some sort? Marlene Winnel or some kind of marriage and family ones. Someone who knows deconverting? Maybe there sone kind of free, online or live alternatives in your state.For the specifics.

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Dreamer asked, "Would we just have to walk away from every conversation that starts towards conversion? ""

   Absolutely not. The initial conversation is the one where emotions will be running high and you want to be careful not to get tricked into saying things in anger. Your father {and mother?) will be feeling betrayed by you and responsible to god and the church for being incompetent parents. Your father will definitely be concerned about having to deal with his shame within the church community. He will be wondering how much this might affect his job and therefore his ability to provide for the family. Your father's roll as the patriarch of your family has been threatened by you and he may feel emasculated. It is because of all these undercurrents and more (child going to hell, for example) that I would suggest not defending you disbelief on the spot. Any and all points of contention will almost certainly lead to a blow up. He will want you to engage in an immediate debate because he'll want this troubling situation to disappear right away. He probably will want to intimidate you using his lofty position as patriarch of the family but nothing will work if you hold the simple position that, try as you might, you just can't make yourself believe what you don't believe. Apologize for all the collateral damage any emotional hardships but continue to be firm on the point that you don't believe because you just do not believe. If he thinks he has new evidence or evidence he believes you've overlooked you can possibly take notes on those points and look into it in the next few days. Your father needs to change your mind or force you to say you've changed your mind. If you don't allow either of these things to happen you win and your father loses. He is not going to want a long series of losses so I don't think he's going to keep bring this conversation up once he realizes that you plan to maintain your position of reasoned thoughtful disbelief. In the unlikely event he tries to prove to you that christianity is factual and truthful just take note of the points he makes and either look them up on the internet or bring them to us and we'll show you exactly why they don't hold water. I'd be very surprised if this went on for any significant period of time though. He'll figure out pretty quickly that it won't get him what he wants. He must be a very good debater so I would stay away from any debating. If he forces this issue just listen politely while acting subtly confused (like you don't quite get it) and promise to look into it. It's your mind that needs to be satisfied so again you have every right to say what works for you and what doesn't. Let me know if these suggestions seem problematic in certain ways or troubling or whatever. 

   Just wondering if you think you could pull off announcing that you think you are experiencing a crisis of faith? If this were possible it could soften the blow when this drama packed conversation actually happens somewhere down the line.

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Personally I would be deceitful and just not acknowledge my (non) beliefs to anyone but myself. Go to church, sing the hymns, shut the eyes for prayer and pretend you are ok. Until you can be independent and free to go. Frankly I cannot see another way that will avoid confrontation. It seems that a good tactic is the delaying one - obviously you don't want a big fuss that you have returned to the fold, so it's as some suggest...'I am thinking about that'.

I find I am able to sit in church, even play the organ for the hymns sometimes and switch-off most of the time. (Although in my case, everyone knows I gave up on god after 40 years in the ordained ministry.)  I have my personal reasons for going to church - which are nothing to do with faith or belief.

All the best.

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On 7/23/2019 at 6:17 PM, Dreamer said:

I will have to do the same thing as you in a few years. I have to pretend to be a Christian for a few more years in order to fully leave the house. I believe my parents will probably react similarly. My father is a Chaplain (military preacher) so he will probably preach to me about how I'm wrong and going to hell when I reveal the truth to him. My mother cries whenever I make a decision that isn't in HER plan even though she tries to pass it off as "God's plan."

If you don't mind me asking, how did you go about telling them? What did you say? 

I'm really worried and anxious about the day I know I'll have to tell them. I can't get on with my life until I have. I just don't know if I should just do a phone call because standing in person and listening to them rant would be exhausting. I wouldn't even know how to break the news.

You can write a letter and email it. It means you won't need to deal with drama and reactions in person and you have control over the situation. 

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Once when my ex-husband told me that I was going to hell I said,

“So it’s you who decides who goes to heaven and hell? Not god?”

He never said it again. So sanctimonious!

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@Dreamer and @Blue,

 

Be glad you have each other. I have a brother on a similar path, which makes things seem more bearable.

