Monday, July 13, 2009

Telling Your Parents You Don't Believe

Pretty sensible advice for a very difficult situation.


Baal Habos said...

Very interesting!

"If there was no God, would you want to know".

Finding out there is no God after 70 years or more of devout belief would be traumatizing. I'd never tell my parents and in-laws.

Geonite said...

I agree with you Baal Habos but the video is referring to kids living with their parents. I doubt they are 70 y/o.

All this talk of belief makes the video irrelevant for Jews. There is no real requirement to believe in Judaism like there is in Christianity. It's something we don't dwell on. As he said at the end "actions are more important than beliefs".

I didn't tell my parents for many years. I just let it gradually permeate. But I was already living on my own.

Anonymous said...

>There is no real requirement to believe in Judaism like there is in Christianity. It's something we don't dwell on. As he said at the end "actions are more important than beliefs.

I don't believe that Angel Jibreel(Gabe)handed Muhammad the book called Quran or that it comes from an all powerful, all knowing Deity.

I do know some pretty extremist Muslim parents who will disown their kids if they leave the faith, but I don't think they'd disown their kids for doubting that the book is completely of Divine origin-so long as the Prophet & the contents of the Quran weren't criticised.

Now I think Muhammad was a very immoral man, quite unlikely to be from Allah & many, if not most of his actions were quite unethical.

I also think that the contents of the Quran & hadiths-war rape, stonings,attacking idolaters etc indicate that the book was probably written by a bunch of barbarians rather than by Almighty God.

What would devout Jewish parents say if their kids said that Moses was a very immoral character & many of the stuff the book says is anything but sublime?

As far as actions are concerned, in many Muslim communities there's the expectation that men will go to mosque each Friday-where I come from Iran, also in countries like Azerbaijan, Albania or Tunisia-hardly anyone either goes to mosques or fasts for the full month so those expectations aren't there upon me.I do eat pork, but I know it'll displease my parents if I eat pork inside the house which I don't. I'm 15 so I don't drink, I know I'll when I'm old enough, my parents do drink.

If & when I have a son, I won't circumcise him, I have attended circumcision ceremonies, found them very unpleasant.

I do celebrate Ramadan, Id etc but then I also celebrate Christmas but thats' only because celebrations are fun.

In Islam, practice is closely linked to belief-in the five daily prayers we are supposed to begin with "There is no God but Allah & Muhammad is His Messenger," how am I supposed to practice this when I don't believe this?


Tigerboy said...

It is amazing how much of the advice in this video could just as easily be given to a young gay person who is struggling with the decision to come out.

As a gay atheist, I've seen the similarity from both perspectives. Incidentally, neither was ever a matter of "choice." You get to a point where you simply must tell your truth.

Going back to the lie is not an option.

"This above all: To thine own self be true."
--Wm. Shakespeare

Anonymous said...

>As a gay atheist, I've seen the similarity from both perspectives. Incidentally, neither was ever a matter of "choice." You get to a point where you simply must tell your truth.

What if your parents will simply get you married off to some very pretty girl in an "arranged marriage" hoping she will "cure" you?

I've seen this sort of thing happen. And then if the ptretty,heterosexual girl you are married off to fails to "cure" you or doesn't want to try to cure you & prefers a divorce on the grounds of your homosexuality, your country's laws can execute you?

This is very sensible advice, but iys geared towards people who don't have much to fear anyway-their parents will only be upset,worst they'll insist their child keep up outward appearances & marry someone from the faith. This makes sense for most Western Christians,Most Jews & perhaps for the majority of Iranian,Turkish, Tunisian,Azerbaijani & such Muslims.

What about the kids of the really fierce Muslims or very devout Hasidic Jews?

Tigerboy said...

I believe the video was fairly clear about the point that young people should protect their own safety.

Being true to one's self is not a state of mind that is under the control of others. One must decide for one's self which principles should be shared, and which should be honored more privately. Again, "to thine own self be true."

There is a difference between respecting one's parent's wishes, and allowing them to control and enslave.

