June 18, 2012
1.) Ask. Ask your close friends how religious they gauge your family.
Don’t try to do this step on your own, it is almost impossible to fully
comprehend the full extent of religious indoctrination. Often times we
can overlook how deeply religious our family is since we spend so
much time with them. This action is crucial to figure out how to go
about the next steps.
If your family is considered deeply religious, skip step 2 and move to #3.
2.) Consider. If your family is pretty liberal on their beliefs, you’re almost in the clear. But first realize-- just because they seem secular outwardly, does not necessarily mean that they are. There is still a large possibility that you will be viewed as an outcast. Test the waters first, tell them that you are doubting certain facts of your creed. If they react calmly and respond appropriately, continue on by commenting on your doubt of religion in general. If anything ever takes a turn for the worse, just back off and pretend that you rediscovered your faith. If they still play it cool, it’s probably ok to “come out” as atheist. Just remember, nothing is 100%. Things can go wrong and situations can be misread.
3.) Stop: Think to yourself, “Am I financially independent? Do I have the option to move if something goes wrong? Am I over the age of 18, thus allowing me to cut ties?”
4.) Listen: How often does your family talk about non believers? What about gay rights? Each time these topics come up, make a mental note of their extremism. If they are conservative in their views, you may have an uphill battle ahead of you. More liberal parents may be very religious, but still embrace your decision to become theologically independent.
5.) Look: Look for local guidance, whether a teacher, close relative, or guidance counselor, these adults are more likely to steer you in the right decision. Each situation is unique, and a 5 step plan can’t cover all of the bases.
So now what?
A.) If you feel confident with continuing all of these steps, then realize that telling your family about your lack of belief is a possibility. However, all too often in extremely religious families atheist children are found to be kicked out or bullied. By doing this you must understand that there is no going back. It is a very likely possibility that you will be required to cut ties with your family. Before moving on, ask yourself “Is it this important to risk my relationship with my family to express my true beliefs?”
B.) Feel as though it would cause more harm than good? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many teens have to hide their lack of belief from their families. Is this really a bad thing? Yes and no. On one hand, they are your family and should love you no matter what. The other side to this is: nobody is perfect. Sure it may feel like a heavy burden to carry, and sometimes you’ll feel alone. But know this, you are never alone. We are here for you. If you ever need support, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are more than happy to help.