advice for dealing w/ christian dad as an athiest

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  • Lyn
    April 20, 2023 at 12:57 am #1119732

    I (14X) am an athiest-agnostic.
    My parents are both Christians and they raised me to be so. However, I didn’t have a strict religious upbringing. I thanked God for blessing my family, I prayed for those in need, I went to church of holidays, etc. We didn’t have Sabbath and I didn’t learn about the seven deadly sins – my parents never to,d me “do this and you’ll go to the hell,” it was more “respect and love God, and everyone else.” We didn’t go to church except of holidays, bc there wasn’t a church my parents liked.
    The lack of church, and lax impact of religion on my life, led me to stop believing. I was an atheist by 10.
    My mom understood and has supported me, and has always encouraged me to be open about understanding all religious beliefs and viewpoints. My dad was on the ‘eh’ side. I think it didn’t matter much to him until he found a church he liked and I didn’t want to go.
    He’d invite me to this new church, and I’d decline: a) I don’t believe in the religion, and I don’t see the point b) Having to recite sermons made me feel invalidating to my religion c) I dislike being the poppy in a field of dandelions when it’s time for them to blow their seeds d) I have an anxiety disorder, and it can get triggered with time passing, and I have had a small panic attack after church due to the time.
    My dad kept asking, and asking, and resorted to bribes. I told him no, I didn’t want to, but I do go with him on Easter and Christmas Eve.
    A week ago, he tried to trick me into joining youth choir for one day. I feel for it, but I did find a loophole to that and told him maybe, He was talking about how he felt the church was so different that the churches he went to in the past, and how he had a conversation with the Reverand. He apparently told the reverand: “my kid thinks she’s an athiest” and ”she’s too young to choose a path for the rest of her life.” He said the choir would be fun, and I could meet new friends, and the Reverand promised that they wouldn’t try to convert me.
    I don’t *think* I’m athiest, I *choose* to be an athiest.
    If I were too young to choose athiesm I am also too young to choose christianity, but he had no problems with me being a christian.
    I don’t see anything irreversible about any religion.
    I don’t want new friends, from church or not from church. I’m struggling in an overwhelming friendship already and I don’t like social interaction. I also cannot sing.
    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this.

    I’d like to know if I should go to the choir,
    and if his thoughts on my religion are good or bad thoughts. It feels weird to me, unsurprising, but not totally comforting at the same time. Advice?

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    April 20, 2023 at 6:14 am #1119736

    Go to choir only if you want to go. It doesn’t sound like you do.

    It sounds like your mom would be a great support for you in this. Is there any chance you can enlist her in talking to your dad for you? Share with her what you’ve shared here – about the panic attacks, feeling out of place in church because you don’t believe, not wanting to go to choir – and ask her to ask him to lay off you?

    You could also talk to him sometime when he’s in a good mood and say you know he wants to share his faith with you because he loves you, but right now you don’t believe and don’t want to be pressured to attend church or go to choir. Say something like if you ever start questioning, you know you can come to him for guidance.

    What’s going on with this overwhelming friendship? That sounds like a bigger problem.

    April 20, 2023 at 9:17 am #1119744

    Are you diagnosed with anxiety? Bring that up.

    I agree that enlisting your mother for help could benefit you.

    I hate to say this, but as someone who really openly rebelled against every single thing my parents wanted, it may be worth it sometimes to tell your parents less personal information about yourself. You don’t have to announce that you’re an atheist. I mean you can, by all means, if that’s the relationship you want, go for it. However, it may help you to have less friction with the folks if you are yourself, I’m not telling you not to be yourself but maybe announcing “I’m an atheist forever,” got him to pay extra church attention to you, specifically. Whereas if you’d never said that, he’s not be pushing you to spend more time at church.

    April 20, 2023 at 9:17 am #1119745

    ^He wouldn’t be pushing you

    April 20, 2023 at 6:18 pm #1119766

    I’ll try and talk to my mom about it. She does know about my panic attacks and she (not my dad) is the one helping me through them.

    I am diagnosed with anxiety.

    I did tell my dad and my mom about my religion because they were asking me to pray for a sick family member, however I haven’t told anyone else in my family. He says he’s only pushing me because he’s lonely, but you’re right (about him maybe pushing me because I told him im an athiest) or, without him knowing that, he would have pushed me because church is in religion.

    I probably won’t go to choir.

    The overwhelming friendship is another thing, and it’s more complicated.

    April 21, 2023 at 3:33 pm #1119777

    You’re at an age where many parents start anxiously try to control everything about their children, including their faith. This is for a lot of reasons, some valid and some not. I don’t think you should join the choir or any other religious service unless it’s something you genuinely want to do. I also think sharing less of your internal thoughts with your dad is in order. Until he can respect your beliefs, he just gets less and less contact with you.

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