for those parents who consider themselves religious/spiritual...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ksm, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    I know not everyone shares the same spiritual background, but for those who have raised their difficult child in a Christian home, with church attendance, and activities that involve Christian values (and I realize that non Christians have many of the same values too!) like volunteering, donating, etc. What do you do when your child decides they don't believe any of it and is antagonistic towards those who do?

    I understand teens and adults questioning their faith and beliefs systems. But difficult child has decided she is an atheist because God didn't answer her prayers. We tried to explain that sometimes what we need and what we want to happen are two different things. And that the purpose of a spiritual life is to become a better person. But just like other difficult child behaviors she takes this to extremes. Like during dinner conversations. Or that bad behaviours really don't matter. When husband suggested that if she truly feels that way, then we won't insult her with Christmas gifts later this year. Of course, that wasn't fair!

    I am not meaning to start a discussion on pros/cons of any religion. Just how you handle a child who is so defiant to anything we do, including religion. I have already decided that we will no longer encourage her to participate in youth group. But, I feel if she doesn't join us for one hour on Sunday morning in a family activity of attending church together, then she should have an alternative activity to fill that time. And not just be sleeping or on facebook or watching TV.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this matter. KSM
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Okay, I can't say we are too religious, and I certainly hope no one is keeping attendance record on Sunday mornings. But we are Christians and our difficult child is currently leaning towards atheism. He is still a tax paying member of our Church though and haven't lately been that argumentative and insulting with the topic (sneaking maturity I guess.)

    How I see what you described. Immaturity, both in reasons for forsaking your religion and immaturity in way expressing it. And I bet she is trying to get raise out of you. She knows this is important to you, what the better way to annoy you? She is young teen though, so that is kind of expected, especially considering she id a difficult child. Let her spout her views, if she doesn't manage to get raise out of you, she will get bored. Don't force her to youth group, that would just make her to rebel. Respect her views but let her understand same is expected from her. hateful speech is not allowed in your house.

    When it comes to Sunday services, don't force her to go there either (no need to let her be a martyr) but you can well tell her that as her parents, your duty is to give her moral, ethical and existential education. She can either choose to attend church, there this topics are covered (your church or one you approve, do keep in mind that kids like her may be in heighten danger to be preyed by extreme religious groups) or she can be educated otherwise. You can choose her reading material covering different religions, isms, and ethical theories. She can use time you are at church reading those and then after you come back and sit for Sunday dinner, she can tell you about the religion or view she studied that day and you can have a conversation about that. ;)

    I would be very sweet with the matter, no reason to let her make a fight out of religion. It's one of those issues you can't win as a parent.

    I would also keep private all conversations I would have with my deity about protecting and taking care of my wayward offspring... It's not wayward offspring's business if they are prayed for...
  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    [QUOTEI would also keep private all conversations I would have with my deity about protecting and taking care of my wayward offspring... It's not wayward offspring's business if they are prayed for...[/QUOTE]

    <smile> I was thinking the same thing. But lately my prayers has been for me to be able to hang in there! It is just so hard - she is like a completely different person - last year she LOVED church camp. and now, won't go this summer. We are hunting for things she can do during the summer that keeps her a little busier, and also a productive member of society. She isn't quite ready for a job - as most have to be 16 in our community. KSM
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Do you have any kind of service camps? We do have camps for teens and young adults, there they work some volunteer work project. Often they are for example doing something for environment. For example cleaning and cutting grass in certain areas so that butterflies would do better now that cows are not spending summers at forests and keeping the grass right for them. Things like that. We also do ship our 14- or 15-year-olds for church camp to get teaching before they participate to confirmation. And for those who are not church members (and also those, if they want to) there is also non religious alternative there they also are educated and talk about existential matters (kids in that age tend to be very interested about matters relating world views and religions.)
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ksm, I am a nonbeliever and I'm as miffed as you are that the only reason my difficult child does things for other people is because he has to.
    But that's part of his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It is so disheartening.
    I mean, I can't drive by an SPCA with-o wanting to donate shoeboxes for the cats, or newspapers, or food ... I can't see a homeless person with-o reading the cardboard sign to see if it's something I may be able to help with (behind the scenes, I make phonecalls to shelters)... some of it may, indeed, have been because I was raised Catholic. But the negative, in the end, outweighed the positive for me. (I threw out the baby with-the bathwater and the whole tub, too! :)

    I realized that to be spiritual is something quite different, something inside and outside of yourself at the same time.

