I know many of you have lost friends and family along with your faith, but that part is something that is new to me. Having grown up with liberal parents and not currently having close friends who care about my atheism, my whole world hasn’t felt in danger because of my honesty about this.

The people in my life who would be most affected by my thoughts on god are my husband’s immediate family. I have mentioned them a few times, with the most detailed description being the two interview posts with my husband. This family is spread out and we hardly see each other, so maybe they aren’t always on my mind. Even though their religious views have had a strong impact on us, this blog isn’t about them. But it would hurt them, so we never planned on mentioning it.

Especially not to his parents.

I’m not stupid. I realize they could stumble across my blog. I made my peace with that before my very first post. I am thirty-nine years old and this is who I am, for better or worse. I can’t live my life according to someone else’s expectations; the most I can offer is not throwing it in their faces. And why would I? I did everything I could to stay where they are. I can hardly judge them now. But how will they feel about us?

Many would say, “Who cares? If they can’t accept you then you don’t need them.” Others have said to apologize- but for what? Atheism? Those who have read my blog may believe the atheism isn’t what I need to apologize for, but rather the mention of family at all. But if I am telling my story, they are a part of it. And I can’t say “who cares” because we care. I try to be confidential, and I share this page with a limited number of friends- and no family. But I may have made an error that offered a link here from another site.

I now believe they have found this blog. I think we are being shut out. And it is more difficult than I had anticipated.

I need to clarify something, because I know it is my fault that it has never been made clear. I love my husband’s parents. They have always been good parents, and the few mistakes they made were made with the right intentions. They love their children. And perhaps more than anyone else in this world- if we needed something, we could count on them. They have helped us out many times over the years, and we are forever in their debt. We have always felt we had a good relationship with his parents, and not having them in our lives would be a great loss to us.

I’m not their ideal daughter-in-law. I’m sarcastic. Sometimes I use language not everyone approves of. Maybe I’m not the person they thought I was…..but those are things people can overcome. We don’t see the world in the same way, as is often the case between generations. To me, and to almost everyone in my life, my in-laws represent a religious extreme. And yes, we have made jokes about it. Most of those jokes? Hilarious. I’m sure there will be more in the future. Parents, your kids will make jokes about you with others. It happens. It doesn’t mean they don’t love and respect you.

We can overcome that, too.

Entering this family was intimidating. I met my in-laws at the age of eighteen, at the height of my passion for Jesus. And from the beginning I felt I would never measure up. That isn’t their fault. When I disagreed with their ideas I bit my tongue and tried to be who they wanted me to be. That isn’t their fault, either. And even though the years have made me bolder, I still respect them for what they believe in and for all the things they have done for us. And so, their approval will always matter to me. Even more so to my husband.

The question now is: can we overcome our difference of opinion about god? Should a parent/child relationship be god conditional?  Obviously I do not think so, but it is not my decision to make. My husband and I can certainly move forward. Nothing has changed for us. And if they have read my posts, can’t they see how I got here and how hard I tried? In fairness, I don’t know the answer yet.

I have no regrets about anything I have written. I have met wonderful people here and this has inspired deeper conversations about religion among friends. I want to be completely honest, and I think I have been. I do not have any plans to quit writing about religion or atheism.

Does this mean the end, or will we at least be able to embrace a new level of awkward tolerance that, let’s face it- we have kind of perfected?  Time will tell. I knew this part would be difficult. I just didn’t know it would be this difficult. Or this soon.

 

5 thoughts on “When the Parent/Child Relationship is God Conditional

  1. I am so sorry to hear about this. I had gathered from comments you made in the past that you were fearing this. Your situation with your in-laws sounds frighteningly like mine, so perhaps it would not be out of line to say I think I kind of understand where you are coming from.

    I agree that you can’t just say “forget them.” People often suggested that in regards to my mother, and I just can’t do that. I think you understand.

    When this inevitably happens to me, I plan on simply being myself, trying to show I am the same person I have always been (perhaps even better), and letting them come to their own conclusions. Who knows if it will work, but it is about the only response I can come up with.

    I hope you are able to find some common ground with them. Your husband too, I can imagine this is all equally as difficult for him (if not more so).

    1. Thank you. I wish I could believe that common ground still exists for them. It is difficult, but it shouldn’t be. My parents don’t care at all about my thoughts on religion. I haven’t told them about this blog, but we will be staying with them this weekend and I imagine it will come up. It’s not a big deal (I just felt a little weird sharing my sex-ed rants with them, but whatever). It will mean nothing to our relationship. And yet for my in-laws it might mean everything. I mean, literally EVERYTHING- which seems both impossible and probable at the same time. The contrast is upsetting on its own.

  2. “Many would say, “Who cares? If they can’t accept you then you don’t need them.”
    _________________________________________________________
    Actually. NO one has a right to say that to you. They’re not in your skin. You love your in-laws and as such obviously want them to remain in your life. That’s only natural. I think those of us who have deconverted would much rather our Christian family and friends accept and respect our choices. And it IS terribly painful when we feel we’ve disappointed, hurt or betrayed them….(or that they’ve judged or rejected us). I’ve found (particularly with my mother), those emotions have been the most painful part of my whole journey. So yeah..I feel for you. I hope no one invalidates your struggles. It’s hard enough without that!

    1. Thanks. Yes, this is the worst part, and the reason I went so long not being open. I know that has to change soon, because if I bother to use this space to try and explain how atheism isn’t what Christians think it is (and sometimes vice versa)- why wouldn’t I want the people in my life to be the first to understand? Except I really do know how they feel, and I’m not sure any of them will even stop to listen. I’m still nervous about it.

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