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Condescension and intolerance from adults - Comments

zirconPhil's Avatar Comment 1 by zirconPhil

Just a word of advice, don't expect them to suddenly listen to you once you are an adult. From experience, these kinds of people are always better than others in their own minds, and will dismiss what you have to say for any reason/excuse.

As for books, you could get e-books and back them up on a hidden USB key?

Best of luck.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:28:08 UTC | #563240

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 2 by Shawn Lawrence

Thank you for the response, but don't websites generally require a credit card for that sort of purchase? I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to obtain them if that is the case.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:31:31 UTC | #563241

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 3 by crookedshoes

Shawn,

When, exactly, will I be allowed to participate in such discourse?

When you agree with them.

Your situation is rife with heartache and could, boil over. I am an "adult", i put quotes there because most of the time I do not act close to being an adult. The thing is, I am essentially an older version of myself at 17, a little more educated, a little more reading under my belt.

I have no magic wisdom for you. Which, highlights your thesis above. I am no wiser, smarter, or better than you because of my age. I may know more about genetics than you. You may know more about computers than I. But it is not because of our ages, but rather because of our interests.

Any parent that would throw out any book that their child cherished (under any circumstance) is doing a huge disservice to the kid AND TO THEMSELVES.

My parents found the Malleus Malficarum in my room (and lots of "magazines"). They were like "shit, now what do we do?" My Dad simply sat and talked and listened.

That is what is missing from your parents approach. I have no advice. I will simply tell you that you and your opinions are #1 welcome here. and #2 you are not alone in your frustration, there are tons of people struggling under the same burden.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:31:54 UTC | #563242

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 4 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 3 by crookedshoes : When you agree with them.

Yes, I suppose that's true. I shouldn't really expect anything of them, although it is odd that they would react like this because they consider themselves 'Liberals'. One would think they would be all for free and independent thought.

Again, I appreciate the response, crookedshoes. I may try hiding my books under my bed, actually. :]

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:42:14 UTC | #563244

Drizzt Do'Urden's Avatar Comment 5 by Drizzt Do'Urden

I am more of a coward than you are. I just never talk to my family about religion directly. I do point out their faulty reasoning with regard to other subjects, and that gives me great satisfaction.

I have heard a different but similar phrase, "Young people just haven't suffered enough to know anything about life." Since I do not get into the details of what I read that same person bought me a collected writings of Nietzsche book. So the cowardly way worked for me pretty well.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:48:58 UTC | #563247

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 6 by Shawn Lawrence

I tend to respond to things that I believe are incorrect, unjust, or immoral regardless of who is saying them. It's gotten me into a fair bit of trouble. Perhaps I should take a more reserved route?

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:53:16 UTC | #563251

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 7 by El Bastardo

Must be a Catholic thing, I was raised on a diet of guilt and intellectual oppression. I remember at 7 asking "If we're made in god's image and we are descended from apes does that mean god looks like an ape?"

To my 7 year old mind a perfectly reasonable question, and the answer they gave me was "SHUT UP YOU!" Nice.

Of course part of any adolescent life it the struggle for independence, and some parents will allow their offspring to grow and develop, some will try to force and mould, and not just in religious matters.

Firstly, some advise which you can take or leave. Don't rebel too hard, there's nothing wrong with getting present, at any time of the year, and of course you never know when you may rely on said family later in life.

From my experience I had to suck it down, pretend to get along, and then move out. It's amazing how better you get along with your parents when you don't see them.

