How to Tell Your Parents You’re Not Religious
Deciding you're not religious is one thing, telling parents who still believe is a whole new ballgame.
Religion is a profound thing. Family traditions, social expectations, and private convictions are reason enough to keep up with appearances. Our generation is well aware that all faith groups are in the decline, which means there are a lot of families shifting away from the church. Much like any paradigm shift, this process can cause splintering and stonewalling, which can take years of recovery.
Whatever your personal beliefs are, with Easter fast approaching we’re all asked if we’ll celebrate it, in one way or another. Usually, with gobs of guilt and question dodging, parents, relatives, and overly concerned roommates will undoubtedly invite you to a service of some kind. But what happens if we lose our faith and want to stop avoiding the questions?
The first rule of conduct is: be respectful. You know better than anyone where you came from, so act like it. If you’re from a household that has a history of pronounced faith you’re going to have to find the right words. Often for parents, this conversation will feel like an attack on their abilities. For them, it can mean they failed at raising their child and now they’re separated from eternal life. These are real fears and you need to take that into consideration.
Find the Right Moment
The second rule of conduct is: create an opportunity. During mass should not be considered an appropriate time to talk about your wavering feelings on the gospel. If you’re visiting home on the weekends to do laundry or going to your parent’s house for dinner that should be thought of as a better time to try and bring up the subject.
Be a Good Listener
The third rule of conduct is: be engaged and listen. Don’t interrupt and don’t allow yourself to become physically distressed, after all, you don’t want your parents treating you that way when you speak. This entire faith conversation is a process. It’s likely you didn’t come to your conclusions overnight, so it’s doubtful to think that your parents are going to take your ideas and run with it from one breath to the next.
The final rule of conduct is: stand your ground. Definitely, do your research but you’ve got to be ok with not having all of the answers because I can guarantee you they don’t either. Try to approach all of this with the syntax of exploration and development. If your faith is changing right now in your life, the odds are good that it may change again, and that’s ok. So if you plan on speaking with unwavering authority on a developing idea, you may wind up being the hypocrite you’re trying to avoid.
Change is Natural
All in all, there comes a point in your life where you just have to be yourself. Paradigm shifts in families happen at different times and they’re usually not all that pretty, but don’t give up! Talk to your friends or a sibling first and work out your ideas with people you may feel less intimidated of.
If you think that this will be the year you stop circumventing the tough questions then you’ve got to try something. You can’t just let the anxiety of ‘what if’s’ keep you from living your life. You’ve got to stand up for number one, and who’s number one? You. If all else fails, get one of those ‘Coexist’ bumper stickers and let the passive-aggressive long-con begin
What are your experiences breaking away from religion? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.