Forgive me for being really vague at first here, but it's pretty important that I maintain a level of confidentiality.
I once had a student confide in me about how he was having a hard time with his family. The reason why is that he came out as an atheist, and needless to say, it wasn't being taken very well. I assume that he took the time to talk to me because he knew that I'm an atheist myself. Of course, he knows this because I frequently insult religion in my class, calling Jesus a homo and telling them that all religious people are stupid. No, I don't do that. I just let them know because we cover a lot of ground regarding religions, and I tell them where I stand up front. The reason I give for telling them is so they can take that into consideration if I ever do say anything that seems particularly slanted. (In all honesty though, I've had kids accuse me of trying so hard not to offend anybody that I almost go too far in THAT direction.)
The advice I gave him was that he basically should do his best to consider things from his family's point of view. After all, they were probably concerned that he was going to reject everything that came along with his religion. Also, they may very well have seen it as him rejecting them and who they were as well. I told him that I was sure that he wanted them to understand him more than anything right now, but that the only way they ever could would be if he took the time to understand them.
I tried to relate some of my own experiences. After all, I've gotten in a few verbal brawls with family members regarding religion. I have rejected the faith of my parents. Still, I can only carry the comparison so far. My parents never belonged to any sort of organized religion (although they seeemed to be getting close to the Jehovah's Witnesses, and praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that they didn't get any closer!) This kid though, his family was pretty entrenched in a very organized religious group. For him to turn his back on his faith requires a whole lot more than just saying, "Hey, I don't believe this stuff anymore."
Ultimately, that's all it was for me. While my parents don't agree with me, neither one ever came close to threatening to disown me or anything like that. Some people aren't so fortunate. Some friends of mine recently abandoned their faith, and I was really fascinated by their story. Unlike me, most of their friends were part of their faith group, and much of their lives revolved around their belief system. Abandoning their beliefs required a much bigger sacrifice.
Sometimes I feel a bit of pride in myself when I look at religious beliefs. I feel a slight sense of superiority when I think about how I was able to see it all for what it really is. Stuff like this wakes me up a little though. After all, I didn't really go down a path with a lot of resistance - at least, not external resistance, as my mind was wrestling with itself for several years, trying so hard to make sense of things that my mind could no longer accept. Still, once I conquered my own magical thinking, I didn't have a struggle with the people in my life.
I have to wonder - what if my parents really did get involved with the Witnesses? Would I be knocking on doors and passing out copies of The Watchtower? Would I really believe that the End Times were upon us? Would I be making excuses as to the fact that the Witnesses had repeatedly made precise predictions for the end of the world? Or would I have the guts to not only think my way out, but walk my way out.