Now the kids know (about my de-Conversion)

June 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm 73 comments

So last week I was talking with my daughter. The conversation just kind of meandered in a way that my de-conversion came out fairly easily and naturally. She seemed to take it pretty well at the time (brought up some friends who were atheists). She was upset though, as I found out a couple days later when my wife asked me about it. Apparently daughter did some crying later.

My middle son also knows because he was in ear shot when mom and daughter were talking. He apparently just said that he liked church and his friends, and there better not be any talk of not continuing to go to church. (Of course I have no problem with this, as I’ve said around here before.)

Oldest son (in military) does not know still, and as always I’m in no hurry to tell anyone, his sibs may be the ones to tell him; who knows?

My wife did have some concern that I would now make it my project to de-convert the family. [Apparently evangelism is only OK for Christians.] To say that she does not at all comprehend where I’m at would be a severe understatement.

Anyway, it’s out now. The kids seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Basically, if Dad is still just Dad, I guess they’ll judge everything to be OK. Not sure if they will try asking any questions directly. But at least there was no big hullaballoo.

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A Look Inside The Evangelical Mind Change creeps in unawares

73 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  June 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Man. Best of luck, my friend. My dad just asked me about my spiritual life last night and I told him that I am no longer a believer. His response was, “don,t tell your mom.”

  • 2. paleale  |  June 5, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Man. Best of luck, my friend. My dad just asked me about my spiritual life last night and I told him that I am no longer a believer. His response was, “don,t tell your mom.”

  • 3. atimetorend  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Leo, definitely feeling for you. Glad to hear there was no hullaballoo, that’s a good sign. Nothing like a big hullaballooto quickly get in the way of reasonably moving forward. I was under the impression from your posts in general that you had already gone through these conversations, I guess that was with your wife, not your kids.

    “Basically, if Dad is still just Dad, I guess they’ll judge everything to be OK.”

    I think that is a pretty good operating principle. There you are, o what else can you do but still be Dad?

  • 4. Saganist  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m glad it went as well as it did. I would suggest taking things slowly, not pushing your point of view on them, and showing your wife and kids lots of love. De-conversion is a tough thing to come to grips with, for everyone involved.

    I “came out” as an unbeliever to my wife about two years ago, and she was afraid that my loss of faith meant I would no longer love her, or I would no longer care about being a good person, or whatever. Totally irrational fears, but also totally understandable when you’ve been raised to think a certain way about nonbelievers. I’ve tried to show my family extra love in many ways since then, and I think it’s helped our relationship a lot.

  • 5. LeoPardus  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I did have conversations with my wife a bit before. Not sure if I will with the kids. That’s completely up to them.
    Funny thing in the rare conversations with wifey is how much I hear my own self in her efforts at argument. Really amazing to think that I once thought those were worthy arguments. They’re so pathetic. [She can tell she's losing the debates too. So she cuts them off.]

  • 6. orDover  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Leo, how old is your daughter, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • 7. Quester  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    LP,

    Glad to hear things are developing so well so far. I’m in a similar, awkward dance with my own family, with fears, tears and waiting to see what happens.

    I hope everything works out well for you. Keep us informed!

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  June 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    orDover:

    She’ll be 16 in a couple weeks.

    Thanks Q: Best to you too. It’s a tough dance.

    And best to paleale too. BTW, is your dad very religious? Obviously your mom is.

  • 9. TitforTat  |  June 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Explain something to me Leo, did you just now relate to your children that you are a De-convert? I have been perusing this site for about a year and I was under the impression your family knew.

  • 10. LeoPardus  |  June 5, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    TitforTat:

    Yep. Just now let them know. My wife initially wanted me to wait a couple years before saying anything. (In case it was just a phase ya know. Told you she does not get where I’m at.) So it’s been a little over two years and I was just waiting for it to happen somewhat naturally so I wouldn’t have to do any dramatic, “Sit down. I have something to tell you.” approach.

  • 11. TitforTat  |  June 5, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Wow, Its a wonderful web we weave eh!

  • 12. Quester  |  June 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    T4T,

    The ‘woven web’ phrase is usually employed to denote deceit. I’m not sure that two parents deciding to delay discussing something with their children until an appropriate moment should be considered “deceit”. It sounds more like “exercising good judgement and parental responsibilities”. Know what I mean?

