Ask Richard: My Parents Don’t Take My Atheism Seriously December 29, 2009

Ask Richard: My Parents Don’t Take My Atheism Seriously

Hi Richard,

I’m 22 years old and a recent college graduate. Unfortunately, with the state the economy is in, I’m having problems finding a job, so I had to take up residence with my parents. While neither my parents or I have a problem with this arrangement, I’m finding some of the things they believe about me to be pretty ouch-worthy, if you will. This has lead to two problems I’m currently having with them.

I like to be open with my parents, so several months ago I told them that I was an atheist. My mom looked at me and said, “But you’re not an atheist.” It really surprised me to hear her say that, and I then found myself having to explain to her that I really am. When she finally believed it, she and my dad both started making fun of my atheism rather loudly in a restaurant. After that, I tried to keep my atheism on the down-low.

I eventually found out that my father identifies as an agnostic, and I thought that maybe I had found a type of ally. Hearing him discuss his own frustrations about something to do with religion, I thought that maybe I could open up again. When I did, my mom seemed genuinely curious about why I’m an atheist, and I tried to best explain how I came to my conclusions. I thought she had accepted, but later I found out that she thinks I’m just going through a phase.

That leads into my first problem — my mother just thinking that I’m going through some sort of phase with atheism. I know that in my mom’s head, I’m still just a child. After all, I’m the youngest. But it frustrates me that she seems to think that I’m incapable of making my own decisions — especially since I’ve held this conclusion for a few years now. And what is perhaps even more frustrating is that my agnostic father seems to take her side on the issue.

And because my non-beliefs aren’t being taken seriously by my parents, I found another problem emerging relating to getting a job.

I went to college to become a teacher. Since I have no money or car, I’m limited in where I can teach for the time being. At one point, I got an interview at a Catholic high school for a temporary position. I have no problem being in a religious environment because I know that I can just not talk about being an atheist, and that doesn’t bother me.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the job due to a question asked in the interview about whether or not I followed the rules of my church.

I didn’t want to lie, so I said that I don’t belong to a church.

That made my mom rather angry. I understand that she wants me to get a job, but I don’t want to just outright lie. But because she doesn’t really believe that I’m an atheist, or that I won’t remain an atheist, she still thinks that I should’ve lied. That really bothers me.

When I’ve talked to others about it, it’s always been, “Having a job is better than having no job.” I have no problem being quiet about being an atheist, but just lying? At the time it was rather easy to google my name and/or email and see that I’ve been involved with atheist organizations.

So, I just have no idea how to handle my parents thinking I’m just going through a phase and that I should just lie to potential employers about my non-beliefs.


Dear Frustrated,

The first problem, not being taken seriously by your parents, is not your problem. It’s theirs.

They probably won’t take you seriously until some time after it no longer matters to you whether they do or not. Focus on your being a grown-up inside yourself, rather than in their eyes.

It’s good that you like to be open with them, and you probably should continue to do so, but when you share things, if it sounds in any way like you’re wanting their approval, that puts you into the role of child and them in the role of parents. When you share of yourself, do it entirely as an adult relating to adults. Share only because that’s what you want to do for yourself, not for any kind of reaction you want from them.

This does not mean to have a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, or to be cold or aloof. It simply means that you no longer attach your emotional comfort to their impression of you. This detaching also does not mean that you will have to passively accept disrespectful treatment. If they ever start that public ridiculing of you or your atheism again, you’ll need to assertively object and demand in adult tones that they immediately stop.

Even if you are able to consistently be in this adult mode, they might not respond to you as an adult for quite some time, because that is often a difficult and slow transition for parents to make.

Being an adult is about your own opinion of yourself, and living up to that opinion each day. Stay true to your own values, period. Somebody else’s image of you is irrelevant to your adulthood. So treat your parents’ opinion of you as if it’s none of your business.

Your business is to attend to the second problem, which is getting a job. And it looks like to do that, you need wheels.

Your mom wanting you to lie to get a job is beside the point, is not the problem for you to solve. That’s her business. If you don’t want to lie, if you want to be true to that ethic, then that choice means you need to increase your physical range, so you can find a secular school where you won’t be asked about your religious views or practices.

