Help please!

post by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T15:51:15.873Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 51 comments

Yesterday my mom noticed (at a funeral) that I wasn't praying or participating in the mass. She confronted me about it, and I told her that no, I am not Catholic. Apparently it's sinking in and she's a bit hysterical... crying and screaming that she doesn't know me anymore.

What do I do? I don't know how to react/behave when she's doing this. It's like she wants me to feel like I'm doing something wrong, but it isn't working, so she's getting hysterical.

 

*edit*

I gave her a hug when she calmed down and told her I love her. That seemed to help, a little. Based on her previous behavior in situations where I've done something "wrong," she will (in the future) make barbs and slight passes at my beliefs. (Already she made one: insisting my love of science is causing my social anxiety disorder.) The advice given in the comments is really helpful. I plan on making the most of it.

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comment by grouchymusicologist · 2012-06-06T16:45:18.668Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You know, this is one of those cases (coming out as GLBT would be another one) where we sometimes have to, in essence, parent our parents. Be the patient grownup while they have their temper tantrum, and after they calm down be willing to forgive the hurtful, ridiculous things they said. I think it's more than reasonable to say you'll only talk to her about this when she can be at least calm about it. Encourage her to ask you questions and answer them honestly. Reassure her that nothing about your relationship with her has changed -- she has no need to feel that she doesn't know you.

If this is really a shock to her, it might be a while before she can get used to it, and again, you have to be the patient grownup during that time. But she will probably get used to it eventually. And if after a reasonable length of time she is still giving you grief about it and making it clear that she doesn't accept you, you can let her know that she needs to hurry up and get over it or else she will not see you as often. (All this is entirely parrotting Dan Savage's advice to people whose parents don't accept their sexual orientation: as he says, the only leverage you ultimately have over your parents is your presence in their lives.)

I'll add this: in your conversations with your mother, this is not the right time to argue for the factual correctness of atheism. Even if you don't really believe this, I would emphasize that religion is a very personal matter and that you are just the kind of person to whom religion doesn't seem right. That way you're making it about you, not attacking the foundations of her own beliefs. (Furthermore, this can help reassure her that she didn't fail as a parent -- you were just not the kind of person who could have been given a Catholic education that would really stick.) Ultimately, having close personal relationships with people who you really disagree with about religion has to involve agreeing to disagree and to compartmentalize some things, and also at times to leave some topics off the table for discussion. Obviously, this isn't the way we'd behave in a society of pure rationalists, but the fact is that we do often want to have those relationships and so allowances must be made.

Lastly: you've done the right thing by -- and sorry to keep using this metaphor -- coming out of the closet. Society as a whole is bettered when religious people think of atheists not as a faceless, scary group but as a group of normal people including their own friends and/or children.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T16:56:09.204Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Probably not the best time for factual correctness, true. I'll try what you suggested.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-06-06T16:19:01.234Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The precise answer depends a lot on your specific circumstances, your age, relationship to parents.

But one piece of advice I can give, is "Don't Panic". Blood is thicker than water, and you have a lot of time to attempt a working relationship with your parents, even if they know you're an atheist (alas it's not always possible). Just try to avoid confrontation and reassure your mother that you love her whatever she believes. When I had to deal with my "deconversion" (I was Jewish/Orthodox) I basically told my wife relationships have little to do with religion. That prophesy ended up being fulfilled.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T16:34:34.201Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm 19, most of the year I live at college. I told her that it would be impossible to come to a conclusion, that people argue it for years and don't... but she said she couldn't respect my beliefs, and that my opinions offend her. She's calmed down now, and made an attempt at reinstating her authority over me (shooting down my ideas on another topic, and giving me advice on a specific friendship), but I know she will bring it up later. She insists that I justify my beliefs, but when I do, she gets really offended, and says that I place to much emphasis on "that science shit." We're operating on entirely different value systems. The problem is not that she thinks I don't love her, and I DID tell her I respect that she believes something other than what I believe, but that she wants me to belong to an organized religion.

Replies from: David_Gerard, wedrifid, None, None
comment by David_Gerard · 2012-06-06T16:55:31.225Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the short term: leave her to it.
In the medium term: leave her to it.
In the longer term: leave her to it.

