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How do I tell my Athiest parents I'm a Christian?

I have recently become a Christian but my parents are Athiests. My best friend is also an Athiest, but I've already told her I'm a Christian and she's fine with that. That's why I told her first. I trust her. I haven't told my parents though. My dad is really strict about being an Athiest, and he really looks down on the school I go to because it is a Christian school.​

My mum doesn't really think much about religions, but she's not a Christian. She says 'I really wish there was a God, it'd be great if all the bad people were punished and went to Hell, but I don't think there is one.'

​I really want to tell them I'm a Christian because when I talk about my religion to my best friend I'm always worried my parents or someone who might tell my parents will hear. My mum will probably not say much about my religion, but my dad will probably find out through her and he'll try his very, very, level best to convert me to Athiest and his best is very high. If I don't convert, he'll keep talking for ages!

​Have you got any idea how I could tell them (or one of them) or should I just keep it hidden?

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Sam

Hi there,

It's common for children to grow up with their parents' beliefs, but at some point everyone has to start to think for themselves and decide what they believe. What's important to remember is that you don't choose what you believe, just like you can't choose how you feel.

Everyone has a right to believe in whichever religion they wish - including not having any religion at all. Nobody should make you feel bad about yourself because of your faith. Even though your family doesn't believe in a god, that doesn't change the fact that you do. Standing up for that is a difficult choice to make and every situation is different.

Whether it's telling atheist parents that you believe in a god or telling religious parents that you don't, it can be a difficult conversation to have. It may leave you feeling like you've let your parents down, or that you've somehow hurt them. But you don't control how convinced you are about the existence of god - you either are or you're not. And you can't control how people react to your beliefs - that's not your fault and it's up to them to deal with whatever feelings they have.

I know for some people it might put them in danger if they go against their parent's religion or beliefs. I can't tell you exactly what to do here, so it's important to decide whether being open about your faith is better or worse than keeping an important part of yourself a secret from your parents.

One final thing to consider is whether you'd want to risk your parents finding out accidentally, or whether it'd be better to tell them yourself. It could help to see how other young people talked about their religion with their families on the Childline message boards. You can also talk with our counsellors if you'd like to do that.

I hope that helps, thanks for your letter.

Sam

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