No! Not Church!

  • #1
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I'm having a bit of a problem. I live with a semi-religious family who think we have to go to church on Sunday. They obviously want me to go with them, I don't want to (I'm agnostic), I think the whole thing is really stupid yet I haven't REALLY told my parents what I think of their religion.

I really don't feel like having to argue with them over this, it'll get ugly really fast. I can defend my position fine, I might even be able to convince them even (or maybe not) that it's truly a silly thing to believe in. They are somewhat intelligent people who just have never had a particular interest in science, which leads them to believe in a religion.

Any suggestions on what I should do? I'm 16 by the way in case it makes a difference.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Evo
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Try telling them that you understand their desire to go to church, but that you no longer believe in it and would rather not go.

Avoid discussions of who is right and who is wrong. Don't belittle their beliefs or feelings. This is about your beliefs only. Hopefully they will respect your decision.

I told my mom (a devout Catholic) that I couldn't go anymore when I was 11. She was absolutely fine.

Good luck to you.
 
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  • #3
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Don't say that your parents are wrong in believing. That is bollocks and you should get slapped for that. If you don't want to go to church, then your parents should understand. As long as you are nice about it. As soon as you get angry with them, they will make your life hell.
 
  • #4
mgb_phys
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A walkman and a very discrete headphone in the ear facing away from them ?
 
  • #5
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A walkman and a very discrete headphone in the ear facing away from them ?

That's disrespectful to the others in the church.

If you are forced to go, listen to the homily at least. There are always great lessons to be learned from them. You don't have to get the religious aspect from it, but they still make sense for every day life.
 
  • #6
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I'm having a bit of a problem. I live with a semi-religious family who think we have to go to church on Sunday. They obviously want me to go with them, I don't want to (I'm agnostic), I think the whole thing is really stupid yet I haven't REALLY told my parents what I think of their religion.

Agnosticism is whether we can know, not whether you believe. I have very catholic friends and grandparents. I go a few times a year with them and it makes all the difference. Most services are only an hour and sometimes they have some good lessons. You certainly shouldn't go every week if you don't want to, but go a few times, sometimes it's not all about you.
 
  • #7
Dembadon
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When I went to church with my parents when I was a kid, I thought about Star Wars. How awesome would it be to own an Imperial Speeder Bike and navigate the woods behind my house at blazing speeds? If I saw any stormtroo.... Sorry.:blushing:

On a more serious note; I think politely telling them that you do not share their affection for religion is the way to go. If your feelings are well delivered, they should understand. I can attest to the (relational) difficulty regarding this situation. However, it won't be as bad as you think. It will feel good to tell them - much better than sitting through services, about which you have little to no interest, taxing your imagination in an effort to conjure a new Star Wars/Star Trek scene to play out in your head. :smile:
 
  • #8
drizzle
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... They are somewhat intelligent people who just have never had a particular interest in science, which leads them to believe in a religion.

Any suggestions on what I should do? I'm 16 by the way in case it makes a difference.

I suggest you quit assuming reasons behind their belief and deal with YOUR problem! You sure have the choice of who you wanna be, but try to think/ read/ listen/ whatever, at least that would work your mind on your spare time... Oh by the way, I do physics, and I’m a believer from head to toe, in case it makes a difference :biggrin:
 
  • #9
turbo
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I struggled with this for many years as a child. My parents were in a mixed marriage, in which my father had to sign a contract to agree that I would be raised Catholic. He was loathe to go back on that, but when I raised enough of a ruckus about hating the church, he backed me. I stopped going to church, and we spent our Sunday mornings driving around talking and sight-seeing, and in season, fly-fishing remote ponds and bogs.
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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I'm having a bit of a problem. I live with a semi-religious family who think we have to go to church on Sunday. They obviously want me to go with them, I don't want to (I'm agnostic), I think the whole thing is really stupid yet I haven't REALLY told my parents what I think of their religion.

I really don't feel like having to argue with them over this, it'll get ugly really fast. I can defend my position fine, I might even be able to convince them even (or maybe not) that it's truly a silly thing to believe in. They are somewhat intelligent people who just have never had a particular interest in science, which leads them to believe in a religion.

Any suggestions on what I should do? I'm 16 by the way in case it makes a difference.
Don't tell your parents that you think their beliefs are stupid. Simply state that you would prefer not to go to church. You might consider an exception for certain holidays.

If one wants one's parents to respect one's beliefs, then reciprocate. I suspect one's parents might enjoy the community and friendships, as well as the spirituality, of the church.

