Kevin’s letter to his parents.

I received an interesting email from Kevin. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to answer this in private or if he wanted me to post it here because it seemed so private. However after I asked him, he said that he wanted both. So here’s his email, and my response afterwards.

Hello,

I was hoping that if you had the time, you would be willing to review this letter I have written for my parents. They already know about my atheism but have not accepted it. Therefore, I wrote this letter for them in the hope that they will understand. FYI, I am 16 and live with them. I read your blog everyday and enjoy it immensely. Keep up the good work. Thank you in advance.

With regards, Kevin

Letter:
Dear Mom and Dad,

I would like you to know that I love you very much and I hope you love me. Recently, we have come into disputes of a religious nature.  You may not like my disbelief; I really do not mind. When I told you, I was hoping to be relieved of a great burden. Unfortunately, the burden remains because my loving parents have not accepted me.  The only thing I want for Christmas this year is your complete acceptance, not being forced to participate in something I do not believe in.  Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. If you cannot accept my beliefs or myself as a person, how sad that you cannot accept your own child for whom he is. Does your god not teach acceptance and tolerance of others, regardless of their faith (or lack thereof)? It is my hope that through this letter, you will reexamine the validity of your actions and realize they are not helping anyone and may even be detrimental to your goal and my well being.

Love,
Kevin

 

Well Kevin, first I think your letter is straight and to the point. You’re asking to be treated as an individual with a right to your personal autonomy, and that’s to be commended. You didn’t insult or bash their faith, and it seems you are trying to illicit a bit of respect that you think you deserve. I commend you on your efforts.

Now with that said, allow me to give you some insight to what your parents may be thinking. Obviously I don’t know for sure this is their thought process. I can only give you my insight as being the father of a teenager.

Adolescence is about discovering who you are. It’s about playing around with different perspectives and pushing your own boundaries in order to figure out the type of person you want to be in the future. Your parents know this. They expect it. So because of this they may not take your change as serious as you do. They expect you to one day feel one way and then the next day feel another. Their jobs as parents is to help you navigate this time in your life. So my advice to you would be this, give them the letter if that’s what you feel you need to do but don’t count on it changing anything. Their perspective isn’t something that you can change with just words. You have to show them that you are serious about this. That means studying not only the works of other atheists, but read the bible as well. Show them that this isn’t just a phase that you are going through. Keep in mind that you will find them being adversarial about this as well. They are probably afraid you are going down the wrong path and will want to set you straight. Don’t get upset with this. It’s a sign that your parents care about you. Respect that even if you don’t agree with their methods. If they want you to go to church, go to church. If they want you to talk to a minister, talk to one. Show them that you are open minded. The more you fight them, the more they will work harder on “fixing” you. Arm yourself with knowledge and ask lots of questions. Ask questions that get them to ask questions. Ask question after question after question. Eventually they will not only respect you for doing as they asked, but even better, they will be able to relate to you through their own questioning. Don’t bash them, instead get them to understand you.

I don’t know if that will help but I hope it does. Hopefully others will read this and give you some more advice in the comments. Thanks for sharing Kevin.

6 thoughts on “Kevin’s letter to his parents.”

  1. Hi Kevin,

    I agree with Eric’s advice completely, however I would like to add a comment based on the following line:

    “The only thing I want for Christmas this year is your complete acceptance, not being forced to participate in something I do not believe in.”

    Now again this is only my impression as I don’t know the details of your life and you haven’t elaborated further, however I seems to me that an aspect of this situation is that you do not want to participate, to some extent, in your family’s Christmas celebrations.

    I would say that this isn’t something you need to worry about. As a teenager I too felt uncomfortable joining in with the pseudoreligious festivities at this time of year, however as you grow up you come to realise that the religious message doesn’t really mean anything at all, and so you don’t need to avoid it as some kind of act of principle. Christmas is an amalgamation of various religious and non-religious festivities, and what’s in a name? We don’t celebrate the norse god Freya on Friday, or Thor on Thursday, and we don’t worship the roman god Mars during the month of March. Christmas is just a name, your lack of Christian faith shouldn’t bar you from joining in with the rest of your family, in fact resisting the festivities may put further unnecessary strain on your relationship with your parents. By all means refuse to pray or say grace or thank Jesus, but nothing else need be off the table. Let your parents believe what they want to for the holidays, as Eric said, you won’t win them over with words. Be someone they can respect and be consistent, in time they’ll come around to accepting your lack of faith.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out; I will fix it. I don’t intend to withdraw from familial activities. I merely wish to be excluded from the religious portions

  2. Hey Kevin, I just want to say good luck. I don’t believe I have any advice that wasn’t already given. And these types of things are so situation specific that it’s hard for an outsider to know what course to take.

    One thing I’ll say is that to me personally, the one question that means the most is “Why?” Why are you angry at me for being an atheist? Why aren’t you comfortable with me as an atheist? Why can’t I choose to be my own person?

    Of course that might open the flood gates and all, but for me, I like to take the route that will help me understand why the other person is doing what they are doing because then I can usually be sympathetic to their situation. Hopefully, they can try to understand why I do what I do as well, and show some sympathy towards me.

    Again, good luck. Please let us know how it goes.

  3. Hello,
    Thank you for all the comments. I’ve decided to postpone this until my birthday in April. This will give them some more time to digest this. It also allows me to wait until the “holiday” that is about me, perhaps making it more difficult to refuse my gift. Will keep you all advised. Thanks, again.

    1. Kevin,.that was both compassionate and insightful. although the advice that you were given was very respectful and wise, I think that I could help you immensely and in more significant ways then you have received. feel free to contact me at Stephen.nylen@hotmail.com

  4. Hey Kevin!!!

    Congratulations buddy!!

    It reminds me of myself. I also decided being an atheist when I was 16 too, actually I was never a god believer. You were clever than me. Writing a letter! Well my case, I told mom face to face…it took about 6 months to tell her. I turned to 17 and I told her. I saw her crying..that was the sad part but she knew I was a good son even though not believing in god. Some weeks later… I told dad and guess what? I discovered he was an atheist too (that explained why he never went to church with mom lol )… I could see happiness in his eyes.:) Today I am 32 years old (wow time flies) and for me, accepting myself and making people around me understand that I am an atheist was that wisest, healthiest and happiest decision I have ever made in my life. Mom accepted some months later and we are all fine with that. in my family, me and dad are atheists and mom, sister and brother are god believers and we all live well and respect each other.

    PS.: Besides being an atheist, I go to church with mom once in a while and that makes her so happy.:) I do it for her.

    PS2: Congrats with the website. Good work fellas’

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