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When teens start challenging the views they grew up with


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I am talking about your teens honestly trying to find their way in this messed up labyrinth of rights, wrongs, religion, lack of religion, politics, individualism and collectivism, different ways to set up society, then ethics within that society, science, etc... and seem to be genuinely coming to different conclusions than you. Or even if they are not there yet, you can forsee it happening sometime. Or just hypothetically.

 

What do you do?

Do you treat them as any other individual, with due respect, saving your own intellectual integrity by providing a place for their own?

Do you talk to them and, maybe even not consciously, attempt to "convert" them "back" to the ideas you raised them with?

Do you assure their freedom of expression and association with like-minded fellows, but while under your roof, request certain "adjustments" to your rules?

Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings?

 

This is theoretical (for now :D). I am interested in your views or experiences and views.

 

Has anyone here actually been in such a situation and had their kids join or at least seriously "flirt" with some views and schools of thought you would not subscribe to? What were the extents to which you were willing to support it or allow it?

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What do you do?

Do you treat them as any other individual, with due respect, saving your own intellectual integrity by providing a place for their own?

Do you talk to them and, maybe even not consciously, attempt to "convert" them "back" to the ideas you raised them with?

Do you assure their freedom of expression and association with like-minded fellows, but while under your roof, request certain "adjustments" to your rules?

Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings?

 

All of the above. Or I try.... #1 is tricky when it's your own kids, #2 is almost unavoidable with a parent-child relationship, #3 is ok, but the "association" may be limited based on our current house rules, and #4 is an absolute with regards to younger siblings. :tongue_smilie:

 

ETA: yes, all 3 of my teens have gone/are going thru this period. I think it's normal.

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I haven't been there yet, well, not exactly.

 

The closest I can come is the constant tug-of-war my son and I have over weaponry. And I'll admit I haven't always handled it as well as I could have wished.

 

With an older child, though, I would hope I could accept and respect their views just as I would another adult. I have so many views and opinions that are outside of the mainstream. And since I seriously value my right to have those opinons and to act on them, I believe I have to treat the opinions of others with respect, even when we disagree.

 

When I engage with someone who has an opinion or worldview different from mine, I usually have no problem as long as our discussions can be thoughtful and respectful. I hope I could extend that same graciousness to my own child.

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That's a big question but an important one, I think. Being a religious person, I believe in 'planting seeds'. Challenging the status quo during the teen years is pretty healthy, in my opinion. A few things have been helpful to my kids in the last few years. A seminar on apologetics helped solidify some faith issues and inspired my kids. A recommendation of a couple of books by David Kupelian were helpful: The Marketing of Evil and How Evil Works. Be forewarned...they are unabashedly Christian, conservative and most politically incorrect.:) Also an AP course in which my kids were required to write their 'political manifesto' was helpful in making them work through why they believe what they believe. I think the common thread is that at an age where kids are struggling to have their own voice and mind, it's helpful to help them inform themselves by including other reputable sources.

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My children are still on the young side but I do have one child in particular that I believe I will have these issues with. When it comes to matters of religion, my plan is to start taking apologetics classes in a few years to prepare *myself* to be able to answer questions thoughtfully & deeply. As that child approaches young adult years (I detest the term "teenager"!), I hope to enroll in apologetics classes together. I'm hoping that taking the classes together would help me to be able to guide that child without it feeling overbearing to that child.

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You know your faith, you know the arguments against it and hopefully, if you've grappled with them yourself, you know the answers they'll be looking for.

 

But for the rest of it, you let them go. Coming from a Christian POV, they're not mine to keep, they are God's. There are some lessons that are between them and God. I don't know their heart, but God does. My job is to pray.

 

Yes, I have one that mocks our church going ways.

 

Here's the thing-I was him once upon a time. And now, looking back, I had some really valid concerns and complaints that weren't seriously addressed. I was justified in my rebellion-I really was. Is that the case with my son? No. (My mom was bringing me to a non denom church that was ...weird. Eventually they found that the pastor was lying about his whole life and fired him-but I always had a feeling about that guy and I made my feelings known. My mom said church or leave-I left. Years later, I was right.) Our situation is completely different with my son. Here's the thing-I know he believes in God, though. So from there, I just pray. God has a lifetime to bring my son to where he is supposed to be. Some people are just going to walk the prodigal path. One thing I do know, is that my faith is *mine* I own it now. And I want that for my kids, whatever way they get there.

Edited by justamouse
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All of the above. Or I try.... #1 is tricky when it's your own kids, #2 is almost unavoidable with a parent-child relationship, #3 is ok, but the "association" may be limited based on our current house rules, and #4 is an absolute with regards to younger siblings. :tongue_smilie:

I hear you. Those seem to be exactly the problems, yes. How many people would really allow their children to actually associate with hardcore anarchists, for example? I mean sure, respecting the diversity of opinions and all, but... at some point, it may have to come down to "protecting you from your own self" when it comes to underage children.

 

But then we enter what my daughters call "patronizing" - "treating me as though I was unable to decide for myself or to try for myself, even if admittedly you yourself do not know much more than me about the situation". Not that I have daugthers with anarchist tendencies (well, not always at least :lol:), but for example's sake... It can be quite tough to draw the line.

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I talk to my kids about all kinds of stuff. There really isn't any topic that is off limits. They are allowed to form their own opinions.

 

My husband and I discuss topics in front of the kids - we don't always agree but I think it is important for the kids to see two people discuss topics and disagree and see them be able to listen and respect the other persons point of view.

 

I also ask the kids leading questions so they can think about various topics without telling them my opinion about the topic. I like to hear how they think a topic through. I will often share my view at the end but I want to see what they think first.

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It is normal for teens to start wondering what they believe, and why they believe it. This applies to religious beliefs as well as political and social. I consider it a healthy step. If people never struggle through this questioning and wondering and analysis, they are prey for anyone who speaks convincingly and wants followers.

 

We have encouraged our dc to question and to discuss issues. Questioning is not wrong as long as it is respectful. I will provide discussion and resources so my dc can learn about the issue. We have taught them world view and how to analyze what is said as well as what is not said.

 

The other, perhaps most important, point we have made and expect is that our dc should come to their own conclusions and opinions, but they must be able to back up their conclusions and opinions with solid facts or reasons and be able to communicate those. I won't accept reasons like, "that is just how I think or feel", or "I just think this is right or true", or "everyone else thinks this" or "this sounds good", or similar statements. These type of reasons are very weak and simply unacceptable as a basis for an opinion. Opinions and beliefs must be based on something firm and accurate.