Ultimately, I can only quote Shakespeare "this above all, to thine own self be true"

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:53:41 UTC | #563252

josephor's Avatar Comment 8 by josephor

I imagine that your parents think that you are just going through a "phase" and it will pass, well they're only half right you are going through a phase but it is not going to pass. I cannot give you advise but I can tell you of one of the questions that kept annoying me through out my life. How come everybody seem to understand me but my own parents do not ? It is because they're your parents and they love you and they want the best for you.....but that does not mean they're right.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:55:28 UTC | #563254

danconquer's Avatar Comment 9 by danconquer

Hello Shawn,

When someone exhibits dazzling intellectual ability (of the sort which is immediately evident from only a few paragraphs of your style of writing) condescension is the easiest blunt instrument with which elders will try to beat you back into your place. It conveniently avoids the need to engage in anything as bothersome as 'thought' whilst providing desperately needed reassurance to those doing the condescending who feel threatened by displays of intellect greater than their own.

How does one cope? Arguably, this place, right here, I mean The Internet is arguably the greatest tool at your disposal. As indeed it is for any member of humanity around the world right now, from the slightly marginalised to the severely oppressed, who for the first time in history will never, ever be subjected to the crushing isolation which has tormented countless generations previous, so long as they can use a computer.

Some people are too old and too stubborn to change. And with such people it's a waste of your own precious time and energy trying even to make them more open-minded, let alone overhaul opinions. Although it's nice (because it's easier) to maintain good relations with family/parents when possible, you don't owe them anything and if necessary you just have to get along with your own life without them. But at 17 you may find that, just for a couple of more years, it is easier not to 'rock the boat' until you are in a more materially secure position, and there's nothing wrong with that if you think you can put up with it.

All the best.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:56:22 UTC | #563255

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 10 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 7 by El Bastardo : Firstly, some advise which you can take or leave. Don't rebel too hard, there's nothing wrong with getting present, at any time of the year, and of course you never know when you may rely on said family later in life.

Ah, right! Tuition will certainly be something that I'll need assistance with. Conveniently you answered the question I posted only a moment ago.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:57:32 UTC | #563257

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 11 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 9 by danconquer : When someone exhibits dazzling intellectual ability (of the sort which is immediately evident from only a few paragraphs of your style of writing) condescension is the easiest blunt instrument with which elders will try to beat you back into your place.

How flattering. I don't consider myself to be 'dazzlingly' intelligent, but I certainly appreciate the comment. And yes, it appears I was right (if this pattern is indicative of anything) I should try to avoid conflict for the time being.

Comment 8 by josephor : I imagine that your parents think that you are just going through a "phase" and it will pass, well they're only half right you are going through a phase but it is not going to pass. I cannot give you advise but I can tell you of one of the questions that kept annoying me through out my life. How come everybody seem to understand me but my own parents do not ? It is because they're your parents and they love you and they want the best for you.....but that does not mean they're right.

Yes, you're probably right - about the former and the later. Thank you for that refreshing perspective of why they act like they do. I never thought of it in that way, despite how obvious it seems.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:09:01 UTC | #563263

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 12 by AtheistEgbert

I suggest throwing their bibles away in revenge. I'm probably not the best person to ask for advice, as I'm a life-long rebel. You can still love your parents and respect them, but that does not mean they own your body or your mind.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:11:34 UTC | #563264

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 13 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 12 by AtheistEgbert : I suggest throwing their bibles away in revenge. I'm probably not the best person to ask for advice, as I'm a life-long rebel. You can still love your parents and respect them, but that does not mean they own your body or your mind.

Oh my. What a fitting response! I'm sure I would forever be in exile if I did that though. But it's fun to entertain the thought.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:27:49 UTC | #563276

Hammert1me's Avatar Comment 14 by Hammert1me

Welcome to the battle you will likely be fighting the rest of your life. In your position, you have to plan long term. The first thing to do is to quietly establish your territory without entering theirs.

1/ You have to loose your victim complex. Your parents may have deprived you of some paper and ink. Do not argue. Do not fight back. You can only be a victim if you act like one. Do not get emotional. Do not verbally attack them. Do not walk in on them watching a nativity flim and say 'Did you know all this was based on Mithras/Horus? You lot are wasting your time'. Stop doing that 'I'm 17 and depressed and angry' thing, it's irritating and pointless, ask anyone older than 20.

