My husband brought up Catholic and I was brought up Lutheran. I have taken my kids to church when they were young but through the years I have not taken them as much as I should of. Now my 13 year son is telling me he thinks he maybe Agnostic. It breaks my heart cause, of course, we are Christians and believe in God and Jesus and prayer etc. What would you do if your 13 year child comes to you with and says he has been thinking a lot about religion and been reading a website? Helppppp!!!
The more secure you are in your beliefs, the more you support his need to explore and know "for himself" that the family religion is right for him, the more respect he'll have for you and your church. He may or may not come back to belief but at least he will be part of your family. If you insist on the religion. If you punish him for questioning. You'll only push him away from the church and from the family.
It's a very normal thing to go through. I was raised Atheist and I went through a period of exploration. I read the bible from cover to cover. I attended a few churches. I went on youth group outings with friends. I talked to all sorts of people in and out of the church. I even worked for a church for a time. My parents supported me. In the end, I discovered for myself that I'm just not a believer and that I was comfortable with that. My husband is Agnostic. He was raised Catholic. 12 years of Private Catholic schooling. He couldn't talk to his parents about it. Hid the fact that he was questioning and it was a scary time for him. He never went back to the church but we are all very close to his family (he had to tell them when we got married as it wasn't going to be in a church.) My DD 17 went through a period of questioning. For awhile, she did a lot of exploration and study. We sent her to church with her Catholic Grandma and bought her books on a variety of different faiths so that she could learn all that was out there from credible sources. It passed. She came back stronger in the family beliefs than ever.
In the end, you want his faith to mean something and it won't mean a lick if he's not allowed to question and decide for himself. Have faith in your son. Trust that you've done a good job raising him. Continue to include him in your family rituals but give him some space to really think this all out. More than likely, this will pass and he'll come back to the belief system you've instilled in him.
I have different religious views than my parents, and when I was younger they flipped out about and said a lot of really horrible things to me. They are over now and seem to grasp that I am a separate person with my own feelings and views, but I'll never forget that what they think about god was far more important to them than I was.
I'm fine with my teens thinking/reading what ever they want to, so it wouldn't be an issue for me at all. My advice to you is to keep your heart whole and love your child with all of it. This isn't something to be broken hearted over.
If he had some horrible disease that you where going to watch him die from, then being broken hearted would make sense. But not over this. He is fine. He is whole. He just *thinks* differently from you. Be thankful for him, for his ability to think for himself, and for everything he adds to your life.
but everything has pros and cons
I find this incredibly funny.
Good luck to you and your son.
good for him!!! i would be mighty proud.
he isnt just accepting things, but thinking for himself.
give him the freedom to explore. today he might be agnostic, tomorrow he might be buddhist, then new age ...
i would not worry. maintain your own path. dont force him to do anything. and let him figure out what he wants.
I would rejoice that my 13yo is thinking a lot about religion! What a profound subject to be contemplating.
You and your husband gave him a great start. Learn how to discuss religion objectively so that he continues to keep you in the loop. My biggest concern would be my children recognizing cultish personalities and groups over open, spiritual ones. Part of my personal definition of positive spirituality would clash with many Christian denominations-- the "one true faith" dogma-- but that is not the primary caution for me. The primary caution is money or goods for lessons in faith, and strong tactics to pull people away from family and loved ones.
But that is a small part of the wonderful conversations about religion and spirituality and the sacred. If Christianity is important to you, do some research on some great Christian philosophies, past and present, by authors who are not specifically Christian (Joseph Campbell) and other who are (many), and even on to some modern conferences on the New Testament, such as the Jesus Seminars. Learn how non-Christians see your faith from the outside, both critically and uncritically.
Once upon a time, the thought of a Catholic marrying a Lutheran would have been shocking--and that word doesn't even encompass the scandal, the potential for violence and hatred that such a match would have caused in the community and the Churches. Catholics and Lutherans were considered as different as Christians and Muslims are today by the most intolerant members of our world society.
We have come a long way, haven't we?
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
Just let your son find his own way in choosing what to believe. Much as you and your husband are believers in God, if you insist he attends your church, then that could make him feel bored and shut off in himself.
My mum is Jewish and wanted me to continue with her faith in the Russian Othodox Church. Instead I found an Anglo-Catholic church that has strong links with the Taizé Community in France. Mum was eventually okay with my choice and I am very happy there.
(I am the product of a Catholic-Lutheran marriage myself, but raised Catholic, as required at the time by the Catholic church on pain of my father's excommunication - my mother would have liked to raise us Lutheran but had to swear she wouldn't. So, as sweetsilver points out, we HAVE come a long way).
Keep the channels of communication open. Don't push him away, it would be counterproductive. Just live your faith and show him how it makes you feel happy, loving and loved, not anxious, intolerant and full of guilt. Don't beat yourself up about not making him go to church more - he's got the foundation in his faith he needs in order to know he can come back into the fold as his needs and feelings evolve. But right now, the more you push the more he'll push back. He's 13!
That is great that he is really thinking about his beliefs. That is a great opening to talk to him about your beliefs and why you believe them and let him express himself as well. I know a lot of people take their kids to church, and they expect their kids to follow in their footsteps, but the conversations outside of church often don't happen. The conversations that take place out of church are usually the most influential conversations.
For example, I'm not Catholic. I don't even consider myself Christian, but my dh is. It was important to my dh that the kids be raised Catholic, and since I didn't have any strong religious beliefs, even though I was raised Catholic, I was fine with that. That being said, I talk to my kids a lot about my spiritual beliefs, as well as what I like about Christians beliefs and traditions and what I don't. They will each be able to make their own decision before they take confirmation, but until then, my dh wants to go to CCD.
A couple of weeks ago, I was shocked when my oldest son said that he wanted me to be his sponsor for his confirmation. When I asked him why, since I'm not Catholic, he said because we always talk about religion and spirituality. He really likes those talks and they have actually lead him to the place that he is happy and comfortable confirming his faith. He can't have a parent be his sponsor though, and I kind of feel like I dodged a bullet, because I don't think I could have in good conscious done so. But the fact that he had really thought about and explored his faith was the most important thing to me.