Former Agnostics (and active Orthodox & active Catholics)...new-to-me 16yr old Son claims to be an Agnostic

I have a new-to-me 16 yr old son (my daughters’ 1/2 brother moved in on Thanksgiving after his Dad & newest Step-Mom kicked him out & living to his natural Mom isn’t an option). As a child, he LOVED & cherished every prayer book, bible, holy card or anything religious he could get his hands on, which his Dad would throw away any chance he got.

Now that he’s 16, he claims to be an AGNOSTIC (who believes in ghosts - btw). He says when he was younger everyone tried to shove “religion” down his throat/forced on him. I asked him who did that? He answered his Grandma. I asked him what religion & he said, “Catholic”. Last night he said that being around Icons make him very uncomfortable (exact same thing his Dad used to say about Icons…hmmm).

My question is: How should I approach Faith with my newest, nearly adult, son? I want to find a way to draw him back to God. Any advise is greatly appreciated.

Just live it. Let the light of Christ shine through your life, and he’ll catch on–maybe remember what he loved about those Bibles, prayer books and holy cards. His dad’s actions rubbed off on him–now you need to do the same with your new-to-you son. :slight_smile:

Thank you! Please pray for us :slight_smile:

Sixteen is a difficult time. Unfortunately, he had a bad influence about the faith. Sometimes that takes a long time to get over. When I was that age, I remember having a conversation with one of my good friends. I told him I wasn’t sure I believed in God. He helped me, and I will always be grateful for that. I love St. Augustine’s quote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” After years of sin, once I finally found God, it was amazing. Living without God is hard.

Never forget the power of prayer. Pray, pray, pray for him, all the time. Set a good example by living your faith fully. Show him the love of Christ. Answer his questions when he comes to you. Look for God to show him the path, but don’t press him. That will probably just turn him away. Faith has to be a free choice. Also remember that you might not be the correct person to help him. Often God will put someone else in his life to do that.

What no one has mentioned is that 16 is an age of rebellion for many American boys. It could be just thatm, or he could be testing you. Have you talked this over with his father?
I suggest you do this before taking any action. In addition, do not underestimate the power of prayer.
I also suggest that with the consent of his father, that you insist he attend Sunday Mass with you both.

First of all, my prayers are with your family.

Second, I would look into getting him some help with counseling or a Priest. It sounds like there is a specific experience that might have been traumatic for him. Or if he feels comfortable talking to you, then better.

I just wanted to thank you for stepping up for this young boy. You are living out the gospel, and I think that through your example he may come around. Try not to be pushy, just teach by example.

My new-to-me son has never even been Baptized so I don’t think he can be “rebellous” in this regard. He is been very compliant & obedient at home with me and a joy to be around.

His Dad won’t speak with him, his sister or me. Thanksgiving he kicked him out of the family completely to the point that not even extended relatives will speak with him. BUT his Dad hates all Faith, especially Christianity. Dad wants him to be living in the streets homeless right now.

I could be wrong, but I think if I force him to attend Divine Liturgy (or Mass), he’ll see me as another person trying to force him into religion and will effectively stop any chance of a positive influence I may be able to give in that regard.

Some advice from my own childhood… this would have worked for me:

INVITE, do not force.

DISCUSS, do not lecture.

ENCOURAGE, do not criticize.

LISTEN, do not ignore.

RESPECT, do not belittle.

Truly celebrate Christmas all around him, with every bit of joy and love and faith you have. OPEN YOUR HEART and keep that “door” wide open. It seems he isn’t used to that. His interest may surprise you. He may come in, slowly and with hesitation, like a stray cat… but once inside, if made comfortable and welcome… he may stay. :o

Agreed. This is how I got a daughter… and later, grandsons. :wink:

In the words of St. Francis: Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words. Good luck and God Bless.

Don’t force. Invite. Encourage. Share. Ask him to “please” accompany you… and talk, talk, talk… all the while, listening to one another.

This is good advice.

Dont make it an issue of contention.

Many experience a time of agnosticism, myself included.

Just encourage him, when the opportunities arise naturally, not to be come closed minded or hard-hearted, even if doubts are also part of his path…

Dont be afraid or overly-concerned about his doubts…

One thing you can control is that he seems to have been influence by the sophmoric and intellectually bankrupt “new” atheism that is so common on the internet. That line “shove religion down my throat” is one of their typical one liners. Father Robert Barron has many videos on youtube which interact with and refute modern internet atheism and show the beauty and intellectual rigor of the faith.

The other problem appears to be the way his father is treating him and influencing him about the faith. Our relationships with our fathers on earth usually reflect our relationships with our Father in heaven.

I was an agnostic and bought the internet atheism ideology hook line and sinker when I was 16 and God still pulled me back. Like one other poster mentioned teenage boys are usually rebellious. But always pray that your son will be open to the Lord’s loving searching for us. When you take him to mass try to understand it better with him so it’s not just a chore.

Thanks Jose! Prayers are great!!!

