My 13 year old is "Lost in the Desert"


Most know my conversion story that I have posted, and how my 13 year old son believed in God before I did.

This past weekend, he hit me with a Major bomb shell of sorts. He says he does not believe in God anymore and will only attend Mass with me to “make me happy”. He even managed to get himself “fired” from being an Altar Server.:crying:

I lived in that desert for 40 years and I know the loneliness and bleakness of it. Now I am watching my son enter that world. I have tried to explain things to him concerning our faith and that of God, even recommended some teen friendly books for him to read, to no avail.

My heart is breaking and now all I can do is cry. Do I leave him alone in his desert type wandering all the while making him attend Mass or do I continue to try and talk with him even though he refuses to listen and absolutely refuses to read anything on the subject?

I pray that Jesus will surround him with His Holy Angels to protect him on his journey and continuely pray to my Patron Saint Monica and of course I go to our Lady to also watch over him. What more can I do?


the best witnesses are friends of his own age who do believe, and do live their lives as if they believe. Try to get him involved in a good Catholic youth program.


Keep planting seeds of faith. One day they will bloom. Make sure you enforce morals and rules. This is the ground you are cultivating. His environment is most important. Teach by example. Let him see God in you. Tell him how thankful you are for the things God gives you and him. When my kids don’t want to say grace at the table, I at least insist they say “amen”. If anything , double up on your own spiritual growth and share it with him. Let him see you humble yourself and pray openly. I hope some of this helps, Tim


Thats what my mom tried to do to me and it had the exact opposite effect. Since he’s 13 chances are hes starting the rebellious teenage phase even if it doesn’t appear so on the outside. Patience is always good and don’t harp on him because of what he says his beliefs are. If he’s destined to come back to the church then he will, I can guarentee shoving it in his face will not help.


Nowhere did I say “shove it in his face” reread.


Why has he lost his faith? Has he shared that with you?..Maybe you should take him to talk with your priest or deacon.


TOP, I couldn’t have said it better. Well done.
To the OP , I am glad you are praying to St. Monica. She waited years but our Lord heard her prayer and St. Augustine changed his life. Never give up on praying for him. The road may be rough for him but he may need that to open his eyes to GOD’s love.
God love you!


Thanks, but Christ said it first. I love the parable of the sower. Tim


To a kid that age, and even to someone my age what your advice is saying equates to shoving in the face. Nothing irritates ( would rather use a more powerful word but trying to keep profanity to a minimun) me more than when people try to show me how great god is. It just makes me roll my eyes and think “here we go again with this…”


I was in your son’s place at age 13. I had received poor catechesis and didn’t see why I should continue to play at believing something of which I knew or understood little. I also perceived a lot of hypocrisy at my parish (overemphasis on wealth and material possessions, and as someone from the working class I had been made to feel inferior on many occasions in the parish school), and as that limited experience was my main exposure to Catholicism at that point, I decided that Catholicism was not for me as I didn’t want to be around a bunch of “stuck-up snobs” (my words at age 14).

My parents thankfully backed off, allowed me to forego Confirmation, and put me in the public high school, where I met up with a crowd of good, devout Catholic kids. One of them ended up sponsoring me for my Confirmation a few years later (after I had made the effort to enroll myself in and attend adult Confirmation classes).

The best thing you can do for your son? Pray. Listen to what he has to say, take his concerns seriously, do not force the religion on him or else he may drop his faith entirely. Give him a bit of space to figure out what he believes, as at this point his faith is up to him. If he’s still willing to attend Mass with you to make you happy, go with that. That’s more than I was willing to give my parents. And then pray some more. Ask St. Monica for her intercession. And keep praying.


He’s had a lot of responsibility to bear, as you state he’s brought you back to the church. Perhaps now that you’re in a good place he dosn’t feel there are anymore prayers that God needs to answer.
A youth group would be great for him, to see what kids his age like to do. As far as getting himself kicked out of alter serving…alter serving is REALLY hard work, and if you haven’t done it you can’t immagine how much focus, consentration and obedience it takes. Its alot to ask of a kid, even at 13.


I think being lost in the desert is just a part of being 13. I know it happened to me, and now it is happening to my daughter. Believe me, I know how you feel, as it was my daughter who helped me to believe. She has taught VBS and assisted in teaching religious ed. She ushered at Mass every week. Then, in the middle of her second year of confirmation, she dropped the bombshell on me, that she didn’t think she could believe anymore. I think she has picked up on a lot of the inconsistencies that people who were supposed to know better (ie, the catechists) were putting forth as Church teaching. I actually have the answers for her, but she doesn’t want to hear it. I’m “so last century.” Still, she does still tell me what is on her mind, and will give me a few minutes here and there where she will listen before she tunes me out. Honestly, I am thankful that she has been honest with me about how she feels and isn’t going to just sit there and fake it.

The thing that I know about God though is that even when we don’t recognize him, he is there with us. I think so often we are able to rise above lukewarmness just by going through our time in the desert. I also think that there is something about the baptized soul, that it always manages to get “found” no matter how far they stray.


just live the example. You don’t have to shove anything down his face or even try ot convince him or bother him unless he wants to talk. Just tell him you want him to be happy and live his life the way he feels best and that for you God is important but he can make his own decisions and then hopefulyl by seeing your example he’ll return.


Ooops! Let’s be careful with this word “destined” … there is no destiny, at least not in the deterministic sense that Eastern religions and New Age spiritualities often mean. There is God’s will and there is ours, and there is the mysterious interaction between the two.

