November 2007

I am 14 years old and I am an atheist, for roughly four years. I was recently thinking that more religious things are coming to be around me and they are making me feel uncomfortable. I want to tell my family that I am an atheist which might make me feel better. I have been very true to myself in my atheism. I haven’t prayed, thought about the existence of any form of gods or god, or felt down on myself for betraying my family. I just wanted to know, do you think that I should tell my family that I am an atheist, or should I still keep it under wraps? I don’t know how I should confront this situation. Thanks.

I am flattered that you would write to me with these questions. Two quick points:

1) You don’t have to worry about being “true to yourself” in atheism by not praying, etc. If you still have emotions born from your religious upbringing, you don’t need to feel guilty about them (if that is what you are doing). Even if you were to, for example, say a prayer for a gravely sick friend because it made you feel better, so long as you understand what you are doing, you’re still an atheist.

2) Along the same lines, go ahead and think about the existence of deities if you want to. Thinking about such things can’t hurt.

The important question, though, is whether you should talk to you your family. I don’t know what your family situation is like, but I think that in general it is better to be up front about such things. Keeping your atheism to yourself is going to lead to the feeling that you are living a lie, and not being honest with your parents isn’t going to help your relationship with them.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but if your parents aren’t aware that you have been questioning religion I usually recommend that you don’t just sit them down and tell them you are an atheist. Instead, ask questions about why they believe, see what their reasons are, and be honest about why you disagree. This way your parents will see a bit of how you came to atheism and won’t be surprised by what might, to them, seem like a sudden change. At some point, you will feel comfortable saying to them that you are an atheist, but by then they may have already figured it out.

By the way, you are at a good time in your life to bring this up to your parents. If you wait until you are in college, your parents may be inclined to believe that atheism is something you picked up at school rather than something you reasoned out for yourself.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to write again, if you so desire, and let me know how it goes.

Posted on November 5, 2007 at 10:44 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Personal account

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