Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Can't Get to Your Heart if You Close the Door to Your Mind

Your girl diary rarely gets serious or crosses into topical material that she does not consider to be poilite dinner conversation (ie. religion or politics). But I am really pissed off about something and I need to vent about it or I might not be able to resist the urge to throw down with a certain pair of local parents, next time I bump into them in the supermarket. And since I don't need the jail time and they don't need the mulitple injuries, I am going to use the forum that I have at my disposal to get this off my chest. Lucky you.

I was having dinner with my son the other night and he mentioned to me that he is not welcome at a certain friend's house because of his religious and political views. Nearly choking on my burrito, I asked for a repeat of that - Teenager say what? As he gave me the details, I sat with my mouth hanging open, shaking my head in disbelief. But more than anything else, my heart hurt.

He explained to me that there had been occasions where he had been having dinner over this friend's house around the time of the election and he had shared his hopes for the election outcome and his reasons why. This seemed to visibly agitate his friend's dad and mom. Things got uncomfortable and there was a palpable tension in the air.

On several occasions this family took my son to youth rallies at their religious gathering place. From what I can gather, the purpose of doing this was to pedal their beliefs to all the guests that were brought by the members. True to his nature, my boy held his ground and debated with the "salesmen" at the event and ultimately, had a good time.

You might ask why I even allowed these people to take him to such an event, but I have raised my kids to be open minded, to seek to understand other people's views and to try very hard not to judge them as a result. I certainly would NEVER tolerate shunning anyone because of their religious or political beliefs. Of course there are radical examples where common sense dictates that you should avoid someone, like if they are involved in hate speech or crimes against humanity. But 99.99% of the time, tolerance is the only answer.

The real heartbreaker of this is that my son is a good kid. He's kind, loving and a trusted confidant to his friends. He cares about and nurtures his friendships in a way that makes me very proud. All of his actions make it clear to anyone looking that he values harmony in the world and in his personal relationships.

Even more shocking to me is that he is being shunned by adults. He has always had an incredible ability to talk to adults, ever since he was a little boy. On many occasions I've had parents stop me and tell me how much they like him, how well mannered he is and how pleased they are that their children are friends with him. So this was a bodyblow that I never saw coming.

OK, that's not completely true. I knew that these people were narrow thinkers and on the handful of times that I met the father, I thought he was an ice-cold douchebag. I got a very weird vibe from him, like he was looking down his nose at me. But I chalked that up to my own paranoia and I let it go. I rationalized that he was just one of those people that had a face that looked like someone just waved a fresh turd under their nose. Now I know that my suspicion was dead on. I'm not crazy. Hooray! (at least not about this)

The boy is not without fault here because he ignored my advice to keep his views on these things to himself. While I want him to be tolerant of others, I also do not want him shouting his beliefs from the rooftops or worse, hard selling them to others. On more than one occasion, I have had to pull him out of a conversation by his ear and correct him. He may be open to spirited debate about these topics, but he can't count on the openmindedness of his audience. I have warned him that people often have deep and heartfelt opinions on these topics and it can be difficult for them to separate their emotions from the discussion.

I am hoping that this all blows over at some point, but I need to prepare myself and my son for the possibility that it wont. This is a heartbreaking life lesson for him, but it's a lesson just the same. Hopefully he will think twice about discussing these topics in the future and will preserve the harmony while he is just a neighborhood kid.

Once he gets to college, I plan to load him with all the philosophy, theologly and political science that his little brain can hold. He was born to talk about this stuff, but like the great Johnny Carson once said - "Know your audience . . .". The assholes in this sleepy little 'burb ain't it.

As for me, I will resist the urge to kick this kid's dad in the junk the next time I see him. And I won't dig out the "see you next tuesday" when I see his mom, though I will REEEEAAALLLLY want to. I will let the universe give them theirs. It always does. At least that's my belief.

30 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

singedwingangel said...

Ok umm see from where I am standing apparently the parents have the cult mentality that they call Christianity. You know the one where the only way is their way and anything else makes you less of a human being or even a Christian. Ok so YOU won't lay hands on them, shall I? See I can forget that I am saved long enough to dig up the old man and break out a can of Ky get your head out of your derriere whoop butt when need be...

