I was hoping to get some advice about dealing with Christian parents during the holiday season.  Me and my girlfriend are both Atheist, along with our 13 year old daughter who is Atheist, and my 7 year old son who believes in "god" and "devils under the ground" because he picked it up from friends at school (Although he seems to be doubting it already.)  It is tradition that every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas day all of us, along with my sister and her fiancee (Both of whom are Atheist), go to our parents house to have Dinner, exchange gifts, etc.

 

The problem I am faced with is that my parents are extremely devout Christians, and extremely vocal Christians.  They like to discuss god, Jesus, and religion in general in front of my children.  If i mention any of this being wrong I get looks of disgust.   They also like to tell me how I will discover my mistake one day and turn back to god...also in front of my children.  When I debate the issue and inevitably prove them wrong on whatever issue is being discussed, they often become offended and then somehow I have caused an upset at the family event.  My sister backs me to a certain point, but often she will just let it go because she has no kids...and she doesn't really care that much.  However, I have very strong feelings against Christianity and religion in general.  Although my children are free to believe whatever they like, I don't shove Atheism down their throats...and I don't want anyone else shoving Religious Bullshit down their throats either.  I had to suffer with that for 13 years as a child and I can't tolerate it.

 

I love my parents very much, and I want to spend time on the holidays.  I just cant tolerate being put in this position every time, especially where I either come out having to play ignorant or submissive to avoid an argument, or show intelligence and reason toward my parents so my children can understand reality....which results in my making my parents upset.

 

Any suggestions on how to handle this?  Help!

Tags: Argumentative, Atheism, Atheist, Avoiding, Christian, Christians, Dinner, Family, Prayer, at, More…dinner, with

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You could tell your parents that you wish to talk about other topics because their belief makes you uncomfortable, especially in front of your children.

Since you are in their home, you should not expect them to stifle their beliefs in any form.  And you shouldn't expect or desire to shield your children from religions.  Teaching them about Christianity along with other religions and myths is a good way to innoculate them against even the most aggressive indoctrination efforts, as long as they have you for support.  Have faith in your children's ability to figure out the world around them and encourage their skepticality.  Try to enjoy the holidays and ignore the religious banter.

 

If your family is directly targeting your children, then you have a duty and obligation to put a stop to that.  If your parents won't respect your wishes regarding this, then you have a very difficult decision to make.

 

That is a good point.  I was raised in their home and became atheist, and as such am very knowledgeable about the bible and religion in general.  I guess I'm being overly defensive about my kids exposure to it because of how I was forced to go to church and criticized for my atheist beliefs.  They are both smart kids who question everything, so I'm sure they will figure it out.  I guess it is an overprotective instinct I have developed in that area to protect them from something that was terrible for me as a child.  Ignoring it may just be the best defense, good point.

 

For the most part they target me and not the children.  I think they realize that would be going too far and I wouldn't be able to tolerate it.  Thanks for the helpful advice Reggie.

You are quite welcome!  Good luck and I hope the holidays are enjoyable for you and yours.

Pretty much what my evil twin said. If you particularly want to counter your parents' preaching, talk to your kids afterward about what was said, the holes in the logic, etc. It could be a learning experience.

Great point about using it as a teaching moment for the kids.

I agree with Reggie but there are also other ways. If you can manage it, try hosting for the holidays. Let them talk shop if they like and when your kids ask about it, tell them your point of view. They will figure it out fast. Trust me, kids require more tangible proof than adults because they are not brain washed yet. If they preach to much and try to lead your kids and you get uncomfortable with it, stop it in a nice way. After all it's your house this time. Once your parents see that you have a boundary, they will respect it in there house as well...hopefully. I know it's harder for some families. I'm 38 yrs old and my parents still see me as there kid and I try to be respectful but sometimes you just gotta remind them that your an adult and can't live by there rules anymore. I would take a stand but I wouldn't argue about it. Good luck brother.

I wish that I could host it at my house, but unfortunately part what my parents enjoy are the traditional Christmas with the big tree, decorations, angels, candles, ribbons, and all that.  I don't celebrate Christmas aside from exchanging gifts, as I really just show up to spend time with them.  We get along great until religion pops up in the conversation, as it inevitably does at some point.  Even if have avoided it until dinner, right before we eat my dad always asks mom to say the blessing and she replies with "Well I don't know why....since nobody else here believes in god."  Then my sister will chime in for mom to go ahead to pacify her and dad, at which point everyone is expected to bow their head...which I don't.  I then receive scornful glances from them as me and my daughter don't pray, although my son and girlfriend do because they are afraid to offend them.  I don't plan to argue it any more though.  I'll just wait for my kids to ask, and then I'll give them a more realistic side of the story.  Thanks for the advice!

I agree with Reggie. Have faith in your kids. If they are anything like my daughter, they can smell bullsh*t a mile off. :) 

 

I am sorry but I had a bit of a giggle when you talked about your mom's little dig during the blessing. It reminded me soooo much of my own mother, just the overall attitude. It's the same thing worldwide. Most people love their families very much but, damn if they don't get on your nerves at times, especially the holidays! 

 

I hope I haven't offended you by finding saying I had a bit of a giggle, because family can really stress a person out. Do you think it might help if you tried to see the funny side of it? Stand up comics talking about families during the holidays make me hysterical with laughter.

I remember one in particular from years ago. He said that we all seem to suffer amnesia over the year and that by the time the holidays roll around again, everyone has forgotten how annoying their family was the year before. A comparison was made to dropping a brick on one's foot and the punchline was something like, 'I just can't WAIT to drop that brick on my foot again!'

Sometimes laughter in the face of frustration is the best we can do and really helps a lot. Again, I hope I haven't been offensive and also that you have a stress free holiday!! :) 

No offense taken at all!  It is a  very funny scene in retrospect, but a bit obnoxious when it's actually happening.  That's a really good suggestion though.  I love to laugh and usually counter everything else in my daily life with laughter.  I think that humor is definitely going to be part of the strategy this Christmas.  Maybe the padding of "laughter" will make the impact of the "brick" a bit less noticeable.  

 

Thanks Steph! 

We get along great until religion pops up in the conversation, as it inevitably does at some point.  Even if have avoided it until dinner, right before we eat my dad always asks mom to say the blessing and she replies with "Well I don't know why....since nobody else here believes in god."

 

Next time that happens, you should offer to say "blessing".  Then provide a sincere, heartfelt, and secular monologue.  During it, you might even give thanks to your family for not forcing their religious views on you.  That is, if you really wanted to ditch the sincerity and return the passive aggressiveness in kind.

That is a really good idea too.  I'm going to try to avoid using the passive aggressiveness until it becomes a last resort.  I'm glad I asked you all about this.  I had a feeling that the best solutions would come from people who may have experienced similar things in the past. 

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