At this point, I don’t think he’ll be open to a priest. I’m completely tapped out right now meeting his basic needs (came to me with 1 pair of jeans, 3 tee shirts & 2 windbreakers) and we’ve been having a massive freeze from Canada, so I can’t yet afford counseling…but that is something I will look into provided he’s open to it. I found him a mentor already, but he’s not willing to meet him.

So far, he does speak to me when we’re alone. I’m also raising a 19 yr old, a 17 yr old exchange student and a 2 yr old so our one-on-one time isn’t too frequent, yet he is surprisingly open. We did talk about how long he’ll live with me and we’re figuring it’ll be about 8 yrs, so there is plenty of time.

Please continue the prayers for us. (I’m wondering, in the back of my mind, based on his prior LOVE of prayer books & holy cards and anything religious, if over some time his love for Faith will return with vigor, he’ll become Baptized and possibly even pursue the priesthood.)

Prayers for you all…

Also you should strive to live the sacrement of the Present Moment so dont think to his future. Let God God you in the Now of the situation…

This will help you to understand what that means…

( amazon.com/Sacrament-Present-Moment-Jean-Pierre-Caussade/dp/0060618116 )

Thank you! I’m really blessed to have him in our family. I grew up wanting a huge family, but instead I ended up a single mom raising his sister, who’s now a college student, on my own. But in the last 2 yrs, God has blessed me with the adoption of an baby girl, an exchange student in August & now my new-to-me son in November :slight_smile: God is truly multiplying my family and I’m loving it! I hope God keeps it up!..and maybe He’ll finally throw in a husband - lol :wink: Either way, I know He’ll provide me with ability to financially provide for the children He’s blessed me with.

I will try my best to be a good example.

Should I volunteer those situations I pray for?
*Like when the school almost had to drop him because his Dad (who wants nothing to do with him) has legal “custody”, but refused to sign the form to allow him to continue High School - I prayed through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and on Monday afternoon, even though Dad ignored about 100 attempts of contact from us over the weekend, verbally gave permission & the School District accepted it - that was our Christmas Miracle!
*Or like when he wasn’t getting the Algebra (since his new school is about 6 chapters ahead) and my daughter and our exchange student sat in the living room trying to tutor him and he just wasn’t getting it and I stayed, pretended to be playing on my phone, but was praying to Our Lady of Guadalupe and all of the sudden from something the exchange student wrote my daughter memory was triggered and she remembered a game/trick she used to use to help her to solve those types of problems, showed it to him and he finally “got it”! The next day, he was able to participate in class and impressed his teacher :slight_smile:

You have a new son who has experienced the rejections (for what ever reason) of his parents. That can make for added reasons to not want contact with a God we call Father. Rejection by parents can be very hard for anyone.

What a blessing that he will live as your son with his half sister.

Since he was raised by a father who rejected God, it will be natural that he has come to follow that path. It does not mean he will always follow his father’s ways.

Now that he’s 16, he claims to be an AGNOSTIC (who believes in ghosts - btw). He says when he was younger everyone tried to shove “religion” down his throat/forced on him. I asked him who did that? He answered his Grandma. I asked him what religion & he said, “Catholic”. Last night he said that being around Icons make him very uncomfortable (exact same thing his Dad used to say about Icons…hmmm).

Lots of kids these days, even in Catholic homes attending Catholic schools, call themselves agnostic and atheist.

Here is a link on ghosts by Jimmy Akin.

It may even be through his belief in the after life with ghosts that you can share with him more on God. You would want to be comfortable discussing ghosts and demons, before going very deep with this topic. Do not find belief in ghosts to be upsetting.

He may be uncomfortable around icons if that was the idea expressed in his home by his dad.

Take time to listen to him. Ask him to tell you about his feelings and thoughts on religion.

If you have icons and they bother him, ask him to sit with you and discuss what he feels and why he feels that way. You might tell him, how you see and feel about the icons.

Often people move from being agnostic or atheist to become a believer, through a slow process. He probably heard the phrase “Grandma shoved the Catholic religion down their throats” from dad. Maybe dad didn’t want to hear anything on religion and even simple things about faith caused him to claim “she’s forcing it on us.” This reinforces the idea with his dear son.

My question is: How should I approach Faith with my newest, nearly adult, son? I want to find a way to draw him back to God. Any advise is greatly appreciated.

Now is a good time to share with him the liturgical year… although I wouldn’t use those terms. You invite him to be part of Advent in your home. Ask him to join you for Mass as is that what you do as a family on Sunday. Ask him to simply come along and allow him to sit during Mass.

He might enjoy lighting the Advent candles at home.

If any of your religious outward signs in your home disturb him, ask him to share with you why he is disturbed.

Maybe he will help with setting up the Nativity pieces. Maybe he will be willing to listen to the Christmas story.

You don’t have any rush with teaching him about God. The Holy Spirit is Who changes hearts. He may be in college or later, when the right timing comes and he understands the Love and Peace of God.

You live your life, inviting him into your family as your son and inviting him into the family’s life as Catholics.

Invite him to the youth group at your parish.

Invite him to any events your family does to help others.

Pray to be at Peace in this new journey.

Thank you for this wonderful advise :slight_smile:

:DCongratulations!!!

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