I’m turning 12 soon and my mother isn’t religious AT ALL. I’m scared that she may be mad or make fun of me if I ask to light candles. If I don’t light candles, but say shabbat prayers and follow the rules, (I can’t follow some, like carrying, possibly texting/calling, or going in a vehicle/car because of a camp trip and she may want me to go somewhere on shabbat and may may make fun of me or be mad if I say stuff about shabbat.) will it be okay? When I’m an adult, I’ll try to celebrate, but as a kid, I’m kinda limited. HELP!
Wow- I really admire you for your determination and idealism, to stick to what you believe in, even when it’s tough! True, our fore-fathers used to sacrifice much more than we do today (often even giving their lives) for the Shabbat and their (and our!) beliefs, yet every generation has its unique challenge, and your scenario is typical of tens of thousands of young people today all over the world. For 3,200 years, almost all Jews observed Shabbat, until about 150 years ago when assimilation weakened significant numbers of our people. Today, once again, many young people, like yourself, are returning to their Jewish roots, joining the millions of observant and traditional brothers and sisters, so the future is brighter than ever! Nevertheless, standing up to family or peer-pressure, is not easy, especially at your age and when you’re living at home, so accordingly, the “Living Torah” of Jewish law obviously takes such difficulties into account. The general rule is: observe whatever you can, whenever you can, because every single religious action is significant. Like you suggest, continue saying the Shabbat prayers and follow whatever Jewish and Shabbat rules that you can, even if you can’t light candles or observe certain things on that particular Shabbat. On the other hand, if occasionally your mother isn't home, or you’re visiting relatives who wouldn’t mind (they might even like Jewish traditions!), then by all means light when you can, even if it’s just occasionally. Please keep me updated how it’s going, and feel free to contact me and ask any additional questions or to discuss any other difficulties which may arise in the future! Shabbat Shalom and all the blessings for success in your connecting with your special Jewish identity and roots! Rav Ari