31 January 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I don’t believe my church or my Christianity has anything to do with my opinion about my 19-year-old daughter’s nose piercing. She told me she is now an adult and it is her decision to get it, and she didn’t need to ask me.
Anyway, I think it’s hideous and takes away from her beauty, and I told her so. I told her this does not make her an adult. I think it’s stupid.
Why should I pretend to like it? It’s how I really feel. We are close and get along well, so I don’t think my being honest will hurt our relationship. I don’t love her any less. I just feel bad that she wears this ugly thing.
Signed, Disgusted with It
It is okay that you do not like the nose ring. But she likes it. Who knows why? Maybe there is something about it that expresses something about herself that’s important to her. But before you get too upset, here’s something you need to know.
Of course, there are choices you hope your child doesn’t make. Choices that can hurt them. But we parents must pick our battles carefully. Some things are worth standing up for. Many aren’t.
Take this nose ring, for example. You say it isn’t about your religious beliefs, but that it simply does not fit your aesthetic. This might be a good time to remember how much you craved your own parents’ acceptance back when (and I’m assuming here, based on normal generational conflicts) you did not fit their view of what their child should look like. Remember how you wished they would trust that you knew what was best for you, at that moment? That’s all your own daughter wishes from you.
One of the things Aunt Sevvy has learned about parents and children is that there’s exactly one thing that children want from their parents, no matter how old they get. There are elderly people walking around in the world whose parents have been long dead who are still longing for this one thing from their parents.
That thing? Complete acceptance. When I allow my child to make a choice that I disagree with, I communicate that I trust them and accept them as they are.
Complete acceptance is not easy for parents. Especially Christian parents. We worry about the emotional, social, relational, and spiritual success of our children. We fear them making choices that may imperil that success. So we parents must be very intentional about expressing our fears in ways that don’t compromise that feeling of total acceptance.
A friend of mine remembers angry, hateful battles with his father over his (the then teenage son’s) hair being a bit too long. And how years later, when he was grown and successful and both father and son had very little hair anymore, he asked his father, “Why did you make my haircut such an awful rift between us? Look at me now! I turned out fine.” His dad, to his credit, apologized. “I thought it was very important at the time,” he said. “I wish I’d known better.”
Just remember, father or mother: all things pass. Be careful what you let separate you from these people you love.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identification of the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.