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

That is just terrible. And I know that feeling when your heart aches for something your child is going through. You're right though. This is a very important life lesson for him. Unfortunately this type of shit comes up far more often than it should and at least with your son dealing with it now vs later he has you to fall back on to help him through it.

knitergran said...

I place a lot of hope in the justice of the universe too, so here's hoping that what goes around comes around. What awful people!

Aunt Juicebox said...

I think if he's got the sack to speak his mind, let him. I know you are just trying to protect him from dillholes like this kid's dad, but it sounds to me like he can hold his own. There are certain topics like religion and politics that people are very passionate about, and a lot of times, it's usually the close minded idiots who are doing all the talking. I'd love to have a spirited, intelligent conversation with a teenager who has truly thought out his opinion and isn't just parroting his parents beliefs.

So now he's not welcome in his friend's home, and I'm sure that has to weigh heavily on his mind, but he's probably better off not going there anyway, especially if you got bad vibes from the dad, and that's just a parental instinct, not douchebag-avoidance. As long as he can defend himself without resorting to insults, I see nothing wrong with it at all. He had to have learned that independence and sense of self worth from somebody. =)

Sara said...


That's really unfortunate that two adults are so threatened by your son's convictions. I really hope it doesn't impede any relationship he has with his friend just because this kid's parents are raging twits.

Michele said...

I'm sorry this happened to your son. He sounds like a brilliant, gifted soul who is destined for great things with a mother like you behind him.

And you're right, they other boy's parents will get their's in a way which is usually much better than anything "we" can try and dish out!

The way you speak, your values, humour and sense of self it is no surprise to me that you have raised such a special young man.

Kudo's to the both of you!

having said all that,
~ sometimes certain people just need a kick in the "junk". . . just sayin' :)

hokgardner said...

I am aghast. And if the family was discussing the election over dinner, they should have been prepared for him to argue his position, and good for him for being able to do so. Most people just pick sides without even knowing why.

Susan Fobes said...

There are some people who don't want to hear any other opinion but their own. Your son learned a good lesson too-religion and politics are hot-button topics no matter who you discuss them with. I hope it all blows over though...

Marla said...

Life is very hard when "I" am always right and "you" are always wrong ... no matter who I and you are.

Masala Chica said...

i agree that the universe is fully on to their plan and will not allow that bullshit.


linlah said...

Jail would not look good one you and Johnny Carson was right, unless of course it's just to push a button or two.

Allyson said...

Oh YES. The universe ALWAYS gives them theirs. It's pretty much guaranteed. Unfortunately, you just might not be around to see it. I'm afraid that our current political environment has created a completely polar society...which is really a shame because if our leader is anything, it's that he's inclusive. And he is encouraging our country to work together. But it seems that it just drives us all apart. I have to remind myself that there is some brainwashing going on around here, too. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes you have to keep your piehole shut because, you're right, principles and belief systems are adhered to like crazy glue.

I will never forget my dad saying to me on the phone one day right before the election, "I know you and I have different political views, but I want you to know that I still love you." Oh...gee. OK, thanks Dad. *insert MASSIVE eyerolls here*

I hope teenager grows up to be a force to be reckoned with in the political arena. Sounds like he is not afraid to make a stand and we need more of that.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Angel - I honestly don't know exaxtly what their religion is. I just know that you are 100% correct in their belief that no other one is valid.

I will keep that butt-kickin in my back pocket, should I ever need it ;)

Monique -I will always be there for him. I just wish I had a good answer for him as to why he would be treated this way.

Knittergran - There is a lesson coming to them, somehow, some way.

Aunt Juicebox - Wow! You knocked my socks off with that comment. That was well said and made me think a little differently about the issue.
Thank you.

Sara - He and his friend see each other at school and outside of the kid's house. I really like this boy and am happy that they care enough
about their friendship to make it work in another way.

Michele - What a lovely comment and very, very kind. This was just one of those moments in parenting that had me stinging a little. We
both know that those happen occasionally, right? Sadly it's part of the deal.

I am buying steel tipped boots for the next encounter though . . .

Hokgardener - I know. It was under the guise of an "open" discussion and he went down like Frazier. Kind of crappy.

Susan - I know. It makes people stop learning.

Marla - True. Whatever happened to live and let live?

Kiran - The universe does better junk kicking than I could ever imagine.

Linlah - Button pushing is fine, even necessary. Unfortunately the humorless do not
handle button pushing vdery well.