 

There was an issue that ds and I disagreed on, and I asked him why he held a specific opinion. He was able to spend an hour explaining to me his reasoning and decision based on scripture and the Constitution, and solidly defended his decision against my questions and additional facts. We still disagreed on the issue, but I understood his reasons, and they were valid and solidly based. He had spent time thinking them through and analyzing the issue in light of his beliefs and standards. I think he will temper his opinion as he gets older and learns more, but he did thoroughly analyze the question, made an informed decision, and could thoroughly explain it and defend his decision. That is acceptable, even if I disagree with the conclusion.

 

So I am one who encourages questioning and struggling through issues, as long as the teen has the skills and needed information to properly inform himself and is capable of analyzing the information and facts. I can not encourage asking a teen a question which requires him to form an opinion on an issue without him having background information and facts on which to base that opinion. That only leaves him to base his decision and opinion on feelings and emotions, which is often not very accurate, and leaves him open to being swayed by anyone who speaks convincingly and emotionally.

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The other, perhaps most important, point we have made and expect is that our dc should come to their own conclusions and opinions, but they must be able to back up their conclusions and opinions with solid facts or reasons and be able to communicate those. I won't accept reasons like, "that is just how I think or feel", or "I just think this is right or true", or "everyone else thinks this" or "this sounds good", or similar statements. These type of reasons are very weak and simply unacceptable as a basis for an opinion. Opinions and beliefs must be based on something firm and accurate.

 

 

What if the subject is something that doesn't actually have any 'solid facts' or 'firm and accurate' things to go with it? Especially when you start considering spiritual stuff...

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I have older children (24, 20, 16). Some of them have done things I think are seriously wrong or a bad idea, and they don't all share my beliefs. We have always told them we would love them no matter what. This is incredibly hard to do at times. We try logical arguments. We try "just to please us". We try "because our family just is like this and you are part of our family". We try having them talk to other people. Sometimes one of those works. If it doesn't, we resort to pretending that everything is ok and that we are a united and loving family. Paradoxically, the pretending allows us stay a loving and united family. Some things defy logic. Sometimes one of us (parents or child) will change their mind and the family will become even more united. This is possible because we didn't have a big split that grew wider over time, and nobody said anything unforgivable, and nobody issued any ultimatums. We try to save face. We all believe that however misguided someone might be, there must be a good reason for it, and that we, too, might well equally misguided in similar circumstances. We try not to be too attached to our views and values and beliefs, either, and take into account that we are all growing and changing all the time, grownups as well as children. My husband and I treat each other the same way. Sigh. This is not theoretical information, but something we have lived through at least several times.

-Nan

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There was an issue that ds and I disagreed on, and I asked him why he held a specific opinion. He was able to spend an hour explaining to me his reasoning and decision based on scripture and the Constitution, and solidly defended his decision against my questions and additional facts. We still disagreed on the issue, but I understood his reasons, and they were valid and solidly based. He had spent time thinking them through and analyzing the issue in light of his beliefs and standards.

But here is the rub, isn't it? I imagine (I might be completely off here and reading into your text, so feel free to correct me) you disagreed about some specific political issue, but that you share the basic premises... the Biblical values and the Constitution.

 

What happens when a kid starts challenging THOSE? When it is not only that you disagree about one specific thing which can be viewed from a few angles, but when you disagree about the premises themselves? What if you disagreed about the status of Bible as a moral or epistemologic guide - if the kid thought that the Bible is a nice document of one time and place, but not in any way morally binding, or scientifically binding, and that the whole set of morals he envisions for himself, even if they end up corresponding to a lot Biblical ones, they were ultimately derived from a different source? What if you had a kid who thought the same about the Constitution, considering it irrelevant in our day and age, a dream of one particular epoch and one particular situation, not applicable today, too "free" to be able to function well, and who strongly considered that a society should be based on some type of collectivist philosophy, including considerable government control, even if he knew that there were repercussions to that thought, but he still preferred those specific repercussions or found them a lesser evil than those stemming from the opposite model?

 

Or what if the kid comes to the conclusion that any form of government and institutional society is fundamentally wrong, in spite of all the Hobbes you throw at him, and wants to freely exchange opinions with like-minded fellows? Or the opposite... what if the kid starts flirting with the ideologies of "protecting people from themselves" which end up in totalitarian control? And considers it a good thing, and considers even the whole institution of the state in and of itself a goal and a value (my God - we are talking about a dictionary definition of fascism here, just to make it clear!)?

 

I am toying with the extreme ideas here, mind you, I doubt most of us have had such extreme situations in reality, but just to put in the perspective the sort of thing I am curious... how do you respond to such a thing, especially if you yourself are of a profoundly different stance?

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Do you treat them as any other individual, with due respect, saving your own intellectual integrity by providing a place for their own?

Do you talk to them and, maybe even not consciously, attempt to "convert" them "back" to the ideas you raised them with?

Do you assure their freedom of expression and association with like-minded fellows, but while under your roof, request certain "adjustments" to your rules?

Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings?

 

Yes.

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Has anyone here actually been in such a situation and had their kids join or at least seriously "flirt" with some views and schools of thought you would not subscribe to? What were the extents to which you were willing to support it or allow it?

 

Great question. Mine are little yet but I can see my DS being one to push. I think I'd be open-minded and accepting of most things, and try not to make too big of a deal out of it, because I know that a lot of what I believed when I was a teenager, I grew out of. Assuming it wasn't something that I actually thought was downright dangerous/evil--like Neo-Nazism or Christian Identity or an ideology like that--I don't see what you can do other than accept that they, at least for a time, have very different ideas than you do.

 

God will have to give me a lot of strength if he starts flirting with Objectivism, though. "And keep them from Ayn Rand" is one of the things I pray for my children. ;)

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Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings?

 

 

Yes. My dd16 frequently expresses opinions that I don't hold. I'm all for her holding her own opinions if they are well thought out (and when they aren't, I let her know that I don't respect "herd mentality" or "knee-jerk" opinions), but I'm not going to allow her to actively undermine what I am trying to teach my younger kids. My kids are exposed to differing points of view pretty much everywhere we go. At home, it's a haven of like-minded individuals. Or at least it appears that way. ;)

 

I have very different views and values on many things than my parents do. I understand what it's like to feel quashed and not respected, and I won't do that to my kids. But if my dd is old enough to formulate her own opinion on weighty matters, she's old enough to understand that she doesn't question our values in front of the younger kids.

