Any advice for encouraging a rebellious teen?


#1

Our son is 14 and tells us he hates going to Church and will never be Catholic when he grows up. He has always disliked Church. It has been a struggle with him since he was about 1 year old. I can remember literally dragging him to PSR when he was younger. He would intentionally not get dressed and not get out of our car.

He had periods of time when he was better: the year he made his First Communion, and the year he was confirmed, he was really into it. His dad is not Catholic but started going to Mass out of the blue about 4 years ago and never misses a Sunday Mass. Our son does not fight going to Mass anymore, but lets us know he doesn't like it.

One of his best friends is Catholic and being confirmed this year,but his older sister (who my son looks up to) says she is an atheist. His other best friend since age 5 is not Catholic but has attended church from time to time with his mom, grandparents and us. His parents divorced last year and he says he no longer believes in God.

Our son tells us he doesn't know if he believes in God. I know I can't force him to believe or to be Catholic. We do require that all of our children attend Sunday Mass, Days of Holy Obligation, Holiday Masses and reconciliation several times a year. Our church is very small with not much to offer for teens. There is PSR for teens occasionally on some Sundays but our son says it is very boring. There is a larger church in the next town which we used to attend with more for teens but my husband prefers the small church and I think going to Mass as a family is important. There is an active youth program at the church in the next town but they meet at the same time his band practices and that is his one big passion. Any advice for us?


#2

what is psr?

at least he's going. make sure he knows - it seems he does - that as long as he is under your roof - not just a minor - he will go to mass with you as a family.

how old is his sister? does she still live at home? if she doesn't have to go and he does, well, that could lead to some big problems.

maybe you could have some discussions with him asking for his point of view. why is he unsure about god's existence? what about church doesn't he like? what would he like to see? what doesn't he understand? encourage him to think it out, and if you can remain calm and don't get angry or frustrated, it will let him know he can come to you and talk.

I would suggest lots of praying, and maybe finding a book on some of the "cooler" saints. he might not realize that they weren't all boring good people their entire lives! :D


#3

Can you afford to send him to a Catholic Boy’s summer camp? I think they’re run by reginum christi I know my aunt is sending my cousin who’s 15…it did him a world of good last year at 14. He really learned to challenge himself, and “own” his own faith.

Edit: AHHH here’s the link regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?id=26284&se=364&ca=198&te=782


#4

[quote="Keran, post:1, topic:236810"]
Our son is 14 and tells us he hates going to Church and will never be Catholic when he grows up. He has always disliked Church. It has been a struggle with him since he was about 1 year old. I can remember literally dragging him to PSR when he was younger. He would intentionally not get dressed and not get out of our car.

He had periods of time when he was better: the year he made his First Communion, and the year he was confirmed, he was really into it. His dad is not Catholic but started going to Mass out of the blue about 4 years ago and never misses a Sunday Mass. Our son does not fight going to Mass anymore, but lets us know he doesn't like it.

One of his best friends is Catholic and being confirmed this year,but his older sister (who my son looks up to) says she is an atheist. His other best friend since age 5 is not Catholic but has attended church from time to time with his mom, grandparents and us. His parents divorced last year and he says he no longer believes in God.

Our son tells us he doesn't know if he believes in God. I know I can't force him to believe or to be Catholic. We do require that all of our children attend Sunday Mass, Days of Holy Obligation, Holiday Masses and reconciliation several times a year. Our church is very small with not much to offer for teens. There is PSR for teens occasionally on some Sundays but our son says it is very boring. There is a larger church in the next town which we used to attend with more for teens but my husband prefers the small church and I think going to Mass as a family is important. There is an active youth program at the church in the next town but they meet at the same time his band practices and that is his one big passion. Any advice for us?

