My 17 yr old has just told us she's an atheist


#1

Hi everyone, i'm new around here. Before i say too much about my daughter's recent declaration of "being an atheist," let me just mention where i am inside my soul with this/her: i am not worried. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who will go and get her Himself.
Mother Mary is her Real Mother! She will bring this little daughter to Her Son!
i am, however, seeking advise for the on the ground game plan.....so!
Please reply any and all parents who have run into this.
Here's the scenario: after discovering that she had lied to us about sleeping at a friend's house the night before, she told us that about "4 years ago I discovered that none of what I was taught about God and the Church was true. I devastated me and I was depressed and drank a lot everyday, but I didn't tell you because I didn't want to hurt your feelings."
OK, for these past four years i have tried to break thru to this very smart, very talented young lady....i knew something was up but she kept stringing me along and keeping me emotionally away. It was very hard to see in the middle of all this what was common and what was unusual in a young adult emerging. I know each person is on his/her own journey to Heaven and my Faith, Hope & Trust is in Christ - not my parenting, my particular prayers, etc.
At this point, I would love to hear from other parents any tips on demonstrating unconditional love as well as setting FIRM boundaries without worrying about driving her away any further. Just to inform you, she is starting college in a couple of weeks but will still be living at home - at least until Dec 8th- her 18th b'day!


#2

"Guess what DD? I knew something was wrong, but I didn't think that it was my business to press. I knew you were stringing me along and there was something up even as you succeed. While you're under my roof I expect you to participate in the faith traditions of this family. When you leave you can continue however you wish. I do hope you come back to Catholicism, not for my sake but so you can live a life full of blessings which it brings."

As a side note, if she was drinking daily 4 years ago at the age of 13 I would look into teaching her about alcoholism. Very likely she is suffering from the disease or will be soon if steps aren't taken to correct it.


#3

was going to reply but Purple sunshine said it better than I could.:D


#4

I'm very sorry to hear about this situation with your daughter... it has to be devastating! :(

But frankly, how did she get access to alcohol *for all those years as a teenager without you even *knowing. :confused:

I honestly don't mean to call you out or question what happened...
But I just don't understand how this happened in the first place? I mean, I know you had suspicions, but weren't there ANY hints of her questioning her faith over all these years?
Did/Do you discuss your faith on a regular basis within the family?

I would open up the lines of communication and ask her WHY she feels this way!... and then sit back and LISTEN! LISTEN to her, don't judge her or talk over her or try to redirect the conversation... just LISTEN. Reconnect with her and find out what she struggles with and what she believes. Regain that sense of TRUST on a SLOW and loving path. If you don't the the answer to her questions - be honest! Tell her you don't fully know what the Church teachings are, so let's go read together and understand! Open up your Catechism, search for the Encyclicals and the teachings of the Church Fathers... READ scripture together. And ALLOW her questions to flow.

Yes, I agree that while she's living with you at home then she should be participating in the family traditions of attending Mass and praying together. But in addition to this, allow her to vocalize her questions... and then be prepared to answer them... lovingly.


#5

May I suggest that this could be simply part of growing up - the struggle to become independent from one’s parents and an certain resentment about being dependent on them in so many ways means that if the freedom to do so exists, a teenager may use it to rebel. One easy target is ‘belief’ since, no matter what the parent says, the teen is able to say ‘I do not believe’ with impunity, knowing there’s no way for a parent to change it.

May I also suggest that, pre armed with good apologetic material, you try, if you can, to find out what it is that your daughter was unable to reconcile - i.e. what her ‘discovery’ about the truth or not of God was. It’s possible that she’ll refuse to answer (“why should I, I don’t care about it any more”), or if she’s simply rebelling she might not have a sensible answer (which means there wasn’t a ‘discovery’ in the first place). If you can get anything out of her and she is actually genuinely disbelieving, then you have an opportunity to correct whatever it is she heard or discovered. I won’t pretend it’ll be easy or even possible, but it’s worth a try if you’re careful and loving about it. If you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, try it in the company of someone who’s good at these sorts of things and prepared to take bogus assertions head on.

I hope it works out - or that it’s simply a phase your daughter is going through.


