Author Topic: Family pressures on an atheist mother.  (Read 3299 times)

Tank

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Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« on: December 15, 2011, 10:44:15 AM »
Kimberly posted this in another thread but due to its subject I felt it was worth its own specific thread.


{snip} My deconversion occurred about four years ago.  I have deeply religious family and friends.  My ex (husband at the time) was pretty blasé about religion in general.  So telling him was easy.  But the rest of my family.....  Siiiiggghh.  I do love my parents, a lot.  And knowing where they are, I knew that declaring myself as an atheist would be emotionally devastating for them.  I mean, on their knees every night begging god to save my soul, devastating.  So, I didn't plan on telling them at all.  One day, I picked my mother up in my car to take her somewhere.  I happened to be reading "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" at the time.  I did NOT leave it in my purse on purpose, I think.  She found it.  Oh boy.  Surprisingly, the response was rather muted.  Bascially, they believed it was a phase I was going through.  I would work through it and find my way back to the truth.  I had stopped going to church already, mostly with excuses.  I stopped coming up with excuses and stayed home.  A couple of years go by, no one has asked me about my faith, I've kept my mouth shut out of respect.  But they want my children in church.  Every time the doors are open, they want my children there.  What do you do?  They adore my children.  I'm sending them to hell with my blatant disregard of the Lord's wishes!!  How do you look your parents in the face and smile while you "send their grandchildren to hell???"  So, I started taking them to church.  I'm such a coward.  First day I went, my father cried.  Literally cried, in church.  No one asked if I had changed my mind.  I didn't offer.  Am I still an atheist? YES.  Do I want to break their hearts?? NO! But I want better for my children.  So, here I am.  Stuck, pretending.  And finding myself very thankful for HAF!

If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Pharaoh Cat

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 12:23:37 PM »
The best I can offer is for atheist parents to describe Christianity, whenever asked, as often as possible in the hearing of their children, with perfect factual honesty.

This is honestly, factually what Christianity teaches: "Believe without evidence or suffer forever for doing what you can't help wanting to do."

Ask Christians if we can stop displeasing God by an act of will.  They will tell you, no, we can't.  They will agree we can't help wanting to do what displeases God.

Ask Christians what the penalty is for displeasing God.  They will tell you, hell, which is suffering forever.

Ask Christians how we escape hell.  They will tell you by believing without evidence - and they will admit and even laud the fact that their belief flies in the face of any scientific demand for evidence.

I'm not making this up.  This is what they teach.  Hold it up for people to look at and see what reaction is forthcoming, especially from children.  No need to resist, debate, mock, or even question.  Think of this as judo or aikido for the mind.  Let Christianity's teaching hurl itself to the floor.  If you can do this with a straight face, with an air of innocence, all the better. ;)
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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 12:36:50 PM »
No need to resist, debate, mock, or even question.  Think of this as judo or aikido for the mind.  Let Christianity's teaching hurl itself to the floor.  If you can do this with a straight face, with an air of innocence, all the better. ;)

If Christianity comes charging at you, use its own weight and momentum against it. I like it. ;D

Kimberly, if you don't want to get confrontational by totally closing the door on what your parents want for your chidren, you could always insist that they can choose for themselves when they're old enough to understand. That way, rather sneakily, you remove responsibility from yourself and do what is right, IMO.
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kimberlyfaith81

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 02:48:59 PM »
xSilverPhinx
 Thank you for your input.  That has been the plan I've been working on.  When my children come home from church full of things to tell me; I listen carefully, pick out the parts I like, such as helping others, giving to the poor/needy/etc, loving unconditionally and we expand on those.  The parts I don't like, the fundamentalist, going to hell if you don't believe everything presented; those parts I cast a little doubt on.  Especially things that my children will understand as impossible.  I never get confrontational with them, just cast a little doubt and move on to the good parts.  Hopefully, in this way, they can still gather the good things in the religious world that held value for me as a child and still do.  But when they are older, they will have those seeds of doubt I planted and will know that they can always come to me for discussion.  And hopefully, they will make their own good decisions in time.  They are gifted, intelligent children.  I have no doubt in their abilities.  I made the right decision even with hyper-religious parents hounding me.  Surely, my openness and willingness to discuss anything and my affirmation of their intelligence and independence will position them to feel confident in all that they do.  Including stepping away from illogical ideologies and embracing a full life that is void of guilt, doubt, and threats of eternal punishment. 