You are not going to come to any philosophical agreement. You don't believe in magic, she does. You not believing in magic is enough to shake her world view, and she's already taking this out on you. She's already behaving in a toxic manner, as if that'll change your mind. It won't, any more than you'll change hers. Refuse to engage.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-08T08:12:55.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

She's calmed down now, and made an attempt at reinstating her authority over me (shooting down my ideas on another topic, and giving me advice on a specific friendship)

Wow, you're patient. This behavior would be enough for me to disengage from conversations and erect clear boundaries but you're presenting it as almost a desired return to a norm.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-08T19:50:50.351Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I had done that, it would have only enraged her. She needed to feel in control again.

Replies from: ciphergoth, Alicorn
comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-09T13:23:55.999Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I think it's tempting when responding to accounts like yours to signal our fierce independence by saying "don't let her treat you like that! Tell her where to stick it!". Your course of action - letting her get her way some of the time and patiently helping her when she gets upset about your beliefs, while leaving her her own beliefs - is very likely to be the wise one, especially if you're financially dependent on her.

I hope you're able to be more independent soon!

comment by Alicorn · 2012-06-08T19:55:44.404Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think people who need to feel in control of me are the least entitled to feel that way.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-08T20:00:44.017Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Very true. Unfortunately I do not have the financial means to get up and leave, so instead I am attempting to slowly turn a poor relationship into a better one.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T17:15:46.104Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I endorse what Dr. Manhattan, David Gerard, and grouchymusicologist have so far suggested. It's a rough situation and I am very sorry you're going through it. For whatever they're worth, you have my thoughts, empathy, and condolences.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T17:32:38.559Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I appreciate it.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T17:52:25.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

. The problem is not that she thinks I don't love her, and I DID tell her I respect that she believes something other than what I believe, but that she wants me to belong to an organized religion.

Any organized (Christian?) religion or Catholicism specifically?

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:14:02.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Catholicism, specifically. Mainly, she believes that everyone needs god, otherwise they'll lead empty lives.

Replies from: juliawise
comment by juliawise · 2012-07-17T16:57:27.857Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My mother pitched a similar fit when I stopped being Christian. She originally insisted I attend church anyway. She later relented and told me I didn't have to go to church if I agreed to look into other religions (I was 12, so she had more power to mandate stuff like that.) It worked out okay.

I think she needed to know I wasn't lost in a moralless void, and eventually she could see that I still cared about ethics, other people, etc.

comment by jimrandomh · 2012-06-06T17:41:48.417Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yesterday my mom noticed (at a funeral) that I wasn't praying or participating in the mass. She confronted me about it, and I told her that no, I am not Catholic. I am an athiest. Apparently it's sinking in and she's a bit hysterical... crying and screaming because I don't pray- insisting that she doesn't know me anymore.

You can't help her unless you've correctly diagnosed the reason why she's crying, screaming, and being hysterical. You mentioned a funeral. Are you sure this is really about religion?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-06T17:12:54.345Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As it does for grouchymusicologist, the analogy to coming out queer jumps out at me. (When I came out to my mom, she replied "Well, I don't like that at all!" I replied "Yes, I didn't expect that you would." The conversation ended shortly thereafter.)

I pretty much endorse everything everyone here has said, but emphasize the "Don't Panic" response. Stay calm, stay polite, stay centered. A few more thoughts:

  • It is not your job to control your mother's reactions, or her feelings. You are not obligated to feel or think the way that would make her happiest, but neither is she obligated to feel or think the way that would make you happiest. Right now you both feel and think in ways that make one another unhappy, which is unfortunate, but it's something that happens in relationships.

  • Remember that this, too, shall pass.

  • Stay aware of opportunities to improve your relationship with her that don't involve giving up your own integrity, take them when you see them, ignore opportunities to make your relationship worse whenever you can.

