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Saturday, May 28, 2005 

we are gonna be friends

One day in eleventh or twelfth grade my Dad suggested that maybe my style of dress was not appropriate for school. "Other people dress like this," I said. A couple of days later we were driving down the road, just him and me in the car. The conversation came up again.

"I don't think it's appropriate for you to dress like that at school," he said.
"Other people dress like this," I said.
"I talked to some of the people at your school and they said the only people who dress that way are you and your friends," he said.
"Yah," I said, "what's the big deal."
"I just don't want others to have the same opinion of you that I have of your friends," he said.

That was a breaking point for me. What my father said just didn't jive with my idealistic teenage world and from then on, I chose friends over family. Later, I got my act together and managed to become friends with my family. My closest friends, they are family and I am delighted when I get close enough to someone that they feel like family.

But back to high school. In high school, I was the kid your parents told you to avoid. That went for my friends too. Not that we were bad kids--our reputation was far from deserved but I understand the concern, why parents and other kids are wary of someone with a bad reputation. Some kids from church wouldn't talk to us at school, some wouldn't date any of us. And so we just became closer and tighter, so much so that I do feel closer to those people, most of them, I haven't spoken to them in a year or two but I feel closer to them than my parents and siblings. It was a smashing blow when one of my friends gave in to his parent's wishes and stopped associating with us; a couple of my friends were devastated.

Back then most of my friends were Mormon though we had a general disinterest and in a few cases disdain for the church. But we were spiritual in other ways, flirted with Buddhism and read Ayn Rand and all that typical teenage philosophy; passed notes around with our favorite passages—now that I look back, it was like an underground seminary.

Gradually most of them, including those closest to me, started to Mormon up and it really bothered me. I felt like we were splitting. It would be some time before I would change my tune on Mormonism and ironically, it was my non-Mormon girlfriend that softened my mind and enabled me to honestly look at the Mormon church and how I really felt about the spirituality it teaches.

Most of them are still strong, spiritually. One of them especially, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely dismiss Mormonism as long as his faith holds strong. I so respect his mind and I so respect his heart; I trust him that much.

Of course I have gotten into trouble because of friends, picked up some bad habits because of friends. It’s inevitable. A have a friend in particular, when we get together spirituality is out the window, and I’ve had other friends like that from time to time. On our own, neither of us would get into much trouble, but together, it’s a goofy fun mix. Though we have no focus on spirituality when we are together, those friends are inspiring and invigorating and because of them I feel more dedicated, more spiritual than ever.

Now that you are a parent with kids (?) how do you feel about how your father handled that situation? Can you relate to it? What would you do different from him?

So good. Very interesting.

Interesting questions Carrie Ann.

I am also interested to know what it is that made you closer to your family? I think part of the answer is always just age, maturity, but was it anything else?

I'm always glad when other people have had their Ayn Rand philosophy stage. I was there for a while.

Carrie Ann,

Tough questions. The things my father said about my friends and some of the things he did (which I didn't discuss) in this regard, I still think it was wrong. It was as if my father just assumed they were bad, was expecting it. One of my friends, his father was the opposite, sincerely praised us, complemented us on the potential he saw in us and expected us to fulfill that potential. Aside from that, my father handled things well; he really backed off and gave me a lot of room to move. I would have responded poorly to any demands that I deemed unreasonable and things would have become very messy.

What would I do different? My parents were disciplinarians; they were not good communicators and they were not very trusting. I already know I will probably be weak on the discipline (I can't even get my two-year old to go to bed at a remotely reasonable hour). I think if my parents had started, much earlier, drawing me out and getting to know me more and establishing a more comfortable relationship, they might have trusted me more and not been so worried--seriously, I think my friend's parents knew me better than my own parents. And in turn, I think I would have been more likely handle things in a way that didn't worry them so much.

I like to think that would be the case, but I don't really know-- I think a lot of it depends on the kid. As you said in your post, you were the one choosing to avoid people involved in unhealthy lifestyles; some kids will do that and some won't. So I want to know who my kids are so that I can prepare them accordingly.

Rebecca,

I just have a really good family. Only a stupid teenager would so dramatically distance themself from such a good family. So it was maturity.

My stepson had a circle of friends who he did drugs with, some have become active in church and others have gone to jail and embraced that life. He is sort of in the middle, actually more traditional than I ever thought he'd be.

I think the good example of a couple of his friends (one was just put in an elder's quorum presidency), who have gone to the temple and are raising kids as best they can, while remaining his friend, will do more than our preaching ever did.

One girl who went out with them is now actually my visiting teaching partner. She says that no matter how wild he got, he always spoke respectfully of the church. Which really surprised me.

It's hard to be a parent.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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