No! Not Church!

  • #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
Gold Member
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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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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.
 
  • #36
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAIpRRZvnJg
I have posted this before but seems appropriate for this thread.
 
  • #37
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.
Nonono. They should get opinions, but there's a difference between expressing their opinions, and letting kids think that their opinions are the only ones, which IS what they usually do. It's kind of more of a precaution than not letting them think for themselves.
 
  • #38
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Straw man. You shoot yourself in the foot as a debater. You want us to take you seriously, right?

Lets look at two scenarios, and you tell me the difference between them.

1) A teenager tells his parents he is an atheist. The parents insist that he goes to church against his will in an attempt to rid him of his atheism. They refuse to accept his beliefs.

2) A teenager tells his parents he is gay. The parents insist that he goes to a psychotherapist against his will in an attempt to "cure" his homosexuality. They refuse to accept his sexual orientation.

To me, it seems that scenario 1 is commonly accepted, but scenario 2 is taboo. Maybe I'm wrong about that.
 
  • #39
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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.

I could try that but I don't think I'll get away without explaining my self thoroughly. I would have to tell them why I didn't believe it anymore.



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.

I won't tell them I think their beliefs are stupid, but it may come across that way. I have really grown to detest religion. Maybe it's because when I realized that the stuff couldn't be true it was when I was growing to be more and more religious. I went into a period where I was in cognitive dissonance. It really pissed me off that I was born into the religion and not given a choice. Ever since then I've found more and more reasons to dislike the church.

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).

I think I just may have to force my self to church to avoid the confrontation. I have a good relationship with my parents and really wouldn't want to ruin it. I've told them I didn't believe a lot of the stuff in the bible and they didn't take it too well (a while ago).

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/P8Aq00yJSxo&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param [Broken] name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/P8Aq00yJSxo&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

Don't worry my parents aren't nearly as bad as that.

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.

I consider myself to have a mental age far above my chronological age. This isn't something I took lightly.
 
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  • #40
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When I was 16 I attended synagogue every Friday night, while my parents never attended services. It was totally a social thing for me as I had a lot of friends who also went. The ceremony consisted of dull routine prayers and hymns, interupted by a swell sermon as our Rabbi was good at it. My beliefs had nothing to do with it.
 
  • #41
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By the time they turn 18, they should be smart enough to know how to express their opinion.
The age at which they are smart enough is highly variable. Some are 10, others are 25. Also it isn't a binary switch. As you start to become more mature and critically thinking you become better at forming your own worldview. If you have never had any experience of forming or arguing about opinions until you are 18, then you won't be ready to express your opinion when you are 18 because it doesn't magically develop overnight. It slowly grows and you refine it over a period of many years.

Nonono. They should get opinions, but there's a difference between expressing their opinions, and letting kids think that their opinions are the only ones, which IS what they usually do. It's kind of more of a precaution than not letting them think for themselves.

I totally agree that kids should get a wider perspective and realize that there are different ways of looking at the world. However this is mainly the parents responsibility to show them. Having your kid go to church every Sunday, and considering other views and independent thought taboo is not a good way to stimulate an open mind. How many Christian parents take their children to mosques? How many Christian parents are open to the idea that they may be wrong? Kids are often much more open than their parents.


I consider the approach my parents took to be good (but of course I'm biased as they taught me to appreciate their approach). They informed me from a young age that they believed in (a Christian) god, but didn't necessarily expect me to do the same. They urged me to remain agnostic until I could see things in a greater perspective and even then consideration of alternatives is always healthy. They told me a bit about religion and when they realized that I wasn't really all that receptive they bought some short accounts of various religions and informed me that they were on our bookcase in case I was curious about any of them. If I wanted it to be a personal consideration I could just read them when I was home alone. Around age 12 I informed them that I considered myself an atheist and they were fine with it. We still get along fine. Parents should help you form your own views in an informed manner; not impose their own views on you.


Stratosphere: You're in a pretty bad situation unfortunately. Only you can predict the outcomes of you "coming out" as a non-believer. Some parents are surprisingly receptive while others can't tolerate such differences. I'd probably suck it up and just go to church as I wouldn't want a bad relationship with my parents (at least while I still lived with them). Maybe try dropping small hints to see what their reaction would be. It's sad that it has to be this way, but unfortunately sometimes you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

rootX: Nice video. Though I'm afraid it's probably a case of preaching to the choir. People already supportive of independent thought will like it, and people stuck in their views will dismiss it as inapplicable to their case.

