Mom, I Love You, but I Can’t Keep Going to Church


Christoph Niemann

I am 17. Since I was a baby, my mother has taken me to church with her on Sunday mornings. Recently, I’ve felt less religious and less interested in going than I used to. But when I bring this up with her, it always ends in a screaming match (especially on Sunday mornings). She believes I must go. We get along fairly well otherwise. Is there a better way to broach this subject, or should I simply endure the weekly ritual until I go to college?


In one of the great understatements in (boxing) history, Floyd Mayweather Jr. once said, “Self-preservation is an important thing to me.” So it should be to all of us. You are probably financially dependent on your mother — and will be, to some extent, when you go to college. Nothing in your letter suggests a dire backdrop, but many young people are cut off by their parents for warring over hot topics such as religion or sexuality. Keep that (and your best interests) in mind.

I applaud your mom for wanting a regular spiritual component in your life. But that needn’t be church (in my irrelevant opinion) for one disinclined and on the cusp of adulthood. Suggest a weekly commitment to serving those in need — at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, maybe — in lieu of church. She may go for a switcheroo with a moral and compassionate flavor. (Or she may want you sitting in the pew next to her.) Bring it up quietly at dinner some Tuesday night and see how it goes.


I am a passionate vegan for many reasons. But contrary to popular opinion, I do not speak about them. Still, when asked if I am vegan, I suffer an instant barrage of unsolicited opinions — from You’re going to die of malnutrition” to “Stop being a snowflake; animals don’t have feelings.” This offends me. These conversations aren’t about me explaining my choices, but others imposing their (often incorrect) views on me. I am a peace-loving person, but I would like a saucy comeback. Can you oblige?


With pleasure! Unsolicited opinions are the worst. They are usually about the red-hot needs of opinion spouters, not their recipients. And frequently they are infantilizing: “You are incompetent to walk this green earth until I tell you how.” This also goes for the new (to me, anyway), aggressive cousin of unsolicited opinions, when someone says, apropos of some personal choice, “Would you like to know what I think?” (No, not really.)

The next time a meddler asks (then tells) about your diet or use of animal products, say, “Remember that time I asked you about my veganism? Funny, me neither.” That should do the trick. And if this tack is insufficiently “peace-loving,” try: “I’m good with my choice, but thanks for your concern.” Then pivot. Easy, right?

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