#6

Thank you Emily, mom of 3, after reading your responses other moms on this site i was kind of hoping you would respond to my question.
Concerning my daughter's claim to "drink everyday" let me clarify 2 things. #1- according to her, she claims to have done this for about a year because she was "miserable that everything my world was built on collapsed." she also said she didn't like it and stopped and "doesn't drink any more." in my own parenting defense (altho if this is going to turn into a "how blind are you forum" i'm not sure anyone will be helped), i went after her plenty. there is a fine line between parenting, trusting God and nagging out of the house. #2- i do not believe her. she may have drank some- and i'm not being protective or secretive. we don't drink much at all in our house and she couldn't possibly have gotten it from our small supply. however, she did attend a very large high school and i guess she could have gotten some from other people. i keep a pretty tight reign on my kids, but she obviously found other ways around my rules and HID that behavior from me.
i am a somewhat trusting mother. obviously, i trusted this one too much. i also battle with being controlling. you may think that is an oxymoron. ok, so maybe i am an oxymoron, but i am not of the belief that a parent is the same thing as a dictator. that is why i appreciate Emily's comments. i'm not sure that if i were to commit the sin of "looking back with regret" (which is a sin- living in the past), given the circumstances i don't know how much i could have done differently. i would like to move forward.

to answer some of the other concerns raised:
we not only talk about the faith all the time in our family, we home-schooled for years (she was home schooled until high school) and do our best to live the faith in an authentic way. just about Daily Mass, regular Confession & Adoration, work with the poor, Catholic camps, retreats, religious friends, etc.

i am not asking for just any old comments. i would like people who have encountered this to respond.


#7

im not offering random advise...ive been there and have many friends who have. first about the drinking. your daughter has no reason to lie to you...infact she more likely is downplaying things, unless she is a drama queen. your "fault" or no regardless if she swears up and down she basically jist told you she was an alcholic. it is a disease that will not just go away. second there is not a thing you can do besides demand respect and pray. and there isnt much you can do until you determine what caused this drastic change. it actually sounds very typical for a hs kid and there are a whole host of things that could of percipitated it...from lack of apologitics to outside abuse. each of which require a vastly different approach that we cannot determine.


#8

[quote="MaryPia, post:6, topic:208065"]
Thank you Emily, mom of 3, after reading your responses other moms on this site i was kind of hoping you would respond to my question.
Concerning my daughter's claim to "drink everyday" let me clarify 2 things. #1- according to her, she claims to have done this for about a year because she was "miserable that everything my world was built on collapsed." she also said she didn't like it and stopped and "doesn't drink any more." in my own parenting defense (altho if this is going to turn into a "how blind are you forum" i'm not sure anyone will be helped), i went after her plenty. there is a fine line between parenting, trusting God and nagging out of the house. #2- i do not believe her. she may have drank some- and i'm not being protective or secretive. we don't drink much at all in our house and she couldn't possibly have gotten it from our small supply. however, she did attend a very large high school and i guess she could have gotten some from other people. i keep a pretty tight reign on my kids, but she obviously found other ways around my rules and HID that behavior from me.
i am a somewhat trusting mother. obviously, i trusted this one too much. i also battle with being controlling. you may think that is an oxymoron. ok, so maybe i am an oxymoron, but i am not of the belief that a parent is the same thing as a dictator. that is why i appreciate Emily's comments. i'm not sure that if i were to commit the sin of "looking back with regret" (which is a sin- living in the past), given the circumstances i don't know how much i could have done differently. i would like to move forward.

to answer some of the other concerns raised:
we not only talk about the faith all the time in our family, we home-schooled for years (she was home schooled until high school) and do our best to live the faith in an authentic way. just about Daily Mass, regular Confession & Adoration, work with the poor, Catholic camps, retreats, religious friends, etc.

i am not asking for just any old comments. i would like people who have encountered this to respond.

[/quote]

Thanks for clarifying! Please don't see my questions as accusing - I was just digging for more details. And for what it's worth, I do agree with out on having to maintain that balance between being controlling and trusting - things can go wrong if either one is taken to an extreme... so it is a balance.

I wonder if her transition from homeschooling to high school was challenging for her? Was she, in part, not prepared for "real world" confrontations? Again - moot point looking back - time to move forward as you mentioned.