 

My kids know their sister holds some ideas that we don't. We are vegan, and she is not even vegetarian. But, for example, she eats vegan when she's in our home.

 

Dh and dd16 and I discuss our opinions and values frequently, and we give her forum to air her views when the little kids are not listening.

 

Tara

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Yes. My dd16 frequently expresses opinions that I don't hold. I'm all for her holding her own opinions if they are well thought out (and when they aren't, I let her know that I don't respect "herd mentality" or "knee-jerk" opinions), but I'm not going to allow her to actively undermine what I am trying to teach my younger kids. My kids are exposed to differing points of view pretty much everywhere we go. At home, it's a haven of like-minded individuals. Or at least it appears that way. ;)

 

I have very different views and values on many things than my parents do. I understand what it's like to feel quashed and not respected, and I won't do that to my kids. But if my dd is old enough to formulate her own opinion on weighty matters, she's old enough to understand that she doesn't question our values in front of the younger kids.

 

My kids know their sister holds some ideas that we don't. We are vegan, and she is not even vegetarian. But, for example, she eats vegan when she's in our home.

 

Dh and dd16 and I discuss our opinions and values frequently, and we give her forum to air her views when the little kids are not listening.

 

Tara

:iagree:

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I talk to my kids about all kinds of stuff. There really isn't any topic that is off limits. They are allowed to form their own opinions.

 

My husband and I discuss topics in front of the kids - we don't always agree but I think it is important for the kids to see two people discuss topics and disagree and see them be able to listen and respect the other persons point of view.

 

 

The above, especially the boldfaced. My husband and I have always talked about everything (well, within reason) in front of and with the kids. My husband was big on always backing up everything, so he would always begin with a thought, and then explain his thought process and how he came to his conclusion. Even at a young age, if the kids ever voiced a counter-thought, he would take it seriously, and take it along the same thought process. He always wanted the kids to reach their own conclusions but with a thorough and wise thought process.

 

We've been lucky, because so far our children have stayed pretty much on the same path, although much wiser than we were at their age!

 

Not sure what we would do if any of them took a real radical turn... Hopefully they have developed enough respect and trust in us, and I believe they have, that they would still listen to us. I know one of our older children has reached a more conservative view on one particular issue, and my husband has challenged this view but still respects their decision.

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What if the subject is something that doesn't actually have any 'solid facts' or 'firm and accurate' things to go with it? Especially when you start considering spiritual stuff...

 

Honestly, would it then be fair to expect your child to agree with you? If your beliefs are based on feeling/intuition/whatever you want to call it (and I'm not even saying this is bad), if they FEEL a different way, then what can you do? Obviously you still WANT them to agree, but if your faith is of a very personal nature to begin with, I don't see how you can insist that someone else to embrace it. Teach it, live it, defend it, yes, but you can't really argue with feelings, you know? I'm just looking at it logically, not trying to say you can't try to get your children to believe the way you do.

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I have very different views and values on many things than my parents do. I understand what it's like to feel quashed and not respected, and I won't do that to my kids. But if my dd is old enough to formulate her own opinion on weighty matters, she's old enough to understand that she doesn't question our values in front of the younger kids.

 

I actually agree with everything Tara said. I've been on the receiving end "Believe this way for us.". Which is illogical and guilt-inducing. You can't believe a certain way just for others.

 

We have relatives who are COMPLETE opposites when it comes to religion, politics, and social beliefs. We actually all get along well, because we are respectful. And because, despite religious differences, we all act similarly. Ie... if they constantly showed up drunk, cursed profusely, behaved rudely, acted mean to the kids, (or if we did any of that) it wouldn't work.

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But here is the rub, isn't it? I imagine (I might be completely off here and reading into your text, so feel free to correct me) you disagreed about some specific political issue, but that you share the basic premises... the Biblical values and the Constitution.

 

What happens when a kid starts challenging THOSE? When it is not only that you disagree about one specific thing which can be viewed from a few angles, but when you disagree about the premises themselves? What if you disagreed about the status of Bible as a moral or epistemologic guide - if the kid thought that the Bible is a nice document of one time and place, but not in any way morally binding, or scientifically binding, and that the whole set of morals he envisions for himself, even if they end up corresponding to a lot Biblical ones, they were ultimately derived from a different source? What if you had a kid who thought the same about the Constitution, considering it irrelevant in our day and age, a dream of one particular epoch and one particular situation, not applicable today, too "free" to be able to function well, and who strongly considered that a society should be based on some type of collectivist philosophy, including considerable government control, even if he knew that there were repercussions to that thought, but he still preferred those specific repercussions or found them a lesser evil than those stemming from the opposite model?

 

Or what if the kid comes to the conclusion that any form of government and institutional society is fundamentally wrong, in spite of all the Hobbes you throw at him, and wants to freely exchange opinions with like-minded fellows? Or the opposite... what if the kid starts flirting with the ideologies of "protecting people from themselves" which end up in totalitarian control? And considers it a good thing, and considers even the whole institution of the state in and of itself a goal and a value (my God - we are talking about a dictionary definition of fascism here, just to make it clear!)?

 

I am toying with the extreme ideas here, mind you, I doubt most of us have had such extreme situations in reality, but just to put in the perspective the sort of thing I am curious... how do you respond to such a thing, especially if you yourself are of a profoundly different stance?

 

Good questions, and I have not personally had to deal with these extremes because while my dc and I differ on some issues, we do share the same underlying values and beliefs. They did each go through a period of time where they were questioning their religious beliefs and had to move to make those their own beliefs instead of just something dh and I believe.

 

But if these were were the issues, it would be much harder. I would still have the same stance that their opinion needs to be backed up with facts and reasons. I would still discuss and express my opinion and reasons I believe as I do, and most likely we would be debating the issues. I certainly would not allow their beliefs to go unchallenged, especially if those beliefs crossed the line into being wrong, untrue or potentially dangerous instead of just being different. (I hope you understand what I mean by that. I am not sure I expressed it well.) Some beliefs can be morally or ethically wrong, and I can't in good conscience let my dc make those choices without confronting them on it. I am quite sure I would be praying through it all.