  • 13. lauradee24  |  June 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Glad things seem to be okay, even if they are a little shaky right now. I bet once they realize you’re still Dad, they’ll get back to normal, with the exception of lots of questions I’m sure!

  • 14. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Leo, glad to hear things went relatively well with letting at least 2 of your children know. Have you made any progress with your wife at all, in regards to her understanding “where you’re at,” as you put it?

  • 15. Quester  |  June 6, 2009 at 3:16 am

    I just received a card from my grandmother. “I know you have a strong faith,” she writes, “but we all have doubts or questions from time to time.” I admit that I have not made any effort to let her know where I’m at, but the ideas family members and friends get about what it means to no longer believe in a god still surprise me at times.

  • 16. Sabio Lantz  |  June 6, 2009 at 6:05 am

    This is an amazing opportunity for your kids — they can see a Dad who does not let his beliefs get in the way of his support and encouragement of the things they value.

    That sort of love will help you kids see that the beliefs we have are often mere clothing for our real selves. They will then start looking more carefully at deeds than words.

    Be noble, my friend !

  • 17. Stephen P  |  June 6, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Apparently evangelism is only OK for Christians.

    That sums it all up in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

    I never tried to deconvert my wife as such; I just pass on relevant nuggets of information when a natural opportunity pops up in the course of conversation. It has almost never caused any friction. Twelve years on, her church-going frequency has dropped to about three times a year.

  • 18. TitforTat  |  June 6, 2009 at 7:40 am

    It sounds more like “exercising good judgement and parental responsibilities”. Know what I mean?(Quester)

    For 2 years? You think thats good judgement? I just find it interesting after listening to Leo trash most Christians on their “belief” system that he couldnt find the wheres at to tell his own family about his. Not so sure if I was one of the children that I wouldnt feel deceived.

  • 19. Frreal  |  June 6, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I think it’s great judgement. Deconversion happens. It only has to be drama if you want to make it drama TitforTat. Sounds to me like Leo had a relatively positive experience and you just want to instigate. Go deal with your own issues.

  • 20. BigHouse  |  June 6, 2009 at 10:13 am

    And T4T if you can’t see the differences between a message board DEDICATED TO DECONVERSION and real life family then you are more delusional than I thought. Kudos to your Christian spirit!

  • 21. TitforTat  |  June 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Frreal and Bighouse

    If only I had a Christian spirit. Im only mentioning it because it seems that Leo has complete disdain for most Christians who speak on here, yet he doesnt seem to apply the same “spirit” to his own family life. Go figure. Whats wrong with calling a spade a spade? Im sure Leo has no problem with that logic, even if you guys do.

  • 22. Anonymous  |  June 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Leo-

    Both my parents are quite religious. My mother has a very fragile constitution, however.

    Tit-

    Grow up

  • 23. Sabio Lantz  |  June 6, 2009 at 11:37 am

    T4T, I think perhaps we need to acknowledge the need for different methods for different arenas. Imagine scenarios A & B:

    A) When a Christian asks what church I go to and I tell them I am an Atheist Buddhist and then they start witnessing to me, then I consider the gloves are off. I can tell them the problem with their beliefs as honestly as I wish, as long as I don’t engage in ad hominem attacks.

    B) I am in the checkout line at the grocery store and the checkout clerk is wearing a cross. I start telling her what a crutch that is and that her faith is meaningless and that her loved ones will not have an afterlife and will end in nothing more than being eaten by worms, bugs and other critters like any generic roadkill would.

    I think all would agree that the brute honesty of both situations are very different. Likewise, I do martial arts and in the ring we have one set of rules but arguing in the Kitchen while sharing a beer with my brother at Thanksgiving I am sure to play by those rules of conflict even though my brain stem may beg me to engage at times.

    Something about posting ideas on the web enacts an unspoken contract of rules of engagement one would not use with loved ones or those who have are not attacking.

    So, I wager that you comment is mildly conflating rules of engagement for different arenas.

    Mind you, I have not followed Leo, nor seen if he stalks Christians who are innocently blogging in an echo chamber seeking support of their fellow Christians — that may be over the line, but short of that ….

    Does my point make sense?

  • 24. TitforTat  |  June 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Does my point make sense?(Sabio)

    Yes it does. I will clarify my reasons for posting later. They will be directed at Leo, but if you guys want to jump on me, feel free.