Do not broach the subject again. If they ask you, say 'I still not religious, but I love you mum'. Then hug her.

If you want to read, get texts from the library.

2/ Never, ever, use the word 'Atheist'. It will make them crazy, to a religious person it's like hearing 'Yeah, God exists; but fuck him, what did he ever do for me. I'm off to do blowjobs for crack'. Use 'humanist', 'non-religous', 'secularist', or even 'not sure yet'.

Empathise with them. Your parents want to keep you safe, that's why they taught you all that 'slow and steady wins the race' stuff (It doesn't. Winnners of races normally move very fast). You leaving the church is worse than commiting suicide to them.

This is about them time in your life when you realise your parents are very flawed. You may resent the life you have lived with them for the last two decades. Don't, it happened, you can't change it. Play the smart game - rebuild a relationship, and mabye change their mind when you can negociate from a position of strength. They are the real victims here, they have a destructive mutating mind virus.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:33:34 UTC | #563278

Tord M's Avatar Comment 15 by Tord M

It seems to me that you are absolutely qualified to discuss the topics you talk about. The people you have been discussing with probably ran out of arguments and used their age or alleged "life experience" as a last resort, because they could not produce any valid rebuttal.

You should take it as a complement that you have knowledge and opinions on, and are able to discuss, topics that some people don't expect a 17 year old to handle. And that you apparently have gathered more insight on these topics during your 17 years, than they have during their 17 x N years.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:39:23 UTC | #563280

Jay G's Avatar Comment 16 by Jay G

I'm a little puzzled. You are 17 and yet your parents were able to confiscate your books? Aren't your books your own private property (we're pretty big on private property in the USA). I would think you could drawn the line at your own personal possessions.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:41:54 UTC | #563282

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 17 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 14 by Hammert1me : They are the real victims here, they have a destructive mutating mind virus.

Indeed. I appreciate the advice, Hammert1me.

Comment 15 by Tord M : It seems to me that you are absolutely qualified to discuss the topics you talk about. The people you have been discussing with probably ran out of arguments and used their age or alleged "life experience" as a last resort, because they could not produce any valid rebuttal.

You should take it as a complement that you have knowledge and opinions on, and are able to discuss, topics that some people don't expect a 17 year old to handle. And that you apparently have gathered more insight on these topics during your 17 years, than they have during their 17 x N years.

I suppose I should. The way that you worded this reminded me of the criticism Mr. Dawkins faced after the publication of The God Delusion regarding his 'lack of expertise in theology'.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:51:10 UTC | #563291

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 18 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 16 by Jay G : I'm a little puzzled. You are 17 and yet your parents were able to confiscate your books? Aren't your books your own private property (we're pretty big on private property in the USA). I would think you could drawn the line at your own personal possessions.

Well, what would you propose I do? I cannot think of a response that wouldn't have adverse ramifications.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:55:05 UTC | #563293

Freethinker15's Avatar Comment 19 by Freethinker15

Hey Shawn,

Unfortuantely, it doesn't change with age. I am quite a bit older and most of my family adopt the same reasoning as your parents. Consequently, I've learnt to shut up about such things and accept that I'm in the intellectual wilderness when it comes to the real world and religion. Good luck.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:57:45 UTC | #563297

Jay G's Avatar Comment 20 by Jay G

Comment 18 by Shawn Lawrence :

Comment 16 by Jay G : I'm a little puzzled. You are 17 and yet your parents were able to confiscate your books? Aren't your books your own private property (we're pretty big on private property in the USA). I would think you could drawn the line at your own personal possessions.

Well, what would you propose I do? I cannot think of a response that wouldn't have adverse ramifications.

I'm not sure. But I MIGHT say something like "Folks, I will keep my thoughts to myself, but I must insist that you respect my personal property. My books belong to me and at my age, I think I'm entitled to have my personal property respected"..