 

I hadn’t planned to tell them the day I did, but in a rare moment, the three of us were alone, so I seized the opportunity. I just said, “Since I have you both here, I want to talk to you about where I am spiritually. I don’t believe the same things.”

 

 My dad, the minister, preached. My mom cried. 

 

However, two weeks later, my dad asked me if we could revisit the conversation bc he wanted to listen to me without judgment. That conversation went much better. My mom, on the other hand, still doesn’t know what to think. 

 

During that initial conversation, I decided not to argue or debate. I had to let them react. I was telling them for no reason other than letting them know for my own authenticity. I’d dealt with it for years, but it was new to them and was a hard blow to absorb. When you decide to say anything, I suggest you choose not to argue. Let all your energy go toward 1. Letting the cat out of the bag and 2. Recovering from the conversation. 

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@TruthSeeker, I’d like to share something with you. 

 

A few months bf I told my parents, I had a dream in which my father was in a room dying, and I was in a different room, unfazed. I woke up quite disturbed. I love my dad. So, I looked up what such dreams mean, and found that when you dream of someone dying, it’s usually not representative of their actual death, but of something of importance dying between you. What that told me was that while this foundation of the same spiritual belief was dead, and it would negatively affect my father, I was in the other room unbothered bc his reaction to the “death” was not my responsibility. I hope this helps. 

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@nontheistpilgrim do you mind sharing why you go to church?

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6 minutes ago, Jace said:

@nontheistpilgrim do you mind sharing why you go to church?

I am happy to say this: the church which I have attended for many years, firstly as a committed Christian, then as their minister,  knows that I have rejected the concept of god and they are a very welcoming community. My partner attends.

I want to support my partner. I love the people at the church.

I believe quite strongly that 'church' can be a place where people enjoy themselves, have fun and benefit from being in a community. It seems to me that singing is a major component of this. I play the keyboards, am able to 'influence' the singing (they don't always realise this 😉) , there is not always anybody else to play and I don't like canned music, so I play on occasions.

However, as I develop my non-theism, it is increasingly difficult to sit through the stuff that goes on at the front (which I have to do, to some extent, or I will miss the cues to play🤣).

 

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@nontheistpilgrim that makes perfect sense. The one thing I do miss about religion is the community aspect. 

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14 minutes ago, Jace said:

@nontheistpilgrim that makes perfect sense. The one thing I do miss about religion is the community aspect. 

 

DITTO!

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20 hours ago, Jace said:

@nontheistpilgrim that makes perfect sense. The one thing I do miss about religion is the community aspect. 

I miss feeling like I belong whenever I’m forced to attend church. On military bases, however, it’s referred to as “chapel.” Since the military wants Chaplains (the military ministers) to be unbiased and have no discrimination they are required to perform multiple services. It’s supposed to keep them from showing discrimination.

On multiple occasions, my father has fought back against this. Refused to anoint a baby for a catholic couple who specifically requested him. Tried to refuse a lesbian couple from attending a marriage and family class that he was teaching (the military didn’t let him.) Tries to refuse female Chaplains from preaching in the chapels that he runs. 

The military also requests numbers and divides money very conservatively amongst religious services. The chapel my father runs has very few families that attend and has more need than it does help. The military would allow the chapel to die out because there are so many others. My father is persistent. He wants to see more numbers. He wants to be able to put down on paper that he has run the chapel (because then it helps him get promoted.)

I explain all of this to say that chapel and the “church community” is a long forgotten luxury for me. I used to see people just wanting to welcome others and be of service with no ties or catch. But now I see the church and chapel as a place where numbers are gathered. It’s a place where they crave having more numbers. Crave having more Chaplains. Crave having the best music service. The best preaching. The best childcare. The best teen groups. The best bible studies. It’s all turned into a competition. 

Even when I was a Christian, the only saving grace about the faith was their ability to come together as a community. I think the world of religion is changing. It’s all about the competition and being able to say at the end of the day that you have more followers. I think Christians are clinging to their last hope (their children that they’ll abuse into the faith) because they all know that the faith is dying out. It’s become a thing of the past because so many people’s eyes are being opened. 

