Author Topic: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?  (Read 16930 times)

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Offline Not on the fence

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Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« on: March 21, 2010, 12:13:13 AM »
So being raised in a christian family, everyone, (except for one) is a strict, brethren christian.  You are a non believer now.  Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Or just let it go?  I would not tell my parents as they are very old, and in the last stage of their lives, but it would probably get back to them if the rest of the family knew.  My siblings are in their 50's so they are not going to be open to anything I say.  I just get so frustrated sometimes when things are said, and I cant say how I feel. :shrug

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 12:29:31 AM »
Given that it would probably cause distress to your parents, I'd try to steer conversations away from the subject of religion altogether to avoid saying something in the heat of the moment.  If parents were not in the picture, you'd have to consider the non-religious aspects of your relationship with your siblings and ask yourself which is worse:  Losing the relationship, or enduring the stress of keeping up a false front.

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Offline penfold

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2010, 02:10:31 AM »
I suppose it's an ethical question. On the one hand you, quite rightly, have no desire to cause distress to your parents. On the other you want to be honest with your family. It's a tough one.

My own view is that the occasional well placed lie is part of the glue that keeps families together. The truth has a way of being a very destructive force.

Whatever you decide, best of luck.
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Offline kindred

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2010, 02:45:43 AM »
Depends. Pros and cons have to be weighed though. How good is it for me, for the family member? Do I like said, family member? Will it hurt me or him to a degree that isn't justified? Etc.
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Offline One Above All

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2010, 02:54:02 AM »
if it were me, if they asked or made a question assuming i still believed, i'd tell them
EDIT: but it's your family. you have to think about how they'd react
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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2010, 08:02:38 AM »
So being raised in a christian family, everyone, (except for one) is a strict, brethren christian.  You are a non believer now.  Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Or just let it go?  I would not tell my parents as they are very old, and in the last stage of their lives, but it would probably get back to them if the rest of the family knew.  My siblings are in their 50's so they are not going to be open to anything I say.  I just get so frustrated sometimes when things are said, and I cant say how I feel. :shrug



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Offline jetson

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2010, 08:11:32 AM »
You can tell them without being disrespectful. 

Offline Jim

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2010, 08:20:39 AM »
So being raised in a christian family, everyone, (except for one) is a strict, brethren christian.  You are a non believer now.  Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Or just let it go?  I would not tell my parents as they are very old, and in the last stage of their lives, but it would probably get back to them if the rest of the family knew.  My siblings are in their 50's so they are not going to be open to anything I say.  I just get so frustrated sometimes when things are said, and I cant say how I feel. :shrug

If there is nothing that you would accomplish by telling them, except for maybe having the fleeting feeling of "success!" that you told them, maybe it's better to let sleeping dogs lay.  Go about your life separately, except for family get togethers.

Whenever religious talk starts up with my family, it's time for me to get more potato salad or hit the pee room.  Or, "hey, isn't that song...."
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Offline Sashka

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2010, 09:10:57 AM »
Why can't you say how you feel? Saying what you really think IMO reflects the respect you have for them. If you're feeling that expressing your opinions is somehow harmful towards your relationship, then you should ask yourself, and them, do they respect you?
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Offline Jim

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2010, 09:35:35 AM »
Why can't you say how you feel? Saying what you really think IMO reflects the respect you have for them. If you're feeling that expressing your opinions is somehow harmful towards your relationship, then you should ask yourself, and them, do they respect you?

For me, it all comes down to how much I care about retaining the relationship.  My relationship with family members goes beyond religion, and there are other cares, needs, and history that I feel I wish to maintain.  It isn't all about what I feel about God and their faith, there is more to it.  And, yes, the ones I care about respect me, they just disagree with me, and they aren't a particular pain in the neck about it.  Just the same, I find no reason to get into arguments with them, or discuss something that they aren't prepared to examine honestly -- and I am usually in no mood to have the same discussion again for the 1000th time.  Been there, done that.

In other cases, I can be much more dismissive of others if they don't like what I feel about religion.  I have some family members of this kind who I don't care too much about.  And I don't keep friends for too long if they are real believers.  I cannot respect their faith, and in most cases, they don't really understand why I don't believe.  Those relationships usually disintegrate, anyway.  But, anyway, I end up caring so little for those particular people's thoughts that I don't need to discuss it with them, either.

Generally, I am comfortable enough with my own atheism that I don't need anyone's input on its value.  I also have no burning need to set any of them "straight" -- besides, any attempts of my own to do this in the past have ended with less than desirable effects, one way or the other. 
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Offline Not on the fence

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2010, 11:33:01 AM »
Thanks for the replies, I think I will keep it to myself for now. I am 42 but still considered the "Baby" of the family.  I do not feel respected by them at all, but I still want to keep a relationship with them.
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Offline ReasonIsOutToLunch

Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2010, 11:42:10 AM »
My life is awful in so many ways. But, at least not in this area. My family might be crazy, but only a few are delusional. However, if there was a family member that was a theist and I cared a lot about him/her, I would keep my mouth shut. I wouldn't tell anyone else that would tell them either. Because, it's just not that important to me to disabuse people of their delusions. Sure, it's fun to point and laugh at strangers. But, family is a whole different thing. This is all assuming that the family member in question is no danger to society and doesn't push their views(a hate agenda) onto the rest of the community.
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Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2010, 01:44:13 PM »
I would say leave it alone; after all, they are all adults and are free to lead their own lives, and you yours.  If your parents ever try to bring it up, just say that you would prefer to not discuss it for your own reasons.

