Young people often make decisions during their teen years that will set a course for the rest of their lives. Many make permanent spiritual commitments at church, camp or other events and continue to mature in their faith as the years pass. But these are also years when fundamental questions about God and the universe are asked, and parents may find their own beliefs held up for inspection.
Many teens feel the need to chart a different spiritual course from their parents during these years. This development can make parents feel very uneasy, but in some form or other it’s inevitable and absolutely essential. If he’s to grow up and find his own way in the world, your child must eventually make his own decision as to whether or not he will believe in God and follow His path. You can’t do it for him. That’s why an examination of what he’s heard as a child can be a healthy process. Somehow or other, he has to figure out how his childhood faith applies to adult situations and problems.
During this time, your primary job will be to keep your own relationship with God thriving. This should include meaningful times in prayer for your children. Spiritual vitality that consistently displays genuine joy, peace and other positive expressions of belief will ultimately communicate more to your adolescent than a lot of clever or convoluted answers to his questions. In matters of faith (and in other arenas as well) teenagers are particularly responsive to honesty and integrity and are turned off with equal fervor by hypocrisy.
If your child’s need to assert his independence from you spills into the spiritual realm, you may need to entrust his growth in this area to other adults (or even peers) who can positively influence his view of God, faith and the world in general. Youth leaders, teachers, young couples or single adults or other friends of the family can often “stand in the gap” for you in this area. Do what you can to gently encourage these contacts and interactions and then leave the results in God’s hands.
In this context, we’d just like to add a word about Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project ®. This DVD-based curriculum is designed to equip Christians to better understand a biblical worldview and effectively communicate its principles to those around them. If you or your teen are interested in participating in this program, you can find out more by visiting the Truth Project website at thetruthproject.org. In addition, Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project® Presents TrueU™ is designed especially for use with teens.
If you need further help in this area, Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to discuss your questions and concerns with you over the phone. Call our Counseling department for a free consultation.
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Christian Research Institute
Spiritual Growth for Kids