God wills his salvation. God wills the Church and her sacraments as the ordinary means of arriving at that salvation. He is a baptised Christian and that means that he has been sealed with the mark of the sacrament of Baptism. That has consequences. On the day that he stands before God, he will be judged as a Christian, not as a non-believer, because of that sacramental mark which he bears on his soul. That cannot be ignored, though there is no reason for it to produce panic either. We also know that God is above all a merciful God.

God has given his mother the responsibility of helping him to preserve and grow in his faith as a Christian. She cannot simply shrug her shoulders and say “well, he’ll come around eventually.” He may. Or he may not.

But neither should any of that provoke panic and fear. I agree that there is likely a good bit ordinary teenage rebelliousness and/or confusion happening here, so mum doesn’t need to be overbearing or “preachy” (“in his face” as you said). However, this does not mean she should just back off and leave him to his own devices either. Her responsibility as a Christian mother is to guide him to a knowledge and love of God.

OP: Perhaps this is a small comfort right now, but I think it is not unreasonable to see God’s providence in all this. Perhaps there is a reason that God in His providence brought you back to the Faith (through the intercession of your son you indicate) precisely when He did, and perhaps that reason is because He foresaw this crisis in your boy and willed that you be the one to encourage and sustain him through the coming storms, just as he sustained and led you a few years ago. That ought to be a very comforting thought I think, though it may mean some difficult times ahead. But that is what God gives us a family for, to support and carry us so that we don’t have to make it on our own. Now, it’s your turn to be patient, constant, prayerful and firm in your own convictions and example so that he can draw strength from you.

I look at it like this: the loss of faith is a spiritual illness he is suffering and your heart is breaking the same way that it would be if he were chronically ill with some physical ailment and you had to stay by his bedside for months (or years!) and help to nurse him back to health. I don’t see a big difference here, except that the spiritual consequences of his ailment are not as immediately and physically evident as the ones resulting from a physical disease would be, and so it is easier to ignore them or imagine that they don’t really exist. They don’t seem as immediate or life threatening. But they are, and now you (with enormous peace and confidence in the abundance of God’s goodness and mercy!) have to help him recover his spiritual health.

This is the real work of a mother, imho. You gave birth to him and brought him into this world, but we know that that won’t be forever. You have to foster in him the knowledge and love of God. But that is going to take patience and prayer.

Above all, be at peace. Really. Pray for him. By all means seek the intercession of St. Monica, St. Augustine, the Blessed Virgin and all the rest of God’s family, but know that your prayers *will not *be without fruit.

Sorry for the super-long post :o ; I will pray for your intentions today.


Sounds like you are blaming others for YOUR rebellion.


Where I think alot of this started with my son was in his science class. They were studying evolution saying that Humans originated from apes, we have all heard THIS one before.

My son’s first 9 years of life were spent in an Atheist home (me before my conversion) so he did not have that beginning foundation layed. Yes, some of this attitude is just teen rebellion, but his pulling away is much deeper then that.

Like I was, he questions the Why’s and How’s. He can’t see God, who says the bible is not just a book of make-up stories, who created God if all things had a beginning and on and on. Questions I once had.

I kinda have to agree to a point with nichjake, when I was an Atheist, the last thing I wanted was for someone to share their faith with me, how very sad when I look back at that time in my life.

My son witnesses my daily prayers. He used to help me pray the Rosary in an Internet Chat Room and he see’s my commitment to my parish. I am always giving God credit for the good things that happen, and like what nichjake said, he just rolls his eyes and walks away. But he still HEARS:thumbsup:

When it comes to friends, that is a very troubling part of this. All his friends are Un-Churched and those kids at our parish he says are boring, only 7 are in his age group and they are very deep into their faith.

I keep praying though,and as for talking with my deacon, he is a wonderful man but does not relate well to kids. My priest though, he is terrific with kids but I will have to wait until after Easter to talk with him due to his overloaded schedule.

Maybe it’s like my fiancé said, God has to call him first, like He did with me. But I am sure going to keep an Open Line to heaven waiting for the call.


Wow, you sound like I did only 5 years ago. I used to roll my eyes, too, whenever my mom would tell me that I need to thank God more, or gave me a Miraculous Medal, or handed me a prayer card. I would get pretty P.O.ed at it all, and would rather she and others would leave me alone.

I basically was away from the Church for over 10 years…I only came back 3 years ago. I thought I’d never be at the point where I am now. I attribute my comeback to the many “silent” actions my family, especially my mother and my sister’s mother-in-law, did for me.

Many of us have been in the situation you are in right now. I know you’d rather explain life with science than with having a relationship with God…yet you are here…

As for the OP’s original concern, I know it’s heartbreaking to see and hear your son pulling away from the faith (I have one son currently in this situation)…but I believe God allows this to happen to instill a deeper belief and faith in Him when he does return. It may take years (like in my case), he may suffer from relying on his own defenses for a while, but continue praying for him, especially to Our Lady and St. Monica for their intercession. Leave it in God’s hands and mercy.

God Bless!


I’m here because my best buddy is Catholic and asked me to go to church with him last week. After my initial revulsion I realized that he desperatly needs my support right now and he just wanted someone that he knows won’t judge him at church (hes struggling with some mortal sins). Since I only knew what I learned from movies about Catholicism I thought I’d do a little research and research of this sort is much easier done in a place like this than blindly searching the internet. My ideas have only been reinforced by what I’ve seen here and what I saw in mass last week.


13 year olds change their minds about major things every few minutes. I would not be too alarmed. What does his father say about all of this?



Youth group - even if the kids seem boring, once he gets to know them it can change.

Also, he needs to be around strong Catholic men. Could you find him a spiritual director?

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