 

In the end, there is no way to assure that our dc will share our beliefs, but I would still hold to a standard of behavior. If a child decides to have extreme beliefs, like you mentioned, then I have to assume that those would be acted upon. In that case, I would be exercising my responsibility and right as a parent to require a standard of behavior while they are living in my home. Thus, if a child had a strongly held belief in anarchy, I would not allow that child to act upon it while living in our household. If I had a child who decided that God is not real, he would still be attending church because that is what we do in our family, and he would do so until he moves out. So we can't control what our children believe, but we can influence their behavior and set limits as to how they act out those beliefs.

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I haven't been through that as a parent yet, but I still remember my own experiences as a teen very vividly.

 

What a lot of people don't seem to get is that you can't choose your beliefs. You can choose the experiences and knowledge that go into shaping what you believe, but you can't force yourself to accept something you feel, in your heart, isn't true.

 

With that in mind, I would never try to force my dd to change her beliefs, because I know it's impossible. I'll support her and give her the information she wants, but beyond that, her morals and beliefs are between her and the universe. Nagging her into being just like me won't do anything except drive a wedge between us.

 

If she ends up a conservative Republican God-fearing evangelical who drives a Hummer ;), that's her choice. I can't say it wouldn't irk me a little, but life will go on.

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I am talking about your teens honestly trying to find their way in this messed up labyrinth of rights, wrongs, religion, lack of religion, politics, individualism and collectivism, different ways to set up society, then ethics within that society, science, etc... and seem to be genuinely coming to different conclusions than you. Or even if they are not there yet, you can force it happening sometime. Or just hypothetically.

 

What do you do?

Do you treat them as any other individual, with due respect, saving your own intellectual integrity by providing a place for their own? Yes

Do you talk to them and, maybe even not consciously, attempt to "convert" them "back" to the ideas you raised them with?NO When my son started questioning my beliefs, i told him i have raised him and he knows how i feel now its time for him to figure out what he believes

Do you assure their freedom of expression and association with like-minded fellows, but while under your roof, request certain "adjustments" to your rules?Yes, he has different views on music and stuff but I don't stop him. He has piercing. I personally don't like them. But he is 17 and needs to be himself NOT a copy of me and my DH. My parents tried to mold me into the perfect Church girl. It wasn't me at 17. Its me at 41. They should of let me figure the stuff out when I was young and it would of stopped alot of rebellion and heartache I went through

Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings? If there were younger kids in the home then yes but I have 2 teens and we talk/discuss/disagree/respect each other

 

This is theoretical (for now :D). I am interested in your views or experiences and views.

 

Has anyone here actually been in such a situation and had their kids join or at least seriously "flirt" with some views and schools of thought you would not subscribe to? What were the extents to which you were willing to support it or allow it?

 

My sons are able to think and reason for themselves. They both have ask me hard questions regarding my faith and moral beliefs. Just yesterday my 17 yo and I were talking about gay preachers. i happen to be oppose to them but he just question me why. His argument was if they are sinners what makes there sin any different than the straight pastor that is looking at porn or cheating on his wife. They are all sin. I love that he is thinking, question, and debating me. It shows me that I raised him to be a thinker not a follower

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It is normal for teens to start wondering what they believe, and why they believe it. This applies to religious beliefs as well as political and social. I consider it a healthy step. If people never struggle through this questioning and wondering and analysis, they are prey for anyone who speaks convincingly and wants followers.

 

 

:iagree::iagree: An unquestioned faith is empty. IMO

 

We have encouraged our dc to question and to discuss issues. Questioning is not wrong as long as it is respectful. I will provide discussion and resources so my dc can learn about the issue. We have taught them world view and how to analyze what is said as well as what is not said.

 

The other, perhaps most important, point we have made and expect is that our dc should come to their own conclusions and opinions, but they must be able to back up their conclusions and opinions with solid facts or reasons and be able to communicate those. I won't accept reasons like, "that is just how I think or feel", or "I just think this is right or true", or "everyone else thinks this" or "this sounds good", or similar statements. These type of reasons are very weak and simply unacceptable as a basis for an opinion. Opinions and beliefs must be based on something firm and accurate.

 

 

So I am one who encourages questioning and struggling through issues, as long as the teen has the skills and needed information to properly inform himself and is capable of analyzing the information and facts. .

 

:iagree:(bolding mine)

 

I cannot ask someone to respect my beliefs if I am not willing to allow them their own. As a parent, I have preferences that I would like my children to follow, but I do that through personal example and by allowing them to question, not by dictate.

 

Several years ago I taught a current events class in co-op. The kids were middle school/early high school. We discussed stories from Time magazine. I am ideologically opposite of most of the other co-op moms :tongue_smilie:, but they respected me enough to allow the children to discuss current events with me. I told the kids that I would not argue with any thought out belief but if they were just going to quote bumper-stickers I would quote bumper-stickers back. :lol:

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I pretty much agree with the message in my current avatar: "Children should be taught how to think, not what to think."

 

I truly don't expect my children to parrot my beliefs. In fact, I wouldn't want them to. I want to help them fine-tune their own ability to form opinions and make well-thought-out decisions, and establish a belief system that resonates with them.

 

One thing I do feel is important is that they have the necessary tools to arrive at their own set of beliefs. And, as their parent, I feel my job is to guide them by teaching them logic and reasoning skills, by instilling in them a desire for life-long learning, and by modeling moral and ethical behavior.

 

I have already had some of the most amazing discussions with my two older children, and, I hope they will always be comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas with me, even if they are not completely aligned with mine.

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I pretty much agree with the message in my current avatar: "Children should be taught how to think, not what to think."

 

I truly don't expect my children to parrot my beliefs. In fact, I wouldn't want them to. I want to help them fine-tune their own ability to form opinions and make well-thought-out decisions, and establish a belief system that resonates with them.

 

One thing I do feel is important is that they have the necessary tools to arrive at their own set of beliefs. And, as their parent, I feel my job is to guide them by teaching them logic and reasoning skills, by instilling in them a desire for life-long learning, and by modeling moral and ethical behavior.

 

I have already had some of the most amazing discussions with my two older children, and, I hope they will always be comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas with me, even if they are not completely aligned with mine.