Think creatively and in terms of possibilities. Perhaps just at first you can use a transit system, or commute with a friend to reach more schools, and when you get the teaching job you can commute with a fellow teacher who lives nearby, helping with the cost of gas. Perhaps you can negotiate a loan from your parents for a cheap car, just to get you farther out there to catch that job. Once you do, you can continue living at home for a while and pay them back for the car. Then if you wish, you can move out and have the physical independence to match your inner emotional independence.

Or, if their opinion of you truly no longer matters to you, if you really are emotionally independent, you could also choose, just for the convenience and the company, to continue living with your parents as long as all of you agree, as adults to adults.

Frustrated, I think soon you will rename yourself Fulfilled. Your desire to remain ethical and not to lie while still being discrete suggests to me that you will be a very good teacher. A teacher’s strength of character is at least as important as their academic competence, and perhaps more so, in my view. I wish you good fortune in your hunt for a job and your quest for your inner sovereignty.


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  • Fett101

    It’s not revealed where Frustrated lives, but if it’s inside the USA (which the economy statement would make likely) wasn’t the question he was asked in the job interview illegal?

  • anonymous

    I hate to state the obvious, but you have a rather open and shut case against the catholic school, and you could potentially sue them.

    If you’re asked a question in an interview that has anything to do with your religion that is an EEOC violation. It doesn’t matter if your the government, private sector, or a catholic based organization. That is something that an employer is not allowed to touch.

    A lawsuit might not be justified here, or even hard to start depending on what you can or can’t prove, but you should at the very least file a complaint.

  • littlejohn

    I was also the youngest, and my only sibling is nearly 8 years older. My sister still treats me like a child, and my parents never took me seriously, even when I reached middle age.
    Do what I should have done many years ago:
    Have your parents destroyed.

  • JulietEcho

    It’s not revealed where Frustrated lives, but if it’s inside the USA (which the economy statement would make likely) wasn’t the question he was asked in the job interview illegal?

    I don’t think so, as long as it was a private institution that received no government funding. Since the school is funded by the Catholic Church and Catholic benefactors, it’s understandable that they want Catholic (or at least generic Christian) staff.

  • Chris

    I think it’s not a huge issue; I mean his atheism is not causing any tension or hostility, so if teasing is all he has to put up with, he’s not got the worst deal.

    It could be so much worse – they could outright refuse to accept it, continue to challenge him on it, try to convert him, or, worst, disown him.

    This is about him seeking approval, and that’s something children deal with on a range of subjects far broader than just atheism. But I think as you grow up you realise that your parents’ approval isn’t always necessary: they aren’t in charge of your life.

  • As luck would have it, I was talking to my wife a couple days ago about my ex, who incidentally was a (more or less) good Polish Catholic girl. She told me several times, “You’re not really an atheist.” It’s a remark that has bugged the bejeezus out of me.

    If anyone ever has the nerve to tell me that again, I have the perfect means of showing them how condescending & how demeaning the remark is.

    When the occasion presents itself, say something like: “You’re so reasonable and responsible. I just can’t believe that you believe in God, Church Doctrine, etc. I just don’t think you’re serious in your profession of faith.”

    Then if they get all offended, or what not, remark that now you know who I feel.

  • Fett101

    as long as it was a private institution that received no government funding

    By that logic most corporations could discriminate for anything.
    “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;”

    There would obviously be issues if you hired a blind man to fly a plane or an atheist to teach religious class but otherwise…? Could a school therefore use their religion to deny jobs to blacks or women?

  • StarScream

    Frustrated could have answered Church of the FSM. But that probably wouldn’t have worked either. It would have elicited a puzzled look though 🙂

  • Heidi

    Frustrated, I’m 40 and have kids who are 20 and 17. I’ve been an atheist for nearly 20 years. And my father still doesn’t take my atheism seriously. He thinks this is some kind of thing I was talked into by my ex- (who is not even an atheist — last I heard he was a Buddhist, but had also joined a Native American circle).

    I get annoyed when Dad gives me the “you’re not really an atheist” line. Other than that, I ignore it. My dad is one of those vague believers. He doesn’t participate in any religion, doesn’t read any holy books, but sort of feels like there ought to be an afterlife and a god.