    And that's something way above most of our difficult child's heads at this age. Sigh.

    My difficult child only volunteered at husband's church because he was mandated by court to do community service. Same thing for ROTC--he thought it would look good to the judge. (He was right.) Once he gets involved in an activity, he's fine. He's not thrilled, but he's okay with-it.
    Which leads back to your question: HOW?

    I know that a lot of parents disagree, but over the yrs, difficult child has responded to threats of taking away his electronics. That's one of the few things that works for him. Not only is it good to unplug him :) but it shows that we are in control.

    Once difficult child does whatever it is (say, feeding the homeless) then we give him a choice. Would you rather clean cages at the SPCA, feed the homeless, volunteer at a summer camp, go to church, go to Sunday school? He is forced to choose or he doesn't get his "toys" back.

    I know, I know, it's not the best path to spirituality and I have no expectations in that regard. But it gets him OUT and DOING something. Does it involve tantrums and rages? It used to. But not any more. We stood our ground. And we have a united front, even though husband is a Christian and I am a nonbeliever. Parenting has to be a team effort.

    by the way, difficult child and his girlfriend have discussed church and religion. On their own. :) It happens more easily between peers. It's a natural process for most kids. Eventually.
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    About 6 years ago I stopped forcing easy child/difficult child to come to church with me. The more I tried to get her to come the more it pushed her away. I did insist she finish with her faith formation classes (we used to call them CCD). She was so mad that I wanted her to be confirmed especially since she decided she was an atheist. (I probably wouldn't have even insisted but to be really honest-and I told her this-I didn't want to have to deal with my mom over it-then I did tell her she didn't have to as long as she told grandma and she ended up deciding to get confirmed). Interestingly, in order to be confirmed she had to meet one on one with someone from the church. She talked to the deacon and when she was done she came out and told me she definitely believed in God but not necessarily a religion.

    She still doesn't come to church and that is o.k. with me, although she does choose to come on Christmas.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I put this into the category of "There's Nothing You Can Do About It."

    I started out in a Jewish home in an almost completely Jewish neighborhood and went to Hebrew school until I cut it so many times my angry father let me quit. I was told before high school I could only date Jewish boys because there should never be any question that I'd not marry Jewish and continue the tradition. I can't remember how early I first broke that rule, but it was in my young teens. Simply put, although there is nothing wrong with Judaism, it didn't fulfill my spiritual needs and was not enough for me. Plus I thought the "only date Jews" rule was unfair and the Jews I'd lived with as a child had been so mean to me, making fun of my skinniness, my learning disabilities, the fact that we didn't have a fancy car, etc. that I wanted to see if people who weren't Jewish were nicer to me.

    One day my friend and I stumbled upon a cross on the sidewalk and that became a symbol of good luck for us and seemed to work so I decided I wanted to become a Christian. I married one and joined the church, but found out that that didn't do it for me either...that my path was destined to be unorthodox, and it has been. It has lead me to a very spiritual life where I believe strongly in consciousness after earth death, psychics, a higher power who just wants us all to love each other and many other things that lean toward Buddhism. Obviously, my parents got used to it.

    Then my sister married a Catholic, converted and is still a Catholic. My father would not go to her wedding, but eventually accepted it.

    My brother is agnostic.

