When Teens Give up on Religion - A Bountiful Love

When Teens Give up on Religion

Religion will be one of the most difficult disagreements that you will have with your teens. It is tough, watching your teen reject what you feel is part of the foundation of your family and what has been the guiding light of your own life. Even if we knew the expectations of rebellion: that it is age-appropriate and even necessary for your son or daughter to develop their personality and being, it doesn't hide the fact that their refusal to recognize the faith that you hold dear hurts you and your relationship.

About the writer:

M Pimentel 

M is a happily married Filipino mother to three wonderful little daughters, ages: 8 years, 5 years, and 4 months old. Her daily life is a struggle between being the Executive Content Director for Project Female and deciding who gets to watch television next. She specializes in creating and editing content for female empowerment, parenting, beauty, health/nutrition, and lifestyle. As the daughter of two very hardworking people, she was brought up with strict traditional Asian values and yet embraces modern trends like Facebook, vegan cupcakes, and the occasional singing.

Is it your fault?

     As a parent, your first instinct is likely to blame yourself. You wonder if perhaps it was your fault that your child has strayed from the path of religion. Should you have prayed more, had taken them to church often, had conversations on faith. Did you fell short on making observed tradition meaningful, or even fun? Or was it a failure on pressing the significance of your believed sacred practices.

     A research conducted by the National Study of Youth and Religion showed teens raised by parents who practiced what they preached and were active in their spiritual community were more likely to retain their religiosity as far as early adulthood. You have done everything you possibly could in this regard, so shouldn’t the apple not fall far from the tree?
YOU have done everything you possibly could-- that is what you need to remember. Truthfully, your teenager will grow up to be his own. At this stage, they are learning to take charge and wants freedom.

Is it their fault?

Demanding school and extracurricular activities would leave less time for church and fellowship. A lengthy service won’t likely keep their attention whose mind is divided in many directions. The truth is, teens nowadays are juggling so many priorities deemed essential for success in their adult life. There’s a lot things on their plate, and if they don’t view nurturing the soul as beneficial as nourishing the mind and body, chances are religious activities are not going to make the top of the list.
Parents need to set an example and live the way we want our teenagers to grow up to be. Religion will lose luster, if we fail to foster their relationship with God. If we fail to teach them the role of Jesus Christ in our lives, we then fail to show them what faith, grace and His unconditional love are about.

     The youth group is an excellent way to get them involved. Active, fun and engaging with the right age group will be essential. Youth group can provide mentorship. It will teach them what real serving is, which is serving with purpose. Real serving is to serve the Lord and the community.

Is it society’s fault?

     Media is sensationalized. Technology is not a great help either. It is sometimes difficult to express your faith because it is not perceived "cool" in their age group. Clashing ideologies confuse teens who need guidance and prayers.  On a daily basis, teenagers are also exposed to social issues such as discrimination. For instance, the LGBT community. They often see church members on the front lines of judging. It is hard to show them what church is all about because we fail to live what was taught in the Bible.

     Six out of ten youth believe that religion has a negative impact on the world. It confuses the teens on the truth of a loving God when the message they get is that God condemns. That God punishes when you sin.

     In this world of warring opinions that you and your teen both live in, it’s important to encourage open dialogue. Ali ibn Abi Talib, an Arab philosopher, said, “Do not raise your children the way your parents raised you, they were born for a different time.”

     Your teen will face a different set of struggles and ideals. We just can not use the excuse of how we were raised. Although you have raised them according to your beliefs and they have abided by your views for much of their young life, now is the time to intentionally listen to them as they figure out their own beliefs towards the world they will navigate. We need to have an open heart and mind.

Maybe it’s nobody’s fault?

     Anatomically, adolescence is a time when the area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for self-control and judgment, is rapidly developing. As the mind becomes capable of more abstract thinking, adolescents flex their newly-minted mental muscles by picking apart established concepts and rules—read: teenage rebellion.

     It may be a bit of a leap, going from having an obedient school-age kid who does as you say because it's their developmental task to follow orders and please their elders, to a belligerent teenager whose brain needs this time to explore the limits of their control and develop their judgment skills.
We need to be more purposeful and intentional. Teenagers need our guidance. Give unconditional love, even if they are in their most unloving stage and yet hold them accountable.


What can you do now?
     As adults, we continually reevaluate our core beliefs, this is also true for the teen years. They will constantly look for a basis for what they should stand and believe. Teens will test their boundaries. They are known to be naive and impulsive. It is imperative to respect their individuality and opinion while setting limits. We need to be able to listen and respect their views on religion and offer Bible based wisdom.

     This stage will not last but a crucial stage that needs our patience. Strive to be a good role model and always be open for non-judgmental conversation. Encourage your teen to meet other people—sometimes what they need is to hear your beliefs reframed in someone else’s voice or perspective.
Refrain from nagging; it will just cause harm and hurt your relationship. Go for building a strong relationship, and that will illuminate in all aspects of their lives.

     Keep prayer as a priority. Be praying for their heart and guidance. We can't do this on our own. In times of disagreements, be respectful. Sometimes, all we need is to agree to disagree. We also need to focus on leading them to a relationship with the Lord and not focusing on the religion. The focal point of what we should aim for them is to win their hearts through life in Christ. Do not be so centered on traditions and rituals that we lose sight of what is important- to lead them to Christ.

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Writers' Contact Info:

Email: mpimentel@expertlinked.com 
Recent Work:
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1 comment

  1. Young teenagers have begun to romanticize the idea of abandoning religion, I feel thats a strong reason to the rebellion rising within them!


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