Tank

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 04:20:13 PM »
Spot on! Use the church experience as a basis to explore morality and rational though.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Stevil

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 05:57:05 PM »
Grandparents need to know their place. All decisions on how to bring children up are the responsibility of the parents.
Grandparents can dote on the children, giving them love, hugs, kisses, presents and play with them on visits, but that is about the limit.

It is hard for grandparents to know their place, but they must learn it, they have had their chance with their own kids, but their kids are now independant mature adults, making decisions for themselves and their own kids.

Tank

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 06:13:27 PM »
Grandparents need to know their place. All decisions on how to bring children up are the responsibility of the parents.
Grandparents can dote on the children, giving them love, hugs, kisses, presents and play with them on visits, but that is about the limit.

It is hard for grandparents to know their place, but they must learn it, they have had their chance with their own kids, but their kids are now independant mature adults, making decisions for themselves and their own kids.
Which in India would be raising the children while the parents work. Grandparents are vital in human society. It's only post industrial revolution where families are fractured and reduced to 'work units' by capitalism that grand parents have become socially irrelevant. We now pay through the nose for professional grandparents (child minders) to look after our kids while we work to pay for somebody else to raise our kids.

In some small respects my daughter is making a slight pigs ear of bringing up her first child, my first grandchild which is totally to be expected she is very head strong (can't think where she gets that from) and young. For anybody to expect that I and my wife will not say anything and get involved is to deny human nature and is completely unrealistic. Family dynamics are a pain in the arse but that's life. One can't simply 'wish' one's parents out of one's life or  that of your child. If there is a conflict of views then the adults have to sort it out as adults within the context of the family. One can not simply dismiss part of a family simply because they are the wrong generation.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

kimberlyfaith81

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 06:54:16 PM »
I agree with you there Tank.  My parents may be too religious for my liking, but they are very good people.  And I could not have made it where I am without them.  If not for them, my children would have spent a greater part of their lives in daycare and strangers' homes while I finished graduate school and worked full time (sometimes two jobs) to provide for us.  I need them.   I also want them.  A close family provides more diversity and a stronger emotional net for children.  I'm not a big fan of the new "fractured family".  I try to keep all the grandparents and great grandparents involved as much as I can.  It makes their lives richer and our lives richer.  I'm a strong, independent, intelligent woman.  Smart enough to know that I don't know it all.  The more people I have to learn from, the more I'll know.  And grandparents/great-grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. 

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 07:52:34 PM »
I agree with Tank on the Grandparents side of things. They are important and can be very influential, my Granddad was easily the most influential person in my life and I always admired him. Though I do think grandparents should know where the boundaries lie, after all they may be their grandchildren but they are not their parents. My Gran was a good example of not knowing her boundaries she always use to overstep the mark, plus she use to come out with some rubbish which quickly made me loose respect for her advice, but when she took on the grandparent role and didn't interfere she was good.
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Stevil

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 11:49:24 PM »
Given my experiences, I can’t disagree with you more Tank.

Parents are prepped through pre-natel class and with many consultations with mid-wife, they also have friends and the internet in order to get themselves informed on “options” with regards to dealing with babies. It is the information age after all.

Once the new baby arrives it is an extremely traumatic time for both the parents (but especially the mother). They are both lacking sleep and stressed and unsure about how to deal with a crying baby. Of course, at hospital the nurses teach the mother some basics, the mid-wife continues to visit for 6 weeks and then there are doctor checkups and Plunket nurse appointments. The internet is still available, so are friends and the pre-natal group turns into a post natel coffee group (peer support group).
<This is how it happens in my country, other countries will be different>