At 16 I simply told my parents that I would not be attending church. Prior to that, my brother and I would go to church with my mom, grab a cup of coffee and a donut, and then walk out the door on the other side of the building, return to the car, and spend an hour listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. It was pretty decent during the early 70's. Then we found a better rock station.
 
  • #11
Moonbear
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You might have wanted to bring this up with them at a time other than a major holiday celebration. It just makes the potential for hurt feelings and drama substantially greater than if it was an issue brought up over a regular Sunday mass.

I was a bit younger than you when I told my mother I was not going to go to church anymore and preferred to just sleep in. Unfortunately, there was no being spared the drama. I had told her before the Sunday she was planning to go to church, but she still insisted on waking me up Sunday morning to go to church. Arguments with sleepy teenagers never go well, but when I simply refused to get out of bed and get dressed for church, she only had two choices left, go without me or not go either. She finally went without me.

What really made no sense to me is that my mom was going to masses being held in memory of my father, but my father never went to church either. He agreed to be dragged along for Christmas and Easter, and there was always at least an hour of grumbling before or after mass about the greedy church just wanting to make money and not really caring about people.

But, still, a holiday when you're probably going to be expected to be around your family all day is probably not the day to have this fight. It won't kill you to just sit there and not pay any attention. If it drives you too crazy, just excuse yourself to the bathroom and take a long walk around outside instead. Or, do what I do the few times I'm obliged to accompany relatives to mass for some occasion...arrive as late as possible so it's standing room only, and as other latecomers arrive, especially people with children, be graceful about letting them squeeze in in front of you until you've gotten yourself squeezed right out the door. :biggrin:
 
  • #12
Astronuc
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I'd recommend one sit down and have heart to heart talk with one's parents, as all children and parents should do over the years, especially after children pass puberty.

Most importantly, listen - with an open mind, and open heart.

And also importantly, one should express one's thoughts and beliefs, not to defend them, but to explain oneself. Reciprocally, one should allow one's parents to express their thoughts and beliefs, and not dismiss or disparage their beliefs. If one has not talked about this subject in detail, then perhaps one has misconceptions about what one's parents believe.
 
  • #13
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I had a feeling this thread would get quite a few posts. I'll respond soon, I just don't have the time right now to read them all.
 
  • #14
russ_watters
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When I went to church with my parents when I was a kid, I thought about Star Wars. How awesome would it be to own an Imperial Speeder Bike and navigate the woods behind my house at blazing speeds? If I saw any stormtroo.... Sorry.:blushing:

On a more serious note; I think politely telling them that you do not share their affection for religion is the way to go. If your feelings are well delivered, they should understand. I can attest to the (relational) difficulty regarding this situation. However, it won't be as bad as you think. It will feel good to tell them - much better than sitting through services, about which you have little to no interest, taxing your imagination in an effort to conjure a new Star Wars/Star Trek scene to play out in your head. :smile:
I agree with your first piece of advice.

The OP is basically saying it is more trouble than it is worth to try to argue about it, and so already knows what to do: Suck it up and deal with it for the next year or two or 5 until you no longer live with them on a consistent basis (ie, when you go to college).
 
  • #15
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I agree with your first piece of advice.

The OP is basically saying it is more trouble than it is worth to try to argue about it, and so already knows what to do: Suck it up and deal with it for the next year or two or 5 until you no longer live with them on a consistent basis (ie, when you go to college).

It's terrible that parents would do that to their kids, though. If they're good parents, they'll agree to respect his religion, or lack thereof.

My parents tried making me to go CCD (some kind of Catholic kids thing) when I was in 2nd grade. It was torture... I raised enough of a fuss that they quit making me go. If they wanted to indoctrinate me, they should have started sooner than 2nd grade.
 
  • #16
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It's better not to argue. I tried but after few years started learning that it is best to avoid. But certainly don't hide what you think.
 
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  • #17
russ_watters
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It's terrible that parents would do that to their kids, though. If they're good parents, they'll agree to respect his religion, or lack thereof.
No it isn't, no they won't. Kids are kids. By definition, they are not entitled to opinions about such things. Until you turn 18, your parents' job is to mold you into the person they think you should be.