    Then my adopted son, whom we got from Hong Kong at age six, became such a strong evangelical Christian that he judges other Christians as not Christian enough and his entire family (us) as heathens.

    I don't think religious believes are worth fighting over. You can't force your children to take the same path you did. I know that it does cause a lot of strife in certain famlies, but I think we should let our teenagers decide for themselves how to believe or not believe. Their paths will likely change many times as they live life.

    by the way, not being religious or spiritual does not make one a bad person.

    In our case, hub and me, our kids have knowledge of all religions and of how I believe and are free to chose their own paths and we don't fight about it or even talk about it much. in my opinion it's an individual journey, transcending even family.
  8. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    TerryJ2 - I guess one reason that church is important to me, is that husband and I have no extended family nearby. The people at church has become our "extended family" and have been there for us in the past. Like meals brought in after surgery, emotional support when trying to get custody of our DGD's, and just knowing there is a place where we fit in. Plus the church is very active in the community, in peace and social justice issues, in disaster relief, and it is just a good fit for husband and I. I know it may not be difficult child's cup of tea, but I hate to see her turn her back on everything. We have told her that it is OK to question your faith and beliefs. I would be happy if she had an interest in other churches and religions, just not a disdain of all of it.

    But, she is just so negative. Like, she mentioned a girl at school talking about a rock concert, and when difficult child asked her what bands... she didn't know them and found out it was Christian rock, she was just kind of rude "I don't listen to THAT kind of music!" So far, her two best friends are from homes where the family attends church (not ours). She has invited one friend to our youth group activities recently, but I found out that she and her friend never joined in the activities, just went off to chat among themselves and ignored everyone else. It was actually our church and another one with a similar theology who try to get to two church youth groups together about once every month or two for group activities. So I am not going to encourage her to take a friend any more. Or even encourage her to go.

    Our church has a history of young adults giving a year of service and they would have opportunites to volunteer in the states and abroad. Many do this and have a wonderful experience. But, if she doesn't have any beliefs, I doubt that she would be a candidate. We were also contacted about hosting a teen girl for a month from Ireland, but it is a Christian based group, and difficult child would have to attend organized activities with the host girl. It is called the Ulster Project and they bring about 15 teens from Ireland, half Christian and half Catholic, then they are paired up with same religion families in our community. They attend two Christian services and two Catholic services, plus do fun activities and community service projects. But, I was afraid with all of difficult child's drama it would not turn out a good experience for the foreign student. I told the organizer to contact us in a couple years when easy child is older and can be a host sister. She would be a good host sister. Of course, the lady from church who asked us only knows difficult child from her public personna, and not the girl we see at home.

    Tomorrow is Sunday, and it is our turn for nursey duty. Both girls love taking a turn in the nursery. Not sure if difficult child will go or not... Not going to push it. But will hope she gets up and around. KSM
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Religion is such an individual thing to me. I don't really believe in organized religion. I was brought up Catholic and went to a Catholic school for grades 1-6. My folks let us choose after age 12/end of sixth grade if we wanted to attend church or not. I saw so very many things done by the nuns and priests that was completely against what the religion and bible both say. It really soured me on organized religion. After we moved to OK I went to several different churches with friends. A few seemed far more like cults, esp on their youth weekend retreats where you were kept up late, woken early, only given sweets and carbs to eat/drink, etc.... There were a LOT of things that are pretty standard brainwashing techniques that happened on these retreats. I usually ended up promising to do all I could to give these friends reasons to pray for me. Very few realized that I was NOT saying I agreed with their beliefs, and it got them to stop yammering at me about religion. I never said bad things about any religion, it just wasn't a good fit for me.

    My kids have the option of attending any church they want within reason. I won't drive for hours to take them Occupational Therapist (OT) a church, it cannot be ust for the social aspects, etc.... But I don't attend services and husband does. He is Catholic by choice and had a completely different experience with the church than I did. For a few years the kids all went to an Episcopal church, and that was fine. husband often went to Mass at the Cath church here and then to bible study at the Episcopal church whle the kids went to bible study. Mostly now he and thank you go to Mass on Sunday, though thank you is skipping it more lately. We gave them a foundation in the basics of several religions, and provided info/experiences with any religion they were/are curious about.

