Ask Angela: It's unfair that I'm forced to go to church

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3 2013 11:00 p.m. MDT

This young woman is frustrated because her parents are forcing her to go to meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until she is 18. Here, we look for ways she can see the positives in her current situation.

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Dear Angela,

I’ve decided that I don’t want to be LDS anymore, but because I’m only 16 my parents force me to go to church with them. They say that once I’m over 18 like my brothers I can make my own decisions about how I spend my Sunday mornings. I know my parents love me but I think this is so unfair and I don’t think it’s their place to tell me what to believe. Do you think it’s possible for me to get them to change their rules? Or what is a good way to deal with this situation?

Thanks,

No Church for Amy

Dear No Church for Amy,

It’s tough having parental rules that you don’t agree with, Amy, but a real positive in all of this is that you recognize that your parents love you and can therefore trust that their motivations are good.

That’s where I would start.

In this, as in most tough situations, asking yourself the question, “what are the positives?” is a good way to change things from bad to great — or at least from bad to not as bad.

So what are the positives in going to church?

Begin by making a list, and remember there is no positive that is too small. Maybe the only positive that you can think of is that it’s the one day a week that you get to dress up. Or, maybe you like to sing, so singing the hymns in sacrament meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, isn’t all that bad. Maybe you like the Young Women activities, maybe you like the boys, maybe you like voicing your unique perspective in Sunday School, etc., etc. Think of as many positives as you possibly can and make those the focus of your next two (final two?) years at home.

This is not a promise that overnight you’re going to love going to church, but as you focus on what is positive, uplifting and good about your situation, you’ll put yourself in charge of how you feel, and that will cause some of the unpleasant feelings to subside.

Beyond that, no one, not even your parents, can force you to believe something that you don’t believe. They may have house rules that you need to live by, but religious beliefs are deeply personal, and developing or not developing a testimony is up to you. Spend some time thinking about what you do believe. Ask yourself questions like "why would parents who love me want me to be in church on Sunday?" "Why is it important to them?" and "On any level, are those things important to me, too?" Then search for answers.

It's OK to be undecided or to not know everything right now, but this process will be a really powerful experience for you.

Be patient with yourself and those who love you; be positive about your circumstances, and everything will work out.

Hope this helps!

Love,

Angela

Readers: This is just one perspective, what suggestions would you give our friend? Have you experienced a similar situation?

To learn more about "No Church for Amy's" story, visit our Facebook Page and blog.

Angela Trusty is a young adult advice columnist. Twitter: angelatrusty

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