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Dealing with family and loved ones

I can say that came to atheism late in life... It was a gradual and long journey for me but I made it. Unfortunately, I raised my children believing in Christianity (what I thought it was correct at the time). Now they are adults and cannot understand why I am an atheist, My parents are also orthodox Christians and sometimes it is tense when family is together. My question is how you tell your adult children that you were wrong? How you deal with elderly Christian parents that think you are going to hell for your lack of faith?

happyaprn18 4 July 1

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My "faith" is SCIENCE, because it's a PROVEN ACTUAL thing, UNLIKE this cryst(Chirst) charcter.
Which HAS only 1 piece of "EVIDENCE" which is a POSSIBLY a FALSE/FORGED book!


... glad you came around! It's a long mental journey to cast away social brainwashing, so congratulations!


Depends on the age of your kids, if believing make them happy, let them be happy, they have the spark of curiosity, at some point in our life, talking snakes it's insane lol


To your own self - stay true. I've learned over the years it's unnecessary to argue, lecture, or incite confrontation. However, I've also learned the best way to make a point with anyone is to frame your thought in the form of a question. It causes you to be thoughtful enough to take a few seconds to shape your thought that way - and it causes the other person to stop and think for a moment how best to answer that question. If you can use the "other side's" version of reality as your guide, this can be quite effective. For instance:

  1. If you believe god has given us all free will, and we're made in his image with a brain; wouldn't it be a sin of a different nature to not use that brain?
  2. With hundreds of different organized religions out there, and all of them believing and trying to convince you they have the golden ticket to heaven, how can anyone be 100% certain they're making the right and perfect choice?
  3. Here's my own question I asked myself as well as teachers and professors (being raised in a very Baptist environment - paying my own tuition to go to a private religious high school and first year of a christian college) "Do you mean to tell me that if a pygmy living along the Amazon all their life, worshiping the sun god because they know no other way, is going to hell when they die? The answers received were weak and I'm quite certain they knew it. It wasn't particularly necessary to escalate the conversation.

Good luck - hope this can somehow help you


Unfortunately, Christians tend to be intolerant of people who don't believe as they do. We're seeing more and more of that. I don't care what people do or don't believe, as long as they don't try to impose it on me. I tell my Christian friends they have my blessing to pray for me... but not in my presence.

I have the opposite problem. I raised my son in a secular lifestyle and he was a self-proclaimed atheist who sneered at religion, but now, somehow, he has "found his higher power" and is interested in following a religion for, as he calls it, a source of community and strength. I have no problem with that unless he starts showing concern for my soul in which case we're going to have a talk.

The feeling of community is the one thing I miss about church. If he's actually just involved for that, maybe he's not really "all in."

@Minta79 yes, I probably didn't make that clear. That is his reason for becoming involved. And for now, you're correct....


You disagree with family with respect and honesty. I do not argue with my Christian family, but when they say things about atheism that are silly I correct it. No, I do not believe in or worship the devil either. No, the atheist barber would not chastise a Christian client, he has a business to keep running. No, I would not just want to sin if I believed a god existed that would be dumb. What would it take for you to believe half of those stories if someone said they happened today? In the next town over?


People are strange!!!


I just might be the lunatic your looking for


Easy for me. My family already regards me as an abomination. Like you, I made the hard turn a little later on, but it seems a key realization to make is that if you base your decision making on the threat of hell or the promise of heaven, you're missing the point of decency. To talk about love and grace one moment, only to turn around and declare who is or isn't going to hell, if anything, says you need God less than I do. After all, what do you need Him for when you can make such determinations? Might be impressive to envision Charlton Heston holding up those stone tablets of the ten commandments, but I think I'll stick with the mantra, "Try not to be such a dick."


Some parents don't raise their children that way.

You had a choice.


That is a tough one, others in this thread offered sound advice, everyone's situation is different, and how loved ones react to your personal journey depends on their unique understanding of the world around them.

I was raised Lutheran, I am the only atheist on either side of my family, I came out to my brother years ago, but my mom died before ever finding out. Since family members are on my Facebook profile, there is no way that they don't know, because I am very open about it, but when we visit (which isn't often), we don't discuss it.