    By the way, not all support and help gives you the warm and fuzzies. Some of the best support and advice I have had in my life, hit me right between the eyes. ;)

  • 25. Anonymous  |  June 6, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I googled far longer than I should have for a pic of Curly (of the three stooges) guarding himself between the eyes from Moe’s poking fingers.
    I thought it would appropriately funny.
    Can anyone else find it?

  • 26. ArchangelChuck  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Everybody lies, and sometimes, it’s better that they did. Life isn’t so simple as to have absolutes.

  • 27. paleale  |  June 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Uh oh. Chuck said absolutes. Will there be a response? Stay tuned! More at 11.

  • 28. TitforTat  |  June 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Leo

    You and I have had some interesting dialogue in the past. In fact, several times I have been on the receiving end of your acerbic wit along with many christians who you have derided. I have found I concur with much of what you write though there are some things with which we just agree to disagree. Correct me if Im wrong on any of the things I am about to speak. If needed I will make amends where necessary.

    1. You were once a practicing Christian, very dedicated to that belief.
    2. You know longer believe because you have found that it is not logical to see Jesus as G-d. Or for that matter any G-d at all.
    3. You De-converted roughly 2 yrs ago, but it may have started before that.
    4. Your wife is aware of that.
    5. Your daughter is now just becoming aware of that, potentially one of your sons also.
    6. Your eldest son does not know and you dont personally want to share that with him at this moment.
    7. Your family are still practicing Christians.

    I am accurate on this?

  • 29. Quester  |  June 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    TitfotTat,

    By the way, not all support and help gives you the warm and fuzzies. Some of the best support and advice I have had in my life, hit me right between the eyes

    This isn’t the rationalization for acting like an asshole that you seem to think it is. You can hit a person between the eyes as much as you want, but it doesn’t count as support unless it’s helpful, and the direct approach is the best way to help.

    When I first vistied this community, almost two years ago, I was still a Christian. I came and posted as a skeptical Christian finally questioning my faith, and Leo warmly welcomed me and supported me- both in my questioning and in my firm committment not to ignore the value of theism and the wonderful theists I know. Time and time again, any antitheistic post or comment is responded to with Leo reminding us that antitheism is unwarranted, unhelpful and destructive bigotry. You don’t have to read the archives long before seeing Leo talking about the wonderful aspects of the Orthodox church which he attends, enjoys, and gains much from. He does not attack theists for being theists. He attacks stupidity, poor thinking, hatred and arrogance- as it is expressed by both some theists and some atheists. Remember that when you think of the times you have been the recipient of his derision or “acerbic wit”.

    Leo and I disagree on many subjects including musical tastes and our views on pre-marital sex. We have argued respectfully and without derision because we are both capable of rational discourse. That’s not true of all people who visit this site, many of whom run afoul of our resident panther.

    One thing we do agree on, I repeat, is not seeing it either necessary or useful to attack theism. I’m not sure what your problem with this premise is, or why you’d ever want to pursue it.

  • 30. TitforTat  |  June 6, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    He attacks stupidity, poor thinking, hatred and arrogance- as it is expressed by both some theists and some atheists. (Quester)

    Though I may be an asshole in your eyes, maybe this is exactly what I am addressing. Consistency is important also, dont you think?

  • 31. Quester  |  June 7, 2009 at 4:37 am

    As soon as I hit “submit”, I regretted my first paragraph- or at least my language in it. Still, what stupidity, poor thinking, hatred or arrongance do you think is involved in avoiding unnecessary conflict in one’s family?

  • 32. TitforTat  |  June 7, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Still, what stupidity, poor thinking, hatred or arrongance do you think is involved in avoiding unnecessary conflict in one’s family?(Quester)

    Its not actually being avoided, just delayed and dont you think because of the delay it causes more suffering and confusion? Not sharing an integral part of who you are with your family and on top of that, allowing them to believe otherwise is to deceive, regardless of whatever your intentions are. I can easily see how that could be considered poor thinking.

  • 33. Lucian  |  June 7, 2009 at 8:19 am

    You don’t have to read the archives long before seeing Leo talking about the wonderful aspects of the Orthodox church which he attends, enjoys, and gains much from.