  • Remember that you have a lot of power here, although it's highly constrained power. Be consistent in how you use that power and over time you will affect your environment. Reward the behavior you want; ignore the behavior you don't want; over time the pattern of behavior will change. But consistency is key. If you let her control the interaction -- for example, if you end up having an argument when an argument doesn't serve your purposes, simply because she did something that upset you -- then you give up consistency, and you give up those benefits. (If she is consistent and you are not, over time your pattern of behavior will change.)

comment by Emile · 2012-06-06T16:27:26.568Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why not consider prayer like some kind of family tradition, and do it anyway during family occasions? Whether you call it "prayer" or "reflection" or "meditation" or "introspection" doesn't change much.

Most people in my family aren't very devout, but I don't have any problem with going along with the motions of religious ceremony - and it's not hypocrisy, funerals and weddings are big important things that deserve respect - though I won't pretend that I believe in any religion or afterlife.

I consider religious ceremony to be mostly about community building and maintenance, not about the supernatural claims. Are you sure you also want to reject community bonding? I would feel hurt if my a bit kid rejected all family traditions, didn't want to participate in family activities, etc. - your mom is probably hurt for similar reasons.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T16:37:32.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

She wants me to believe that it actually works. It's not that it's a family event, or something we do together. She just wants me to do it on my own and believe I am actually accomplishing something, other than just wishing really hard.

I could concede to the community bonding bits. That may appease her a little bit. Right now she seems to be insistent that I'll change my mind, and this is one of those "phases" people go through.

Replies from: Emile
comment by Emile · 2012-06-06T19:37:14.860Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It may depend on what is meant by "prayer" - I would expect that there are some forms of meditation / introspection / visualization that have benefits, though I don't expect "wishing really hard" to do much good.

I used to meditate every morning - not thinking of anything in particular, just paying attention to thoughts as they pop up and trying to let them go without paying any attention. It's supposed to make one better at noticing what one's brain is actually doing (when you're flinching at an idea, keeping yourself from thinking of something etc.) though I haven't noticed any benefits myself, and am not particularly convinced by the evidence. But I wouldn't mind meditating weekly if it would make my family happy.

I also read that imagining practicing a skill actually helps one learn it (though not as much as actually doing it), and that would be the best thing that could be remotely described as "wishing really hard" that is still actually useful.

I know this is some form of rationalisation - looking for a behavior that could be described as "prayer" while still being useful, and that this isn't as good as "looking for useful behaviors, regardless of what they're called".

Replies from: Michelle_Z, TheOtherDave
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:54:25.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To be specific, my mom believes prayer is sitting down and asking god for something (like for her daughter to enjoy college life, etc) and expecting that prayer to be answered. Since I'm happy at college, she assumes it's god. She fails to notice all of the times she's prayed and nothing has happened.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-06T19:54:21.081Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would not surprise me to observe that spending more time than I currently do carefully visualizing what I want would correlate with getting more of what I want.

Were I to observe that, I would probably explain it to myself by positing that, having primed the awareness of it, I increased my likelihood of noticing opportunities for it when they come by, and thereby increased my likelihood of obtaining it.

Someone with different prior beliefs might explain the same observation by positing that their visualization directly caused the thing they wanted to manifest, without an intervening behavioral change on their part.

That second thing seems pretty close to what people mean by intercessory prayer (though they frequently posit a Divine or otherwise not-ordinarily-perceivable agent mediating the result).

comment by Emile · 2012-06-06T19:59:39.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might also want to get in contact with a local Catholic priest: he probably has way more experience dealing with that kind of situation than either of you, and your mom is more likely to take what he says seriously. You may have to shop around a bit to find one who isn't too close-minded (I used to occasionally chat with a Catholic priest back at my university, he was pretty open minded and willing to talk about religion with an atheist and not get all preachy).

(This may require a reality check from someone who has experience on how Priests handle religious disagreement in a family - are they good mediators, or do they make things worse?)

Replies from: handoflixue, reup, wedrifid, Solvent
comment by handoflixue · 2012-06-07T18:14:40.982Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Anecdotal personal experience)

I've found that authorities who share a philosophy with parents, have a fairly strong tendency to side with said parents. You'll definitely want to do some "shopping around" if possible, but be prepared for it to turn around and bite you as an "intervention to save your soul" too.

