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!
That's a really tough one man, I feel bad for you. I don't think it would be unreasonable to talk to your parents in advance and tell them that you respect their espousal of Christianity, but the children are yours, not theirs, and you would find it only fair that they tone it down while the kids are around. If they don't accept that, I dunno what to say, it sucks. Good luck with it.
Yeah, that may need to happen. I'll feel it out on Christmas Eve and if it starts heading too far in the wrong direction I may have to sit them down for a discussion after the kids go to bed.
Regardless of whose home it is, you have the right to ask nicely that they refrain from discussing religion in front of your children. If they refuse, then you will of course have a difficult decision to make. But I would suggest at least trying to explain and make your wishes known first. Maybe they'll surprise you.
I am lucky as religion was never spoken about when I was a child at Xmas time so all I can really say to you is that perhaps when religion rears its ugly head try to just listen, let them have their say and on returning home just tell your children that this is your parents beliefs, and that you believe absolutely after reading religious texts that you have come to your decision with reason and logic and that it how they must face their lives believe what they think is right for them. If religion comes up in conversation for me I just say you are entitled to your beliefs and I am entitled to mine, let us just respect each other and have a lovely family time together, as this should be a time for the children. I hae just found this on internet about traditions of christmas by Austin Cline a good talking point I would think
Thanks for the link and the advice. I forwarded that link to my daughter...she will enjoy learning about that! I actually learned from it too!
I would tell them If they don't want to hear your arguments against religion, then don't share their arguments for it. Tell them you would like the issue of religion to just be a no discussion topic when you and your children are around. If they persist you have a right to respond to what they say. Also, if they persist I would tell them that you don't want your children exposed to the evils and immorality that is found in the bible and the christian religion. If they ask what evils, then be prepared to point out the verses about genocide, murder, rape, slavery, etc... Just my thoughts.
It's funny that you mentioned the bible verses. I kept getting emails about jesus and angels from my mom...so I finally replied with 3 pages of bible versus (both old testament and new) that promoted every type of discrimination against women, racism, child abuse, murder, rape, and basically every horror imaginable. I also ended it with an excellent verse that I was hoping would hit home, seeing as how I'm evidently the rebellious son since I'm an Atheist, and I enjoy drinking beer a lot. Check this out:
"Deuteronomy 21:18If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not
obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they
have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19Then shall his father and his
mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto
the gate of his place;20And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our
son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and
a drunkard. 21And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he
die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and
I have never had any luck with arguing the point with parents. Arguing and trying to prove a point can just intensify the situation. If your parents know you are an atheist, they (in my opinion) are trying to goad you into an argument in the hopes of changing you mind. I say, just change the subject. A simple, "So, how's so and so," or "anything interesting happen at work?" can derail a pending argument. Compliments can do that same thing.
If you have argued the point in the past, they will expect it. The above tactics could work in your favor and distract them from their original point. Also, it will show your kids just how much religion matters to you.
Tell your parrents you have already explaned what mythology is to your children and if they want to know more about bibles, messiahs, gods and religions they can find it in the mythology section in any library or on the internet.