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    Edensmimi's Avatar
    Edensmimi Posts: 105, Reputation: 7
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    #1

    Dec 16, 2013, 09:07 AM
    Baptist Background, Granddaughter says she is atheist
    My Grandaughter is 14 and claims she is aethist, she once attended Church accepted Christ as her Savior etc. It has literally torn my heart apart hearing her say this. We raise all 3 of our grandkids, and she is the oldest. I honestly feel bad for allowing her to participate in the celebration of Jesus Christ Birthday. I have always instilled in all the kids that Christmas is the celebration of Christ Birthday. I have told Eden that she should not get any gifts or be allowed to reap any benefits on Christmas Day. Please help me to determine what is the right thing to do. I am at a loss of how she is acting about it and I have talked till I am tired. She claims she feels this way because God never answers her prayers, I tried to explain about it being in his time, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and please pray for her. If you are going to post any atheist related comments, please save them for yourselves I don't want to hear as to why it is OK for her to be this way, because I will never be convinced.
    ebaines's Avatar
    ebaines Posts: 12,130, Reputation: 1307
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    #2

    Dec 16, 2013, 09:28 AM
    Your granddaughter is only 14, and you can be sure that as she matures her religous thinking will continue to evolve and change, probably several times. Everyone has doubts, and so my suggestion is to let he work it out. Don't punsih her for expressing those doubts. The support of family is critical to the well being of a teenager, so don't be too judgmental, and don't slam doors shut that you may regret later. Remember that much of the trappings of the Christmas season are secular - trees, sharing of presents, etc have nothing to do with religion - and it would be wrong to shut her out of such significant family activities even if she claims to not believe in Jesus Christ. I suggest that you continue to encourage her to attend church regularly, and even if she doesn't actively participate it will give her a chance to learn and evolve.
    Edensmimi's Avatar
    Edensmimi Posts: 105, Reputation: 7
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    #3

    Dec 16, 2013, 09:31 AM
    Thank you so much, it always help to hear from some one that is not emotionally attached ;)
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #4

    Dec 16, 2013, 09:34 AM
    I'm the firstborn of a Lutheran (very conservative branch) pastor and have been through this with my own kids. My suggestion is to take a deep breath and don't let this rattle you. Consider her age (she's trying out her independence and is beginning to explore her expanding world). Consider that she has never known anything else except what her parents have taught her, and now the world is presenting her with new ideas to think about. Give her a chance to chew on those ideas.

    The beliefs and faith she was raised with will always be part of her. Instead of arguing with her, get her to talk about what she is thinking. Again, do not argue with her statements because you will then, for sure, turn her off to religion. Be a good listener. Ask her for ideas on what you can read to further inform you about her thinking. You need to know your "enemy" -- you need to know what atheism is all about.

    You are not going to go along with her but you do want to explore where she is coming from and how her mind is working. My mother has always told me I will get more flies with honey than with vinegar, so don't scold her or be angry at her.

    Meanwhile, continue to pray for her (I will too) and even pray WITH her -- the prayer being for both of you to learn how to understand where each other is coming from and be able to talk gently with each other.

    As for God not answering prayer -- He has three answers I was always told, Yes, No, and Wait. The Wait answer is the hardest one for us to deal with. And after we have waited patiently, His answer may end up to be No. And a No is a tough answer to get, too. The Bible says to pray without ceasing, but it also says that we shouldn't pray for foolish things.

    You have a good relationship with her, so use that as your best way to continue to engage her in conversation about how she thinks and what she believes. But don't criticize or argue or disrespect her thinking. That will work against you -- and will push her away (which you don't want to have happen).

    Does this make sense?

    ***ADDED And don't deprive her of Christmas joy. The Holy Spirit will be working in her heart as she celebrates Christmas with her family and her peers and at church and at home. Don't deprive the Spirit of His tools. Yes, even Christmas gifts and the love that they show are His tools.
    Edensmimi's Avatar
    Edensmimi Posts: 105, Reputation: 7
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    #5

    Dec 16, 2013, 09:38 AM
    Makes perfect sense! Thank you very much, I guess I better get busy wrapping the gifts that I have hidden in my closet :) God Bless You and thank you for your prayers ;)
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #6

    Dec 16, 2013, 10:01 AM
    I'm glad you made that decision!