    Your parents may never come around. Hopefully they will at least stop disrespecting your opinions. But either way, you’re not alone.

  • Snuggly Buffalo

    Ah yes, I had a similar issue where my father said he thinks it’s just a phase. And my mother has tried to blame everything but myself for my apostasy; that I’m a rational adult who used reason to reach a conclusion is not an option for consideration in why I am now an atheist. I’ve also heard, through my younger brother who’s still living at home (at least until he finishes high school this spring), about my mother talking with my younger sister about how “stupid” my arguments are when I defend my position. I find this more amusing than anything, coming from a couple of college dropouts who don’t know the first thing about logic.

    I don’t really care what my parents think at this point. I’m happy with my life, and if they aren’t that’s their problem, as Richard put it. I think my brother is more upset with how they’re treating me than I am. He’s actually getting into some hot water with my mother for trying to stand up for me; I need to tell him that it’s OK to let it slide while he has to live at home.

  • Teaching at a religious school can be a great experience if the staff are great and care not that you’re an atheist. I did teacher training at a Catholic school like that.

    But I’ve spoken to staff at another religious school where religion was a real problem – my friend just wasn’t the right type of crazy signing and dancing born again hallelujah Christian, him being CofE.

    So basically, my experience is that if the school doesn’t want you on religious grounds, you’d not have a fun time teaching there anyway and it’s probably best avoided.

    Yes they discriminated, and no they shouldn’t, but it probably saved you from a personal teaching hell.

  • alex


    IANAL, but, to my knowledge, religion has an exception under that law. According to U. S. Code Chapter 21, section 2000e-2, (e):

    Businesses or enterprises with personnel qualified on basis of religion, sex, or national origin; educational institutions with personnel of particular religion

    Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, […] (2) it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for a school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning to hire and employ employees of a particular religion if such school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society, or if the curriculum of such school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion.

    In other words, if a school is owned by Catholics and/or teaches Catholic curriculum, they can legally discriminate against other religions only.

  • @Fett101 @JulietEcho Yes it is absolutely illegal in the US to deny a job because of religious beliefs


    I will be blogging about this soon 😀

  • Thegoodman

    These letters are starting to get tiresome. I love the blog but they all reek of the same childish tone.

    You are 22. You live with mom and dad. Mom is a Christian. She doesn’t like that you are an atheist.

    1. You are still essentially their child. You cannot be supported by your parents and simultaneously be upset that they don’t respect you as an adult. Because you are not truly an adult.

    2. While 22 might seem old, 22 yr olds everywhere are considered children because you are still very young. I am 27 and take no offense if someone treats me like a child, the older you get the younger…younger people look..if that makes sense.

    3. “Hey mom, I think your entire emotional and spiritual support structure is a lie. I don’t believe it and I think you are silly to believe it. Can we be best friends now?” How can you be surprised that your mother isn’t happy you have denied your upbringing? I am an atheist and my mother insists I “have faith” whatever that means. Don’t let it bother you.

    The advice to this one was pretty solid. Essentially you should get a job, make some money, live your own life. Crying about the disapproval of your parents doesn’t validate your argument that you are an adult, it weakens it.

  • Siamang

    I think it’s an age thing.

    I used to really strongly care about how my mother felt about all my choices. Now I’m grown, have a wife and kid, and I care far more about what they think than my mother.

    I wouldn’t worry about them taking your atheism seriously. Atheism doesn’t require anyone else’s validation. You just don’t believe in gods. All weights lifted.

    I don’t care who else thinks I’m serious or not about it. I’m living a life free from the mind-puzzle with the gut of hell-fear.