    You don’t say … (Really?) Kinda like a gay version of Hugh Hefner, only in a religious setting …

  • 34. AllThingsToNoOne  |  June 7, 2009 at 8:25 am

    My family knows. My kids are somewhat younger than yours, but I think it was my now-19 year old son’s deconversion himself a few years ago that may have helped me to this place. I could not hold my own in a debate with him about god and I found myself getting angry about it. My 15 year old had been attending confirmation classes at our local Roman Catholic church but dropped out 2 months before confirmation this spring. I felt guilty about it, as I have never forced religion on either of my kids. However, my son’s questioning was his own mind trying to rationalize and I had to let him go to that place on his own.

    I hope that someday your family is truly accepting of your deconversion and accepts this as part of what makes you separate from them in thought and mind.

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Been busy for a couple days. Happy to see the conversation is lively on this.

    SB:
    My wife is really trying to understand where I’m at. She *wants* to be Christian for a number of reasons. I don’t push it. It is her life.

    Sabio:
    Thanks for your thoughts. BTW, what is your martial art? Mine are TKD and Judo.

    Stephen P:
    12 years eh? Well, if the wife takes that long to de-convert or partial de-convert, that’s cool. Our relationship is good. Religion is just a topic that mostly isn’t discussed at length. Thanks for your story.

    Quester:
    Thanks for your input too. Did we disagree on pre-marital sex? I thought you were generally against it as I am. My memory ain’t always that good.
    And you’re right. I do tend to pop the claws on stupidity, poor thinking, hatred and arrogance.

  • 36. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    T4T:

    I can see your point of view. I had considerable reservations about holding back for a couple years. It was my wife’s request and she is generally pretty wise about the kids. So I honored her request. Over the two years, i tried to answer anything the kids asked honestly without just blurting out, “It’s all hogwash!” They did figure out something was odd, but they simply could not have guessed the true direction I had gone.

    About toward the end of two years I brought it up with the wife and she felt that simply letting it come out naturally was the best approach. So I did that and the result was what I described in the article at top.

    So no effort to deceive was in place. There was no effort to cover up or unveil. I was simply awaiting a time when it would come out naturally as my wife had requested (and as I had agreed was probably wise).

    Certainly there are other ways to do this. Some de-cons have simply laid it out immediately. Others have waited for varying lengths of time. There’s just no WAY to do it. We all must find our own way. This was mine/ours.

    Hope that makes sense.

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    1. You were once a practicing Christian, very dedicated to that belief.
    Right
    2. You know longer believe because you have found that it is not logical to see Jesus as G-d. Or for that matter any G-d at all.
    Right
    3. You De-converted roughly 2 yrs ago, but it may have started before that.
    Right
    4. Your wife is aware of that.
    RIght
    5. Your daughter is now just becoming aware of that, potentially one of your sons also.
    Daughter _is_ aware as is middle son.
    6. Your eldest son does not know and you don’t personally want to share that with him at this moment.
    Actually I do want to share that, but I don’t want to cause a big distress. Since he’s away from home and very much a believer, I”m not sure an email or phone call with, “I don’t believe anymore.” is going to do much more than distress him.
    7. Your family are still practicing Christians.
    Right

    Re #6: If you have ideas, I would honestly like to hear them.

  • 38. Quester  |  June 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    LP,

    We disagreed, at least to a point. I really see no benefit to having the argument again, though, so I’ll skip restating my views.

    I basically had no choice in telling my family and friends about my deconversion. It’s not like I could really pretend I was still working as an ordained pastor. Still, I decline to argue with them about it. I see no benefit in deconverting them. My wife knows where I stand, even if she doesn’t quite understand it. That’s good enough for me.

    TitforTat,

    Not sharing an integral part of who you are with your family and on top of that, allowing them to believe otherwise is to deceive, regardless of whatever your intentions are.

    Faith was an integral part of me. Lack of faith, isn’t. Perhaps it’s different for Leo, but I don’t see how something you don’t have can be an integral part of you. If I waited until my theoretical children were older before telling them I didn’t have a sense of smell, and even went to the extent of pretending to enjoy the “scent” of the flowers they brought me as a gift, what’s the harm? We don’t tell children about death until we feel they’re ready for it. We don’t tell children about sex until we think they’re ready for it. And sex and death are actually important parts of life!

    Besides, by waiting for the right time, you actually can avoid unnecessary conflict, instead of just delaying it. Well, sometimes, anyway. And no, I don’t see how this increases suffering and confusion.

  • 39. TitforTat  |  June 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Leo

    I appreciate your comments. I understand the complexity of your situation. Is there a right way to do it, I cant say for sure, I do know that when we delay some things all we are doing is delaying the healing. This is an example that my family has had to deal with through the years.