 

:iagree: My experience with ds on the deeper issues is still theoretical. He does hold a few viewpoints that I find irrational. I only debate those to his point of understanding, and will encourage balanced research before coming to a firm conclusion.

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Grin - I do. Associating with hard core anachists forces my children to see the problems with hard core anachy. Especially, when they live with them for weeks in a group that is trying to accomplish something. We do a lot of explaining that some ideas are lovely concepts (like communism in the sense of sharing everything equally and anarchy is the sense of not needing laws to make everyone do what is right) but somehow work out very badly when you try to apply them on a large scale. They work for families but not for countries because there are too many people who won't willingly follow the ideal. We've been saying this ad infinitum since they were little. We also talk about the dangers of cults.

 

The above example is the most common kind of parent-teen disagreement in my extended family - one of ideals versus practicality. We bring our children up with high ideals. They accept those ideals when they are little and try to live up to them. Within our family, those ideals work fairly well. When the children get older, we ask them to temper those ideals with practicality. and they see the compromises that the adults in the family choose to make. We all are trying to live as idealistically as possible. Finding the balance point between completely living by those ideals and completely living practically requires experience, something our children don't have yet, therefore, we help with the risk assessment as much as possible. For example, we teach our children the Christian ideal of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (that being our background), and letting the future take care of itself. The only people I know who really do this are Buddhist monks. Everyone else compromises. Another example is doing what is right and ignoring what people say. The result of this is seemingly endless discussions with teenagers about hanging on to one's good reputation. We have found that the most important first step in any sort of disagreement based on ideals is to examine our own behaviour. Sometimes the child is right and we are not living up to our ideals. Then we change.

 

All our ideals are based on a few simple concepts, so simple that they are universal. Nobody has ever questioned those ideals as ideals for very long. They are too simple and obvious. Mostly what they question is the application or other things built on those ideals. There are periods of time when they question the ideals (especially 13-15, the selfish age), but they tend not to last very long. We just wait for them to outgrow their bad reasoning. We look at what they do, not what they say. What they say often isn't an accurate reflection of what they believe. They say things in order to think about them, to see what they feel like, to annoy us, to try to figure out what they believe without the family, etc. There are many times when they don't have the energy or the will-power or the unselfishness to live up to those ideals. We try to point out that the way they are living isn't going to work in the long run. They usually agree but keep doing whatever it is until their lives shift and they can manage to do a better job. This is true of the adults in the family, too.

 

Free speech has never, ever been an option where there were smaller siblings and cousins around. Fortunately, ours haven't ever questioned that, even when things were very bad indeed, at least not as far as anything major went. Again, I think this is partly because our basic ideals are so very simple. With minor things, it has been fairly easy to talk to the younger ones and tell them that their brother was wrong.

 

Does that help at all, Ester? It might not, I suppose, since it is a very universalist sort of approach. GRIN It is dangerous to raise children with high ideals to think logically for themselves. It forces you to live up to those ideals yourself, and to talk an awful lot about the sad compromises one has to make in a less than ideal world.

 

-Nan

Edited by Nan in Mass
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We have not particularly tried to put a certain "view" onto the kids except of course it happens anyway in our just being ourselves and sharing what we think- so in a sense, they have nothing to rebel against and they are free to explore.

But....ideally.....I would allow them to think what they think and work it out for themselves, and hopefully be a sounding board that they would feel they could use. I see that happening. My experience is....the more I judge, the more I use what they say to share my own opinions when not asked by them....the more my teens withdraw from me. The more I listen and keep my mouth mostly shut, the more they will share.

 

I am finding that if I don't let go of trying to control them, their thoughts, worldview and actions....they pull away. If I give them the freedom and independence they long for....they stay open, the communication flows, they feel respected and honoured as human beings. This is difficult- for both dh and I- but the choice seems pretty clear. But my 2 are a bit wild, I would say. I love them for it, and I love that they do not like to be controlled. I did not realise how much I would have to let go, so soon. (Actually, I don't have to let go...but the alternative is suffering for everyone).

 

Something struck me about the Tiger Mum article- the 2nd one in a recent thread- where she said you have to get in there while the kids are young- that is striking a chord in me. Its not the time right now, for me to be putting my thoughts onto my kids- this is their time to find out for themselves.

 

I can imagine that would be difficult for those who really, sincerely believe their opinions, their religion, their worldview, is the correct one, and they want their kids to have that "correct" one. But I don't have that issue- I feel there is enough room for everyone to have their own worldview, and unless you come to it from deeply inside yourself, it is not yours anyway- you just borrowed it.

 

I am not saying I get to live this 100% though- I have a son who likes to be provocative for the heck of it. And sometimes I bite.

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But the constitution and the Bible aren't premises, are they? They in turn are based on some more fundamental ideals. That child who would rather live in a heavily regulated communist society is doing so because of the fundamental ideals that you taught her. It is only the application of those ideals that you are differing on. So you can comfort yourself that she is young and idealistic and as she grows older, she will become more practical and not worry too much. Well, the becoming more practical is very very worrisome in itself, but anyway... I can assure you that the time when you really need to worry is when your child is not thinking about ideals. Ideals can get you in a lot of trouble - pregnant, trapped in a cult, arrested in a protest - but those things are things that happen to you. Far more common and damaging to ones soul are the things that ones does while not thinking, like driving drunk and killing someone.

 

I wrote more about the whole communism thing in another post in this thread. Personally, I think that with the steady diet of information we are giving our children about the exponential effects of our livestyles on the environment and people's unwillingness to make decisions to mitigate them fast, there is some logic to the wanting to live in a society with heavy government control. I'm not necessarily saying it is a good idea. I am saying that I can see how some of our children, despite a heavy dose of philosophy, might opt to scrap the ideals for now and opt for anything that looks like it might give them a future. I also think that wanting a more communally-minded government is a natural step in applying one's ideals as one grows up, and that as one grows older, one gets better at seeing the practical limitations of ideals. But that was just a hypothetical example, right?

 

-Nan

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I did think of something... my oldest dates more than I would like. There are already two young women to whom I've had to goodbye. He brought these lovely women into my life, I fell in love, and then they break up. I feel nearly religious in my hope that the wonderful girl he is now dating will become my dil some day. (They both still have several years left of school.) Courting almost starts to make sense after a time, I swear, even to my liberal self.

