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Yes, You Must

My coworker asked me into her office – she wanted my thoughts on a situation.

Her son is graduating high school in two weeks. Their church has a baccalaureate service/brunch for all high school graduates and they reached out to confirm that her son would be attending. Well, he doesn’t want to go, she explained that to the lady that called, and the lady asked for permission to call the son to see if she could persuade him to attend. She gave the woman permission to call, but told the woman she didn’t think it would do much good.

Coworker asked me what I thought. I told her I thought her son should attend. Great way to acknowledge the church’s role in his development and his graduation – along with others – sets a good example for younger kids in the church.

She’s of the mindset that he shouldn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. I kind of get that, but I think there are some things you do out of…obligation. I don’t know if there’s a better word than obligation, but since that’s what popped into my mind, I’m going to roll with it.

I don’t like showers of the wedding or baby type. But I go. I don’t like weddings. But I had one. And I attend them. Graduations are akin to torture in my eyes – I went to mine because, well, my Mama made me. And if I was given my druthers instead of always schlepping over to my SIL’s home for holiday family gatherings, I’d stay home and chill. But I go. And I go with (generally) a good attitude. Why? Because I feel like I should. Because my friends and family are celebrating. Because it’s the right thing – in my eyes – to do.  I’m big on autonomy and I’m all about teaching children to think for themselves. But there are some things I’m not convinced they should be able to opt out of.

What are your thoughts? Not just on this particular situation, but on kids, what they “should” or “should not” do? What are your children able to opt out of? What are absolutes? Were you allowed as a child to make decisions on what you would/wouldn’t attend? Is And back to this situation – would you make him go or not? I mean, he is getting ready to go off to college and will be able to do what he wants, when he wants and he’s got to learn how to navigate through this life…

Anyhoo, holler at me in the comments. I’d love to read y’alls perspectives.

Have a marvelous weekend!

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16 thoughts on “Yes, You Must

  1. I’m going to begin this by saying parenting choices are individual things. And that’s the beauty of parenting that you can chose how you want to parent your kid and it’s ok. In my home, my kids would not have a choice in the matter. They would be going to any event the church is hosting for their graduation celebrations. Why would they not? It’s not just a matter of I don’t feel like it. I don’t want to deal with those adults at church or whatever. Kids do not see the importance of things that parents should have the wisdom and experience to know ARE important. Yes, you are being celebrated for your graduation, but I’m a firm believer in “villages.” These people contributed to his upbringing and achievement and he can’t attend this thing b/c why?

    Also, there are going to be lots of things we do not want to do in life, but we do them anyway b/c it won’t kill us and it may make someone else feel good. He needs to be in the practice NOW of distinguishing b/t things that he should do vs things that are ok to decline. This is not one of those things that it is ok to decline. it comes off to me as ungrateful.

  2. I agree with you and V. The folks at church have probably poured into that kid’s development in some way or another and it’s important to teach humility and gratefulness. And to be honest, you never know where your blessings will come from. He’s about to go off to school. Who knows how the church folk may be able to assist him along the way. And I know for a fact, that I received favor and blessings and favor from my mom’s friends not because they knew me, but because they knew HER. He should go and go with an good attitude about it.

    • Tiffany said “I know for a fact, that I received favor and blessings and favor from my mom’s friends not because they knew me, but because they knew HER.”

      This is so true. I and my kids continue to reap blessings from people that know my parents. It would not be a choice in my house.

      • Yep. And I know that my mom joined organizations for our benefit – which is so very selfless. Especially as I struggle with an invitation that probably would benefit LG but that I have NO interest in accepting.

  3. I think he should go and here’s why: as someone who used to be responsible for the graduation service at my old church, many of the honorees did not want to attend. It was like pulling teeth, I would gather similar to the situation here. However once the honoree attended and felt the love, they were glad they came. I think the mom knows its not about how the child feels, but she may just be aggravated at this point and doesn’t want another battle (which is probably why she’s asking you).

    • I did tell her that out of all of the things he will regret in life, going to a baccalaureate service at church will likely not be among them. Quite honestly, I think she’s fine with him not going. I don’t get “aggravated” from her at all.

  4. I obeyed my mother until she left this earth. I find myself still doing things she taught me, that I don’t want to do, because it’s the right thing to do! We as patents have a moral obligation to teach our children what is right from wrong. With that said, if my family (graduating senior included) were active members in a church having a baccalaureate service to honor said graduates, “boy better better be dressed properly and ready to move towards the church with the quickness!” No phone call needed!

    Our children can only learn proper manners from parents. I don’t know about you but I do not want to live in a world where everyone does whatever they feel like doing with no regard or respect for some things done out if obligation and duty.

    • This too! We were dragged to some of everything growing up – most of which we did not want to attend. But we are all grateful for those experiences and how they enriched our lives, even now.

      • I know that I am not grateful for some of the boolshiggity my parents made me do…but it taught me that you have to do for others, that as important as I am there are other things that are important as well.

        I work with some younger folks here and they were never taught anything about being selfless.

  5. Well I don’t attend church unless I feel like it or if I’m invited by a friend or family member. I was allowed to opt out of that when I was a certain age because my parents didn’t feel like they should force us to go and I 100% agree with that. Not attending church does not negate my relationship with my God or my faith but that’s another story.

    Now I don’t know their situation but It has me wondering if he even attends church regularly. If not, I can see why he doesn’t want to go and why she is kind of leaving it up to him whether or not to attend.
    If they attend regularly I don’t see what the issue is. I would go if I were him. It’s a nice thing they are doing. But as his mom, I don’t think I’d force him.

    • They are regular attendees. If they were not, I think I’d feel differently about his opting not to go.

      I was talking about this situation with Smoochy and he said if it were our child, they would have to attend. I was surprised at that – the fact that he’d make his baby girl do something she didn’t want to was a cause for pause!

      • Lol alright then smoochy . I think the fact that the church wants to do something nice is cause to go. What would it hurt and specially since they are regulars. I do wonder what his reason for wanting to skip it is.

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