My kids are still young, but I struggled myself some, so that's my only experience. My struggles included some very real depression and anxiety issues, that my own mother felt was entirely *spiritual *and wasn't treated medically until I was on my own after college. Looking back I wish I had the medical help I truly needed. It really was only by the grace of God that I came back to the right path in life...

You mentioned your daughter also felt "depressed"... have you sought medical/psychological help for her? You may want to have her seen by a doctor.

You and your daughter will by in my prayers... God is so good and so loving and will not abandon you or your daughter!!!


#9

Thats nice you think you are an atheist but it is pretty hard to be an atheist when you have given all your faith to alcohol. Now, as long as you live under this roof you will our rules if not you will support yourself like and adult. I would also require adult formation classes and AA for living at home.


#10

there is the thirty day novena going to mass daily and recieving the holy eucharist worthily afterwards saying an hour father and hail mary for the catholic church, you can save your own soul and that of someone else you nominate by this ( i know christ saves but you know what i mean) or use the green scapular, to many souls go to hell. do all you can to help your daughter avoid this fate. below is a link to a book worth reading.

tanbooks.com/index.php/Prayers-Heavenly-

or this one

google.ie/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.olrl.org%2Fpray%2Fdrops.shtml&ei=h4VcTIrqEJKJ4QbF3e3mBw&usg=AFQjCNHuvCgPlw5V07tAntyhGWOIi30ZZg


#11

DexUK- thank you, you are probably right. i am just trying to get advice from those who have come out of this on the other side. i just want to do the right thing in God for my daughter.
thank you everyone so far who has posted.

If i can ask each of you who seem to care even a little about this situation, please pray one Hail Mary for her. SHE MADE AN APPOINTMENT HERSELF to go and meet with a local pastor at 12 noon tomorrow. i have already begun a Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Is she depressed right now? i don't know. she is very smart and SEEMS well-balanced to most other people. i am constantly "accused" by other mothers of "reading into" situations so again, i guess i should have pushed harder? but i really don't want to sit in that sewer- no fruit grows there- only mold. she is in a huge transition stage and is working a lot (has 2 jobs). She mostly hangs out at home w/friends coming over or less than once per week she goes out with a friend. (more like 2/month) Did she have a tough transition from home-schooling to high school? i would say "yes" and she would say "no." we were a very socially involved homeschooling family; we were in two different groups, went on field trips (many over night trips) several (2-3) times per month, saw neighbors and friends and family EVERY SINGLE DAY. We live in a heavily populated area. If i wanted to hide my kids it would be impossible. i think any issues were inside of her-she is very demanding and goal oriented. she also experiences migraine headaches - since a pre-adolescent - so was she sleeping from alcohol a few years ago instead of headaches? who knows? her MRI showed no anomaly, and stress (pressure and hormones) seemed to be the biggest trigger. maybe alcohol also played a part. GOOD- another reason for her to stop!

After speaking with Fr. tomorrow i will see if he thinks she needs any medical/counseling attention.

And for everyone's info, all this just transpired in the last 2 days, Wednesday AM to be exact.
so PurpleSunshine, i couldn't have possibly "strung you along while succeeding...."
i'm not sure why the personal attack. if you are who i have a feeling you might be, that would explain your over emphasis on alcohol. not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. just like not everyone who is an alcoholic is a BAD PERSON. get me? as far as succeeding goes, i don't have a clue what you are talking about.
my best work is dust in the wind. any and all results and victory belong to the King.
and yes, my quote to you (must have been years ago since i haven't seen or heard from you in about what 6 months or more?) "as long as you live here you will participate in Mass...." still stands. She will be at Mass on Sunday. Maybe you'll be there?

so thank you again,everyone, and please, one Hail Mary!


#12

I wish I could tell you I've been in your shoes. Unfortunately I am only 24 and have no children of my own yet. I did however have several friends in high school who were proclaimed atheists (I even went to a Catholic high school). Their reasoning for being atheist were usually very stupid. They were to lazy to practice having a faith and they just wanted to be rebellious. Your daughter is getting ready to start college which means she should hopefully be mature enough to have better reasons to not believe in God. I recently heard a neat quote about atheism. "--Atheism is stupid. It's like a flea that doesn't believe in the dog. It is as if the flea is saying,""What dog? All I see is hair and skin..I can't believe you guys believe in a dog""--"

I think you need to challenge her. Ask her if she died today and was face to face with Jesus who would then ask her "Why didn't you believe in me?" What would she say? What is her proof?

