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What do you do when your child says they no longer believe in God? My daughter is 16.


Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: OF course that depends on your family traditions and the circumstances of the comment. If I'm reading you correctly, it sounds like you personally are a bit alarmed by this declaration (otherwise you wouldn't have sent in this question.) But there's no need to be. Teens question authority. That's what they do as part of their process of developing their own identity, separate from the identity of their parents. If you have made regular attendance at a house of worship along with the following of certain rituals mandatory in your family, your daughter's statement "I no longer believe in God." may simply be her way of saying "I am going to take a break from what you've always told me is true... in order to figure things out for myself." I believe she the right to question. I believe that is a healthy way in which she can form her own values. Does that mean her currently stated position about God and religion will be a permanent rejection of everything you believe and have taught her? Not necessarily. My advice is for you to have a NEUTRAL discussion about God and religion, one in which you LISTEN 90% of the time and make it safe for her to express her feelings and thoughts. You may learn something very interesting about the way your daughter is currently thinking about herself and her life and her desire to know what is true and real for her. I hope this helps. In friendship, Annie Fox
Posted On 2008-05-21 14:17:01
Genma Holmes Replied: Have your daughter suffered a great loss suddenly or seen a traumatic experience of late? Young people who have expereinced loss can feel distant not only from God but from others. Having deeper conversations with her about her faith and her life will help her open up to you even more. Paying closer attention to all aspects of her life will help give you further insight into why she is feeling unbelief in God. When my son was 16, he struggled deeply with his faith. When I look at that time in our lives, there were many factors contributing to the stress in our lives. Our decision to change congregation was one of them. Reaffirm your daughter often that you love her. God's love for her can be affirmed by you with your acts of affection.
Posted On 2008-05-21 08:24:28
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