  • Vas

    Being an adult is about your own opinion of yourself, and living up to that opinion each day. Stay true to your own values, period.

    uh Comma,being an adult is also about other things, things like not needing your parents approval on every little thing, about taking care of yourself, about paying your bills, about being an independent person. Even in these down times we Americans still live a pretty good life when compared to the vast majority of the human population and frankly your letter comes off a bit sniveling and childish. While you stand firm on your moral high ground your parents are stuck holding the bill, a real bill with a dollar amount that must be paid, the mortgage, the power bill, the grocery bill, the works. Make your life happen, do what it takes to be an adult, take a bus if you have to, lots of people do. Move outside your ideal profession if need be and get a frigging job, lots of adults are in a position right about now where they will take any job even jobs far beneath what their education level and experience would qualify them for. If you are an atheist and vocal about it, (or refuse to hide it) you can expect more than just this one roadblock, it’s a mean world out there. You will never know how firm you stand on your values until you have to weigh them against the real consequences of standing your ground. Will you compromise if it means being evicted because your morals are more important than a roof over your head, or food, or a warm coat? Will you cower in the closet and lie to gain favor with our Christian overlords so you can drive a nice car and live in a nice house? As long as you allow your parents to clean up your messes you will never know and will remain in their eyes, (and the eyes of most adults) a child. Turning 18 or 21, or being true to yourself is not the measure of adulthood, taking care of business is closer to the point, being a grown up is not always happy warm fuzzy business, life can be a bitch sometimes. Suck it up, get a job and make your way in the world, sounds to me like you’ll be fine but don’t expect peaches and cream right out the gate, it’s a struggle particularly right now. If your big problem is that your parents tease you for being an atheist then you are in better shape than many in this harsh economic climate. If your parents can afford to float you for a while be thankful, cut them some slack, it is expensive to run a household as you will soon find out. Being an adult is not all bad by the way, it has some nifty perks, but it is hard work. Stop complaining and make your life happen, independence is quite a buzz, I bet you’ll like it.

  • TychaBrahe

    Whether or not being an atheist is a phase, shouldn’t phases be taken seriously? In my 20’s I was a pagan. I was deadly serious about it and tried to be devoted to it. In my 30’s, I sought to return to my Jewish roots, and I was deadly serious about it and tried to be devoted to it. It was only after seriously failing at both of these that I came to the conclusion that it is not in my nature to believe in magical things, and that my true nature is atheistic.

    Both of my prior attempts at religion were phases, but I could not have known that at the time. I had no idea when I pored over Margot Adler and TH White and Colin Wilson that I would, in twenty years, consider such writing intellectually interesting rather than essential to my holistic self and spiritual well-being.

    Had my parents refused to respect either of my “phases,” I would have been extremely offended. So long as I am not flighty, changing belief systems every few days, whatever I choose to believe in or take part in should be respected. If I decide tomorrow that being in community theater is important to my sense of self, the people who love me should support me in my endeavors. That is what you do when you care about someone–you support them, even if you cannot relate to the things they’re interested in.

    In Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For, she once related the story of the character Harriet’s coming out to her parents. When Harriet told them that she was a lesbian, they responded, “We’ll always accept you.” Harriet went on to relate that she had told them that this wasn’t enough. “I don’t want you to just accept my lesbianism, like something you have to live with. I expect you to understand and support me in my lesbianism.” (Written from memory, so the quote is probably not quite accurate.)

    I wish that Frustrated could approach his parents and say, “Regardless of whether my atheism is a phase or not, it’s where I am right now, and I hope that you will support that.” His parents don’t sound unreasonable, just unreasoning.

  • @Thegoodman So he’s not an adult because he can’t find a job and has to live with them?

    I think that’s pretty judgmental of you.

    My father had to move in with his mother at 40 because he lost his job, so I guess he’s not an adult either.

  • Ron in Houston

    I’d say that given the context the question was a discriminatory question; however, as someone pointed out they can hire people of their own religion over others.

    If the guy is in the US I’d say it’s definitely something worthy of filing a complaint with the local EEOC office.

  • Trace

    Hi Frustrated,

    In reference to your mother’s comment: “But you’re not an atheist.”

    I don’t know her, but (and I will play devil’s advocate) probably what she meant was “but you are a nice person.”

    There is still much stigma attached to that word.

    I once was talking to a Catholic acquaintance who, in reference to a Jewish person she liked, said: “it is not like she is an atheist.” God forbid!, I thought :). I found the whole thing sad, but I know she meant it in a positive way.

    Richard offers you great advice. Good luck.