[/quote]

We are at war. All of us. Not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, the powers of darkness, and lies, and deceit, and murder. But we are not unarmed. We have the Sacraments, the Church, the ability to fast and pray. And, the Rosary. The Rosary is the "preferred small arms" of Our Lady's Army! Satan hates it. He operates best when his existence is denied. And his favorite color is gray. No black and white. If everything is gray, then he has room to operate. The culture and the school systems of this country are working against you. They have been taken over by the enemy. Realizing this helps. You need to pray, fast, say the Rosary, use holy water and blessed salt. Take the fight to the enemy! Cease to be passive in this war! Losing is not an option. Our eternity, and your son's, is at stake!

God bless!


#5

Don’t force Catholicism on him right now, other than the Sunday obligation. The Catholic Camp might be a good idea, but other than that, lay off a little. You say his sister is now an atheist? Is she under 18 and still living under your roof? If so, she should be going to mass as well.

I would retreat back into prayer for this. Start a novena to St. Monica and just say a little prayer each day for both of your children. Be a good example yourself and show the inner peace and joy you get from your faith- that will speak volumes more than anything else. If you are able, sacrifice more of your time for prayer and the Sacraments. Make holy hours and offer them for your family. Try to get to a daily mass and offer it for your children’s conversion. Volunteer at your parish. The closer your relationship is with God, the more you can intercede for the people you love and the more God will draw you and them to Himself. Good luck to you, and God bless!


#6

Sorry, I didn't make that very clear. The sister who says she is atheist is his best friend's 16 year old sister. PSR is Parish School Religion which used to be called CCD.

We have two adult daughters who were very into their faith as teens but as adults tend to only go to mass on holidays or when they are home and I strongly encourage it. They were involved with the youth group at the larger church near us and also attended retreats as teens at Franciscan University in Steubenville. I think those activities really helped.

The oldest daughter has been in the Army for 2 years and only attends on holidays since shortly after joining. She says she believes but is just not "into it." right now. I have been trying to talk to her about church and reconciliation more in recent months as she is deploying to Afghanistan soon.

The younger adult daughter attends on holidays and occasionally on other Sundays with us. She just moved back home 1 month ago while she is waiting to see if she is accepted into nursing school. She works an hour away at 2 jobs one of which requires late nights. She also works a 3rd job near us on some Fridays and Saturday nights until 1 or 2am. She is a night owl and hasn't gone to Mass with us at all since moving in a month ago. She is 25 so I hesitate to require an adult that has lived away from home so long to attend Mass. I have always invited and encouraged the older girls but don't make a big deal of it.

Our youngest son has always loved and participated enthusiastically in Mass just as his older sisters always did.


#7

As for CYSC, I signed him up and I would love to send him but it costs close to $500. I recently lost my job and my husband’s business has lost money for the past 4 years so unless something changes for us financially, I don’t think we can swing it.


#8

Ask about scholarships for different Catholic camps.

And remember, your son IS a Catholic whether he acts like one or not! He can say whatever he wants to, but he was baptized into the faith and has now been confirmed. So he can’t just walk away…he IS a Catholic.

It’s what I told my own son when he was seeing a girl who didn’t seem to have any religion except my son…He said, “I’m an agnostic,” and I couldn’t help myself, I laughed out loud. I said, “No, sorry, you are still a Catholic. You can’t undo your baptism. You can pretend or ignore it, but that doesn’t matter.”

He’s about halfway back to us. He sinned greatly and feels very guilty about that, and he’s lazy and doesn’t want to go to church. I have to admit, because my husband and I have critiqued the Mass and the Pastor way too much, my son had an excuse not to go to Mass “It’s boring, too long, I don’t get anything out of it, etc.” If I could go back and undo that, I would. Hubby has gone to Mass all along but has always picked it apart afterward and I guess I joined him…very destructive.

If I had it to do over…I would try to get him into a youth group somewhere…With a solid youth leader. NOT LifeTeen! It might be better where you are but I don’t like the program. I would find another parish and drive for an hour if necessary. And I would never open my mouth in one single criticism about Mass. I try very hard to give him the positives about our faith now. I pray the rosary, about half the time with him as an intention, and I go to weekday Mass, which I love. Have you ever tried a weekday Mass when your son is off from school? They are so different, he might enjoy it.