I don't know if it will work. I don't know your parents. Take it as a friendly suggestion from a 50+ father of 5.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 20:06:08 UTC | #563302

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 21 by Shawn Lawrence

Comment 19 by Freethinker15 : Unfortuantely, it doesn't change with age. I am quite a bit older and most of my family adopt the same reasoning as your parents. Consequently, I've learnt to shut up about such things and accept that I'm in the intellectual wilderness when it comes to the real world and religion. Good luck.

I appreciate the response, Freethinker15.

Comment 20 by Jay G :I'm not sure. But I MIGHT say something like "Folks, I will keep my thoughts to myself, but I must insist that you respect my personal property. My books belong to me and at my age, I think I'm entitled to have my personal property respected"..

I don't know if it will work. I don't know your parents. Take it as a friendly suggestion from a 50+ father of 5.

All right. Thank you! Although, to be honest, I'm not sure what state my books are in, or even if they can be salvaged.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 20:12:53 UTC | #563305

ccw95005's Avatar Comment 22 by ccw95005

Shawn, your question boils down to: How can I deal with parents who don't treat me right? Almost every young person rebels about something, and there will be conflicts, and it's in the nature of the beast. So it's hard for us to know, here on the distant sidelines, what sort of personalities are involved, whether this is an isolated conflict or part of a more global confrontation - whether you are a general pain in the ass, or not; whether your parents are for the most part unreasonable, or fair.

If this is not part of a generalized butting of heads, my advice to you is: cool your jets. Religion is so important to a lot of people that you're never going to change their minds. I agree that confiscation of the devil's books is over the top and you have a right to be angry. What you should remember is that just because they are unreasonable in this one area doesn't mean that they aren't wonderful people otherwise, just imperfect. Only you can judge that for yourself. Another point is that we shouldn't get too arrogant about the fact that we're right on this issue and they are wrong; there are brilliant people out there who are deeply religious, so belief in God isn't a sign of stupidity - except on this one subject. Your relationship with your family is probably very important to you and worth putting up with a certain amount of guff to maintain.

Yelling and screaming matches don't do anybody any good. Calm and respectful will carry the day.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 20:23:14 UTC | #563312

Reversenorm's Avatar Comment 23 by Reversenorm

When, exactly, will I be allowed to participate in such discourse?

One of two ways, when you insist on it at all costs or when you can trick them into it without them feeling attacked or defensive.

The method I use is to calmly ask questions. Perhaps begin by asking them calmly and nicely why they took your books? What is wrong with you reading them?

I'm not sure what you'll get back from this possibly something like it's lies or we're not going to talk about it.

Just calmly respond with another question. Why do you think the books are filled with lies? Why can't you talk about it?

...but I'm just guessing here I've never had to face a situation like yours.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 20:32:31 UTC | #563314

blitz442's Avatar Comment 24 by blitz442

So by your parents' reckoning, you are old enough to receive the sacrament of confirmation, and have thus reached the age of discretion, but you are not old enough to question the basis of your beliefs?

Are you adopted?

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 20:51:20 UTC | #563320

Callinectes's Avatar Comment 25 by Callinectes

'How does one cope with such tyrannical, oppressive, and intellectually stifling parents?'

Ask them, they deal with god all the time.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:00:28 UTC | #563322

steveb0503's Avatar Comment 26 by steveb0503

It's a process, you have to find a way that's perceived as being you voicing your opinions and NOT as you dissenting from theirs.

I'm 44, have been a non-believer for some twenty three years, and have only recently(last two years or so) begun to strongly voice my opinions on these matters. The ONLY thing I have going for me on this is they DO respect my right to my own opinions, but when they conflict too strongly with theirs, or I even suggest that they might be wrong about theirs, tension builds and I basically get told (or at least it is implied) that the conversation should end.