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On 7/30/2019 at 1:27 PM, LostinParis said:

Once when my ex-husband told me that I was going to hell I said,

“So it’s you who decides who goes to heaven and hell? Not god?”

He never said it again. So sanctimonious!

I love that! I wish I could come up with such witty responses right on cue. Even if I did, I think I’d need to work on having the courage to say them. 

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On 8/3/2019 at 3:40 AM, Jace said:

What that told me was that while this foundation of the same spiritual belief was dead, and it would negatively affect my father, I was in the other room unbothered bc his reaction to the “death” was not my responsibility. I hope this helps. 

I’ve read through your responses on this thread. I think that everything you’ve said has been really profound and thoughtful. I especially like how you’ve interpreted your dream. 

I realize I’ve been fixated on how I’ll have to worry about my parents reaction to the “death.” All my life, I’ve been victim-blamed, which has conditioned me into feeling responsible for other people’s emotions, reactions, and thoughts. Just last week, my mother cried boo-hoo tears as if she was the victim when Blue mentioned rising levels of depression and suicidal thoughts this summer. So both Blue and I, had to apologize to our mother for making her cry and feel like she’s “wrong” (even though she definitely is) for causing us depression and suicidal thoughts. 

My parents version of Christianity always focused on only God, rejecting oneself, and serving people. And they forced me to do so in a self-destructive way. Never taking care of my needs. Never addressing mental health. Never addressing social needs. Never addressing physical needs.

After the past few very abusive weeks, I’ve come to terms that I can’t worry anymore about what they believe. I’m barely getting by on surviving and all the while dreaming of thriving instead. I have to address the fact that I’m not responsible for their reactions to the “death” of my “faith.” But now as an adult, I am responsible for taking care of my needs for once in my life and actually learning how to thrive in a real life. 

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On 7/25/2019 at 3:25 AM, Dreamer said:

Specifically, he said he would revoke his cosign from the loan that I need for school and then also disown me.

 

Revoke? Like after he puts pen to paper? Wish I could revoke a contract. :)

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They suddenly quit posting.  Did Dreamer and Blue say they were going to take a vacation from the forum? 

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

They suddenly quit posting.  Did Dreamer and Blue say they were going to take a vacation from the forum? 

I also noticed that and was rather worried. I hope they are OK.

Edited: a certain other has gone, I think, but that's another matter.😉

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" I was going to hell" Now you know your father is a terrorist. Also, you now know religions make people insane.

 

I recommend this video about faith and why it's a mental illness:

 

http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/2019/08/pat-condell-published-on-december-16.html

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On 8/18/2019 at 10:41 PM, Weezer said:

They suddenly quit posting.  Did Dreamer and Blue say they were going to take a vacation from the forum? 

 

On 8/19/2019 at 12:05 AM, nontheistpilgrim said:

I also noticed that and was rather worried. I hope they are OK.

Things got a little complicated for me in my headspace, which was the cause of the start of the break that I took. Then things got even worse in daily life for me causing even more psychological pain and I just didn't have the energy to come on here, even though part of me wanted to seek the support of this site. After a lot of shit and fuckery, things have calmed a bit. I am doing a bit better, though things now are quite precarious for me. I had been thinking recently about this site and my absence from it. It makes me surprised and happy that there are people here that not only noticed our absence, but also cared about us through it. I will do an update of recent events and where I currently am in life very soon. (Cause I need to rant about this shit to people that haven't been experiencing it, healthy for the mind you know?)

Dreamer went back to college September fifth, moved into her apartment, and took a short vacation with her boyfriend over the weekend. I am very happy for her and I am sure she is doing much better now that she is back home. We talk often and this is one of the ways she continues to support me while I am stuck here. It also makes me happy to hear that things are going good for her and that she is happy. Happiness has been a rare treasure for both of us recently, so that is why it means so much to me to hear about her being able to be happy. 

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