Question:My 14 year old son says he doesn't believe in God. How should I handle this? This is very stressful for me because I am sure his "friends" are influencing him. HELP!
Don't stress yet! Remember, we are on a faith journey and not a sprint. All people who are truly seeking God struggle with their faith at one time or another. They doubt, seek, believe, question, disbelieve, doubt, and question some more. Just look at the Psalms to see how common these questions are. Teens are also on a journey toward inter-and independence in their belief system. They often want to be different than mom and dad, and this is another part of the journey of adolescence. But, now is also not the time for panic or retreat. Many of Christianity's most thoughtful and influential theologians spent much time in searching and even in disbelief. Consider C.S. Lewis, Sheldon Vanauken, or even more contemporary, Rob Bell. One way to open dialogue with your son is to hand him some of their writings. Encourage him to read through their own struggles, and then dialogue with him about those readings. Pray for him during this time and continue to keep your faith in front of him. Don't press it so it looks unnatural or feels forced, but share with him when a "teachable moment" comes along. Be patient yet involved. Do set some parameters and guidelines, like church attendance, but realize that the more you "push" your faith, the more he will push back. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time and goes through spurts and lags. And for your own peace of mind, memorize 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."