Well, just some random thoughts. I will pray for you. It would be good if he had some strong Catholic friends, too. That’s what a youth group might help with.


#9

Thanks. That’s funny because I have told him he will always be Catholic for the same reasons you gave your son. I do want him in the youth group at the church we used to attend. They are very active and I think he would like the kids there. But he joined the county 4-h band and he absolutely loves it. They practice on the same night the youth group meets. Maybe I will talk to their leader and see if there is any other way to get involved. I think the person that runs it also runs CYSC. Well, thanks, I need to do something to fire him up.


#10

[quote="Keran, post:1, topic:236810"]
Our son is 14 and tells us he hates going to Church and will never be Catholic when he grows up. He has always disliked Church. It has been a struggle with him since he was about 1 year old. I can remember literally dragging him to PSR when he was younger. He would intentionally not get dressed and not get out of our car.

[/quote]

I am giving the perspective as I see it from the story as you relate it, if you were a parent who came to my office with this question: this does not sound like a story about a rebellious teen who suddenly does not want to go to church, it sounds like a power struggle that has been going on since at least the start of his school days. Maybe RE was the only focus, or the main focus, but I will bet my CCC it is not the only issue you have had with him, and that he has won more than one test of wills with you over the years.

.

There is an active youth program at the church in the next town but they meet at the same time his band practices and that is his one big passion. Any advice for us?

again, who sets agendas and priorities in your family? is it something you negotiate, something you try to dictate, or something your kid dictates?

my point is that the issue of church is a sidelight to the real issue of the relationship between parent and child as it has developed over the years and that is where you should ask for help--professional if you think that is warranted.


#11

Trust me, we set the rules and are in control in our home. We are actually the strictest parents we know. Our son is a very controlling type personality (just like his daddy) and he will try to get away with what he will. Many of his teachers have pointed out to me that they feel he is a leader. If he was in charge he would not go to church. The little fits he used to have when going to PSR were when he was younger and he has long since stopped. We are not in a constant day to day struggle. He really is a good kid, gets good grades and and is respectable most of the time. We have seen a little more back talk and negativity toward church this year but we address it and don't let it slide. I don't think it is completely abnormal for a 14 year old to behave this way. We just never experienced this with his older siblings. I really think some of it is his personality.
But the anti-church thing bothers me. He goes and doesn't fight or throw fits just makes it clear he hates it. He is in band because he loves it, and he chose to do it before I knew when the youth group met. I did contact the leader of that group and found that the high school youth group meets on a different night. He will start high school next fall so we will definitely be going to that youth group. I am also going to try to get him in CYSC.


#12

:extrahappy::dancing::clapping:

Hooray! Just a few months and he can be in a more mature youth group!! I hope it works out well. Don’t give up on a Catholic camp, either. And, if there is a Kairos retreat somewhere in your area - my son just did one, he’s 17 and goes to a Jesuit college prep - keep that in your file for the next few years. Kairos was powerful for both of our sons. It is especially so for this son, because now he shares the experience with his older brother, whom he idolizes.

Do not be discouraged!!! Keep your faith, and never waver. Our son has put us through hell and back over the last 4 years (seems like 20) including losing his virginity to a girl who finally dumped him, but I never let my standards down and I never gave him any sign that I believed him when he said he was an agnostic. He’s coming around now. He’s the same kind of kid as your son - very independent, very persistent, could be a leader. Keep assuring your son that even if he turns his back on God temporarily, God will NEVER EVER EVER desert him. That in his moments of fear and doubt, that is when God is right next to him, waiting to reach out and hold him. Be his rock of faith. Be cheerful in your faith, too. We Catholics can sometimes be a bit staid compared with some of the Protestants.

Hang in there, try to keep your sense of humor and don’t let this rock your world or threaten you in any way. Not easy in the moment but it can be done. Take the long view and know that he has received a foundation that will stand. I should know, I was away from the Church for over 20 years but I had 10 years worth of foundation and I’m glad for it now.


#13

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