    My father died when I was a young child, both my sister and brother were young too. My mother decided at that moment that maybe to spare us of our pain and suffering, she wouldnt take us to the funeral. I can tell you that no matter how loving her intentions were, it was a mistake. We had no closure. In a essence your family is dealing with the death of the old you. This will take time to heal. I think it would be appropriate for you to be honest with your eldest Son and tell him the truth. In the end he will respect and love you more for it. Good luck and again, thanks for your honesty.

  • 40. TitforTat  |  June 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Quester

    Good on you for defending your friend, I would have done the same. And dont sweat calling me an asshole, you werent the first and I doubt you’ll be the last. ;)

  • 41. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    T4T:

    Thanks for the feedback. I really am thinking on how best to tell him. He is an adult, but he’s also away from home for the first time. Hasn’t even been a year yet. While he’s managing his way in the world, one doesn’t want to throw a wrench in the works. Oh the other hand, he needs to know at some point.
    One way or another I’ll tell him. It’s just not easy to know when/how. Oh well; who said life wouldn’t have complications.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  June 7, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Q:

    Didn’t want to rehash. Just didn’t remember the disagreement. But certainly nothing to belabor. Thanks.

  • 43. Sabio Lantz  |  June 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    @T4T
    Now here is something I have always doubted: Funerals creating “closure”.

    I wonder who invented the idea of “closure”. Does it mean all those people who never have funerals for loved ones never get closure? I have had a significant number of people die in my life — many with no funerals. I don’t feel a qualitative difference between those who I was able to have a funeral with and those who I was not. But I could see if someone had strong feelings on a death, they would look for what ever they could to help take away the pain of the death. Blame on lack-of-closure could be one of those things. I am not sure though.

  • 44. TitforTat  |  June 8, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Leo

    I would agree that doing it on line or over the phone wouldnt be a good thing. One on one and face to face would be the way to go. Its going to hurt regardless, I just believe that if you address it he will respect you more. I would imagine his Love is a given.

    I heard a good one about life.

    “In life, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

    Sabio

    Funerals dont create closure, they help with it. It is part of the process. You still feel the feelings regardless, but if it is avoided its almost like youve missed a step in that process. Ritual is part of who we are. I think the key is to find the ones that add to your existence rather than take away from it. As a Martial Artist Im sure you can relate.

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  June 8, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Off topic question here: How many active martial artists have we here?

    I notice T4T, Sabio, myself, and I now learn that Joshua is into it.

    Who else?

  • 46. atimetorend  |  June 8, 2009 at 11:23 am

    My kids and I use martial arts moves from Star Wars in slow motion, complete with a plastic light saber.

  • 47. TitforTat  |  June 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Shorin ryu Karate here, some Judo and 15 yrs of Wrestling.

  • 48. LeoPardus  |  June 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    T4T:

    Hey, cool. We’d have a lot of fun mixing it up.

    FYI, I’m TKD since 1981 and Judo since 2002. There’s other stuff mixed in since who-knows-when, but I only ever took rank in TKD and Judo.

    If you, OR ANYONE ELSE, are/is able to travel this summer, the world’s greatest MA fest is happening in Knoxville Aug 1-2. Free food, free lodging, free participation. You just gotta get there.

    Pop over to the community site (link is on right side up near top of page), register and send me a private message and I can give you the details.

  • 49. SRK  |  June 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I have been in the de-con process now for about 2 years, though up until I stumbled upon this website about 8 months ago I didn’t know what to call it. I’ve been wanting to ask this community for a while now how I should go about telling my parents. I know everyone is different and everyone’s journey takes them on different paths, but I have no idea how to proceed. My parents are both active Christians and always have been. My mother and I used to have very lengthy discussions about almost everything Christian-related and the faith that we shared brought us very close together. She still tries to talk about it sometimes, but I think she can tell something’s off. She won’t ask me directly, though, mostly because I think she fears the worst. Would it be less painful if I just initiated the conversation, or should I just mention it casually as if it’s not a big deal. Should I tell them at all? I don’t want to but lately I’ve been having nightmares about telling them and in my dream they totally reject me and I wake up crying. I don’t know if this is just a phase.

    Anyway, any advice you could give would be very much appreciated. If it had been your kids, how would you have wanted to find out?

