Parenting

What to Do When Your Teen Doubts God

As a Children’s Minister I conducted baptism classes for children, who had professed Christ as Savior of their life. I met with the child and their parents to ensure they each understood what baptism was and was not.

After covering the material with the child, I turned to the parents and encouraged them not to be surprised when their young children became teens and began to struggle with their faith in God. Most young children make a faith commitment because they learned this from their parents or leaders at church. Don’t misunderstand me, their belief is sincere; but as kids grow into adolescence, they can have doubts and questions as they process all they have learned. 

In this season of spiritual growth, teens begin to make faith commitments to God because they desire it. It’s no longer the faith of their parents. And this is what we want! When they own it, they are less likely to abandon it.

When I think about this process, I love what Gold Medalist Maya DiRado said about her parent’s approach to her own struggle with faith when she was a teen:

“I was raised by two strong Christians in my parents, Marit and Ruben,” DiRado told Christianity Today. “I always attended church growing up but started questioning my beliefs as a teenager. They were supportive of this and, through some investigating and lots of reading and talking with mentors, I came to know and follow Christ and make my faith my own.”

Notice how her parents came alongside her in the struggle:

First, they supported her while she was on this quest.

Quite often, parents can be appalled. Even angered by the questions their teens have, especially if their thoughts differ from what they have taught their children. But I encourage you, parents, do not be appalled or angry. This time is an excellent opportunity for you to wrestle with your kids and pray for them.

Secondly, they gave her resources to read.

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They gave her books that answered her questions. Notice it wasn’t just their own perspective that they offered her. Others, further along in their faith journey, allowed their daughter to investigate. I imagine this process gave their daughter some apologetics training, too!

Thirdly, they connected her with mentors.  

You are an intentional parent when you connect your kids with other mentors that can influence them for God. Giving them opportunities to see God through another person, besides yourself, only gives creditably to their quest for a more in-depth faith. Warning: Carefully choose these influences; some are damaging, even in the church. Speak to this Mentor or Life Coach, discuss their beliefs, and if in agreement with them, ask them to come alongside your teen and encourage them spiritually.  

Struggles are Good Times, Why?

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It is a good thing that your teens are asking questions. This time in their life sharpens their faith and yours! Home is a safe place to wrestle if you allow it to be.

Everyone at some point and time has grappled with their faith as each “works out their salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Our teens find themselves trying to discern what is real between the truth they know with the lies they hear in this world. If given the space to work out their questions about salvation, God, and His word, I believe, in time, your teens will come to the truth God wants them to grasp. 

On the other hand, if you do not give them the opportunity to wrestle, you just might push them far away from God altogether. 

As we know, Jacob wrestled with God. At the end of this time, I love what he discovered, “I have seen God face to face…” (Genesis 32:24-30). Beforehand, Jacob was deceitful and had come a long way to make amends with his brother, Esau, whom he had betrayed years before. In the middle of this tussle with God, He gave Jacob a new name, Israel. This new name indicated a change of heart. The old had passed and the new had come. 

Let me clarify and reiterate, giving your teens space does not mean just leaving them alone to figure out their faith on their own; sure, they will have some alone time to think, read and pray, but the space you give them should also include conversations, reading together, partnering with others, and prayer with them. As you join on their journey, you will be blessed to see your children grow closer to God and to you!

 

2 comments

  1. Outstanding, Marcie! I’m sure many will be encouraged by this post! You outline such godly and practical advice/steps here!

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