I have always learned through asking questions. Recently, however, whenever I question the gospel, my mother gets very upset and thinks that my questions are evidence of me losing my testimony. She has expressed worry and frustration and even disappointment in my “behavior." The truth is, I really value her opinion, I admire her strong testimony and I want to be able to question her and my faith without it meaning that I am “falling away from the church.” How can I have these conversations with my mother without her jumping to inaccurate conclusions?
Tell your mother exactly what you’ve written here. Explain to her, just as you have to us, that you learn through asking questions. Express to her often how much you value her opinion and that you’re seeking to deepen your understanding of the gospel rather than to poke holes in it.
You may also want to evaluate how you’re approaching the conversation. Are you argumentative? Do you make fun of her perspective? What you may view as “we’re just talking!” she may see as “I have such disrespectful/ungrateful children.” You know?
One of the most beautiful principles of the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that our families can be the safest place for us to learn new things and to ask questions that we may feel uncomfortable asking our friends or in our church meetings. With that said, however, parents are people, too. They fear, they overreact, they misspeak and sometimes they misjudge situations the same way everyone else does. But even with all their human characteristics they also have this incredible responsibility on their shoulders:
"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live" (see "The Family: A Proclamation to the World").
So be patient with your mother, try to see her motivation rather than her execution, and pray that she’ll do the same for you. Bear your testimony to her, so the Spirit can help you in your efforts and allow her to feel where you are spiritually instead of having to speculate.
You may not be able to ask your most controversial questions all at once, but your mom will, at least, have a better idea of where you are coming from.
Hope this helps!
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Advice columnist Angela Trusty answers questions about a variety of topics, including the Mormon young single adult experience. She is published weekly in the Deseret News and Washington Times.