My parents were crazy drug-fueled alcoholics in the early days of my youth. Mom was 19 and unmarried when she learned she was pregnant with me. For the wedding two weeks later, my mom had to dye her blue mohawk brown again and part it down the middle so that it looked halfway decent in the wedding photos. She used to tell me, “You were such a good baby. You slept through all the clubs.” Eventually, my parents moved away from poor rural mountain country to the armpit of America, where they were still poor but my dad at least had job opportunities. It was there that my parents discovered God and pulled a complete 180.
My parents became every stereotype of Christian you can think of. No television in the house, no secular music, attending church at least three days a week, always proselytizing, praying for people in the middle of the grocery store, creationist, conservative, and Biblical literalists. They had found forgiveness and salvation despite their pasts and they wanted everyone to know about this amazing God they had discovered. Of course, they were also young and dumb so they did things like tell their family that they were going to hell. Some of those burned bridges will never be repaired. My parents believed it all though, with every fiber of their being. My mother, to this day, is thoroughly convinced of a six-day young Earth creation story and anything contrary is an affront to God.
All of this is a simplified background into understanding why a person would raise their children to believe in something that can seem almost like brainwashing. And to be fair, there are some aspects of my youth that were brainwashing, but it wasn’t because people were being manipulative or had cruel intentions, it was because they believed what they believed so completely and were sure that what they were teaching children was the right way. The only way. They were not only “training their child up in the way they should go”, but they were also saving their eternal soul. That’s some pretty powerful motivation right there.
Although I can’t say that everything I learned growing up was terrible or that I had a bad upbringing, here are some of the more negative takeaways:
Despite all this craziness, within the midst of it, I was also being taught things like compassion, service, helping those less fortunate, living in peace with the people around me, being kind. Not that one can’t learn those things in other places, but it wasn’t all bad. It’s what I have to remind myself too when I think about the scientific neglect I got in my education or the lies that were told about LGBTQ peoples. It’s how I stay at peace with my mother even when she says bullshit like, “Discrimination against black people is wrong because it is about skin color and they can’t change that, but it’s not wrong against gay people because they choose to be gay.” I think she is dead wrong, but having been raised by this person who believes this crazy crap, I can at least understand her viewpoint enough to just walk away. What’s the point in arguing?
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.