    You do realize she really has no clue what an atheist is. She probably picked up the word from her friends (who are also doing their own young-teen rebelling). I attended a Christian college, and one of the most interesting things that the freshmen went through was skipping the daily chapel services and not attending Sunday services at the campus congregation. Why did this happen? No one kept attendance records, and It was the first time the freshmen were really away from their homes and parents' rules. It was then logical that they discovered they could do what they wanted without punishment. By sophomore year, the thrill of breaking the rules was gone (no one seemed to care -- maybe it was reverse psychology on the part of the college?), so those same students attended daily chapel and weekly church services -- and joined the choirs and taught Sunday School and got involved in the planning of the chapel services.

    That's why I said, don't make a huge issue of Eden's claim of "atheism."
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #7

    Dec 16, 2013, 11:43 AM
    You do realize she really has no clue what an atheist is.
    Why not? It's a simple concept to grasp.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #8

    Dec 16, 2013, 11:50 AM
    I'm guessing she is just throwing out the word but hasn't really thought all that much about it. (At 14, I wouldn't have.) If God doesn't answer her prayers, she's now become an atheist? "So there, God!"
    She claims she feels this way because God never answers her prayers.
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #9

    Dec 16, 2013, 12:03 PM
    The ratio to prayers made and events unfolding as per the prayer is pretty low and can often be attributed to chance or making your own situation better. She has a legitimate concern.
    Remember: atheism is the default state until we learn otherwise.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #10

    Dec 16, 2013, 12:09 PM
    And God helps those who help themselves.
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #11

    Dec 16, 2013, 12:12 PM
    That's nice sounding. Everyone should indeed work to their own betterment.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #12

    Dec 16, 2013, 01:00 PM
    That's why God isn't answering her prayers (maybe). He wants her to make an effort on her own. Why should He magically do something she can accomplish very nicely for herself? I think I would find out from Eden what her unanswered prayers were for. Turn this into a Socratic exercise?
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #13

    Dec 16, 2013, 01:13 PM
    I don't think we should, she seems very set in her ways.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #14

    Dec 16, 2013, 01:32 PM
    Hmmmm, if she were 64, she might be set in her ways, but at 14?
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #15

    Dec 16, 2013, 02:56 PM
    I'm going to assume you are in the US. So you are torn between wanting her to share your religious beliefs and the rights granted her by the constitution of freedom of religion.

    Frankly, I think you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking of punishing her because she dares to believe something different from you. You should be encouraging her to think for herself, to explore different religions, to find herself, rather that forcing your beliefs on her.

    I am jewish. My daughter had herself baptized at 16. Was I happy about it? No, but if that was what she wanted, then I accepted it.
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #16

    Dec 16, 2013, 03:59 PM
    Hmmmm, if she were 64, she might be set in her ways, but at 14?
    Oh sorry, I thought you were referring to asking the OP. Yes, it would be an interesting exercise to query the teenager.

    I guess it won't surprise you to know that I agree with Scott's post.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 37,769, Reputation: 5427
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    #17

    Dec 16, 2013, 04:01 PM
    I guess it won't surprise you to know that I agree with Scott's post.
    As do I. That is why I posted what I did, trying to find a middle ground between the two generations. (I was once that girl.)
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,318, Reputation: 5972
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    #18

    Dec 16, 2013, 08:26 PM
    The more you demand something, the more you punish a child for something, especially when it's punishing based on a belief, or demanding that she follow your beliefs, the more you will turn her away from any type of religion.

    This is not good parenting.

    She has the right to make up her own mind about religion, and she shouldn't suffer any consequences, any punishment, for simply not believing what you believe. Only cults do that.

    If your goal is to have her hate you, and anything to do with religion, you're going about it the right way. Let her use her mind. The way you're handling this, it's exactly the way I was handled by teachers, and parents of friends. It's the very reason I'm not a Christian today.
    classyT's Avatar
    classyT Posts: 1,555, Reputation: 214
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    #19

    Jan 27, 2014, 10:01 AM
    I will give you my point of view because I am a born again Christian. As heartbroken as you are by her decision the best thing you could do for her is love her. How would Jesus treat her? Would he not let her participate at his birthday party? Of course he would. It is the GOODNESS of God that causes a man/woman to repent. I didn't say that, the bible does. Be good to her, show her UNCONDITIONAL love. No matter what the outcome, you will show her what true Christianity is all about. And listen, I don't say this to sound like it doesn't matter what she believes. IT DOES and I get that. Your job is to love her, accept her ( not her beliefs but her) and let the Holy Spirit woo her back.

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