I have no solid recommendations for you - sorry.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:28:54 UTC | #563334

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 27 by Shawn Lawrence

Again, thank you for the responses, everyone. As for ccw95005, I like to believe that I'm not a "[general] pain in the ass" but, naturally, I'm biased. Though I will acknowledge that I can 'difficult' at times, as the majority of teenagers can be. However, I will certainly try to maintain my composure and act calmly about the issue, as many have suggested I should. I assure you, I'm not the type to vociferously attack anyone, but, as you have all said, I could benefit from taking a more reserved approach.

Comment 24 by blitz442 : So by your parents' reckoning, you are old enough to receive the sacrament of confirmation, and have thus reached the age of discretion, but you are not old enough to question the basis of your beliefs?

Are you adopted?

Not to my knowledge.

Comment 25 by Callinectes :

'How does one cope with such tyrannical, oppressive, and intellectually stifling parents?'

Ask them, they deal with god all the time.

Oh my, what a wonderful remark.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:29:33 UTC | #563335

Foolishfool's Avatar Comment 28 by Foolishfool

I went through a similar experience when I was growing up, not quite as bad as your situation though. I was raised in an Irish Catholic house and my arguments often fell on deaf ears. I was forced to go through Confirmation, a near total waste of 2 years worth of Sundays IMO, but some good did come from the ordeal.

Now to be fair, my parents were not as strict as yours seem to be, but they could not come to terms with the fact that I no longer believed in God, nor could they accept that I thought that going to church was a total waste of time. That is until I thoroughly trounced the nonsense a priest was spouting during one of those confirmation sessions.

It had to do with the 'natural family planning' (aka, pull-n-pray) method of avoiding pregnancy. Within the same lecture, this priest taught that the ONLY reason for sexual intercourse was to produce children, then said that natural family planning was acceptable if couples wished to avoid pregnancy. Of course, being meek as I was, my hand shot up immediately and I asked the priest what the difference was between using a condom and the pull-n-pray method other than reliability of course. Needless to say, he had no answer... at least none that I found acceptable, and I refused to yield to authority, which was the priests main argument.

I wish I could say that class was my last, but, as I was still only 15 at the time I yielded to my parents wishes and was confirmed anyway (I still had to live with them for a few years). Not that it mattered since I considered it a sham-confirmation because it was made under duress. I was lucky that the night I had my argument with the priest was a night in which most of the parents of the students/victims in the confirmation class were attending and I found that most of them sided with me and refused to let the now literally red-faced priest off the hook with his argument from authority. Another small victory for reason.

My main point is, if you find it impossible to just shut-up like I found it impossible to do so, the most effective method I have found of opening debate with a 'hostile' opponent is by asking questions and pointing out flaws in the logic to their answers in the guise of more questions. If you still come up against a wall with your parents then perhaps they are not so sure of their own beliefs, which would explain the book-burning tendency since they obviously felt threatened.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:39:31 UTC | #563342

Shawn Lawrence's Avatar Comment 29 by Shawn Lawrence

Thank you for that intriguing little anecdote, Foolishfool. I'm glad that there are a few in here who can sympathize with me because they've endured similar oppressions.

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 22:07:17 UTC | #563355

Paully from Australia's Avatar Comment 30 by Paully from Australia

It got easier (with my family at least) as I got older, although it took a while, I'm 41 now & it only became easier in the last ten years or so

My mother & sister are still Catholics but if they ever bring up the topic now I point them at good bits of the bible (from an Atheist perspective, anyway - just google the bits about slavery for a start) & suggest they read ALL of the bible & see if they still agree with it (most believers have not read all of their book, so rely on what they are told by their priest.

I can now also drop in the "Do we have to talk about your imaginary friend" when they are talking anything church related.

The killer for my mum (mom to you) is she used to be very quick to criticise other religions - I pointed out she would have different beliefs to her current ones if she was born in ..... (& rattled off a fewe countries, Iran, India, Indonesia) & she sort of got that the first time - since then I tell her to stop criticising other people's imaginary friends as they would not believe in hers either & that shuts her up (on that topic at least)

Good luck - I think you will be in for a tough few years, potentially

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 22:21:45 UTC | #563371