A cousin was visiting from Tucson a couple years ago, he asked the what if you're wrong question, he was very concerned that I was going to go to Hell, so I explained it on his terms, that if I were created by God, then that god gave me freedom of thought to question everything, so would a loving God condemn me to eternal damnation for the gift of thought? It went something like that, I don't remember completely as we were drinking. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I will be fine.

I'm supposed to go to a family get-together this month, but will likely not go (I didn't go last year either); I just can't take them anymore, not because they are Christians, but because they are Fox news viewers and Republicans - I have so much contempt for what is going on in this country right now that I can't put my feelings of disdain aside.

As far as the kids go, we took our children to church, like you, we thought it was the right thing to do, they became atheists too; my teen is the only one that wasn't exposed to religion very much; my ex wife took them to church on occasion after we separated (2006), which is when I fully came out as atheist, but I have had custody since 2009. My kids are adults too, except my teen who is 17 now, they became atheists on their own, by making their own choices; I always told them that they are free to learn and explore religion as they like, I won't judge and will love them regardless of what they choose.

Your situation is one that many of us face, however, circumstances are different for everyone as each person involved has their own interpretation. Best wishes 🙂

@happyaprn18 that would be best. I would feel less concerned about what my kids thought (my house, my rules), over what my parents thought - it would have broke my mom's heart to learn that I was an atheist, even though she probably knew at some level.

I am not close to my paternal father, the reason for that also is one thing that made me hold contempt for religion at an early age (no, I wasn't abused, my contempt was for a different reason). I'm pretty much an open book, if you want that story, I will tell it, but not now.


It is your choice theirs is to basically believe in magic and lies. Should never feel guilty for your choices you are the one that exists in your brain. Tell the kids that you choose not to be manipulated by something that has no justification for it.


I never tried to justify my actions convincing or recruiting anyone, you got a tough task in front of you. Wish you luck.


Patience. Explain it in terms they can understand and stand your ground.


Just be honest. You really don't "owe" anyone an explanation.
Just be clear that if they expect you to respect their beliefs, they also
need to be respectful of your lack of belief.


I would calmly tell them my beliefs, and if they argue, I'd tell them why I believe that way ONCE, and from then on, if they bring it up, just ignore them or change the subject.

If they persist, just act distracted, don't look at them or notice them, and leave as though you remembered you have to do something, then stay away for a while.

Only look at them, smile, and interact with them when they speak on neutral subjects and behave kindly.

It doesn't take long to train people with this behaviorist technique.


Recognizing the untruth and delusion of religion must be accomplished by the individual. You can talk people into religion, most especially children, but not out of religion. It has to be done by the believer examining his belief and why he believes it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink.

There’s a quote that goes with this too. I’m unsure of who said it though and I may be paraphrasing.

“You cannot rationally argue someone out of a position that they did not rationally get themselves into.”

@Kenny82 Yes I have seen it and that is close enough.


Seeing as your kids are adults, I think I would explain to them how I came to the conclusion that atheism made sense to me.

I think the point I make to anyone who asks me about my belief system, is I try to make it clear that my atheism is not a rejection of someone else's belief. I try to be as non-threatening about it as possible.

And for older parents, especially if they are hard core, I'd probably stay away from the topic. Either that or try to be understanding of their point of view in order to avoid a contentious debate.


I don't think there is really a way any of us here can give you the right answer on how you ought to deal with family tensions over differences of beliefs. I am certainly not on board with some I've noticed who are quick to suggest axing people from your life who do not abide by what you've become convinced of (i.e. athiesm). And it may be the case that there are some in your family who you cannot broach such subjects with while avoiding heated conflict. I, for example, have made it clear that I won't be discussing matters of belief or disbelief with my sister. We have proven unable to talk of such things without notions of disbelief being misconstrued as a personal attack on her beliefs. While I enjoy discussions, I value my relationship with my sister too highly to continue trying to make a point. But this cuts both ways, this boundary. It also means that she doesn't broach the topic either.

And perhaps that's what it comes down to, is boundaries. People knowing where yours are, as well as knowing that you know where theirs are as well.

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