I really don't see why people consider kids Christians, Muslims, Atheists, or whatever until they have expressed the fact that they believe in this. These are all beliefs and not something you sign up for or is born into. If I had a kid I wouldn't go around talking about how he is a Marxist, but people do that with religions. Children are by default agnostic.
 
  • #42
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Children are by default agnostic.

Nah. Children by default subscribe to magical thinking.
 
  • #43
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Nah. Children by default subscribe to magical thinking.

On the other hand, one of the posters here made a thread about his niece who devised a scientific way to determine whether or not there is a tooth fairy. We also need to be careful with how we use the word "children." In this thread, the same word has been used to describe 7 year olds and 17 year olds. That term seems overbroad.
 
  • #44
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Why? 7 year olds and 17 year olds both believe they know everything they need to know.
 
  • #45
DaveC426913
Gold Member
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You seem to be excessively biased towards parents ...
What a strange thing to say.
It's like saying "you seem excessively biased towards lawfulness", or "you seem excessively biased toward good health".

This is not a "two sides of the table" situation. The parents are in charge of instilling values in their children until such time as the children are mature enough to go on their own.


Lets look at two scenarios, and you tell me the difference between them.

Do you know what a straw man is? It is an attempt to shift a weak argument to a stronger argument. If you have an argument about religion, argue it. If you wish instead to argue about homosexuality, start a new thread.
 
  • #46
DaveC426913
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Why? 7 year olds and 17 year olds both believe they know everything they need to know.
Yup. Which is why virtually all societies recognize that it is the parents' job to guide their values.

I think we all agree that parents start off making all the decisions for their children (no one here is going to argue that a 3-year-old does not know best about playing on the stove top, or poking a cat with a sharp stick).

The only thing we do not agree on is at what age the child is mature enough to make certain decisions for himself.

Is there anyone who disagrees with this?

(I'm hoping if we reach consensus on this we can re-establish a new baseline for the discussion.)
 
  • #47
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The only thing we do not agree on is at what age the child is mature enough to make certain decisions for himself.

Are 22 year old suicide bombers considered mature and able to make their own decisions?
 
  • #48
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Yup. Which is why virtually all societies recognize that it is the parents' job to guide their values.

I think we all agree that parents start off making all the decisions for their children (no one here is going to argue that a 3-year-old does not know best about playing on the stove top, or poking a cat with a sharp stick).

The only thing we do not agree on is at what age the child is mature enough to make certain decisions for himself.

Is there anyone who disagrees with this?

(I'm hoping if we reach consensus on this we can re-establish a new baseline for the discussion.)

Would a +30 years old always make wiser/more mature decisions than a 3 years old?
 
  • #49
Monique
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Children under 18 need to respect their parent's opinions, but parents also need to respect the opinion of the child. I can't believe people think it would be normal to force a certain opinion on an adolescent.

The time when you are an adolescent is very important in your transition to become an adult: you need to be able to make your own decisions. The role of the parents should be to guide those decisions and set certain boundaries.
 
  • #50
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Yup. Which is why virtually all societies recognize that it is the parents' job to guide their values.

I think we all agree that parents start off making all the decisions for their children (no one here is going to argue that a 3-year-old does not know best about playing on the stove top, or poking a cat with a sharp stick).

The only thing we do not agree on is at what age the child is mature enough to make certain decisions for himself.

Is there anyone who disagrees with this?

(I'm hoping if we reach consensus on this we can re-establish a new baseline for the discussion.)
I disagree somewhat. Firstly there is no universal age where a child is mature. Age does not measure maturity even though it's often correlated. It's like asking at what color food is cooked. It really depends on the type of food. Similarly the age depends on the type of individual and the kind of upbringing he has had.

Secondly it's not as binary as you make it out to be. There are several approaches to teaching a kid not to touch the stove. At one extreme you may let him actually touch it and learn that it's hot (I do not recommend this). At the other extreme you just take him away from the stove or scold him every time he approaches it. However it's possibly to explain to a kid that it hurts if he touches the stove, and then even many young kids have the ability to deduce that they do not want to touch the stove. You give them information about the world (touching a stove hurts) and tries to help them make their choices depending on this. Of course if the child in question decides to touch the stove you should of course intervene. For some decisions you need to be a bit more mature, but at an age of about 10 I expect the average child can handle most decision if guided by their parents (as in the parents support the child, try not to be biased, and provide the necessary information to make the right choice).

Sometimes you let a child make part of a decision. Sometimes you make the child think he made the decision by himself. Sometimes you explain why one decision would be bad.
 

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