 

ETA: I realize this isn't an example of him challenging us...we never said "Don't date." However, his Dad & I have been together forever. Neither of us dated much before finding each other. You would think that would be enough, eh?

Edited by LibraryLover
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Thank you everybody for your responses. I suppose there are just too many to respond to each one individually, but I printed them all trying to wrap my mind about this issue and I hope nobody feels ignored. :)

We are vegan, and she is not even vegetarian. But, for example, she eats vegan when she's in our home.

Do you allow her to possess and consume in the privacy of her own room "undesirable" foods?

 

I find your example very interesting, by the way. It opens a lot of questions of how to deal with it, I am just interested in where are your lines.

If I had a child who decided that God is not real, he would still be attending church because that is what we do in our family, and he would do so until he moves out.

What about the opposite case? A kid who decided to be religious in a merely traditional family? Do you prevent them from associating with the religious (especially if you dislike the "local" community for their particular philosophical bent though it is still the "same" religion or whatnot) because that is not what we do, or do you allow them?

 

---

Sigh.

Nobody warned me this teenage identity search would be so difficult. ;) DH claims that we totally had it coming, because of course that they would take it to a whole 'nother, nicely packed theoretical level, if you systematically taught them to do that with stuff. So now I am at loss.

 

Thank you everybody once more. Much to think about.

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Do you allow her to possess and consume in the privacy of her own room "undesirable" foods?

 

 

No. This is a vegan household. Non-vegan foods do not enter. But as dd goes to school and visits friends and has other out-of-the-house activities, she has plenty of access to whatever non-vegan foods she desires.

 

Tara

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What do you do?

Do you treat them as any other individual, with due respect, saving your own intellectual integrity by providing a place for their own? Respect, yes. I would also keep in mind that they are still young and impressionable and in need of my guidance. No rudeness towards them on my part but definitely expressing the holes in their new viewpoints.

Do you talk to them and, maybe even not consciously, attempt to "convert" them "back" to the ideas you raised them with? If it is about Christianity, I definitely would be about converting them back to the ideas I raised them with. Other things wouldn't feel as crucial to me. Politics, for instance...unless it was politics that led them to worldviews that don't line up with Christ's heart.

Do you assure their freedom of expression and association with like-minded fellows, but while under your roof, request certain "adjustments" to your rules? My home, my rules. I'd attempt to limit outside influences if I felt the topic we were disagreeing on was a very important topic. This also would depend upon the age. 17 and under I definitely feel within my to have a say.

Do you limit the freedom of speech at home and with other (especially younger) siblings? Yes, I would limit the freedom of speech. Again, my home my rules, and I'm wanting to guide all my children. I'm not going to give freedom to anyone that could influence my younger children towards something I disagree with. That is why God made ME the mother and not someone else. :)

 

This is theoretical (for now :D). I am interested in your views or experiences and views.

 

Has anyone here actually been in such a situation and had their kids join or at least seriously "flirt" with some views and schools of thought you would not subscribe to? What were the extents to which you were willing to support it or allow it?

 

I haven't yet. I'm just saying what I think I would do were that to come up for us.

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So much depends on age. I'm more likely to 'correct' my 12yo gently or argue my POV than I am with my 19yo. I try to respect the older kids take on things while insisting they also respect mine and reinforce that it is only polite not to poo-poo any of our ideas in front of the little kids.

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I've never considered myself an "authority" in any area. I can learn from anyone, and that includes my kids. Imo, rules are for such things as safety: e.g. not drinking and driving, not for such things as whether or not to believe in God, or to which political party to align oneself. Those are individual choices to be made when one has the desire, knowlege, and experience to make said choice. Otherwise, it's simply indoctrination, and that reeks of tyranny to me. YMMV.

Edited by Mejane
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DH claims that we totally had it coming, because of course that they would take it to a whole 'nother, nicely packed theoretical level, if you systematically taught them to do that with stuff.

 

I have no advice, as mine as still very young, but FWIW when I read your first post I had the exact same thought as your DH. You can't really take them through an intense, methodical analysis of the great ideas and accomplishments of Western civilization and not expect some well-formulated blowback on the question of what constitutes the good life. :001_smile:

 

So, sorry for the stress, but good work on the education!

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Well, my reaction depends upon the subject. For instance, my older son is now in college. Drinking occurs. He does participate, although not in excess. He is only 18. Drinking is now illegal for an 18 year old. So do I condone him drinking in my home or will I condone him going out drinking when he lives back at home this summer? No, especially not with a 13 year old little brother watching his every move and asking me if I think it's okay for him (older brother) to be drinking.... But am I going to argue with him about it, issue ultimatums, etc.? No, not unless his behaviour begins to seem out of control or dangerous....

 

Reactionary responses to religion abound in the teen years in my experience. Do I argue my religious views are correct? Force him to attend church with me on a regular basis, etc.? No. Do I thoughtfully respond to comments with "this is what I feel/think?" You betcha. He has now elected to take two religion courses at college and I've recently learned that his current prof loves it that he argues with him all the time. I don't know the content of that debate, yet, but I'm sure if I'm patient I will hear about it this summer. Since college profs are generally more liberal, I'm guessing (and perhaps hoping) that his topics of debate are in support of ideas that I also espouse....

 

Have topics of a sexual nature and my thoughts on those come up during the teen years? Sure. I just say here's what I think and why. I don't argue that his position or thoughts are "wrong" and mine are "right." I just state my position and leave those words hanging out there for him to ponder over time. I also talk to he and his friends whenever the opportunity arises. (I take them all out to eat, which provides me with a good excuse to get into their conversations, LOL....) Very often, he will find through my questions and comments to friends that his friends agree with me and this will often help to change his mind about various ideas....

 

Moderation seems to work best, as with all things. Teens need to pull away and test. I've found through watching other teens in my life and talking to their parents that, for most, if you stay the steady course, they will navigate back into the mainstream given a little time....

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I've never considered myself an "authority" in any area. I can learn from anyone, and that includes my kids. Imo, rules are for such things as safety: e.g. not drinking and driving, not for such things as whether or not to believe in God, or to which political party to align oneself. Those are individual choices to be made when one has the desire, knowlege, and experience to make said choice. Otherwise, it's simply indoctrination, and that reeks of tyranny to me. YMMV.

