Grandma was “set in her ways”.

Is being “set in your ways” ever a good enough excuse? Is it best to leave older generations be?

I have a family member who is gay and came out a little over ten years ago. She was nervous and she said she would be okay if our elderly grandma never found out. 

Grandma was conservative — definitely from a different time. She was often racist and sexist. Horrible shit would just fly out of her mouth with absolutely no remorse.  While I had never really heard her say anything homophobic, I feared her reaction. 

Spoiler alert — grandma found out. It was bad but it could have been a lot worse. 

My family member was brave. Grandma died a few years ago and I never told her I’m an atheist or even that I’m not a Christian.

I’m sure lots of people feel like we did — maybe it’s best not to let older generations completely into your personal life. After all, they’re “set in their ways”. 

Do you think this is okay? Better question — who here have grandparents that know they’re an atheist or freethinker?


  1. Bruce says

    Not only should people NOT tell a grandparent, people should not confide in a parent or sibling if there’s even the slightest chance they might share it with another person, until it gets spread to everyone. Not until you are fully independent, both financially and in any other way that matters. Betrayals are rare, but they do happen sometimes. Person A may trust B, who thinks C won’t be too upset. Then next think you know, C forces the family to stop helping with the nonconformist’s college or other expenses. Or, they get home and find all their things thrown onto the lawn and have nowhere to sleep that night. While it’s rare, I don’t want to be responsible for getting people to take such risks without full preparations for such scenarios. We can’t know all the family dynamics, and even people A B and C in the above scenario might not realize how C will feel until it is too late. It was wise not to tell grandma about being a non-Christian. What if the news was such a shock to her that she had died of a heart attack on the spot, and then your whole family felt you were a murderer? Emotional reactions by other people are not predictable and not within our control. Grandma might be fine if the neighbor kid is a lesbian or atheist, but feel devastated or betrayed if it’s someone she knows.

  2. StonedRanger says

    Sorry, but grandma can kiss my rosy red ass. Its my life to live and if she doesnt like it that is her problem not mine. I cannot control how others react to my life, I can only control my life to the extent that I can. I have no time for those in my family who have a problem with any part of how I choose to live my life. My grandparents died before I realized I was an atheist. My wifes grandmother passed away last year at 101 years of age. We had more than a few discussions about my being an atheist and no one died from a heart attack. Not all old people are like your stereotyped ideas of what you think they are.

    I agree that if you are not able to support or take care of yourself you shouldnt out yourself to anyone about anything. But to automatically assume that because of a persons age they will think this way or that is just stupid. I have to face this crap everytime I go online and video chat with people. All the younger folks think Im a racist trump supporter because I am older (66) and because I look white. I am none of those things except for being older.

    • ashes says

      It is definitely a stereotype that older people are set in their ways, but it is always great when you meet an older person that’s progressive. It really gives me hope – like if I live to be old, maybe I’ll be progressive, too. I would hate to be a grandparent and find out that my grandkids didn’t feel comfortable being themselves around me.

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