Monday, April 21, 2014

Atheist Teenager Seeks To Explore Religion

Dear Tazi:

I am twelve going on thirteen. All of my life I have been raised an Atheist, but since starting middle school I am starting to question these beliefs. I have friends who are Christian, Jewish, and Islamic; and I am curious about their lives and their religions. They are firm believers of their faith and while they have always respected the fact that I am Atheist, I still feel different.

Whenever we have a tough test, I can see many of my friends bowing their heads in a quick prayer. I am not certain if it is the prayers that help or just their belief in prayer, but they always seem less stressed and manage to do better than they thought they would. When times are tough, they put their faith in their god that things will be okay and have friends praying for them. Again, I am not certain if it is the prayers that work or the sense of community outreach, but these people seem to have a sense of serenity that I lack during my own difficulties.

I would like to explore the idea of religion and spirituality in my life, but I do not know how to tell my parents. I am not looking to join a particular organized religion, but I am curious about god and the idea of a God. I know that my friends would gladly help me on this quest; I am not so certain my parents will approve, though. Do you have any ideas on how to convince them to let me explore these ideas?

Looking Into It

Dear Looking Into It:

Most parents are concerned about their teenaged children losing their religion, not gaining it. Your situation is different than most, so I am glad you have a supportive network of friends to help you through this time and to answer any questions you might have about their own religious beliefs and the place their religion plays in their lives. Take advantage of this support group and soak up as much knowledge as you can; it will help you to decide where you stand on what must be a very confusing – and touchy – subject.

As for how you should approach your parents, it has been my experience that most Atheists tend to have more liberal viewpoints on life. This means that although they may not respect your choice they will not stand in your way of exploring it. This does not mean that your parents will support your choice (i.e. drive you to religious services or even to the library to research various religions), but they may surprise you.

You are approaching a time in your life where you will find yourself parting ways with your parents’ beliefs on a variety of subjects; it is a part of growing up. You may find that your beliefs remain your own, or you may discover yourself circling back to the beliefs with which you were raised. This is all a part of your journey to adulthood, and something every parent comes to expect from their child. When you are ready to make a decision, swallow your fear and approach your parents. The strength of your convictions will give you the strength you need to do this.


P.S. According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, the right to freely express and practice one’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and to change one's religious beliefs is a human right guaranteed to all. Just a bit of trivia to lift your heart!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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