As I have mentioned in many, many posts I am an "out of the closet" atheist, and have been since my mid teens. I have been married for 27 years, and have five great kids - 2 of whom are adults. I also have a grandson. When I was dating my wife, and we were beginning to get serious, we had the religious discussion. I knew she came from a very strict Catholic upbringing, but through our discussions over the years I also knew that she wasn't a Christian, much less a Catholic. She still believed there was something that connected us all (I think it was because she had trouble coming to grips with there being NOTHING), but she definitely didn't believe in anything around xianity, or a "granddaddy in the sky" of any type. There is one thing, however, that is important to know about my wife. She HATES discussing religions, especially with me. I am very non-confrontational, especially with her, but she definitely knows my feelings about certain xians and especially hypocritical fundies. She's just the type of person who has a deep aversion to discussing religion or politics, at all.
When we began having kids, we decided to raise them Unitarian Universalist. It was a great way to give a sense of community (church is VERY BIG down here in the Deep South, and there is a huge stigma if you don't go somewhere), and UUs teach a very objective approach towards religions, their histories, rituals, etc. (Incidentally, I still consider myself a UU and I love it.) We have always raised our kids to be respectful of others' beliefs as you would want your beliefs to be respected, and that it is OK - and quite natural - to ask questions, research, and explore different religions. I also explained to them that discovering your answers to spirituality (or no spirituality) is a journey, not a destination - and that you will adjust and refine your thoughts and beliefs throughout your life. It's even quite natural to completely change your mind about parts of it. As they embarked on this exploration my only requirement was that IF you believed something you must be able to explain WHY you believe it, and HOW you arrived at your beliefs.
So far, so good. My eldest is "generically spiritual", more in tune with the human spirit (love one another, etc.) than any deity. She is married to an atheist. My second eldest is also generically spiritual, but even less so than her older sister. She is definitely a "live and let live" type. My third kid, my eldest son, is a died-in-the-wool atheist. My fourth, who is my youngest daughter, is generically spiritual as well. And then there's my youngest - and we arrive at my dilemma.
HERE AND NOW
My youngest, who is a teenage young man, is a very good athlete. He's a middle distance runner (fastest in our county in middle school in the 800m, averages 2:05), and his first love is football. Down here many, many of his friends are xians - and most of them attend what I refer to as the "scary church" - Freechapel, which is one of the U.S. "megachurches". He knows about religions, flavors of xianity, their tenets, etc., so he understands this church; but he's decided he wants to attend church there, and his mom - my wife - is attending with him. They seem to enjoy it. My wife is still defensive around me, but she also knows that I am more knowledgeable about the Bible and xianity in general than anyone else she knows, so she has been asking me questions. I have been answering them, and have gone out of my way to be non-confrontational, because I want to keep the dialogue open between us. My son doesn't really like to talk about it right now, and I think it is because he wants to enjoy it with his mom and friends and not confront the things he's learned from me and his UU education.
So, now you understand my situation. I don't know if I'm asking for advice, as much as I'm just wanting to vent, get this off my chest, tell someone who understands my point-of-view, etc. My eldest son (also an atheist) and I just don't know what to do - if anything - and I just don't know where this may go. I think it may be what I've said before - it is (hopefully?) just a phase he's going through, and a step in his exploration of his feelings and thoughts, and eventually he'll come back around.
I guess I'm willing to accept that this may take awhile - even until he gets to college - but I just don't know what to do until then, if anything. I also don't know if anyone else has gone through something like this. If so, what happened? How have you handled it? What worked? What didn't? What was the outcome? I'm also really not sure of where this is going with my wife. We've had quite a few hardships in our lives lately, and I think this may be a reaction to these hardships, since it is going back to something familiar (somewhat) to her childhood. She still swears up and down she's not a xian, and never will be, but I dunno. Anyway, you get the idea. Right now I feel like I have more questions and trepidation than answers.
Any thoughts you have would be welcome.