Now a good parent will slowly loosten the leash as a kid approaches that magic number, but how much and on what topics is up to the discretion of the parents. If an 11:00 curfew is important to them for enforcing morality, so be it. If forcing church attendance is important to them for teaching morality, that's fine too.
My parents tried making me to go CCD (some kind of Catholic kids thing) when I was in 2nd grade. It was torture... I raised enough of a fuss that they quit making me go. If they wanted to indoctrinate me, they should have started sooner than 2nd grade.
Definitely, I'd start earlier, but the two issues there are connected: they weren't strong/tough enough to start you early and they were way too weak in letting a 2nd grader bully them. And you've internalized that attitude and are feeding it back to the OP!
It's better not to argue. I tried but after few years started learning that it is best to avoid. But certainly don't hide what you think.
...unless you have weak parents like Jack and can bully them! But I don't want to be either the screaming/whining kid in the grocery store nor the parent who can't properly control him. My perception is that this issue is a big and growing issue in society today.
 
  • #18
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...unless you have weak parents like Jack and can bully them! But I don't want to be either the screaming/whining kid in the grocery store nor the parent who can't properly control him. My perception is that this issue is a big and growing issue in society today.

I started rebelling around 16-17 little by little. I understood my dependency on them so couldn't really have a strong independent opinions. But as I became more and more independent, I limited their abilities to influence my decisions or opinions which came at the cost of distancing myself from them a bit.

(I haven't discovered yet to pay them back for raising me. It was not perfect but they did their best. I guess time will come.. sooner or later when I will be able to return back some)
 
  • #19
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Children, by definition, do not want to sit still for an hour and listen to an old man talk. I had a hard time attending church when I was a youngin' so my parents brought matchbox cars for me to play with and keep quiet. Now it is me who is having a tough time dragging them to church!
 
  • #20
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Children, by definition, do not want to sit still for an hour and listen to an old man talk.

There is a difference between
  • finding it boring or
  • questing/challenging what the old man is talking about.
 
  • #21
DaveC426913
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No it isn't, no they won't. Kids are kids. By definition, they are not entitled to opinions about such things. Until you turn 18, your parents' job is to mold you into the person they think you should be.

Russ is right. At 16, it is your parents' responsibility to raise you in the manner they think best, not just in the manner you like. You will have your whole life to make your own decisions about your religious beliefs, but unless you learn about them, your decisions will be uninformed.

That being said, it is your responsibility to show them where and when you are prepared to go it alone. If you handle this thoughtfully and maturely, they may respect your wishes.
 
  • #22
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There is a difference between
  • finding it boring or
  • questing/challenging what the old man is talking about.


Because little kids know everything they need to know about what the priest/pastor/etc. is saying.
 
  • #23
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I told my mom (a devout Catholic) that I couldn't go anymore when I was 11. She was absolutely fine.

Not everyone's parents are so understanding (caution, contains some swearing)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Aq00yJSxo

To the OP: You would know your parents better than any of us, and how they would react. You're 16, you probably have a couple more years yet before it's feasible for you to move out on your own. If you think there's a chance they could react poorly, it might be wiser to hold off on telling them, as they have the ability to make your life extremely miserable.
Definitely don't go into the conversation expecting or trying to convince them that they are wrong. That will only engender hostility.
 
  • #24
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Russ is right. At 16, it is your parents' responsibility to raise you in the manner they think best, not just in the manner you like. You will have your whole life to make your own decisions about your religious beliefs, but unless you learn about them, your decisions will be uninformed.

That being said, it is your responsibility to show them where and when you are prepared to go it alone. If you handle this thoughtfully and maturely, they may respect your wishes.

Not all parents (old people) are mature enough to respect different opinions.
 
  • #25
russ_watters
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I started rebelling around 16-17 little by little. I understood my dependency on them so couldn't really have a strong independent opinions. But as I became more and more independent, I limited their abilities to influence my decisions or opinions which came at the cost of distancing myself from them a bit.
There's definitely an innate and necessary tension between teenagers and parents. In their teens, kids are capable of some independence while still learning to be independent/mature. It is built-into our brains to crave it because we need it. And it is built into our brains to be protective parents.
(I haven't discovered yet to pay them back for raising me. It was not perfect but they did their best. I guess time will come.. sooner or later when I will be able to return back some)
My theory on that is that you shouldn't pay your parents themselves back. They were just doing your job and the best way to pay them back is to do yours and raise good kids on your own.

That applies to things like paying for college, too. If parents can, they should. And the kids pay it back by paying it forward.
 
  • #26
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Russ is right. At 16, it is your parents' responsibility to raise you in the manner they think best, not just in the manner you like. You will have your whole life to make your own decisions about your religious beliefs, but unless you learn about them, your decisions will be uninformed.