  • 50. Quester  |  June 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    SRK,

    While free advice is only worth what you pay for it, I’d still like to offer a response. First, would you mind telling us how old you are, or at least if you still live with your parents?

  • 51. SRK  |  June 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Of course. Sorry.

    I’m 24 and I’ve lived on my own for 4 years.

  • 52. LeoPardus  |  June 8, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    SRK:

    I’d suggest you start a stepwise process.

    1- Write out your de-conversion story. You can post it on the Community Site (see right side near top of page) if you like.

    2- Write out why you want to tell your folks.

    3- Begin to plan a process for telling them. Here you will probably find being part of this site and part of the Community Site very helpful as many of us have done this already.

    4- Plan for how to deal with various reactions your family and friends will have. Again the community here can really help with this.

    5- DON’T be in any hurry. I don’t think you are, but I’m saying it anyway just to be sure.

  • 53. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    SRK, sounds like you’re in my former position. I was 23 when I finally de-converted, and my parents found out after asking some pointed questions when my church attendance became much more infrequent (I still live in the same town as my parents, and up until my de-conversion I had been attending the same church).

    I definitely recommend telling them on your own terms, something I wish I could have done. Though, mentioning it “casually as if it’s not a big deal” doesn’t seem ideal to me, since it’s likely to be a very big deal to your parents.

    As far as whether you should tell them at all, that’s a bit trickier. I know there are a few of us here who still haven’t told the family and are unsure if they ever will (or at least until it becomes unavoidable). I personally am a lot happier now that my parents are aware and we’ve moved past the early painful parts of dealing with it. I’m no longer worried about how my parents will react, and while our relationship isn’t quite the same, I’m still accepted (and pestered by my mother when I don’t visit frequently enough). We just avoid religious discussion now, since it pretty much never ends pleasantly. My parents are what I would consider fundamentalists, and I’m fairly surprised their reaction wasn’t harsher than it was.

    I don’t know your parents, so I can’t say how they’re likely to react. I really can’t offer you anything more than my own perspective on my personal experience, but hopefully it’s worth something to you.

    Whatever the case, your situation is exactly what this site is for. I hope that, however you choose to proceed, it works out well for you. Leo’s suggestions certainly are a good place to start.

  • 54. Sabio Lantz  |  June 8, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    In this long volley of comments, it was fun to see accusatory comments become soft, open and supportive. I think it was people shared concrete events (instead of argue abstractions), confessed vulnerability and opened themselves.

    Hell, it was almost as good as being at a prayer meeting.
    (Joking there)

    Seriously, it was a nice process to observe.

  • 55. freestyleroadtrip  |  June 8, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Haven’t commented for awhile but have been keeping up on most of the posts. I think this statement sums it up well:

    “We don’t tell children about death until we feel they’re ready for it. We don’t tell children about sex until we think they’re ready for it. And sex and death are actually important parts of life!” (Quester)

    I don’t think for a second that using discretion when disclosing something of this magnitude is a good thing. It doesn’t appear that Leo’s kids said, “Why didn’t you tell me this 2 years ago.” I think Leo did the right and honorable thing, and I would do it the same way.

    I, and my two sons, are both in Taekwondo for about 9 months now. It has been valuable physically and an emotionally bonding experience for us. Love it.

  • 56. Joshua  |  June 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I appreciate the dialogue above. Its insightful to see people pouring so much thought into “coming out”. I didn’t.

    For me it seemed really simple:

    * Every Christian I knew was pushing to be more and more ‘vocal’ about their faith.
    * Applying the golden rule they should have no problem if I am equally as vocal about my leaving the faith.

    At the time it seemed really straightforward and simple. Now I sort of wish I had had more tact :)

  • 57. Quester  |  June 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    SRK,

    I started testing the waters, and preparing my parents, by telling them of some of the things I was struggling with, theologically. I did this face to face, on one of my visits to their home. Maybe it was two or three visits. They prayed with and for me. Eventually, I started sharing that I did not feel God’s presence in my life and was really struggling to understand what God’s will for me was.

    The thing is, I wasn’t an atheist when I started preparing the ground like this. I was a depressed and confused Christian, and I would have been perfectly happy to keep on believing. Eventually, I hit a point where I realized I didn’t believe any more.