    Wiz has totally refused anythign to do with religion, mostly in my opinion because it used to upset husband. He has actually told many people that we had him exorcised. He also tells people that the holy water burned when he was baptized and he had a scar from where ti burned him that we had fixed by a plastic surgeon. husband saw this on his fb page and said that he didn't remember it that way. Reality is that he LOVED water and cooed when the water was put on his forehead. The priest actually poured it on his head 2 more times because Wiz was enjoying it so much. Wiz' fb friends sure latched on to that one and teased him a bit. It was maybe 2 yrs ago, when he was 19, and we found it very funny to hear all his stories. Several of his friends posted questions about other koi he told them about how God rejected him, blah blah blah. IT was truly funny because Wiz did NOT expect husband to challenge him in any way over it.

    Wiz posts a LOT of that nonsense to get people to react emotionally. When husband didn't, and refuted his tall tales, Wiz was totally shocked. He had said that koi so often he started to believe it. Knowing there was video of his baptism, well, that put holes in his sails.

    Most of my Catholic school classmates turned away from the church until there late 20's to early 40's and then came back around the time they stopped partying and had to be responsible for their children.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    MWM, sorry, lol! Your family sounds so much like mine! It's like one of those crazy comedy movies, Meet the Family, or whatever.

    Ksm, yes, it does hurt. I'm pretty much with-others here, that your difficult child has made a decision that she's just not going to go for that church/religion. I still feel strongly, though, that our kids do something for others ... feeding the poor at Thanksgiving or whatever. I don't know if that would be a good enough substitute for you. I just know that it works for us. One thing about most churches (clearly, not the cult that Susiestar mentioned) is that they are supposed to be families that tie you to the community at large and give you a boost on Sundays, for the week to come. If it's something that takes your away from society at large, and makes you angry or confused, then it is the wrong thing to do. Your difficult child is in an angry place in her life right now.

    You do mention a lot of good opportunities. I think they sound like fun, very adventurous and great growth opportunities. Alas, our kids can't see that.

    I bet a kazillion dollars that if your difficult child had a crush on someone at your church, she'd find a way to go ... :)
  11. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    [QUOTEI bet a kazillion dollars that if your difficult child had a crush on someone at your church, she'd find a way to go ... :)[/QUOTE]

    I bet you would be right. In our church, there are about 6 teen girls ... But there is only two teen boys... one is a senior and is a brainiac... the other is what I would consider "out of her league". Of course, with difficult child's over the top make up and attempts at fashion, she would probably alienate the majority of nice boys.

    I was hoping that when our small church youth group met with another small church youth group - which is mostly teen boys... that she would be more willing to go!
    She has the opportunity to go to Arizona for a national convention for our chruch conference along with the other youth, but she has decided that she doesn't want to do that. We have been to a couple of them before, as youth sponsors, and I always thought it was great - having 4 or 5,000 teens gathered together in a big city.

    When she heard that we are scheduled for nursery duty she seemed OK about going in the morning. Go figure. Also, it is our church's first "Holy Humor" sunday, which I hear is traditional the Sunday after Easter, but our church hasn't ever attempted it before. Should be interesting. KSM
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Holy humor? Is that like the one about the Catholic priest who strives to become a professional golfer and meets a leprechaun after he tees off ... the one who grants him his wish?
  13. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    We are practicing Christians but I made the decision when Duckie was a baby NOT to explicitly tie good works exclusively to our faith. That doesn't mean we didn't do good things through our church (like collections for our national church's relief organization) but we have tried to tie it to everyday things too. Some examples are donating to her classroom and school, supporting all the organizations she has been involved in (from cheerleading to scouting to theater) to collecting for an orphan disease that impacted a teacher's extended family to learning to give up unused clothing and toys to friends and family that could use them. We used our faith to back up and support our volunteering and giving, not as the reason for it. I hope that makes sense.
  14. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    While I do believe that our children have to make their own choices when it comes to faith as they get older, guiding them when they are young is part of what I believe my responsibility was. The only thing you can really do at this point is understand that she is at an age when "what my parents do, believe, say, like... is uncool". She is trying to feel her way and the shock factor of mom makes it sweeter. Understand that you gave her the base that is hopefully part of her being and she will be able to draw upon it when needed.