But I am not talking about that. :confused:

 

I do not except a mature worldview to be "inherited" but, rather, a result of an investigation. It is the process of this investigation that interests me: how do we, as parents, address the nitty-gritty practical details of handling the process. Do we, and to which extent, interfere - in terms of active challenging and discussion? Do we draw some limits as to how much subversion they can attempt to exercise on the younger children? What if their newly found philosophies seriously question, if not directly undermine, the home values - how do we bridge the two, allowing them the space needed for reflection and growing, but also assuring that at home we have the atmosphere we have struggled to build all these years?

 

I am not talking about whether a kid should be "allowed" to (not) believe in God or take a particula political road, but, rather, given that the situation is currently such and such, how do we go about it, if their preferences are strongly opposed to our family values, who we as a family wish to associate with (do we make an exception for underage children?), and our lifestyle. Also note that in many cases situations can be quite drastic, it can be much more than simply taking a different stance on something... what if a military family is raising a pacifist child seriously opposed to what their parents do (or vice-versa)? If a child wants to join a separationist organization? Disregard family dietary or clothing principles? Associate and socialize with what you would consider a cult? (Or if they become, God forbid, postmodernists? ;)) Just where do you draw the line? There are so many potential situations which go far beyond the usual parent-teen conflict and can really affect the family dynamics, relationships, everything - especially if it is a product of kids reading and thinking rather than just following a crowd which looks "cool". There is an awful lot of very seductive life philosophies out there, many of which you disagree with... so the question is, how do you organize your life if your teen seems to be going there... Thinking out loud, sorry. :001_smile:

You can't really take them through an intense, methodical analysis of the great ideas and accomplishments of Western civilization and not expect some well-formulated blowback on the question of what constitutes the good life.

Yeah, you run against your own sword, the one you "gave" them, a lot. :glare:

I suppose I just forgot how intense it can be LOL. Never had teens before, so I am not sure what people do in thos instances.

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What about the opposite case? A kid who decided to be religious in a merely traditional family? Do you prevent them from associating with the religious (especially if you dislike the "local" community for their particular philosophical bent though it is still the "same" religion or whatnot) because that is not what we do, or do you allow them?

 

My husband and I are atheists.

 

One of my young (under driving age) teens was interested in learning about religious faiths. Since we deemed him to be well beyond age of reason, we drove him around to whatever churches/temples/synagogues/mosques he wanted to attend once he had familiarized himself with how to observe certain customs and rituals and how to behave respectfully.

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Do we, and to which extent, interfere - in terms of active challenging and discussion? Do we draw some limits as to how much subversion they can attempt to exercise on the younger children? What if their newly found philosophies seriously question, if not directly undermine, the home values - how do we bridge the two, allowing them the space needed for reflection and growing, but also assuring that at home we have the atmosphere we have struggled to build all these years?

 

 

 

Understanding that all families are different, I think that once you get to this point established family relationships will direct your course.

 

Disagreements predictably began to arise during our oldest's dialectic years, and we (dh and I) have had to learn to respectfully listen to our dc's ideas and he has to continually remember that he is not our equal just because he can comprehensively think through an idea. (I mean that as his parents, we still are the authorities in this house.)

 

Our teens are professing Christians, and while they don't always like it, do accept God's order (Thank you Jesus!)

 

We do talk everything to death in this family, and I suspect yours is the same :), so when listening to my dc espouse a viewpoint different than my own, I remind them how much they have changed in their own views, and they may want to keep an open mind in that particular area because life experience (of which they have very little!) has a way of shaping you in unexpected ways.

 

So yes, I do think you challenge, discuss, draw limits and most of all PRAY.

Blessings,

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I do not except a mature worldview to be "inherited" but, rather, a result of an investigation. It is the process of this investigation that interests me: how do we, as parents, address the nitty-gritty practical details of handling the process. Do we, and to which extent, interfere - in terms of active challenging and discussion? Do we draw some limits as to how much subversion they can attempt to exercise on the younger children? What if their newly found philosophies seriously question, if not directly undermine, the home values - how do we bridge the two, allowing them the space needed for reflection and growing, but also assuring that at home we have the atmosphere we have struggled to build all these years?

 

I am not talking about whether a kid should be "allowed" to (not) believe in God or take a particula political road, but, rather, given that the situation is currently such and such, how do we go about it, if their preferences are strongly opposed to our family values, who we as a family wish to associate with (do we make an exception for underage children?), and our lifestyle. Also note that in many cases situations can be quite drastic, it can be much more than simply taking a different stance on something... what if a military family is raising a pacifist child seriously opposed to what their parents do (or vice-versa)? If a child wants to join a separationist organization? Disregard family dietary or clothing principles? Associate and socialize with what you would consider a cult? (Or if they become, God forbid, postmodernists? ;)) Just where do you draw the line?

 

I may not be the person to answer this best for you, as our family is what I would consider irreligious. We do, however, discuss it much, as well as politics, current events, the behavior of friends and society in general, sexual mores, etc. Lots of talking going on here. :001_smile:

 

I listen respectfully and of course offer my own opinion. I would say I challenge; I expect them to have something to back up a view. I've not had to deal with a child completely turning his/her back on the family in terms of values or expectations; our values are simple - do unto others as you'd have them do unto you pretty much covers it, and our expectations are that they act like people with whom one might want to associate and don't make stupid choices with regard to their own safety and health. That's really about it. I keep it simple because I know teens tune out after too much yackety-yack from Mom and Dad. :D Youngers need more oversight, obviously, but many parents seem loathe to give their teens any more leash than their toddlers.

 

If one of mine were to become, God forbid ;), a Baptist minister, or go off and join a commune, I would consider that an experience that would impact their life, not mine. If I thought it were dangerous, of course I would tell them so and take action if I thought it necessary (there's that safety criterion again.) Certainly I did things of which my parents did not approve, but I owned them and they helped make me what I am. I was raised much the same way as I'm raising my kids, fwiw. I hope I've clarified. I'm most likely just rambling at this point. :001_smile:

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Understanding that all families are different, I think that once you get to this point established family relationships will direct your course.

 

Disagreements predictably began to arise during our oldest's dialectic years, and we (dh and I) have had to learn to respectfully listen to our dc's ideas and he has to continually remember that he is not our equal just because he can comprehensively think through an idea. (I mean that as his parents, we still are the authorities in this house.)

 

Our teens are professing Christians, and while they don't always like it, do accept God's order (Thank you Jesus!)