If she is afraid of questioning Christianity, tell her not to be. If you don't question your faith then you can't grow in it. I also suggest finding some good resources for her to read. Like Meer Christianity by C.S. Lewis. She can't just dismiss God. She needs to make an educated decision. She needs to understand that her soul is in peril if she doesn't. Of course once she does her research and makes that educated decision, it will be obvious to her that God does exist.

As for her drinking problem, that should be less important than her resisting the idea of God. Once she comes into realization of God's existence she will better understand her dignity as a human being and begin to treat her body better. I wish you the best of luck and pray for you!


#13

P.S. to Save Us from Hell - thank you! and to joandarc- formation classes? in what? she can quote Scripture, the CCC, the Saints, myriads of prayers, she wanted to be a Missionary of Charity and take the name Prays the Rosary when she was a girl. This past school year (when she now tells us she didn't believe) she taught 2nd graders - prepared them for 1st Holy Communion and cried at their Mass and explains the Holy Trinity like you have not heard before. Knowledge is not everything- JESUS IS. the knowledge without the gift of Faith only puffs up your pride! this i know. she needs to ask Him to CAPTURE HER HEART.only i can't do that for her....however, i can ask Him to flood her with graces if she but glances at HIM!


#14

Knowing them and Understanding them are often two different things. One of the things that often attracts teenagers to atheism, paganism, etc is the logic string. granted I am talking other than the straight shock value to their parents. Something like an adult formation class in apologetics - if she can’t argue her position or defend her new “faith” (can’t really classify atheism as a faith) then she probably is just going for shock value.


#15

[quote="MaryPia, post:11, topic:208065"]

so PurpleSunshine, i couldn't have possibly "strung you along while succeeding...."
i'm not sure why the personal attack. if you are who i have a feeling you might be, that would explain your over emphasis on alcohol. not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. just like not everyone who is an alcoholic is a BAD PERSON. get me? as far as succeeding goes, i don't have a clue what you are talking about.
my best work is dust in the wind. any and all results and victory belong to the King.
and yes, my quote to you (must have been years ago since i haven't seen or heard from you in about what 6 months or more?) "as long as you live here you will participate in Mass...." still stands. She will be at Mass on Sunday. Maybe you'll be there?
Mary!

[/quote]

I read your message to purplesunshine and did not find a post on this thread which justified your comments. :confused:

I am not the type of person from whom you asked for replies. I feel that I may be able to add some insight because my childhood was much like your daughter's. I was very bright, good in sports, was polite, and always respectful of adults. I was raised by two loving parents who were both strong Catholics. At a very young age, about 10 years old, I decided that I did not believe what the priests, nuns and adults were telling me about religion. I thought that religion was something like Santa Claus, but for adults.

At the age of twelve I started a drinking habit. I don't think that my drinking reflected upon my mother's or father's parenting skills. The fact was, I was very smart and had all day long to plan ways to do what I wanted and escape detection. The good grades and polite behavior were actually part of my plan. I knew that those qualities would buy me a bit more trust which enabled more freedom.

I have contemplated my past and wish that I could tell you exactly what went wrong. I cannot. My guess is that there is a constant battle between good and evil. Our souls lie in the balance of this war. What would cause a child at the age of only ten to disregard all religious teachings from adults? I listened and learned from adults in other regards. When it to came to religion and morality I found my own rules.

I will tell you that I am a recovering alcoholic. I sobered up while my parents were on a pilgrimage to Medugorie. They were praying for me. Prayer definitely helps. Still, removing the drugs and alcohol did not remove the darkness from my soul. I found myself lost in materialism and trying to satisfy the appetites of my lower faculties.

I now suspect that I was experiencing demonic oppression. Oppression is usually not identified until it reaches the later more devastating stages. I reached those stages. I got to a point where I needed another miracle. I came to the Church looking for help. I got the miracle that I needed, along with a few others. :D


#16

HI...

