DEAR ABBY: I'm a 14-year-old girl. I don't understand why adults tell me to be an independent thinker, to embrace myself, and then put me down for not conforming. Why is it outrageous to come to your own conclusions, speculate, challenge accepted ideas or find your own faith? It would be easier to quietly nod an empty head and smile to please our parents and the adults who influence kids, so they can enjoy superficial satisfaction for how "well" they have raised us.
Should I deny myself as an individual and be pulled along, or is it better to stay quiet and just be who everyone expects you to be? -- INDEPENDENT THINKER IN FLORIDA
DEAR INDEPENDENT THINKER: Independent thinkers are the people who have contributed the most to society. Our most important scientific discoveries were conceived by individuals who chose not to accept conventional thinking. The same is true for religion -- Jesus was an independent thinker.
I'm not sure what kind of conversation you feel the adults in your life are trying to discourage. But people who are deeply committed to their religious faith can feel offended or threatened if their beliefs are challenged. Even though you are an independent thinker, you should be respectful of the beliefs of others.