Thursday, December 19, 2013

A response to Dear Abby for a young agnostic

This was written in response to Dear Abby's answer to a letter from a young agnostic in a devoutly Catholic family.

I am writing in response to the December 14 letter from the young woman whose devoutly Roman Catholic parents were unable to accept her lack of belief.

While your response to her was not terrible, it didn't strike me as particularly helpful, either. She asked, basically, how she could get her parents to take her seriously on this topic, and where she could find support if they wouldn't. Your advice on the first point, if I'm reading it correctly, is to avoid arguing over the topic, and ask the parents to support your spiritual "exploration". While I agree that it's important for Agnostic to try and maintain a good relationship with her parents, sometimes it simply isn't possible to avoid arguments - especially on a topic like this. Far too often, "don't let this become a contest of wills" amounts to "suck it up and be miserable so that the rest of the family isn't discomfited". As you might imagine, that isn't really a sustainable approach.

You answer to her second question was... nonexistent. So, let me fill in: there are a large number of resources available to young agnostics and atheists. Permit me to recommend The Young Atheist's Survival Guide, by Hemant Mehta, as a resource book; it should be available through Interlibrary Loan, if nothing else. There are resources and communities available online; I myself help to moderate support groups on Facebook for both Christian parents and atheist or agnostic children who find themselves in these situations. My advice to Agnostic in Stockton would be to look around. There are all sorts of unbelievers around, and many believers who wrestle with doubts or questions. Her situation is far from unique, and there's no reason why she should have to deal with it alone.

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