    Finally (about four months after I first approached them with my struggles and two weeks or do after realizing I did not believe any more), I told them that I was no longer certain of anything regarding God- His will, His character, or His existence. I wasn’t saying that God di not exist, just that I no longer had any confidence that I could say anything about who God is, what God wants, or even if God is.

    My parents did not reject me. This just added strain to an already strained relationship. They’re still trying to find out what tragic event made me turn my back on God, and I’m getting more practice in biting my tongue.

    Best of luck to you, SRK. This isn’t easy.

  • 58. Quester  |  June 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Joshua,

    You applied logic to interpersonal relationships? Does that ever work? *grin*

  • 59. Joshua  |  June 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Lol, no… no it doesn’t :)

  • 60. Luke  |  June 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

    great to hear Leo, it’s best not to be in the closet! come out, come out where-ever you are! ;-)

    blessings for your future conversations. i hope that they will be filled with compassion, understanding, listening, and no shouting.

  • 61. milesandmiles  |  June 11, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    LeoPardus gave me some great advice a few months ago. “No rush, no hurry, take your time and don’t do anything that will hurt your family or your future.” (paraphrased) That advice has been valuable to me as I go through this process. To make a big announcement and throw it all on the table is going to cause a lot of trouble. At the right time, I will let my family know and silently bow out of the whole Christian culture. I see no reason to argue with Christian friends- I can see the belief is so strong that nothing can crack the glass cage of belief. That said, being involved in Christian work has been very positive for my family in every way. I will step in though, when that belief becomes a negative or unwise influence (which it can become for ‘sold-out’ believers). I’m not sure if I’m happier now or when I was a believer. Life does make a whole lot more sense now! No more guesswork or trying to see how the capricious puzzle fits together. I think some of my sadness comes from being on the outside, watching everyone enjoy what I’ve lost.

  • 62. ArchangelChuck  |  June 15, 2009 at 1:40 am

    miles: Who says you can’t enjoy Christian culture and fellowship unless you believe in it?

  • 63. Anonymous  |  June 15, 2009 at 3:30 am

    “Who says you can’t enjoy Christian culture and fellowship unless you believe in it?”
    Good point, but I suppose it depends on what type of Christian culture you are referring to. Super enthusiastic evangelical or fundamentalist Christian culture is what I’m referring to. Normally intelligent people who have turned off their brains. Maybe I could handle liberal Christian culture. Again, LeoPardus seems to have the right idea attending the Eastern Orthodox brand.
    At this point I’m biting my tongue on a daily basis.

  • 64. milesandmiles  |  June 15, 2009 at 3:31 am

    sorry, forgot to plug in the name for the above comment, #63.

  • 65. LeoPardus  |  December 7, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    A follow up to this article. The oldest kid was home for thanksgiving and the following week. I told him about my religious stance and he took it with no apparent great trouble.
    I think being in the military exposes him to a lot of different people of all types, so he doesn’t sweat details too much.

  • 66. Quester  |  December 7, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Slad to hear it, LP!

  • 67. Joshua  |  December 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Wow, that’s cool LP.

    I’m still sticking with more normal stance on de-conversion that tell all early and often is the best way to go. Often fears of coming out are unfounded, and when they are founded it is still best to face them than live under them. Unless, of course, health is more at stake for coming out than for staying hidden.

  • 68. LeoPardus  |  December 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Agreed Josh. I would have come out right away back in early ’07, but my wife did NOT want that. So for her peace of mind at the time, I went along. In retrospect it was not the best way.

  • 69. Joshua  |  December 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    In retrospect it was not the best way.

    How specifically was it not the best way? I do respect your for wanting to keep your wife’s peace of mind… now I’m just curious what exactly makes you think it was not the right way in retrospect.

  • 70. Joshua  |  December 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    It is weird for me lately that I am mixing words a lot… I wonder if my new glasses are messing with me. “more” was supposed to be “my” in #67. How weird… I’m going to have to pay more attention to what I write from now on.

  • 71. milehigh  |  December 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I give you guys credit for the early and often policy. I’m not there yet.

  • 72. Quester  |  December 9, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I’m still largely keeping my mouth shut. I admit it could be different if I had kids, but besides the bare minimum expressions of doubt to explain why I’m not a pastpr anymore, I almost never talk about my atheism to anyone, in real life.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  December 11, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Yep Quester, I don’t say much either. Apart from the wife and kids, I think there are a grand total of 6 people who know about my de-conversion.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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