Not to say it's not worth doing, just be aware that there's a risk it doesn't work out as expected!

Replies from: Emile
comment by Emile · 2012-06-08T08:52:44.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, that's definitely a risk, but at least if the priest goes all "Let's save your soul!" mode, Michelle can fight back without fear of damaging a relationship she cares about. Well, except if the priest's strategy is to egg on Michelle's mom into being even more annoying.

comment by reup · 2012-06-07T21:25:13.336Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another version of this is to offer to go talk with a priest/pastor yourself. One thing this does is to buy you time while your mom adjusts. If you find a decent one to talk with (iIf your church has one, sometimes youth pastors are a bit more open), the conversation won't be too unpleasant (don't view it as convincing them, just lay out your reasoning).

Your mom may be pleased that someone "higher up" is dealing with you. Also, when they fail to convince you, it helps her to let go of the idea that there was something more she could have done.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-08T08:32:04.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might also want to get in contact with a local Catholic priest: he probably has way more experience dealing with that kind of situation than either of you, and your mom is more likely to take what he says seriously.

I recommend not doing this. Why on earth would you reinforce entrenchment in a power structure that is already antagonistic to your interest?

comment by Solvent · 2012-06-06T23:05:44.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This might be a really good idea.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T17:49:22.413Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yesterday my mom noticed (at a funeral) that I wasn't praying or participating in the mass.

This is remarkably bad timing if it was someone your mother or you cared about. I understand what it is like not wanting to keep up pretences. But just looking at it from a consequentalist standpoint, calmly approaching your mother on a different day and explaining that you don't believe in God and don't wish to keep up pretences (while still being ok with going to weddings and funerals or celebrating Christmas ect. as you seem to say in a different post) seems a much better course of action than not participating in the "religious" components of such an event.

If you weren't planning on coming clean with your beliefs, you shouldn't have changed your behaviour in such a obvious way.

Replies from: Michelle_Z, Kaj_Sotala
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:16:52.375Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It wasn't anyone she knew well. It was an Aunt's brother on my dad's side, who is not related to us, nor did my mom know him well personally.

I stopped participating in Mass over a year ago. She took a bad time to notice.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T19:20:11.455Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That puts you in a better position than I originally feared.

She took a bad time to notice.

Humans are really annoying that way.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:23:20.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hah. I know, right?

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-06-06T18:58:43.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm pretty sure that Michelle realizes this by now.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T19:12:49.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't mean to rub it in, I really hope it didn't come of like that. I was just making the reasoning explicit for other people in similar circumstances who might be reading this thread. While this isn't that big a thread so far, one shouldn't forget that what is written on the internet stays around for a long time.

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala, Michelle_Z
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-06-06T19:41:16.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, good point. I didn't think of that.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:55:05.458Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I knew you weren't. It's a fair point.

comment by jsalvatier · 2012-06-06T16:36:58.986Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe give her a hug, and tell her you love her and you're the same daughter/son you always were and that you want to talk about this, but only if she's calm and respectful about it. Then go to your room or otherwise leave to let her think about it.

(don't take my advice too seriously, I don't have any actual experience in this area).

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-08T01:01:22.814Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tried that, actually. It helped.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-06-06T17:52:20.159Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A good heuristic (whatever else is going on) is to never argue when emotions are high, instead focusing on restoring the calm. Only talk seriously (i.e. present your abstract arguments or build up the requisite concepts for communicating future arguments) when emotions are in check.

If it's a hopeless project to change someone's mind (as it seems here from what you wrote in the comments) and you're not in a position to enforce your own authority, work on developing tolerance and avoid brandishing the behaviors (statements) that trigger intolerance (while tolerance is not yet developed, which may be never). For example, when asked to justify "objectionable" beliefs like atheism, you may try invoking relativistic arguments or uncertainty to belittle your own position (moving it to a closed magisterium, revoking its pretensions of universality or objectivity) and to "accept" their position (or "point of view", in more relativistic language), instead of defending your own position. In other words, present your "objectionable" beliefs as low-status, so that a higher-or-similar-status person doesn't feel threatened (offended) by them and doesn't hurt you (in some sense) as a result.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-06T17:57:39.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do other family members know about this? If they do what is their take? Your father for example, if your mother is married. Brothers or sisters if you have any? Anyone very close to your mother might provide you with more options.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-06T19:22:11.483Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have no idea about dad. He claims to absolutely hate the church, but still attends mass and sees it as a way of life. The rest of my family are devout Catholics.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-06-07T15:15:57.293Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I obviously don't know enough about stereotypical Italian families to think clearly about them-- I wouldn't have thought that cursing (men cursing in front of women?) and fashionable clothes were issues.

