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Mother and son at odds over religious tradition

Posted: December 23, 2013 5:17 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Dear Annie: I am 14 years old and facing a dilemma. My father isn’t particularly religious, but my mother is a strict Catholic, and my older sister and brother have been confirmed. I have another six months before I am expected to go through the process of confirmation. I do not want to do this. But as the time approaches, my mother has become increasingly forceful on the subject.

I do not share my mother’s beliefs, although I do believe in God. My father supports my choice, and I’ve tried to explain it to my mother, but she won’t have any of it. She continues to send me to religious classes, which I consider a complete waste of my time, and it results in some very awkward conversations because I find myself hiding my beliefs. When I once refused to attend the classes, my mother threatened to call my school and have me taken off of student council and the soccer team.

I know her stubbornness has other causes, including pleasing family members who are deeply religious and have always resented my father's agnosticism. But time is running out, and Mom has only become more aggressive. If I resist, there will be huge consequences. I don’t feel I can take part in such an important religious event if I am not fully committed to it. I even talked to Mom about postponing it for a few years, which would be allowed in our diocese, but she rejected that idea. How can I convince her that she is being unreasonable? -- Frustrated Son

Dear Frustrated:

Dear Annie:

I have seen kids standing three feet from the toilet (because they are too short to use the urinal) and spraying the seat. This is not a competition to see how far away you can be and still hit the target. Some parents are concerned about germs and tell their kids not to touch the seat, so you can imagine the messes I have witnessed when using a public restroom. Also, please teach the child to flush after himself.

I realize this is a particularly difficult issue for single mothers who can't go into the men's room with their sons. Please address this. -- T.S.

Dear T.S.: We appreciate your concern, and we hope parents are paying attention. However, we’re fairly certain that most parents already teach their sons how to use the toilet, because they don’t want to clean up a mess at home, either. Public restrooms pose difficulties because opposite-sex parents cannot supervise, and the kids can become either anxious or reckless. But not all accidents are caused by young children. Adults do their share, too.

Dear Annie: Your response to "Concerned Cutter in N.Y." to post a sign in his barbershop saying that cellphone use is prohibited while in the chair is good. I have a better one.

There’s an old saying that time is money. It certainly takes more time to cut hair if the patron is chatting on a cellphone. How about posting a sign that says: Haircuts: $30; Haircuts While Using Cellphone: $50

The next time a customer chats, instead of being annoyed, the barber can say, "I just made another $20.’ I doubt he would lose customers if he is lighthearted about it. -- Benicia, Calif.

Dear Annie:

My husband and I have three adult children who were the delight of our lives. We had a typical loving family, with vacations, birthday parties and special celebrations that included friends and extended family. We had anxious times during illnesses, surgeries and accidents, but we made it through.

All three of our children have grown to be successful, well-liked and respected adults. Sadly, over the past 22 years, they all have chosen to shut us out of their lives. We’ve had minor disagreements at times, but never any major battles that might justify their choices. None of them will tell us why they are angry. They refuse to have any contact or open dialog that might heal our relationship. I know you’re probably thinking "there must be something." If so, we don’t know what it is.

My husband is 81, and I am 78. We understand there is a real possibility that we will never hear from our children before we die. We do our best to focus on the great times we had and to hold onto the many precious memories of their growing-up years.

Holidays are the hardest, but with God’s help, we make it through. We have forgiven our children and will always pray for them. We will always thank God for choosing us to be their parents. -- Joining the Letting Go Club

Dear Joining: Your letter is heartbreaking. When children are brought up by loving parents, we don’t know why some remain close and others do not. The same fire that melts butter will forge steel. If you have any family members who are in touch with your children, perhaps they could help you understand what is going on and even intercede on your behalf. In the meantime, you are wise to accept what you cannot change and compassionate to forgive those who have hurt you.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

You often print letters from older parents dealing with rejection from their adult children. This is literally an epidemic everywhere. Anger and hatred are destroying families.
I am a senior citizen with an issue regarding children who use the restroom without being educated or properly trained in etiquette.
You can’t. Your mother is in panic mode, frightened for your religious future and concerned that her family will disapprove of the way she raised you. Your best bet is to talk to your priest and ask him to intervene. While he is unlikely to support your decision not to be confirmed, he may be able to convince Mom that waiting is in everyone’s best interest, and she is more apt to listen to him.

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