  • littlejohn

    Good lord, I just went back and noticed you’re 22. Your parents are right. You *aren’t* an atheist. You’re a baby, and people are going to treat you like a baby for another decade, at least.
    You don’t have any idea what you are yet.
    You kids with your fancy hot rods and roller skates! What’s happening to this country? Why when I was a boy … Huh, what was I saying? Somebody bring me a drink.

  • Jake

    My advice would be to get any job- not eschew gainful employment simply because its not a teaching position. You’re 22 with a college degree. Get a job- move out and you won’t have to worry about what your parents say.

  • Jake

    and who cares if people think you are not “a real atheist”. Live your life the best way you can and treat others as you want to be treated- not because you will go to hell but because you are a decent human being.

  • JulietEcho

    Say what you will about the other information offered in the letter, but I think it’s tiresome and pointless to judge someone’s maturity/adulthood cred/whatever based on age alone. Yes, we know the brain goes through different stages during development that gives, say, a 12-year-old much more capacity for reasoning than a 9-year-old, but once you get past 18-20, it’s all down to you (and your environment, and the developed brain you’ve landed with).

    I remember being shocked and peeved when I was 18 and rooming with a girl one year my senior. She was always talking about how I’d understand things when I was her age. Many people in their thirties will see people in their twenties as less-than-mature, people in their forties will see people in their thirties as less-mature, and on up. Perhaps replace “mature” with “wise” in some cases.

    Our experiences and thoughts differ so vastly from individual to individual, that age is really one of the least reliable indicators of maturity. I know plenty of people well into middle-age who lack emotional maturity, and plenty of level-headed, mature people in their twenties.

  • Tizzle

    When I was 22, I used to say sometimes that I didn’t want children. If I were talking to an older person, they inevitably said ‘wait til you’re older, you’ll feel that maternal urge’. Ha! Not true, not even a little.

    Not in a rude way, but just get over it. They’ll stop acting like everything you do is a phase at some unspecified future age, probably around 26 or 27.

    This is annoying when you’re 22, as I remember it, but in just 10 years, you can do it to younger people. It can be kinda fun to dismiss a person’s entire thoughts, beliefs, feelings with a: “How old are you again?” and a knowing smirk.

    *at least partly kidding*

  • J B Tait

    “You’re not really an atheist” may well be merely a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word. Instead of simply identifying someone who has no belief in a God, perhaps your parents think the word has a broader meaning. Maybe they think it means someone without conscience or compassion (psychopath), someone who is the antithesis of what they believe a religionist should be (and thus, Evil if they attribute being Good to religion), a baby eater, Hitler, . . . well we know the list.

    A Christian once gave my mother what she believed was a compliment: I am surprised to discover you are an atheist. You are much more Christian than most of my Christian friends.
    What she meant was that mother was honest, compassionate, generous, upstanding, and had a sense of justice and a conscience. These were all attributes she associated with Christianity, and her upbringing had never allowed her to understand that they come from within, rather than being assigned from a God and undertaken from fear of that God.

    So if your mother has “atheist” entangled with “evil” in her lexicon, then what she really meant was “you aren’t really a bad person (because I know you to be good), so you can’t be serious using the “bad person” (read “atheist”) label for yourself.

    This goes along with the phrase, “you don’t want that,” that parents often use. You know you do, and how can they decide what you want? That is something only you would know.
    What they mean is that you could want that, but you shouldn’t want it and if you get it you will be disappointed.
    It took me 60 years to figure out that my parents just didn’t notice they had denied my feelings and opinions, and thereby my validity and worth, by making a statement that was patently false.

    I am sure your parents meant it as a compliment to your goodness.

    As to the lying . . . yes they asked a question that they should not have. And I commend you for being honest in the face of opposition from the people on whom you depend.

    I wonder if your mother thinks Jesus has given you permission to lie because it is important to get a job. Sounds like situational ethics to me.

  • Heidi

    I remember being shocked and peeved when I was 18 and rooming with a girl one year my senior. She was always talking about how I’d understand things when I was her age.

    The absurdity of her statement is laughable… one year older??