    Perhaps you can speak to the youth director to see if he/she knows of any volunteer opportunities in the community she can do this summer. difficult child doesn't need to know you spoke with the youth director - they usually have far reaching community contacts.

    Remember, this is really just a minute in time.....

  15. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've waited before responding.....maybe I should wait longer. It's been a rough week and I'm not feeling particularly bright, lol. My approach to this issue was a little different. I "think" that my bio kids at least (and maybe the steps who had a different early exposure have all turned out to be spiritual people. My easy child son and my easy child daughter changed from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church and they both are participatory. GFGmom (yes, THAT one, lol) has alot of compassion for those in need........although, of course, her needs dominate. Sigh. easy child/difficult child does "believe" but he has not associated with a particular denomination.

    Here is what I did when this issue came up. In a nutshell and with-o a great deal of elaboration I purposely did not show shock or dismay. My responses were limited to low key comments such as "Is there a particular part of the Church that makes you uncomfortable?" Then I listened and didn't hear much of value, lol. Then I asked "which of the ten Commandments do you disagree with? Do you believe that lying, killing, harming, stealing etc. etc. are AOK?
    Obviously the answer was "uh, No".

    Then I did my thing. "I believe that all human beings who are blessed with normal intelligence and compassion have an obligation to help those who are hungry, in need or alone. Do you believe that, too?" I wrapped it up by saying that "I believe that you represent the best attributes of a caring spirtual prson. I have never seen y ou purposely set out to harm anyone. I believe you are going to contribute to society in the best way you can. I am proud of you. I can not force you to join your family at church services BUT I would like you to think about this. God has given us each other and it is our habit to give ONE HOUR at our place of worship a week. In that ONE HOUR you may, just by your presence, influence others to make wise choices. It makes me very proud that we can give that little bit of time together to show support for the principles of the Church. Give it some thought, please. Is ONE HOUR out of your week too much?" Forget the parts that don't turn you on and think about what it means to your family. I don't think it is too much to ask." Love, Mom

    My spirituality is vastly different that my Mother's AND my siblings. I found "dressing up" to be inconsistent with the deep meaning of following the tenets. on the other hand, I have no fear of my future. I have tried to be kind, loving, helpful and supportive...and yes I follow the ten commandments. I am happy that most of them are comfortable with their soul and their choices. I absolutely avoided all arguments about doctrine. I believe you follow the basics. It seems to have worked. easy child/difficult child does not attend mass but he carries a rosary with him. Little difficult child got his head messed up by neighbors who are kind people with kinda a far out approach. With his MH issues I haven't been able to influence him to conform.......but........he has never purposely harmed anyone and I know he does pray on occassion. I'm satisfied. DDD
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    That's wonderful, DDD.
    We've tried that. difficult child says, (yells, actually) "That's WHAT YOU DO. That's not what I do." I'm still working on the part of the 10 Commandments that says, "Thou Shalt Not Kill."
  17. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Hey, you've done good so far!! KSM
  18. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DDD-Love your approach! Wish I had thought of it when my daughter was younger!
  19. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I haven't had a kid refuse yet, but mine are still young. I'm going to try to remember DDD's response for when the time comes. I don't plan on arguing or forcing the issue especially if they are doing it for shock value.