But does anyone else see the irony here (which is all too often played out)?  It is usually the christian (the person who claims love, peace, forgiveness, and a moral high ground) who is the one who is holding the threatening stick of condemnation, fear, guilt, ostracism, etc?  Why is that, and who gave them that right or power?
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Offline mommykicksbutt

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2010, 02:05:14 PM »
Tough one.  If there is nothing to be gained and everything to lose I'd keep it to myself for the time being.  Keep a finger on the family pulse and if things change later in the future then reassess the timing again on this matter.  Otherwise, change the topic when religion comes up and don't volunteer an opinion pro/con on anything religiously related.

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Offline Jim

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2010, 03:38:02 PM »
...But does anyone else see the irony here (which is all too often played out)?....

It was never lost on me.  I frequently told others that they were not being too Christian when they behaved that way.  It was not a welcomed comment when I did that, for sure.
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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2010, 03:53:35 PM »
NOTF:  What, in total, do you want out of your relationship with your family?
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Offline VacuusMonastica

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2010, 04:20:31 PM »
So being raised in a christian family, everyone, (except for one) is a strict, brethren christian.  You are a non believer now.  Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Or just let it go?  I would not tell my parents as they are very old, and in the last stage of their lives, but it would probably get back to them if the rest of the family knew.  My siblings are in their 50's so they are not going to be open to anything I say.  I just get so frustrated sometimes when things are said, and I cant say how I feel. :shrug



I understand your position. I realize if I would come out and tell my family it would hurt them (I am sure they have suspicions but they won't fully accept that maybe this has happened). I started this "journey for truth" not very long ago, and yet in that time I've learned so much more about the world and reality and just how everything works without having to rely on supernatural explanations. I am a happier person, though that came at the cost of feeling like I was just floating in space with no real direction and spinning in a confusion of what happens now, what's next. It's been worth it.

I am sure they could never see it from my perspective because they haven't taken the prerequisites so to speak. They haven't took a good honest look at it all without letting religious dogma influence their thought, they haven't fought with the fear that tells them they are doing something extremely wrong and could be damned for it. They just can't see if from where I stand now. I understand this and so I choose, at least to my most loved and cherished family members, to remain silent and grin and bear it.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2010, 09:05:30 PM »
Thanks for the replies, I think I will keep it to myself for now. I am 42 but still considered the "Baby" of the family.  I do not feel respected by them at all, but I still want to keep a relationship with them.

I would love to have a relationshop with my father, but he doesn't respect me.  It hurts sometimes when I think about it, but I can no longer pretend that the relationship is good.  I have occasional conversations, but overall, there's nothing substantial between us.  I'm his only son.


Offline plethora

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2010, 06:57:39 AM »
It's all a matter of what's more important to you.

For me, it is more important to be honest. If someone can't handle the fact that I do not believe in a god, it's not my fault.

However, if religion seldom comes up and your efforts are minimal, keeping a good rappor with your family may outweigh the need to be honest about your lack of belief.

My family and I have reached a compromise where we just don't talk about it. That's the best because the relationships can continue and no one has to be a hypocrite.
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Offline VacuusMonastica

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2010, 07:50:29 AM »
I would love to have a relationshop with my father, but he doesn't respect me.  It hurts sometimes when I think about it, but I can no longer pretend that the relationship is good.  I have occasional conversations, but overall, there's nothing substantial between us.  I'm his only son.

All because of religion? That's really sad, Jetson.

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Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2010, 07:53:27 AM »
Personally, I'd risk family relationships not for being right, but for expressing what I think and feel. It can be very hurtful, yes, but I would take it over lying by ommission for the rest of my life.

Family is overrated, imo; losing contact to a family member, for me, wouldn't be any worse than losing contact to a long-time friend. Which is of course lamentable but not absolutely so. Sometimes it's better to break relationships then keeping them up under false pretenses.

But that's what I'd consider the right course for me. I don't know you or your circumstances, after all.
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Offline Aerial

Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2010, 09:02:03 AM »
Totally opposite to Noman Peopled ^ although I understand his view...but because I have an elderly mother, that takes precedent. In my case I am very fortunate, my mum is a christian but with a sense of humour....she joined one of these forums, just for me.  :D
Other than that...I have nieces and nephews who are religious. I try keep my mouth shut actually...because I think the most powerful lesson is the one learnt yourself. If they can come to terms with the non existence of God themselves? That is waaaaay powerful....

Offline Petey

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2010, 09:46:59 AM »
I can totally understand about not wanting to upset elderly parents.  Luckily, my parents were in their 40's when I "came out" to my family.  As for the rest of the family (and generally anyone under 70), I'm of the opinion that honesty is the best policy.  I'm not saying that you need to announce your position unprovoked or try to convert anyone.  But if someone asks you a direct question about religion, you should just tell them what you really think (and defend that position if they press you on it).