I'm a parent of young children. Here are the things that you've written that stand out to me.

She says she drank every day for about a year. You say, she's exaggerating. She may well be. I find it odd to cop to a worse offense than actually occurred. I'd get more of this story from her.

What was the event that convinced her that everything she learned is not true? It seems we all go through really awful things that can really test our faith. Sometimes we don't even know it, we just withdraw. Talk to her about talking with a priest herself. To put her questions to him. If she's willing.

You mention that she's been depressed. According to your signature you live in Jersey. In the United States we are almost epidemically low on Vit. D. Which can manifest as depression (among many other things). I googled the Jersey area and found an article written you might like... Now, if she were low on D, and experiencing typical teenage issues: Last year of highschool. Exam stress etc. plus a crisis of faith. She could be a mess. And easily cleaned up with a supplement. (not to say that being vitamin Def. causes you to lose your faith... but can keep your mind cloudy)

Pray...Pray...Pray... Treat her like the adult she wants to be. She's moving out.Soon. Send her off knowing that she can come to you under all non judgmental circumstances will keep her coming home and honest with you. Personally, I think setting a "while your in this house." set of rules, may only make her behave as you like while she's under your nose. And how she wants on her own.

You sound like you have a great relationship with your daughter. It's big that she didn't want to upset you or disappoint you. It's important for her to know that you are THERE. That you don't abandon her in a major time of need. Regardless of how disappointing it could be for you. As you say, you know in your heart and soul she will turn around. Won't it be amazing when she does that she looks at you knowing exactly how she's going to mother her children.

God bless...


#17

[quote="MaryPia, post:1, topic:208065"]
Hi everyone, i'm new around here. Before i say too much about my daughter's recent declaration of "being an atheist," let me just mention where i am inside my soul with this/her: i am not worried. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who will go and get her Himself.
Mother Mary is her Real Mother! She will bring this little daughter to Her Son!
i am, however, seeking advise for the on the ground game plan.....so!
Please reply any and all parents who have run into this.
Here's the scenario: after discovering that she had lied to us about sleeping at a friend's house the night before, she told us that about "4 years ago I discovered that none of what I was taught about God and the Church was true. I devastated me and I was depressed and drank a lot everyday, but I didn't tell you because I didn't want to hurt your feelings."
OK, for these past four years i have tried to break thru to this very smart, very talented young lady....i knew something was up but she kept stringing me along and keeping me emotionally away. It was very hard to see in the middle of all this what was common and what was unusual in a young adult emerging. I know each person is on his/her own journey to Heaven and my Faith, Hope & Trust is in Christ - not my parenting, my particular prayers, etc.
At this point, I would love to hear from other parents any tips on demonstrating unconditional love as well as setting FIRM boundaries without worrying about driving her away any further. Just to inform you, she is starting college in a couple of weeks but will still be living at home - at least until Dec 8th- her 18th b'day!

[/quote]

It depends on what her intentions of "declaring herself an atheist" are. Is it simply to rebel against what she had known her whole life? Did she actually do research and come to her conclusion from an educational and scholarly standpoint?

The fact that she became depressed and started drinking when she "was taught that everything she was taught about the Church was untrue" reveals much bigger problems than her religious preference. It seems to me y'all don't have good communication and/or she was afraid to discuss religious matters with you.

I wouldn't worry about her being and "atheist" as long as she is a good person. If she is doing this simply to make a point, then it will pass as she matures. You can't force people to believe; hopefully she will take some time and do some research on World Religion and maybe rethink her stance.