That being said, it is your responsibility to show them where and when you are prepared to go it alone. If you handle this thoughtfully and maturely, they may respect your wishes.

This kind of thinking unfortunately often leads to abusing children, whether intentionally or unintentionally. A parent MUST realize that the mind of children and teens is extremely susceptible to believing what the parents tells them including the good and bad things.

Once a parent indoctrinates their children with anything (values, morality, religion, ideology, hatred) that will stay with them for a long time.

Once children mature it doesn't mean they will be able to make up their own minds. In fact, it's usually very painful for many people to break away from many things parents told them was OK.
 
  • #27
DaveC426913
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This kind of thinking unfortunately often leads to abusing children, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
That does not mean it is wrong. You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Parents raise children and instill in them their values.

A parent MUST realize that the mind of children and teens is extremely susceptible to believing what the parents tells them including the good and bad things.

They do realize that. That's the whole point of instilling values in them when they are young.
 
  • #28
I'm in the same boat. But you know, I really like church. One of my friends goes there, and we do math equations and stuff when we get really bored, but there's always something to be learned. And most of it ISN'T religious.
If you don't believe what the Bible tells you, think of it as story time. Stories always have a good point.
I wouldn't advise telling your parents off, if they're anything like my mom. You only have two years left, and it makes them happy. It's only an hour or so of your time. Do math. :D
 
  • #29
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1
No it isn't, no they won't. Kids are kids. By definition, they are not entitled to opinions about such things. Until you turn 18, your parents' job is to mold you into the person they think you should be.

Now a good parent will slowly loosten the leash as a kid approaches that magic number, but how much and on what topics is up to the discretion of the parents. If an 11:00 curfew is important to them for enforcing morality, so be it. If forcing church attendance is important to them for teaching morality, that's fine too.
Definitely, I'd start earlier, but the two issues there are connected: they weren't strong/tough enough to start you early and they were way too weak in letting a 2nd grader bully them. And you've internalized that attitude and are feeding it back to the OP!...unless you have weak parents like Jack and can bully them! But I don't want to be either the screaming/whining kid in the grocery store nor the parent who can't properly control him. My perception is that this issue is a big and growing issue in society today.

You seem to have a strange belief that until a person is 17 years 364 days old, they're a "child" and not entitled to form an opinion about anything, but the instant they turn 18, they magically become adults.

Religion is a highly personal thing, and has little or nothing to do with morality. It has to do with believing something to be true with no evidence to support it. That is not something any parent should ever teach their child, and to FORCE them to believe in something for which there is no evidence is impossible. All a parent can do is force the child to go through the motions, and I stand by my original statement that that is a terrible thing.

I also object to you calling my parents "weak" because they were accepting of my atheism. If I had come out as gay instead of atheist, would you be calling them "weak" for not sending me to a psychotherapist to "heal" my homosexuality?

EDIT: If religion had supporting evidence, it would no longer be religion, but rather a science. Religion is based on faith, which, by definition, doesn't require evidence. Saying that there is no evidence for religion isn't intended as an insult, just a definition of the term for the purposes of my argument.
 
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  • #30
That was my family's rearing- kids aren't entitled to opinions.
And it's not so much that they can't have an opinion, as that *most* if not all, 16 and 17 year olds are smart, but not smart enough to figure everything out for themselves. So instead of making themselves high and mighty, and having grandiose opinions, they can shut up and learn more from other people. All teenagers are obviously smarter than their parents, but they should be able to deal with two years of having to listen and learn.
By the time they turn 18, they should be smart enough to know how to express their opinion.
 
  • #31
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That was my family's rearing- kids aren't entitled to opinions.
And it's not so much that they can't have an opinion, as that *most* if not all, 16 and 17 year olds are smart, but not smart enough to figure everything out for themselves. So instead of making themselves high and mighty, and having grandiose opinions, they can shut up and learn more from other people. All teenagers are obviously smarter than their parents, but they should be able to deal with two years of having to listen and learn.
By the time they turn 18, they should be smart enough to know how to express their opinion.

I disagree with basically everything you just said. The biggest point I disagree with, though, is that 16 year olds best learn by "shutting up and listening, and not forming an opinion of their own." That's a TERRIBLE way to learn in my opinion.

Of course, I don't have any facts and studies to back that up, it's just my experience.
 
  • #32
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That does not mean it is wrong. You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Parents raise children and instill in them their values.


They do realize that. That's the whole point of instilling values in them when they are young.

