06
Feb
17

My Response to “Teen in Ogden, Utah” (Dear Abby)

*****

You can find my response to this and other letters, now available for your viewing and opinion, on the designated page

But, while you’re here, have a read.

“Teen” is fifteen years old and entering a Crusade, a religion-fueled war, with his divided parents. How the parents even managed to get married and have a kid is a mystery, considering one believes in God and the other sounds like an atheist. What is not a mystery is why “Teen” is distancing himself from the parents and feeling uncomfortable when church-related topics arise.

I might have left this one alone had I not been bothered by Abby’s last “sage advice” from a “wise clergyman.”

———

The opposite of faith is certainty? What is that supposed to mean, Abby? And, what do you expect this young man to do with that? I’d expect him to emulate his father. I do not think such “wise” words would inspire him to remain true to any religion/faith.

“Teen,” there is only one thing I am certain of: you will learn a great deal about how impulses of your parents dwell inside you in the coming years if not decades. And, you will do battle with those facets until you can rest assured in your choices. Knowing this, you can either accept the stress you feel as part of the life you’ve been given or seek out activities and groups that relieve this stress. Hopefully, ones that don’t involve “recreational drugs” and/or violence other than martial arts practice. A club or class/group that eases your mind will be far less costly than a therapist and could result in making some valuable connections.

If I may ask a few questions…

Exactly how does your belief in God vary so greatly from your mother’s that there is this problem? And, why does it seem like your non-believing father has no interest in involving himself in this struggle of yours? I picture him hiding his face behind a newspaper or cellphone while your mother “encourages” you to participate in a religious community. Apparently, you have no concern for hurting HIS feelings because he has offered none; he simply lets you do what you like until it affects his wallet or some other non-religious aspect of his life. [Or, is it possible your parents are on the verge of divorce and you simply opt to support your mother while opposing your father? Is it possible your mother married your father with aspirations of changing his ways and making him a part of her chosen faith?]

I may be off-base. But, I hear these other voices in response to your comments.

You say: It’s really uncomfortable when people ask why I haven’t been in church.
I hear/think: Church bothers me because it’s too formal. [Or maybe] Church bothers me because I’m asked to give money. [Or] Church bothers me because it interferes with my free/fun time. [Or] Church bothers me because my parents don’t go there together; it does not hold us together as a family.

You say: Mom signs me up for church activities, and I don’t like going.
I hear/think: I struggle with socializing/participating. [Or] I’m anti-social. [Or] I suffer from social anxiety.

Abby suggests telling your mother how much you love her and hope she will continue loving you as you explore your life/religious options. I would guess none of that sounds easy or comfortable for you. Am I right?

If I was you, I’d have a hard time saying I love my mother, too. At your age, I was entering a similar battle and just starting to distance myself from my parents who seemed unable to respect my decisions and even my personal space. Pressure to change one’s ways or attend certain activities could be a sign of lacking trust in you to make your own decisions and come to your parents for advice when you need it.

I cannot tell you which faith is right or wrong. But, if you can better understand or see what motivates the feelings you have, you can answer your own questions. If your mother is so bent on getting you involved in the activities of her church community, hurting her feelings may be inevitable. Yet, if her faith and love for you is strong, she will recover from the bruises. [Just don’t cut ties with her completely unless that is what you truly want. What you want today may differ from what you decide to have in your life years from now.]

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