 

We do talk everything to death in this family, and I suspect yours is the same :), so when listening to my dc espouse a viewpoint different than my own, I remind them how much they have changed in their own views, and they may want to keep an open mind in that particular area because life experience (of which they have very little!) has a way of shaping you in unexpected ways.

 

So yes, I do think you challenge, discuss, draw limits and most of all PRAY.

Blessings,

 

 

Well said. We talk things to death here too. Keeping an open mind to what they have to say also makes them respect what we have to say more willingly as they get older and are exposed to more viewpoints.

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For me, it would depend on the topic at hand. If my children decided after listening to stories of the civil war that slavery was a good idea and they supported it, well, sorry, I will try and force my own opinions on them.

 

We are non-religious, but I insist on my kids understanding and knowing about other religions. My opinion is that you have to know what you are not believing in. If one of these religions rings true for them, then fine, as long as this does not mean something weird like using blood in prayer (my ex-neighbours did this, and that's just wrong, IMO) or using religion to 'justify' a moral injustice that really can't be found in it (I'm thinking here of the degradation of women in some religions, female castration, terrorism, etc etc).

 

So yes, as long as they still respect basic humanity, human rights, civil rights etc etc, they can believe what they want. After all, we are trying to raise tolerant kids who see through that outer stuff. That's what'll happen here. I guess that makes my answer a yes, within limits.

 

e.g. cannibalism, slavery, weird ritualistic stuff, cults, inhumane ... no way.

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Ester Maria,

 

You have to do two things as your children work out their own identities - trust them and redefine your family identity. I think one of the hardest parts about teenagers is that in order for them to become adults, you have to start trusting them to be adult, but at the same time, you have to keep them from doing any permanent damage to themselves. They are still very malleable as teen-adults, so this trusting is rather dangerous, and yet, by the time they are teen-adults, they are themselves, not an extension of you. Hopefully, they are their own selves within the family identity. You and your husband presumably have much in common and have blended yourselves to make that family identity. As the oldest child hits that adult-teen stage, that family identity has to change from just being a mix of you and your husband to being a mix of you, your husband, and whoever this new person is. This can be painful. If the two of you are working well together in tandem, it requires giving up something comfortable. It usually involves a certain amount of trail and error, something that is exasperating to the children, who are used to seeing fairly consistent parents, and if part of your own self-definition is being consistent and logical, it can be exasperating to you.

 

You have to decide whether you are going to extend the new family definition to you and your husband's household or not. We chose not. Our house is our house. Our children are welcome to live with us as adults, but we set the household rules. They can be whoever they want, think whatever they want, but in our house, they have to follow our rules, and as minors, they have to follow our rules both inside and outside the house. If they decided to be someone that endangered the rest of the family, then they would have to leave the family house. They would still be part of the family, because my particular family stretches its identity to include whoever the children become. As I said in an earlier post, members who impose their differentness on other members feel the collective weight of disapproval at their behavior. My parents did it this way, too. Other families we know work differently. They have periodic family meetings during which they discuss household rules and any disagreements or problems. They either vote to reach decisions or use a consensus system, usually a consensus system if there is more than one child. This seems to work, too. Anyway, my point is that you have to redefine your family to include the emerging person. It is tricky because you are redefining to include a moving target.

 

In my particular brand of religion (UU), it is considered normal for people to grow and change, spiritually, and it is considered very wrong to impede someone else's spritual growth. Every minister *I *have ever met, even those who are parents, is maddeningly ignorant about the practicalities of trying to protect and guide your children while at the same time trying to encourage them to figure out their spirituality for themselves. I can tell you from observation that it seems to be normal for teenagers when they are first deciding these things to tend to be attracted by more strict religious organizations than our very loose one. This dismays the parents who have deliberately left those organizations because they were either emotionally damaged by them or because they considered them illogical or because they were stifled by them. I'm not sure why this happens. Maybe because adopting a religion that has the answers worked out seems easier than working them out for oneself? Maybe because it seems less messy to have the answers worked out than to accept that there are many things one doesn't know? Maybe because human beings, especially at that age, crave ritual and tradition? It seems especially to be a younger teen thing and be outgrown as an older teen, mostly. Not always. The ones that gently discouraged and disapproved in a well-better-you-than-me way or a I-thought-about-that-too-but-decided-against way, but didn't ban or forbid or fuss over or belittle seem to have had the best results. The issue didn't become an emotional weapon that the teen could use against the parent, or a point of pride that the teen couldn't later give up when he changed his mind. The teen was encouraged to think for themselves and to really look at the people involved (for example) and the basis for the traditions and the beliefs. It was acknowledged that craving ritual and tradition is a normal human trait, but that sometimes it comes at too high a price. It was acknowledged that sometimes compromises have to be made in ideals to satisfy other ideals, like being non-judgemental and accepting of differences, or freedom of choice, even freedom to choose something less than ideal, and the other things I talked about in one of my other posts here. These parents trusted that they had taught their children to think well, and taught their children what is right and what is wrong, and that that would be stronger than the new (or old, as the case may be) religion, as long as their families remained places where people thought and discussed and learned and grew. They weren't allowed to do anything extreme or promise anything. In all the cases I can think of where the children remained in the more extreme religion, rather than trying it and deciding it wasn't for them, the children were coming from homes with authoritarian parents or from homes where there was a lot of emotional turmoil. Otherwise, they tried it for a bit and then reverted back to whatever beliefs their own family had. The exception appears to be vegan or vegitarianism, and pacifism. Those two seem to be a natural extension of UU values, even though I'd have to say that half the UUers I know aren't either (mostly the older half). It is pretty normal for teen UUers to adopt those two stances and then stick to them.

 

Summing up - I recommend the following based on lots of experience with this in my own very liberal church: Trust your children to figure out the same things that you figured out and come to the same conclusions. Let them go to the religious services but tell them they can't commit themselves until they are 21 and legally adult. Don't make too much of a fuss over it. Tell them it is good to explore these things but make it clear that they are exploring, not choosing permanently. Tell them about your own explorations. Protect them from brainwashing. Teach them about how their brain works - that it is human to crave tradition and ritual, human to be inconsistent and illogical and unsure, and that as they get older, these things will feel more comfortable, human to move from a state of sureness (childhood) to a state of less sure as we learn how complicated the world is.

 

-Nan

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