If they can't have a mature, adult relationship with you simply because of a difference of religious opinion, then they are the ones with the problem.  If they value and respect you as a person, then differences of opinion may lead to some interesting debates, but it should not end or permanently damage the relationship.  If it does, then either one party (or both) need to seek professional help, or the relationship wasn't based on much substance in the first place.


Edit: Forgot to clarify.  It's not a matter of being "right".  It's simply a matter of being honest with yourself and others.  And of course, all of the above is moot if you feel that announcing your position would lead to physical or financial harm.  Survival ranks a bit above honesty.  ;)
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 09:50:50 AM by Petey »
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Offline Aerial

Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2010, 10:08:14 AM »
Oh yeah...I do agree ^ if the parents are younger, it might be worth having a debate. Cos that is more about being yourself amongst adults....and I agree it might not be worth hiding in that situation.
Really it is all about age....I would not advise a 15yr old to come out when relying on their parents....I would not advise a 40 yr old to challenge their 80yr old parents....but in between? Maybe....

Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2010, 10:17:58 AM »
Totally opposite to Noman Peopled ^ although I understand his view...but because I have an elderly mother, that takes precedent. In my case I am very fortunate, my mum is a christian but with a sense of humour....she joined one of these forums, just for me.  :D
Yeah, I wouldn't dream of touting my opinion about this as the thing to do. People have different needs and views. And context is immensely important.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 10:19:30 AM by Noman Peopled »
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Offline Not on the fence

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2010, 01:51:51 PM »
So being raised in a christian family, everyone, (except for one) is a strict, brethren christian.  You are a non believer now.  Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Or just let it go?  I would not tell my parents as they are very old, and in the last stage of their lives, but it would probably get back to them if the rest of the family knew.  My siblings are in their 50's so they are not going to be open to anything I say.  I just get so frustrated sometimes when things are said, and I cant say how I feel. :shrug



I understand your position. I realize if I would come out and tell my family it would hurt them (I am sure they have suspicions but they won't fully accept that maybe this has happened). I started this "journey for truth" not very long ago, and yet in that time I've learned so much more about the world and reality and just how everything works without having to rely on supernatural explanations. I am a happier person, though that came at the cost of feeling like I was just floating in space with no real direction and spinning in a confusion of what happens now, what's next. It's been worth it.

I am sure they could never see it from my perspective because they haven't taken the prerequisites so to speak. They haven't took a good honest look at it all without letting religious dogma influence their thought, they haven't fought with the fear that tells them they are doing something extremely wrong and could be damned for it. They just can't see if from where I stand now. I understand this and so I choose, at least to my most loved and cherished family members, to remain silent and grin and bear it.
  Exactly....well put....that is how I feel.
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Offline SimpleCaveman

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2010, 02:12:26 PM »
Family is everything. As dysfunctional as my family is, they're still my family. Being so far away from them, I may not interact with them as much as I like or should, but they are my family and I would do many things for them that I may not do for others.

At the same time, I guess I'm lucky that our family has always spoken their mind and we can talk about anything. We have all kinds of beliefs in our family (e.g. some don't like Eraserhead) and we all respect each other enough to let each other have those beliefs and still be family. It's a tragedy when families are divided for whatever reason. Even more so when it's initiated by a Christian.


Offline kindred

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2010, 09:30:34 PM »
Heres a question for you. Why do you guys love your family in the first place? I only love SOME family members. The rest I don't give a shit about, some I hate to the point that I'd murder them if their weren't any consequences.

Why do you love said family member should be taken into consideration.
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Offline L6

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Re: Would you risk family relationships just to be right?
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2010, 09:52:00 PM »
Do you risk your relationship with your family by telling them that you dont believe anymore?
Yes. It is every atheist's responsibility to do so. Without reading the responses below, I guarantee that several people have given cowardly excuses as to why they refuse to initiate this conflict. Unless your family will kick you out of the house and stop paying for college if you open up, there is no excuse.

How does a minority gain momentum? By getting people in the majority to fight for them. How many people are fighting for atheists? Nearly none. Why? Because people don't identify with us. Why not? Because they don't even know who we are. Who are the only people in the world guaranteed to at least grant you an audience, an initial hearing? Your family. Who is most likely to identify with you even if they don't fully agree with you? Your family. Who is most likely to fight for you even if they don't share your views? Your family. Who is going to tell other people--and be believed--that atheists can be good and moral people who deserve a voice in society? Your (theistic) family.

When people realize that their views can hurt their family members, particularly their children, their behavior is more likely to change.

You want to complain about theists? You want to benefit from the work of other atheists? In my mind, until you tell your family, you have not earned that right.

Edit: I just read all the replies, and damn was I right. What a bunch of spineless cowards. You don't need to fight or debate your family; it's as simple as saying you don't believe. Most people avoid conflict and will probably leave it alone after that. It's their knowing at all--and that you are a good person, to boot--that is important.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 09:55:58 PM by L6 »
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