9

My mother believes in astrology (not the scientific astronomy, but the apparent effect of stars on human lives). She recently found out that there's something weird in store for me this year after consulting the astrologer. I'm supposedly born with a natural 'affinity' for getting physically hurt, and because of this my mother won't let me go cycling, which is one of my favourite activities.

I don't have anything against my mother believing in astrology, but I don't have any particular reason to believe it. I'm not atheistic, but I don't believe something that doesn't seem scientifically correct. However, if I try telling my mother that I don't believe in any of this, she turns it into a discussion on my faith in God and such.

How should I go about convincing my mother? I'm from India and 17 years old (not yet an adult).

My question is different from the Arguing science with a passionate non-scientist? one because my point is not to discuss the scientific evidence or talk sense into the superstitious. All I'm saying is I don't want any of their beliefs to come in my way and stop me from doing the things I love.

I'd like to add a little information: I know that my mother means well as I have a lot of important exams this year (which will determine where I study and then some more things). She wants me to be able to study peacefully and wants to avoid any risks. But on the other hand, I have one major recreation, and that is apparently taboo. That makes me really unhappy, and it doesn't allow me to study to the fullest... However, even sharing this point of view doesn't change anything. Any more thoughts?

  • 1
    They may not be exact duplicates, but have you seen these? interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/6136/1599 and interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/2883/1599 might provide some insight on how to reasonably deal with such superstitions. – Tinkeringbell Feb 23 '18 at 14:00
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Arguing science with a passionate non-scientist? – Rory Alsop Feb 23 '18 at 14:41
  • 1
    I'd like to say that I think the mom-child relation here makes me think this is not a duplicate of the science question, since that one is about people in general. Also, that one doesn't have 'consequences' for the OP if she doesn't argue, while here the OP will never be allowed to ride their bike again if they don't. – Tinkeringbell Feb 23 '18 at 15:20
  • 1
    It's funny, because if astrology is true, then stopping you from cycling won't prevent you from being hurt, but if astrology isn't true, then there's no reason to stop you from cycling, which means it's sort of silly either way. – Erik Feb 23 '18 at 15:31
  • @Erik say that to my mom, she'll come at you with a telescope ;) – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Feb 23 '18 at 15:46
9

However, if I try telling my mother that I don't believe in any of this, she turns it into a discussion on my faith in God and such.

My advice would be to not make this about 'I don't believe you, so I want to cycle'. You seem to understand that she believes this, and have nothing against it. Now, one of the key things when trying to be persuasive is 'know your enemies' or more nicely put: prepare for their arguments against you.

Try to talk to your mom about her beliefs in astrology. What exactly was 'predicted'? What does she believe? Are your natural affinity to get hurt and the weird thing that's in store for you really related?

Then, try and connect with her. Don't say 'I don't believe you'. Act like you do believe her. Are the stars always right? How accurate is 'weird' exactly? Try and argue that weird can be anything. If the stars are always right, how will not cycling prevent you from getting hurt? If you're naturally inclined to get hurt, it would have been visible from birth, is there a serious track record of you getting hurt proportionally more often than other kids? How often did riding your bike cause serious hurt?

She wants me to be able to study peacefully and wants to avoid any risks.

Be careful/avoid pointing out that there's other stuff that can hurt you as well then since if you mention it, you might end up being banned from even more stuff (handling scissors, kitchen knives, plugging in a charger). A thing that might convince her is to take initiative on the studying, show her that you're perfectly capable of studying on your own. If you really want to go there, you can point out other stuff that hurt you, and point out that riding your bike did never do any damage that prevented you from studying (granted that you never had a serious accident).

Ask a lot of questions, and don't go demanding stuff. In the end, you may not succeed, because after all she is your mother and you're only 17. But maybe, if you ask these questions respectfully you'll get her thinking and change her mind. It's what worked for my mom when I was still young. If you're unable to convince her like this, maybe you have some practical arguments for the need to cycle as well? Like 'you don't have to bring me anywhere if I can just cycle there' or 'if I'm not allowed to cycle, I can't meet up with my friends, it's limiting my social life and making me unhappy'. Point out the practical consequences of you not being allowed to cycle might help her realize that she's limiting something important to you.

Stay calm, don't accuse her of being unfair, don't attack her beliefs. That will only make her feel like she has to argue harder, it will put her on the defense and you will not succeed in convincing her.

You might want to take a look at the entire wikihow article on how to be persuasive, it's where 'prepare for their arguments' comes from. It has some great advice on what else to keep in mind, I just highlighted this part because you said you told your mother 'I don't believe you'.

  • While it IS a great rebuttal... superstitious people aren't always rational, so it may not work – Patrice Feb 24 '18 at 0:01
  • 1
    What you and WikiHow said worked, @Tinkeringbell. Turned out that all she wanted was that I ride a little carefully and don't go out on the main roads. I used the argument that I'd become fat if I didn't keep doing some form of exercise, so that's what finally worked out. – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Feb 24 '18 at 15:34
1

There's definitely no harm in trying to convince your mother that you won't be in danger going cycling, but this sounds more like a mother doing everything she can to keep her child safe. You would need to convince her that you're probably not going to die going for a bike ride, but I think there's another solution here.

It might be easier, and possibly better, to respect your mother's wishes while you're living with her, or at least until you become an adult. Once you're an adult, go for a ride! When you're an adult you can show her that it's not as bad as she thought it was. And you never know, a lot can happen between now and then.

0

I don't know if this would help you: you mention God, but not which religion you and your mum adhere to. However, for me, every time my grandparents would start with some superstition that annoyed me, I would point to the passages of the bible that explicitly prohibit superstition, in particular various means to foretell the future.

What I'm trying to say is, your mother turns the conversation to your faith in God - then use this to your advantage. You're being handed a tool here. (The question of your personal faith is actually irrelevant here. It's easier to argue with someone on his terms than on yours.)

  • Thanks for that but I'm afraid it doesn't apply to me or my religion. My 'Bible', the Bhagwad Gita along with it's supplements, the Vedas, comes with some methods to predict the future... I'm a Hindu, so using Bible quotes will make my mom further think I'm defecting from my religion – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Feb 24 '18 at 15:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.