  • wow, glad i live in belgium , i have the same problem with my mom, but people over here are a lot more secular (both religious & non-religious, except the muslims and jehova’s whitnesses they’re still kinda extreme)

    i personally still study on a christian school, but as there isnt any prayer or anything and the religion classes are kinda general (tho the teacher still hates it when i correct errors & her false assumptions)

    its a xtian school, but my english & PAV (geography,history,etc) teacher is an atheist and mostly shares my views. and finally because the schools located in the center of GENK wich used to have a mine & thus a lot of imigrants , most students are muslims (wich can get scary as some do get agressive when debating their beliefs …)

  • Thegoodman


    Being unemployed and living with your parents does not mean you are NOT an adult.

    Being 22 unemployed and living with your parents mean you are nearly an adult, but not quite.

    Your father losing his job and moving in with his parents temporarily is entirely different than a 22 yr old finishing school and moving back home.

  • muggle

    I’m agreeing entirely with Vas here.

    I know these are tough economic times but what’s with all the 20-something’s these days who are living off their parents’ generosity, even if out of necessity, then totally dissing their parents. You can’t have it both ways. Have your parents pay your way then try to censor their behavior in their house.

    My daughter and I are just coming out of this scenario and she’s Hemant’s age. (OK, she’s a month older.) I wish she had been as mature. We are dealing with other issues, of course, that made the growing up part difficult among them diagnosed mental illness. I’m glad she didn’t have a baby in her teens but she did in her 20’s without steady employment (I’m sorry but retail is not steady) and has been annoyingly trying to fight me all the way while having me carry her. No, I don’t think so.

    Finally, she womaned up. Getting diagnosed and properly treated helped, of course, (and that took hell on earth) but I think the big thing that did was my waking up one day and not being able to walk for two days. It kind of woke her up to the reality that she might not be able to force her mother to carry the ball when she wouldn’t and if she kept trying to, it was only going to break down my health all the worse.

    She’s finally pulled it together even though she still has to deal with the illness and just doesn’t function without the proper medication but there was a point wherein it was so bad that I’d have given up on her if not for my grandson. I would have done the tough love thing and let her fall to the homeless shelter DSS was threatening to put her in. I was unwilling to subject her innocent child (who I also love, of course) to that alone with a mother who was not being an adult to say the least. I did feel a need to look out for him so took them in and it’s been downright awful at times. We got through though sometimes even I can’t believe it.

    My problems walking have scared her. In the last two years, I’ve gone to a cane and then a walker. I’ve been struggling to continue to work a desk job but have finally faced reality and applied for disability retirement from my pension system because I can without quitting and because it really has become that difficult even though I’ve an easy desk job. I’m on a goddamn walker. It’s tough just going in to work every day then having to manuveur around throughout the day. My office is rather an accessible nightmare.

    My daughter womaned up and is going to college and working two part-time jobs. She’s still partially on assistance but also carrying part of the financial load. When I went to the walker, I was naturally worried about the possiblity of losing my income and her having to drop out of school if I did, she said, “Mom, if worse comes to worse, I can get out loans for school.” That’s the moment when I knew she had, at last, grown up.

    My point? Do the same. Being a grownup isn’t about being full of yourself. It’s about doing what needs getting done even when it sucks to do so. If you’re living off someone else’s charity in their home, shut up and put up and jump up to help them with chores and such.

    By that I don’t mean you can never disagree with your parents but do the mature thing and be judicious in how you do. You know, it is a strain on them to carry you. Yes, it might not be your fault (though it does sound like you need to swallow your pride and take something else to tide you over until you get that teaching job) but the situation still is what it is and you should be considerate of the fact that it is stressful to them and a strain on their resources.

    After 22 years of parenting, damn it, they are just plain tired and were probably looking forward to the break but understand that you’re having a tough time getting independent of them times being what they are. Your mother’s nagging about a job is indicative that she is feeling stressed and put on even though she loves you and is carrying you because she does.

    You’ll forgive me for saying this but you don’t seem to be mindful of this fact. Why aren’t you at least flipping burgers and offering them a portion of your pay? Unless they had you when they were very, very young, they are staring down the barrell end of retirement with the Social Security system under threat of disappearing and should be putting money they used to spend on your care towards the time when they get too old to work. Frankly, you should be more worried about that then you are about them accepting your ideas. You should be caring about them the way they are you by giving you a roof in your time of need.