Allyson - That's the word! Polarized. I am not on board for that at all. I believe that no one person, group, organization, whatever, is all
right, all the time. But many believe that life is about choosing sides and saying that someone elses "Side" is holistically wrong. I can't get with that thinking and I definitely don't want my children to either.

everythingisjustwonderful said...

Some people make me ill. I never balk at telling people what I believe if they ask, but I have learned long ago that liberal is the dirtiest word some people know so I just keep it to myself. Keeping the peace is more important than anything else.

I'm so sorry for your son. I don't know how old he is, I'm presuming high school age, but it's hard even for a teenager to wrap their mind around prejudice--and that's what this is! Outright prejudice. What a shame.

C U Next're killin' me! Hahahaha!

Sally said...

I'm sorry your son was hurt; some people just don't want to hear another person's opinion. I come from the school (as you said) live and let live!! :)

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Everything is Wonderful - You're right. It is prejudice. Something that no one ever wants their children to experience. I hope it does not spoil his view of people or parents in particular.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Sally - It's a much happier place to be, isn't it?

MiMi said...

Yikes. This stuff is so just never know what people believe. And you might accidentally step in it when you're talking about what YOU believe.

Insanitykim said...

So unfortunate. Take the high road, let them wallow in their personal confusion and divisiveness, though I hope somehow, someday, they realize how terrible their behavior was/is and change it.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Wow. That is sad. Sorry your boy had to learn this lesson so early.

I am intolerant of intolerance and I know that is tricky but it's just true.

You're a great mom.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

MiMi - It is a fine line and I hope that he learns to be cautious entering
these types of discussions.

Insanity Kim - It's the only solution. It's the best route in most things in life. I am actually much better about it now that it is
off my chest. Venting is such a valuable tool.

LPR - Thank you. That's so nice of you to say. It sucks to think that anyone would ban a child for that or any other irrational reason.
It's not like he farted all over their dinner table. Though at this point I wish he had.

Lin said...

Here's the thing--your son is a KID. These people are ADULTS. I say, don't go over there then--it just shows you what fools they are.

We have neighbors like this. They are so full of themselves and their Jesus--like they are the only ones God acknowledges. I hate these Jesus freaks and their condescending attitude. I had a bad thing happen on Christmas day IN MY HOME with these people and I'm done with them.

Move on, DG. And tell you son to as well. Life is full of these religious fanatics who think they are the only ones going to heaven. Look at the idiots in Haiti who are now being tried for kidnapping children in the name of the Lord--THEIR lord, of course.

I say, put their holy asses in jail to rot.

Arizona Mamma said...

I can imagine the most infuriating thing about this for you is that your son is the one who is hurt by it. Had it been you they were shunning, you could give them the one finger salutation and be on your merry way. But because it hurt him, it hurts feel all the more defensive. I agree with you all the way, and can't believe that people are so narrow minded. More people should raise their children the way you are raising yours.

KK said...

Adults often act more like children, don't they? But here's the thing...if I know kids, it probably just made him a hero in his friend's eyes!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Lin - I am totally over it. I do believe that my son is better off not going over there. As long as he does not lose the friend in the process (which he did not), then it's just as well.

AZ Mamma - You are right. The worst part about it is that they are hurting a child. But they think they have the answer to everything in life, so why would they see how their actions are hurtful to others? I am sure it would never dawn on them.

KK - Maybe so. And it's true that the parents are being made to look foolish by the mature way that the kids are handling it.

Amy said...

It always baffles me that people can't just use common sense where religion and politics are concerned. How awful that these parents are denying their child a relationship with your son because of what he belives politically. That's utterly ridiculous!

I think it's fantastic your kid speaks his mind. It shows that he's articulate and an independant thinker. It's just ashame his douchbag parents can't appreciate a growing mind and nurture it accordingly!

And for the record...Your amazingly talented son is welcome at our dinner table anytime!

foxy said...

That is truly disappointing. You just expect more from adults. WTH??

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Amy - You are such a sweetheat. Thank you.

Foxy - I know. We are the ones that should be setting the good example.

miss jo said...

Sounds like the friend's father has problems being an adult, and obviously hasn't heard that intolerance is so 20th century. The lessons your son is learning about how to handle narrow-minded people are gold. What a great kid ! What a turd father of a friend !

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