There are parents that want, and actively influence their children to stay with their religion/ideology once they grow up for as long as they are alive.

And then there are parents that say, it's my way or the high way until you are 18, then do whatever you want. The flaw with this logic is that it's very difficult to re-program your instilled values by then, and so most don't want to undertake it.

The instilled values can be good or bad. The good ones are treat others with respect, help someone in need, teach how to hunt, etc. The bad values are usually unfounded opinions like political parties, religions, beliefs in God, conspiracy theories, hatred toward another race or ethnicity,

One must realize this stuff is difficult to get rid of in adulthood once it was instilled in childhood/adolescence.

Therefore the Parents shouldn't force their opinions on young minds. Teach them how to think for themselves critically.
 
  • #33
DaveC426913
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You seem to have a strange belief that until a person is 17 years 364 days old, they're a "child" and not entitled to form an opinion about anything, but the instant they turn 18, they magically become adults.
No, the instant they turn 18 they legally become adults.

You seem to have the strange belief that the day they turn 18 they're fully-formed and ready for the world. They're not really ready for the world until they're in their early 20's, but some are earlier starters. How they comport themselves will indicate this.

Religion is a highly personal thing, and has little or nothing to do with morality. It has to do with believing something to be true with no evidence to support it.
Religion is a personal thing once you're old enough to comprehend it.

And it has everything to do with morality. Minors are too young to understand that it's about the lessons, not about the stories. That will come in time.

That is not something any parent should ever teach their child, and to FORCE them to believe in something for which there is no evidence is impossible.
Nobody is FORCING anybody to believe. Parents teach their children the ways of the world. They also teach them not to steal and to eat their veggies. That is their job.


I also object to you calling my parents "weak" because they were accepting of my atheism. If I had come out as gay instead of atheist, would you be calling them "weak" for not sending me to a psychotherapist to "heal" my homosexuality?
Straw man. You shoot yourself in the foot as a debater. You want us to take you seriously, right?
 
  • #34
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No, the instant they turn 18 they legally become adults.

You seem to have the strange belief that the day they turn 18 they're fully-formed and ready for the world. They're not really ready for the world until they're in their early 20's, but some are earlier starters. How they comport themselves will indicate this.


Religion is a personal thing once you're old enough to comprehend it.

And it has everything to do with morality. Minors are too young to understand that it's about the lessons, not about the stories. That will come in time.


Nobody is FORCING anybody to believe. Parents teach their children the ways of the world. They also teach them not to steal and to eat their veggies. That is their job.



Straw man. You shoot yourself in the foot as a debater. You want us to take you seriously, right?

You seem to be excessively biased towards parents ...
 
  • #35
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Therefore the Parents shouldn't force their opinions on young minds. Teach them how to think for themselves critically.

Assuming said parents know how to do that themselves. There is also this tendency to confer all sorts of intelligence and kind intentions on people who have procreated. While this is true for some people, it's certainly not true for all. Parents also instill bigotry, racism, hate, pettiness, stupidity and all sorts of other ideas on their offspring.

Setting all of that aside and addressing the OP, yes, respect your parents' beliefs, assuming they're not actively harming anyone else. Do not tell your parents -- or anyone else for that matter -- that their beliefs are stupid or unfounded or whatever other arguments you want to present to them to prove they're wrong. Talk about what you believe and why -- assuming they're the type of people who want to hear it and respect what you have to say. If not, suck it up, hush up, and go and sit quietly for an hour a week. It won't kill you. Plus, your mind is allowed to go wherever it wants. And, no, not all homilies have value. Not all spiritual leaders of organised congregations are fascinating people with valuable insights.

I strongly disagree that kids aren't "entitled" to opinions. They most certainly are. If they're thinking creatures at all, they have and are forming ideas about the world around them. Helping kids to distinguish between useful and valid opinions and not is a good thing to teach. Teach them to understand that opinions need substantiation in order to be worthwhile and that opinions born of nothing more than some sort of knee jerk reaction carry no weight and have little to no real value is another good thing to teach them. So, but, first, you need to hear and listen to the opinions your kids are forming in order to have reasonable discussions about them. It's not a question of entitlement. It's a fact that their brains are working.

And with all of that in mind, I meet more grown-ups who spew the words, "It's my opinion and I'm entitled to it" with nothing whatsoever to back it up. I wonder, then, how do they help their kids through that thought-bog. And maybe, just maybe, if their parents had "entitled" them to have an opinion when they were a kid, they could have worked on fleshing out the ideas together. Maybe.
 

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