    My daughter and I are now at a place where we are both dependent on each other and hated it initially. Trust me, I am not someone who accepts any curtailment to my independence. I’ve lived life on my own terms since I was 18. Now I have to rely heavily on her. It sucks. But we’ve come to accept reality and realize that it’s give and take. She’s given up trying to tell me what’s what and holds her tongue. Frankly, if she didn’t, crippled or not, I’d go out, get my own place and manage somehow. I can only continue to lean on her because she does not think that makes her boss.

    When your Mom says “you’re not really Atheist” it’s because she’s having trouble accepting that you’re that different from her while still being her baby. The only way to change that is to stop being her baby and get freaking independent. She’ll gain respect for you if she sees you doing what needs doing even if she still disagrees vehemently with you.

    Trust me. I know.

  • Skunque


    “Being a grownup isn’t about being full of yourself. It’s about doing what needs getting done even when it sucks to do so. ”

    Love it! Definitely quotable…

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    All this talk about whether he’s a real adult is beside the point: his parents should respect his religious beliefs, regardless of whether they think it’s a phase or not. Economic circumstances (which are out of his control, I might add) are not relevant to that.

    Consider: if the economy were better (which, again, is out of his control), and he did have a job and was financially independent of his parents, but was otherwise exactly the same person with exactly the same psychological profile and so forth, would that suddenly mean his religious (as opposed to economic) beliefs are more worthy of respect?

  • Heidi

    Agreed. It’s not ok to disrespect and belittle your children, no matter how old they are. Respect is a two-way street, but nowhere does it give any indication that Frustrated is disrespecting them.

    Also, would those of you who take the parents’ side lie on a job interview? Or encourage your children to do it? If so, do you honestly think *that* behavior is respectable? What should Frustrated have done if the next question had been, “and what church do you attend?” Which was then followed by in depth questioning about whether they held similar beliefs to Catholicism? Keep spinning the web?

    For that matter, was Frustrated specifically told that not belonging to a church blew the interview? Otherwise it could have been anything. Maybe they found a candidate with more (i.e. some) experience. Recession, remember? Lots of folks out of work.

  • Vas

    his parents should respect his religious beliefs


  • I’m going through an atheist phase too. So far it has lasted my entire life and I expect it to continue for as long as I live. Then it will end.

    As for job interviews and lying I have this piece of advice: Never lie. It is impossible to keep your lies consistent once you start lying so don’t even bother. If your lies are discovered after you’ve been hired then you can be fired for lying during the interview or on the CV (resume). Hell, I’d fire someone who lied to get a job. I don’t want people who deceive me to work for me. I’m OK with omission because people have a right to privacy but just don’t lie.

    In the meantime until you find a job are there any voluntary teaching roles you can fill or evening classes you could teach? I’m not sure where your skills lie as a teacher but public libraries and schools sometimes offer short courses in crafts, PC use, juggling, or anything. You might not earn anything from doing this but it will look good on the resume and will bring you to the attention of people who might know a friend who knows someone who knows about a teaching job. Word of mouth is a great way of gaining employment and one that is much under utilised.

    Speaking of public libraries you could always spend a day brushing up your resume. They have all sorts of books for making a good impression at interviews. Honestly it doesn’t matter how good you are, a little more preparation can’t hurt.

  • Christoph

    I like to be open with my parents, so several months ago I told them that I was an atheist. My mom looked at me and said, “But you’re not an atheist.” It really surprised me to hear her say that, and I then found myself having to explain to her that I really am. When she finally believed it, she and my dad both started making fun of my atheism rather loudly in a restaurant.


    That made my mom rather angry. I understand that she wants me to get a job, but I don’t want to just outright lie. But because she doesn’t really believe that I’m an atheist, or that I won’t remain an atheist, she still thinks that I should’ve lied. That really bothers me.

    Your mom sounds like a manipulative person who is advocating that you commit fraud against your potential new employer. You have a higher standard of ethics than this, and your honesty is one of the reasons you’re an atheist.

    Because you’re also a decent and loving person, you’ll balk at my description of your mother (who, yes, I’m sure has many fine qualities too).

    But my description is correct.

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