Replies from: Michelle_Z
comment by Michelle_Z · 2012-06-08T00:58:54.289Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cursing in general. If I were to curse in front of my grandparents or extended family, I would receive a stern lecture and a shocked gasp. The same is expected of both of my parents. My dad doesn't particularly care and does what he wants, which earns him a bit of disdain. I meant fashionable as in provocative. I was being a bit vague, on purpose. It's awkward.

comment by shminux · 2012-06-06T18:28:13.854Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

insisting that she doesn't know me anymore

To take the edge off it, among other things, you may want to assure her that your values have not changed, so she does know you almost as well as before. You still love her and the rest of the family, you still grieve for the person who passed away, you do not steal or lie or "sin" in whatever other ways, at least not any more than before your deconversion. Stay friendly and positive, ignore any hurtful remarks you will get (if you have trouble with it, think about it from her point of view: her world has just been turned upside down, no wonder she has trouble staying calm).

Once she is ready to talk, you can find out whether your faith is more important to her than, say, your integrity (discussing an example of a devout Catholic who committed a transgression can be useful there). Encourage her to discuss the issue with her pastor, maybe. Under no circumstances you should be sucked into discussing the merits of Christianity, not at this stage.

It happens on occasion that a person considers atheism (or homosexuality) a sin worse than murder, in which case you may end up severing your relationship for a time.

comment by Never_Seen_Belgrade · 2012-06-10T18:14:40.022Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It would be useful to others in similar positions if you came back to this after some time and said what you did and how it went. Maybe a month or a year.

comment by aelephant · 2012-06-06T23:59:43.216Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If she doesn't understand how you could come to reject Catholicism, perhaps it is true that she doesn't know you and maybe never really did. You could explore her model of you with her and find out who she thinks you were and who she thinks you are now. What is it, specifically, that she is scared of? Does she have some rational fears or are they all irrational? For example, is she afraid that you're going to go to Hell when you die (irrational fear) or is she afraid that your philosophical differences will strain the relationship (maybe more rational)?

comment by asparisi · 2012-06-06T19:36:34.022Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would recommend the following steps:

1) Find her objections 2) Assure her that you understand that her objections feel valid

You can, if you like, try to explain why her objections don't feel valid to you (unless of course, they do) but try to keep the conversation away from facts, premises, or rationality. The odds are very high that she is not becoming hysterical about you becoming an atheist because of some rational process. The odds are also very high that she cares more about feeling listened to than about your atheism. Try to steer clear from why you are an atheist: don't invite an argument where there doesn't have to be one. It likely won't be a productive argument if you have it. Definitely steer clear of directly attacking Catholicism: the odds are high that she has heard such attacks before and it could cause a negative social grouping that it doesn't sound like you want.

I'll leave you with one thing that can help if you become frustrated with her that I learned from sales training: objections=interest. It can feel like your mom doesn't value your welfare or well-being, especially if you believe religion was doing bad things for you. But if she genuinely didn't value your well-being, she would be unlikely to bring up an objection to your atheism. She might be mistaken about what is good for you, but she's likely very scared and doesn't know how to handle this. Anything she says that is hurtful is probably best attributed to that fear.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-08T08:15:39.511Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What do I do? I don't know how to react/behave when she's doing this.

Walk away. Definitely don't engage or react emotionally, that just rewards the codependency.

