It is a tragic event when a son or daughter comes to their religious parent and proclaims their atheism. It is usually never good. Like scenario A: (which happened to me) Son comes to mother says I am an atheist, mother tries not to judge, son wants to talk about it to her, mother does not.

This leaves a huge elephant in the room that we both try to ignore. Am I so wrong that I dont want to ignore it? I want to talk about my beliefs to someone who has told me all of my life that my soul will burn in hell for eternity for how I now believe (or don't believe as I pointed out to her). It makes a normally pleasant mother rude and mad. I get hurt and it usually ends in a yelling match. We both blame the other.

I am sure to her this confirms that atheism has made her wonderful son a militant and is a bad thing to be avoided. How do I talk to her about my eternally damned soul, and that she needs not worry. I am sure this happens a lot. I have heard Christians share stories about their son/daughter turning atheist and that it has turned their otherwise sweet child into a devil. Theists on average get mad discussing the topic, its just a fact. Atheists can see it as any other topic and can talk candidly about it. I was hoping to psychologically analyze this debacle and help all other new atheists in this situation.

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Yes Steve, we believe in more things than Christians do if you ask me. Not one less thing. I believe in the power of love, science, the power of the human mind without the help of any god. I believe we can bring this world closer to world peace if we would only shed our religions. Theists have seemed to given up on that notion.
well I'll give you a petty little psych 101 analysis of her, I'll admit i only have one year of studying in lol.

it seems to be the product of cognitive dissonance. before she knew you were atheist, perhaps she had a positive or neutral at least opinion of you. She now has to struggle with these two contradictory ideas in her mind "I can not be happy without god" and "he is happy without god."

In a frantic desire to compensate for that, strong theists will try and paint what they don't understand into something that they can justify by distancing themselves from it as much as possible. They may call it evil, they may call you confused, etc...

Their thought that "i can not be happy without god" is stronger than the thought "one can be happy with god" and in order to resolve the conflict, she may strawman, paint illusions, box herself in, et cetera to try and hold on to the idea that is more important to her.

do you like that psychological analysis? howd I do?
Did Good Johnny. You seem to enjoy the subject. Thanks for helping me to understand the situation. Is it natural for me to want to resolve the fact that I was brought up by this lady being told I would go to hell for the way I think now? I think I just want her to know that its ok, I'm not going to hell.

Thanks for your input Johnny.
...is it natural? sure everything you think is natural in some way or another. there is no "wrong" emotion because everyone has something in their life that has led them there.

however, you can reason through how much you let things bother you. By nature I am both a very reasonable and very emotional person. I try to balance them as much as I can. If my emotions hurt me too much, I try to look for the reason in it all and find understanding.

Compassion is the most important thing essential to one's happiness in life (studies show). It's completely natural that you want your mother's back but if you think it through, she actually is worrying in the best way she knows how. You as the reasonable one gets to understand her, analyze her irrational thoughts, and not let her bother you as much as you bother her.

Jesus, god, or worrying are NOT the source of love and the people who think that are in fact miserable in some aspect, however small, in their lives. Understanding why and compassion despite faults are what truly makes someone's love strong.

So try not to be too spiteful. Obviously anger is good for you and you shouldn't repress it if you can't help it, but after awhile if you are tired of being sad or angry you should start thinking about why and forgive. You and your mom will probably do the dance of hurt/forgive for a long time, but at least you know that everything has a good and meaningful reason in this world. Keep that in the back of your head and I'm sure that you can cope much better.

Why don't you ask her, if you don't suspect slippery slope, how religion played a part in her childhood? what are her first memories with religion? Did a loved one die when she was young and she had to desperately cling to her religion?

Try to find out what's going on. Strong emotional expressions often have strong emotional roots.

Btw, my mom's coping with dissonence excuse is "you'll grow out of it." It's a little more defensive and less angry but no less demeaning.
Wow - johnny that was really interesting! I am thinking about that in relation to my partner's situation.

I was going to tell rayray to count his blessings (lol) because of the situation my partner is in with his mother. he has actually begged her to talk about ANYTHING other than religion for the 6 last years and yet it has been non-stop. he is in school and we have a daughter, but she insists that these things cannot possibly be enough to fill a conversation (seriously). her behavior is abusive (for example - she has stated she will absolutely never accept him until he 'comes back to jesus', she has threatened that something will hurt our child because of our godless life, told him he was responsible for her cancer because of his 'anger' toward god). Finally he could not take it anymore and cut off communication (or tried). I spoke with his father and explained that Micah is just hurting and since all they seem to do is upset each other, perhaps it is best if they take some time off. Well, she has taken that as a challenge to be even worse - i won't get into the details but the mean emails continue. It has drien a huge wedge between Micah and his entire family.

I am perplexed as to how she PROUDLY chooses her 'faith' over her son - she wears it like a badge. All he has asked is that she accept that he is a good person and leave the faith issues alone. This is absolutely unacceptable to her. She once said that it was as if her son were dead, her grief is so great.

anyway johnny i thought you analysis actually describes her behavior perfectly! of course she is extreme but all of those elements are there. she has called him evil (in fact she told him he was possessed by demons), she insists he is confused about his 'true' beliefs. Even tho he told her he is happier now than he has ever been in his life, she continues to refer to his deep unhappiness and depression. It's like their on different planets.

Rayray, I hope you find some common ground with your mom. She may never fully 'accept' that you are an atheist but maybe it is good that she didn't completely reject you, either. just a different perspective!
people aren't so horrible once you understand why they are the way they are. That's why determinism is very comforting to me.

As an aspiring psychologist, I look at all these cognitive factors that go into the way people act whether or not they know it and as far as I can see people can't help it. They don't really have a choice in any of it. They are just helpless to their own psychology, prejudices, and hate. It hurts them directly, but it can only hurt you if you let it.

If you can't help it, don't despair about it, that's my motto.
This is definitely a tragic situation. I think Johnny did a good job to describe your partner's mother also. I would like to think that she could get help and heal the relationship with her offspring. But I am quite sure that she believes that there is nothing wrong with her. Its a catch 22, a tragic situation.
You can also look at the situation in terms of memes. A parent always wants their child by their side, close to them, safe when they're in sight. Once a child has become an atheist, he distances himself from the parents meme-pool (religion). This could be very scary for parents and could be the reason for such an aggresive responce.
Hmmm, good way to look at it.
Yes, and the fact that the offspring often feels lied to and betrayed adds to the problem.
The offspring _are_ lied to. not knowingly on the part of the parents, but still...
U said,Theists on average get mad discussing the topic.Its not, i mean there are differences in theists.The theists who are more strict in religion only gets mad.There are also theists who just pray sometimes.Those type of theists can understand others views.BTW, yes..you are not going to Hell as well as Heaven coz those Places are Tales.The religious theists talk about Hell/Heaven like they have seen it live....Like they are contacting someone from Hell.They are a complete joke.For everything there should be a proof.U must not believe something by hearing tales from any book.You believe when you see it live........

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