It is likely that 20-40 years have passed since the grandparents dealt with babies and since then the recommended style of bringing up babies have changed.
There are many ways to bring up a baby, but there is no perfect way. The parents are the only ones whom are capable of making the correct decisions for their own babies. The grandparents are only related to one of the parents, when grandparents offer unsolicited advice or tell the parents that they are doing the wrong things and are bad parents then there is going to be much conflict and resentment. Of our coffee group only one of the girls gets on with her husband’s parents since the arrival of their first born. My wife used to be friendly with my parents but now she can’t stand them. She lays awake at night when we are expecting them to visit for the week-end. When they arrive, my wife largely ignores them.
The impact of grandparents overstepping the boundaries is:
Conflict between the parents
Conflict between the parent and the inlaws
Less frequency that the grand parents will be invited over
Less frequency that the parents and new childen will visit the grandparents
Less likelihood that the parents will handover the children to the grand parents when contemplating a week-end getaway.
Grandparents feel left out
Grandparents feel resentment
Grandparent wish they had provided support for the parents rather than putting pressure on them to do things their way.
Father parent/Husband/Son (a.k.a. me) feel sad. Stuck in between.

This is my experience, my life. A warning to anyone who will listen. Not necessarily a fact of everyone’s life though.

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 12:39:52 AM »
I think family of the parents should feel like they are able and welcome to provide guidance but not expect that their guidance will always be followed.

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 12:55:22 AM »
Smart enough to know that I don't know it all.  The more people I have to learn from, the more I'll know.  And grandparents/great-grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. 

I think this sums it up for me. People who have lived through much more do have a wealth of knowledge to offer. Not that I'd let the older generations run things, but I can respect that...
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Tank

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2011, 08:24:24 AM »
Given my experiences, I can’t disagree with you more Tank.

Parents are prepped through pre-natel class and with many consultations with mid-wife, they also have friends and the internet in order to get themselves informed on “options” with regards to dealing with babies. It is the information age after all.

Once the new baby arrives it is an extremely traumatic time for both the parents (but especially the mother). They are both lacking sleep and stressed and unsure about how to deal with a crying baby. Of course, at hospital the nurses teach the mother some basics, the mid-wife continues to visit for 6 weeks and then there are doctor checkups and Plunket nurse appointments. The internet is still available, so are friends and the pre-natal group turns into a post natel coffee group (peer support group).
<This is how it happens in my country, other countries will be different>

It is likely that 20-40 years have passed since the grandparents dealt with babies and since then the recommended style of bringing up babies have changed.
There are many ways to bring up a baby, but there is no perfect way. The parents are the only ones whom are capable of making the correct decisions for their own babies. The grandparents are only related to one of the parents, when grandparents offer unsolicited advice or tell the parents that they are doing the wrong things and are bad parents then there is going to be much conflict and resentment. Of our coffee group only one of the girls gets on with her husband’s parents since the arrival of their first born. My wife used to be friendly with my parents but now she can’t stand them. She lays awake at night when we are expecting them to visit for the week-end. When they arrive, my wife largely ignores them.
The impact of grandparents overstepping the boundaries is:
Conflict between the parents
Conflict between the parent and the inlaws
Less frequency that the grand parents will be invited over
Less frequency that the parents and new childen will visit the grandparents
Less likelihood that the parents will handover the children to the grand parents when contemplating a week-end getaway.
Grandparents feel left out
Grandparents feel resentment
Grandparent wish they had provided support for the parents rather than putting pressure on them to do things their way.
Father parent/Husband/Son (a.k.a. me) feel sad. Stuck in between.

This is my experience, my life. A warning to anyone who will listen. Not necessarily a fact of everyone’s life though.

You're not a grand parent yet are you? Remember what you have just written when you are  :D
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Stevil

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2011, 08:55:16 AM »
You're not a grand parent yet are you? Remember what you have just written when you are  :D
I have a lot to learn about life, and I am definately not a perfect parent.
My intent is to teach my children to be independant and not afraid to make decisions.
I want to support them, not control them.
This is their shot at life, they need to have the confidence to live it as this will bring them much opportunity.

Tank

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Re: Family pressures on an atheist mother.
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2011, 08:57:11 AM »
You're not a grand parent yet are you? Remember what you have just written when you are  :D
I have a lot to learn about life, and I am definately not a perfect parent.
My intent is to teach my children to be independant and not afraid to make decisions.
I want to support them, not control them.
This is their shot at life, they need to have the confidence to live it as this will bring them much opportunity.
I couldn't agree with you more.


EDIT: That could sound as if I think you have a lot to learn, what I meant is that I/We always have a lot to learn.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 08:58:46 AM by Tank »
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.