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Poor reaction to coming out.

Poor reaction to coming out.
« on: August 18, 2010, 03:53:05 PM »
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.
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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2010, 04:07:08 PM »
Quote from: "Faradaympp"
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.

This sense of denial, isn't really unusual with most Christians/Theists, when talking with a child.  A lot of Christians/Theists take the position that atheists are all just "rebelling" or that we were hurt in some way by the church, or that we are just looking for attention or that we are "lost" or any of a hundred different excuses for our lack of belief.

The thing to understand is that it's not unusual, it's part of what I call a "grieving process" for Christians/Theists.. first they try and "understand" what you are feeling, then they try and convince you that it's just a "phase" then usually they try and bargain with you to get you to return to the church or god; and then the guilt or anger phase sets in.  I call this the "how can you not believe in god, you were not raised this way.." argument or guilt.  Eventually, you will face the divide and conquer phase, which is to attempt to isolate you, which can mean the loss of family and friends, who are attempting this form of "tough love" to force you to return to the church or god.  It's all an attempt to wear you down, to re-indoctrinate you into the cult, and to "fix your problem" with religion.

If you are lucky, eventually they will sit down with you and listen to your arguments, and then even if they don't ever agree with you, they will accept you for who you are.  The key is to remain calm and remain resolute in your lack of belief, if you truly do not believe.  I could go on and on about arming yourself with facts, and learning to reply to all the "standard" arguments.. you may want to use this forum as a sounding board, there are a lot of really good minds on here, many of us have been through this before.  Then, finally, READ as much as you can... don't be afraid to read both theist and atheist writings... there are a LOT of good books and authors out there.  The main thing is to learn to use logic and calm in your discussions.  The last thing to know is that some of your family and friends may NEVER come back or accept you for who you are.  I looked at this as a blessing in that it showed me who my true friends were, and who were just hanging with me because I was like them, instead of being ME.  Good luck... let us know how it goes.
"Ever since the 19th Century, Theologians have made an overwhelming case that the gospels are NOT reliable accounts of what happened in the history of the real world"   Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion

Sophus

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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2010, 04:08:32 PM »
This is an unfortunate stereotype. I would try to point to some friendly atheist faces to show her it's not about rebellion. Dan Dennett's one, but there's also Erich Fromm, a 20th century atheist philosopher and psychologist who is well noted for his philosophy on love and its importance, calling love "the only sane solution to our human existence". Most importantly though, I would suggest you do your part to keep the discourse civil and calm - this can get hard with false accusations, I know.  :blush: Definitely try to reason and explain how and why atheism does not denote rebellion, but, if this is a recent thing, time is probably going to be the biggest (perhaps only) factor in revealing that you haven't changed into a wild problem child.

Best wishes and warmest regards!
‎"Christian doesn't necessarily just mean good. It just means better." - John Oliver

Tank

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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2010, 04:10:25 PM »
Quote from: "Faradaympp"
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.
Difficult situation. She's having to adjust her world view, this won't happen fast and it's almost bound to go through different phases of acceptance and rejection. One way of being assertive and not aggressive is to just tell your mother that she has upset you as close as possible to when she does upset you. She may not realise that she is upsetting you and there is nothing wrong in letting her know she is. How you do it depends on the circumstance, if it's in a group setting where conflict is possible or probable let it drop, but as soon as you can tell her she upset you and why she upset you. If you are alone or in a situation where immediate comment is practical then say something. Use of analogy is good e.g 'Mum how would you like it if I said this (something she would not like to be taken to task over) about you, in front of friends/family/meeting?' It is equally important that you praise the slightest indication that it is ok for you to hold your own world view. This is all about openness and honesty and polite observation. Tell you Mum what you feel and as soon as possible after you feel it.

You could always go buy/borrow loads of books on atheism and read them in front of her and ask her opinion on elements of what you read. This invites her into conversation and shows that you are taking your new world view seriously while still showing these new ideas are not excluding her. Your Mum will always be you Mum. This change in you is an example of you becoming independent. My wife mollycoddles our kids (26,23&23) to the point that they scream at her sometimes, that's just life, you'll have to get used to it. As far as I'm concerned their rooms were there own at 16 and once they got to 18 so were their lives.

Good luck!
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.

Kylyssa

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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2010, 05:19:24 PM »
Actually this is a good reaction to coming out!  You haven't been punished, sent for reprogramming, or kicked out of the home.  It doesn't even read like there have been any tearful arguments or yelling.  So you are doing great!

SSY

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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2010, 10:08:54 PM »
If you stay the course, go about your life like the upstanding atheist I'm sure you are, she will eventually come to terms with your new views. Forcing her to to take you seriously, could be misconstrued as trying to provoke a reaction from her (ie, exactly what a rebellious child would want). She will eventually realise this is no phase, and in the meantime, you are not loosing anything by her persisting in her believe that you are still a Christian. Now that you have put it out in the open, that should be all you need, you told her, she knows, no need for further action really, understanding/acceptance will come in time (assuming it's coming at all, which from the sound of your first post, it should be).

As kylyssa said, there are far worse possibilities.
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explain to them how and why you decided to be athiest and take the consequences that come along with it
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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2010, 11:40:09 PM »
Quote from: "Faradaympp"
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.

This is almost exactly how my mom reacted when I told her about my lack of belief.  I can understand your desire to want to be known and respected by you mother. It can be hurtful when parents are dismissive of your beliefs.  It just takes time.  The only way to prove it isn't a phase is to be resolute and never be ashamed or apologetic for your view.

 It may take years for her to fully accept and understand this aspect of your personality.  However, atheism doesn't define you.  You are the same person, and likely can have the same relationship with your mom 99% of the time now that you are "out".

Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2010, 04:50:51 AM »
Quote from: "Faradaympp"
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.
It may take some time just persist. Be honest about how you think and feel about things but don't let the debate become heated. With time she will see that its not a "phase".
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices -William James
Anything worth knowing is difficult to learn- Greek Proverb
what if god ain't looking down what if he's looking up instead-Ani difranco "what if no one's watching

Tank

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Re: Poor reaction to coming out.
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 07:29:35 AM »
Quote from: "humblesmurph"
Quote from: "Faradaympp"
I hope that creating a thread only for my personnal issues doesn't seem too selfish but maybe this could help others as well(unless it really doesn't belong).

My mother recently confronted me when she discovered the truth about my (lack of) beliefs. At first she was understanding and kind, we talked and had a small non-hostile debate. It felt nice at first, but a few days later I began to get the distinct impression that she had not taken me seriously. I talked to her again and from what I can tell she seems to think that being an atheist is my way of "speaking out" and rebelling. My mother has also expressed this opinion whenever I express an opinion or interest that she finds distastefull. I can only guess that she's just waiting for it to "blow over", this really makes me feel diminished and I'm not sure how to explain my views to her in a way that won't seem like a simple rebellion.

This is almost exactly how my mom reacted when I told her about my lack of belief.  I can understand your desire to want to be known and respected by you mother. It can be hurtful when parents are dismissive of your beliefs.  It just takes time.  The only way to prove it isn't a phase is to be resolute and never be ashamed or apologetic for your view.

 It may take years for her to fully accept and understand this aspect of your personality.  However, atheism doesn't define you.  You are the same person, and likely can have the same relationship with your mom 99% of the time now that you are "out".

The underlined is crucial. The atheistic element of your world view is just part of what you are and it should be kept in perspective and just be a facilitator or the way you see the world under normal circumstances. If one lets any one aspect of one's world view become obsessive, extreme or irrationally dominant it will distort your world view and ultimately you as a person.
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.