So my mother used to be a nun and she did one of the greatest things by adopting me out of communist Romania. I am indebted to her for that. The issue I have though is I am atheist. I cannot bear to tell her that about 3 years after she adopted me (I was 8 when she adopted me, so I was 11 when I realized there was no God) I became an atheist. I kept going to church to appease her, plus I was also scared she would send me back. I didn't know that she couldn't send me back so I kept going along with the charade. I felt comfortable going to church only if my dad went because I knew he was an atheist as well. My dad never did the motions in church or said any of the prayers. He usually just sat there. About 3 years ago my dad started sending me books about questioning religion. I think he realized I was an atheist too. We have had private discussions about it. He told me not to tell my mother as it would probably break her heart, or could make her angry enough to disown me. I am in a position where I found the job I have always wanted. The pay is not as good in the beginning, but it increases in time. The problem is I live with my mom currently until I can get caught up on my college loans. That is like 2 years away. I am so fed up with having to go to church and going through the motions. I am sick of having to listen to a priest tell me in his sermon how hard it is to believe the bible, but when you have faith anything is possible, which is absurd in the first place.


I started telling my mom that I would like to go to a different church. She said it was fine with her. So on Sundays I would pretend to go the the noon mass at a church 20 minutes away. That gave me about 2 hours to play hookie. I would go to bars and watch sports or go hang out with friends during that time. I would bring home the bulletin to prove that I went and all was well. Then my sister followed me one day to the church. I saw her following me from afar, so I had to stay that day. Now even my own sister is following me making sure I go to church. How can I honestly keep this up? I have to because I can't bear to do something to the woman who got me out of the worst situation a child could face, being an orphan in a communist country. Maybe when my financial situation clears up I will tell her. I assume she will take me off of her will, but that's not important. I don't know what to do.

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My advice is nothing short of harsh and controversial I guess, but whatever. How about: Stop lying for the sake of your college loans?

I don't know what advice you want. Step up and be who you want to be. Stop cowering. Grow a back-bone. Yadda yadda yadda... I don't know why you think you are doing your mom such a huge service by lying to her. Does that really make any sense?

I wish I had some profound fix-it-all advice for you. But I have few feelings of love toward my own family and therefor I find it hard to relate to people who desperately want to please their own families and therefor lie about who and what they are.

My opinion is to just tell her and stop living like a coward.

If your financial situation is tough, get a job. A second job. A third job. Do what it takes. You say you can't keep living like this.. or rather "How can I keep this up?" -- well, don't keep this up, what other answer do you want?

Honestly, if your mother cares about you so much, do you really think she would kick you out for being an atheist? If so, she's not much "family" of which to speak of, I don't care what she did for you as a child. If she disowns you for your personal choices as an adult, you need to understand she's not worth living a lie. I don't see what the big conundrum is.

There are always ways to live on your own. I went through a divorce and I had to do some pretty tough things and make some really hard choices (like choosing to buy food over paying my student loans, which ruined my credit but I'm well on my way to fixing that now so everything finds a way of working itself out I suppose), but I did what I had to do.

My other option was to keep living a lie and pretend I loved my ex husband or that we had some great marriage I could live with. Doing that would have been cowardly though, and a huge disservice to myself.

Again I'm not sure what advice you are looking for. You want us to gauge your mother's reaction, and tell you how to make it all better? Well, we can't. We don't know you, your mother, or your family.

Most of us do know "the religious" though. I can tell you she won't be pleased, but if she's any kind of decent human being, she won't just throw you out.

But my recommendation is that you are prepared to -move out- just incase things get weird -- religious people do crazy things when they find out one of their own family has deconverted. They may try to force you to go to church, speak with pastors, and so on. If this is the conditions of your room-and-board, I'd honestly ask why you don't get a place of your own no matter what it takes.

At the end of the day, your entire argument is based on altruism: You can't bear to do anything that would hurt the person who adopted you. Well, I say the person who adopted you should love you unconditionally, and if she doesn't, she's not worth all this altruistic sympathetic crap.

Sorry if that seems harsh.. but I really think you need to do a little more thinking about yourself, and a little less thinking about the mother who you think will abandon you if you actually live your life as you want to live it, out in the open, with no secrets.