We do not live our lives only to please our parents. Allowing one's parents to totally control one's behavior demonstrates immaturity and a lack of confidence and self-respect.

The ability to reject one's parent's advice, and know that one is doing the correct thing, comes with maturity.

Did anyone ever notice the significance of the names "Will and Grace?" The premise of the show is about a gay man who is no longer willing to hide who he is. Will Truman. He has developed the "will" to be a "true" man. A truthful man. Regardless of the ensuing conflict.

In order to be a "true" man, one must achieve the willingness to tell the truth, and one must achieve a state of grace to accept the consequences.

Self-actualization requires the "will" to be truthful, and the "grace" to deal with the results.

For gays, as well as for atheists.

Hiding is certainly one strategy. Sometimes, it is the safer choice. Sometimes, it is merely the easier choice. Sometimes, despite what our parents might think, maturity means developing that backbone that will provide the will and the grace.

Truth can set you free.

Anonymous said...

@ Tigerboy!

You don't know the kind of people I'm talking about.Its easy to tell the truth if it leads to being disowned, sometimes the consequences are worse.

I'll give you an example. In Tehran, our domestic help was the daughter of an Afghan illegal immigrant about my age.She says she no longer believes in Islam & her parents would kill her if they found out. I have met her mother, I know she might do such an act.

I have told her not to tell her parents, honestly if she was a lesbian & her parents were forcing her to get married, I'd probably tell her to go ahead with it.

Truth can set you free in certain circumstances, or it can set you free from life itself.

Thankfully, I don't know any Iranian parents who'd do such a thing.


Tigerboy said...


I was raised in the United States. I have a western frame of reference. This does not mean that I am unaware of the rest of the world. This does not mean that I have no awareness that people around the world live in very different circumstances. I have stated, as does the video, that people MUST consider their own safety.

Courage to stand up and speak truth, regardless of the circumstances, has nobility. FEAR is religion's greatest tool to maintain power. Allowing fear to control one is allowing religion to maintain its tyranny. Keeping one's mouth shut allows the continuation of the status quo.

I would take issue with your statement:

"It's easy to tell the truth if it leads to being disowned, sometimes the consequences are worse."

I understand that telling the truth can lead to a tragic outcome. People must use their own best judgment and "choose their battles" carefully, but telling a truth that might lead to being disowned is not easy.

Sometimes, a life lived in fear is the worst fate of all. Telling a difficult truth takes courage. Telling a difficult truth is noble. Each of us must make his or her own decisions in life. We must decide what is important. We must decide what is bearable. We must decide what is unbearable.

A person who is raised in fundamentalist circumstances, in a more closed society, like the Middle East, and a person who is raised in more open circumstances, like Europe, or the United States, should not dismiss each other's struggles to tell truth.

I understand the difficult road that my atheist brothers and sisters must travel, wherever they live, and I support their personal decisions to tell their truth publicly, or to keep their truth private (to thine own SELF be true). It's a personal judgment. I do not encourage anyone to take foolish risks.

But telling truth IS noble. Telling truth DOES demonstrate courage.

My courage and nobility are not in competition with yours. My admiration for whatever truth you tell does not diminish my own achievements in being courageous and truthful. No one knows how difficult has been my path, but me. No one knows how difficult has been your path, but you. I support and admire whatever courage you demonstrate, or aspire to demonstrate. I admire the desire to tell truth, even when that truth remains unspoken.

I do not criticize anyone who chooses a safer path. Safety leads one farther down the road. Safety allows one to walk the path tomorrow. Safety allows one to find a fork in the road, to gain maturity and learn a new perspective on truth. Safety can be a wonderful place in which to dwell, and is an excellent place in which to raise members of the next generation.

But risking the status quo, having a willingness to question those who hold power over you, having a willingness to stand up and say:

"NO! The safety of the status quo does not lead me to a fulfilling life! My truth is something different! The truth and dignity I claim, for myself, and for my children, is something quite different!"

This is how democracy functions. This is how we take personal responsibility for our truth. This takes courage. This has risks. Sometimes, this has great risks! This is how circumstances change.

This is how life gets better.