I'm sure there are probably endless discussions about this, but I wanted to start a new thread focused on whether or not I should come out to my family, and when. I am a current college student, so while I don't really live at home, I am technically still being supported by my mother. This means I have to worry about surviving financially in the event my mom takes it so badly that I get cut off, and I would probably have to drop out of school, or at least transfer or take time off until I can figure out where to get 50grand per year. While these concerns give me an excuse for the next few years, how this could play out once I'm completely on my own weighs heavily on me. She may take it well and be completely supportive, but deep down, she will always be upset about it and probably would try to encourage me to find a church or get involved again. If she takes it as I suspect, our relationship would never be the same, and even if she continues to support me and talk to me, there would be a huge barrier in our relationship. In the worst-case scenario, I will lose my family. Things start to get a little more complicated, however, because I also have younger brothers. The youngest in particular, I am extremely close to and we are best friends and he looks up to me so much; i am his hero and default go to in any situation. I feel like I owe it to him to show him that the option is out there and that intelligent and good people can be atheist too. He loves knowledge and truth and I hope one day he too can shed the burden of religion. He has the biggest heart, and is constantly obsessed with helping others, and while I can see him understanding and even being atheist once he grows older, I will only cause confusion and pain for him at this stage in his life if I were to come out to him (he's in 7th grade). I assume he will eventually come to me with his own doubts, and then I will be honest. But until then, I can't justify shattering his world.
My current decision is that I should wait until I am on my own, with a job, before telling my mom. But once I am at that point, do you all have any advice for how I should go about telling my mom and brothers? It would be easiest if i never tell my mom, and then tell my brother personally once he's old enough to understand. While this is the easy way out, it is never Ideal to live a lie. Honesty is always best, but I don't want to lose my relationship with my mother...80% of her possible reactions involve us never being the same and always having that wall between us: she's already done it to my sister... because she moved out and eloped at 18. My mom still supports her but they have such a broken relationship. My sister has tried again and again to reach out, but my mom has shut certain doors that will never again be open to my sister. I know the same thing will happen to me, at least to a certain extent, but I fear that because my transgression will have to do with my eternal life as opposed to a few bad decisions as a young adult, her reaction to me could potentially be much worse.
A bit of background: my mom is a single mother and she adopted all four of us...sister 23, me 21, brother 18, brother 13...we were all raised in a presbyterian church, but religion mostly stayed at church. We would riddle off the quick 10 word prayer that was passed down in my mother's family before every dinner, but that is as far as religion got into how we lived our daily lives. If we were having any sort of problem, our mom gave us advice on how to deal with it that had little or nothing to do with god. God's greatest presence in our childhood was a place to get values. I suspect that to my mom, religion is more about the tradition, culture, and values of christianity as opposed to being actually religious. This doesn't change, however, how she would react to atheism. It would be a direct attack at her way of life, and the morals she taught us to live by. I think my best chance is to prove to her that I have the same if not better values without the church.
I'm 24. I've been atheist since age 17, doubted my Christian upbringing since I was about 15. I have not come out to my family because I know it would impact my relationship with my Mother. She would still love me and support me, but she would always be worrying and praying for me. I don't want to her to stress out about my eternal life (I'm certainly not). The way I see it, what she doesn't know won't hurt her, and it's mostly just annoying to listen to any God talk here and there. I'd rather lie by ommision than to hurt her. Honesty isn't best in my situation.