Decision is yours, not ours. Frankly I think getting through to people who desperately want to "please the parents" is about as difficult as getting through to people who are religious. I think you're in just as bad a situation: Living in a delusional state, in a fantasy land. Break the fantasy and live in reality. It might suck for awhile, but then you just make it better again eventually. Life is precisely what you make of it and how hard you work for it. Nothing more.
i think riz put it as bluntly and honestly as possible, there isn't much more to be said....... it's YOU that has to make that move and tell your mom. i agree, if you love her, you'll tell her the truth; and if she loves you, she'll accept YOUR decision..... it's difficult to be brave and have courage, but there comes a time in one's life when he must stand up for what is right, because his conscious tells him to....... it's much easier said than done, i know....... i send you well wishes.
Personally I couldn't keep up an act as I too blabbermouth-ish.
I never did believe, & all the questions I asked sure must have pointed that out to mother when I was very young, & not satisfactorily answered either. I grew up mor(m)on!
I did have to go with her to church until I got old enough to finally say I was NOT going anymore, that was that. She didn't like it, but that was too bad, like it or not. She called me a few names for awhile, but so what! There was no great love in my family anyway, so this was really nothing new, except it was usually father who did the name-calling.
I'm 63 now & my parents no longer speak to me, but it's over other non-religious issues including my cancer which was just 5 years ago. I have non-religious in-laws who are much more my family.
Same here..I told my mother when i was 13 i was not going to church anymore and she could not make me...She did nothing...
I agree you need to come out of the closet...Just stop going..if she asks why,tell her you have to study,etc...This can buy you some time till you are ready to fess up.
I agree with your reply the most John. I think in a way she knows because I always ask questions. As for the others, no I am not dependent on my mom in any way. I pay 300 a month in rent to live at home. She wants me to live with her forever as she needs someone to help her do things around the house like mow the lawn, cook dinner, and clean the house. My mom is overweight and doesn't like to do anything. I am beginning to think she adopted kids just so she could have them do everything for her. Anyway I agree John. I will take this slowly. Within the year I will tell her. Then I will move out.

I also agree with Riz. If she doesn't like my choices as an adult then how can I respect her? Thanks for all the advice. I just needed a little push and this has truly helped me.
For some things I think if a relative wouldn't understand, if it doesn't come up I just wouldn't tell them b/c it's none of their business, and there's no point in arguing if it will never be resolved. I understand if other people have a more confrontational style, though. In your situation, I think it's at the point where it has come up, and at least the issue of not going to church should be out in the open (since you hate going to church!)

Not going to church is not an automatic sign of atheism, and lots of people, even people who do believe in God, just don't go to church b/c they don't feel like or haven't found a church they like or they think religion is something personal instead of a group activity. I don't think you should pretend any of these things, but you could just say you don't want to go to church and not volunteer the atheist bit unless it comes up.

I have a friend who is going through the issue of placating parents, and is from a culture that puts more emphasis on parental approval...it shows me that some people have only conditional love for their children. Or they do love their children but keep wanting to insist on certain things for them, which only ends in them losing their children, or the children obey them but are unhappy, which also doesn't help for a harmonious relationship.
You mom knows! -Just like you always suspected that your dad was an atheist, your mom undoubtedly suspects that you are. I think she is just being kind by not calling you on your lie, giving you an opportunity to be honest. Tell her the truth!
I'd say you don't necessarily have to jump STRAIGHT to atheism. Try just starting out by saying that church isn't really for you - that you want to stop doing the whole ORGANIZED religion thing. Eventually, the truth will come out, but you probably don't have to keep doing the whole church charade until you're ready.
I had none of the obligations to my mother as you have. I told her what I was some years ago and expressed myself time and again in her presence. And after her death, remembring how she felt on tne ocasions, I wish I shouldn't have. Sometimes lies are sweater than truths espacially when spoken in love of someone. Decide for yourself, its only my version of reality at age of 42.
Yeah, this can be tough. I pretty much started refusing to go to church when I was about 12 years old.

Raised Southern Baptist. Fairly conservative folks in genera.

My old Sunday school teacher called to see if I would be coming to services and I just said no and that I didn't believe that the religion was true.

My mother was right beside me when I told him this on the phone.

She was more surprised that I was "rude" enough to tell him this so bluntly than anything else (even thought I was not actually rude, just direct and non-apologetic).

We probably talked about it for less than 5 minutes, though, and I never
mocked or disrespected anyone else's beliefs in the family or even tried to
"convert" them.

It also helped that I was a good student and well behaved in every other respect.

But if anyone asked, I'd tell them what I thought.

My mother had seen me "handle" Jehovah's Witnesses at the door when they knocked, so
she wasn't too surprised (in fact, after a few visits the JW's stopped knocking at
our door and just threw pamphlets in our yard as they drove by...)

Some parents would have handled this differently. Perhaps even a beating, so I
can understand your concern.

You are the best judge, though.

Just do what you think is right for the situation and don't worry about it so much.

It's probably not a bad idea to go with what your father has done since he is in
a similar situation.

Just wait it out and cut out of services whenever you can if it bothers you.

Or consider it "research" of an alien culture.

And be glad that at least one parent is on your side.
For a while, you can say that you don't like the idea of ORGANISED religion. Then, you could slowly imply that you don't believe at all, but be as subtle as you can.

She might not even care about it if you said it bluntly, she may be a bit surprised. However, it really depends on how religious she is. If she is deeply religious, then it might not be the best idea. If she is moderately religious, then there is not much to fear. If she is casually religious, then tell her, she might not even be surprised.

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