The other option it may be too late for: Lie. When in Rome do as Roman (Catholics) do. Sharing details about your models of reality is something you do for your own benefit with people who can interact with it in a way you consider useful. It's not something you are obliged to do with people who are unstable, controlling and ineffectually manipulative.

comment by duckduckMOO · 2012-06-08T17:46:32.267Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

First off, my advice to you is to stop loving her and destroy your relationship with her because she sounds like a terrible person. "Already she made one: insisting my love of science is causing my social anxiety disorder". That's just nasty. As an atheist that's bad enough but for a christian to do that demonstrates some really deep set cruelty/selfishness or just incredible disrespect for you personally. It sounds like she's either a bad person, below the intelligence threshold for personhood, or believes she owns her kids all of which should be dealbreakers (though the last one might be fixable.)

But maybe you don't share my values or maybe she is somehow a decent person or whatever so if you want to maintain the relationship I just want to comment on part of what the otherdave said.

Theotherdave said

"•Remember that you have a lot of power here, although it's highly constrained power. Be consistent in how you use that power and over time you will affect your environment. Reward the behavior you want; ignore the behavior you don't want; over time the pattern of behavior will change. But consistency is key. If you let her control the interaction -- for example, if you end up having an argument when an argument doesn't serve your purposes, simply because she did something that upset you -- then you give up consistency, and you give up those benefits. (If she is consistent and you are not, over time your pattern of behavior will change.)"

She sounds like an authoritarian psychopath so this doing this might risk your relationship if she decides this is an attempt to undermine her authority but life is so much easier without an authoritarian psycopath around you thinking you are their underling so worst case scenario you are better off. I advise you to make no concessions though and that includes so much as feeling guilty or feeling like throwing her a bone when she's wronged you. As well as controlling your anger it's also very important to not make concessions out of pity. Don't let her blackmail you by suffering as hard as she can. That's a negative sum game. You (and maybe even her) will suffer a lot more in the long term if you cause her to keep doing things you hate by being too compassionate.

An easy way to keep track of how you are doing things is to think about how she might interpret any on topic interaction with you as setting a precedent. If you accidentally set a bad precedent break it asap. It's easier the earlier you do it.

You don't necessarrilly have to stop at ignoring behaviour you don't like. If you punish it, without signalling too obviously that you are deliberately punishing it (e.g. by arguing with her when she does something that upsets you.) and without offending her so she makes a point of doing it more her behaviour should change quicker. Ignoring behaviour is no detterent at all to many people. This doesn't have to be as deliberate as theotherdave suggests. Just get mad and resent her when she does bad things and be glad when she is nice.

I don't know specifics though so you'll have to judge that on your own (e.g. if your parents might throw you out, or kill and eat you, or whatever, you might be better off lying a little) But whatever you do don't compromise yourself. If you can lie that's always an option but if you can't lie don't half convince yourself of something it would be convienient to be able to claim.

All of that advice is based on the assumption that her worry is, at least in part that you are not demonstrating in group loyalty, agreeableness and the proper deference to her authoritay by believing silly things (which it almost certainly is).

It is possible that a large part of her fear is genuinely that she is worried you will go to hell or you have a god shaped hole in your heart. If you do some research and she doesn't consider it beneath her to learn facts from you, you should be able to convince her that there is no basis for hell in the original bible. It's a medieval invention, basically. If she does consider it beneath her to give what you say fair consideration do not present her with any arguments. Have someone "authoritative" that doesn't believe in hell or doesn't believe in the usually claimed entry condition of unbelief tell her so or else she might reject the belief that there is no hell at all times in the future on the basis that it came from you first.

There's also the argument that the bible is unreliable. Even if it was written originally as God's word there have been a lot of modifications by fallible humans. Is it really plausible that a good God, a being worthy of worship, would commit people to eternal suffering on the basis of their beliefs? I don't know how to convince her you don't have a god shaped hole in your heart. You don't sound too suggestible but watch out for people trying to convince you you do have a god shaped hole in your heart.

Replies from: TheOtherDave
comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-08T18:08:45.135Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since much of this is framed as an extension to my own comments, I feel somewhat obligated to say explicitly that I reject much of this.

Replies from: duckduckMOO
comment by duckduckMOO · 2012-06-08T20:42:21.257Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I shouldn't have done that. It's not really an extension is it. i've changed it to "comment".