#18

dear MtnDwellar- of all these wonderful people's concerns, yours really touched me. mostly because you share yourself and i can see you get the whole picture well. (on the side, purplesunshine's first post back to me.....where she uses my initials because she knows who i am. she accused me of "stringing her along" as if i was hiding some deep dark secret. i'm not like that. to a fault i am too open and the Holy Spirit is only recently talking to me about learning more prudence in not sharing everything with others....sorry for your confusion but she knows exactly what i mean.)
she is going to meet with a wonderful, scholarly but relate-able priest at noon today. i do not expect this to "be over" any time soon; i just told her that if she has questions we cannot answer or she thinks she's lost her faith, then she needs to keep asking the questions and be HONEST in her thinking process.
to faithfully and Tide210: you are both right- she is a "good person" and this could be a stage. i rarely take things lightly and can be ridiculously pro-active so i am trying to rely on Christ alone to work in her while i pray, pray, pray in the background.
as far as the alcohol consumption TODAY goes, she "says" she doesn't like how it makes her feel so she doesn't drink. come to think of it, the last family gathering where everyone had wine or beer, she didn't even have a glass of wine with dinner. AND just recently she has started taking 2000 iu of vit D! so thank you both! i do appreciate the insights and will ask the Holy Spirit to help me discern and do my part and trust Him with His and her parts.


#19

[quote="purplesunshine, post:2, topic:208065"]
"Guess what DD? I knew something was wrong, but I didn't think that it was my business to press. I knew you were stringing me along and there was something up even as you succeed. While you're under my roof I expect you to participate in the faith traditions of this family. When you leave you can continue however you wish. I do hope you come back to Catholicism, not for my sake but so you can live a life full of blessings which it brings."

[/quote]

[quote="MaryPia, post:18, topic:208065"]
dear MtnDwellar- of all these wonderful people's concerns, yours really touched me. mostly because you share yourself and i can see you get the whole picture well. (on the side, purplesunshine's first post back to me.....where she uses my initials because she knows who i am. she accused me of "stringing her along" as if i was hiding some deep dark secret. i'm not like that. to a fault i am too open and the Holy Spirit is only recently talking to me about learning more prudence in not sharing everything with others....sorry for your confusion but she knows exactly what i mean.)

[/quote]

I may be mistaken, but when I read Purple's comment I thought that she was giving an example of what you might say to your daughter. I think that the secret she alluded to was your daughter stringing you along about her faith or lack there of. When she used the letters DD, she meant "Dear Daughter", not initials of your first name.

As I consider your situation, I am compelled to reflect more upon my own life. As a child, I had a strong faith, was an altar boy, and was considering priesthood. I sometimes saw apparitions of saints. They didn't talk to me. They just stood there. It was written off as a child's imagination. I don't know. :confused:

I now think that my young life may have been the exact thing that gathers the attention of the dark ones. Are there similarities with your daughter?


#20

dear MtnDweller
thank you for your time and concern with a family you don’t know. i am truly touched (i could cry in fact for the tenderness with which you resond…)
are there any evil spirits at work? i don’t really know. i do know that the enemy HATES my husband & i and we have had “encounters” in the past but i think all serious Catholics/Christians do. Over the years we have had different priests in to bless the house, blessed “traveling” icons and statutes, etc.,
i try not to over-reach or project any “activity” or experiences from my childhood/early adult life on to my children. this is not easy. some things, like eye color, definitely get passed on. i was in therapy for 2 1/2 years when her older sister was born (Christian) and that is also when i “discovered” Daily Mass, monthly Confession (i was told by the Msgr who tutored me instead of having me go to RCIA classes that Confession was 1ce year or at Both C & E! - took a long time to learn so very much about the Faith on my own back then. no EWTN in my area and the Charismatic prayer group was more “protestant” than catholic regarding traditions, etc…but that was all 22 years ago.) and the monthly confession & therapy actually led me into some deliverances for oppression…
i have an appt to speak with a priest who knows us well. i have been thinking about asking for the use of “blessed salt” and of course holy water.
the only thing is i don’t want to give the evil one too much attention either. we do have free will so…
has she had any supernatural experiences? i don’t know about when she was young. her sister did but they are very different- as quiet and interior as her sister is, she shares everything with me. this daughter is more boisterous on the outside but doesn’t as easily come to me. i have asked for for years, "did something happen to you? has any one (ANYONE) ever touched you or done something that made you feel uncomfortable…etc.
always the answer was no.
i am looking for the balance between “banging on the door of Heaven day and night” and “utter childlike trust in my Father Who knows what each of us needs and wants to give it.”

so, please pray for her and me & family. and thank you so much for humbling yourself and falling into His embrace…
p.s. my husband & i went to Medjugorie as well, 23 years ago, while pregnant with 1st child. MIRACLES HAPPEN ALL THE TIME


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