Certainly, Ladybug. A Christian should never despair, that is, give up hope. With God, all things are posssible, right?
How old exactly? If she is near 18 and about to leave the nest, you can expect to have minimal influence. If she is nearer 13, then you can hope for more lasting results. Now, I am not a mom of teens. I have three daughters 6, 4 and 1, but I can at least suggest what I do to bring my children closer to God and the Faith and maybe you can modify that for a child 10 years older.
- We limit TV severely. If it were up to me, we would totally eliminate the TV, but my husband is a born-and-bred channel surfer on his days off. However, in the name of frugality, I did manage to limit our channels to something called “Limited Basic” which means we only get the local news and PBS. Not very exciting to most teens and fortunately little children’s programming outside of PBS. We limit total media (TV and computer) use to 1 hour per day for the 6-year-old. Our 4-year-old rarely asks to watch TV or play a computer game.
If your teen is used to having free access to TV you might disconnect the cable service to “save money.” Better for you and her. You might set limits on which channels and how much time she can watch. Ask her to pick a specific show in advance (that you approve of) to watch rather than just randomly flipping on the TV. Get rid of Mtv and the E! network at all costs. There is just blatant pornography and blasphemy on these networks.
- We homeschool. True, this might be a difficult change if your teen is used to years of public or even parochial school, but well worth it for just the time spent alone with your child. If you choose this option, there are many, many support groups specifically for Catholic homeschoolers and they are almost all orthodox Catholics. I have never met a Catholic homeschooler that was a “cafeteria” Catholic.
If you can’t homeschool, you can “afterschool.” Is your teen’s religious education lacking? Order catechism materials from Ignatius Press such as Faith & Life or from Catholic Heritage Curricula (www.chcweb.org) for great reading for both of you.
Attend more than just Sunday Mass. Try to attend Mass one more day per week. Have you taught your teen the basic prayers? Have you ever tried a family Rosary after dinner? Build routines that reinforce your faith. As a convert, these were all foreign concepts to me, yet slowly I incorporate them into our family life.
Perhaps this should be first: Pray for your teen! Pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Fast for her conversion of heart. Make a holy hour. Let your teen know you are praying for her to make good choices in her life.
Attend Life Teen with your teen if you think it is a worthwhile program. Many people are mixed about this. Personally, I find the music and pumped-up attitude annoying. Yet my good friend insists that without it many teens would never meet any other Catholic friends their own age. Use your best judgment.
Limit dating if this is already allowed. It is never too late to talk about the importance of purity and chastity. Catholic Answers has some great materials on this. It is not too late to change the norms for dating if your teen is used to more freedom and a late curfew. Research the ideas about courtship vs. dating and see what you think. I’m not talking about arranged marriages here, just parent-approved courting leading to marriage rather than unsupervised and aimless dating.
If your daughter is too young for dating then make sure she is not spending time unsupervised by adults you trust at other homes. The youth culture of today is frightening. There is a New York Times article about the culture of “friends with benefits” that shocked even me and I came from a mostly urban public school background. The link I had came from www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com which is a Protestant outfit, but generally friendly to Catholics and has some other good articles about encouraging femininity, modesty, etc.
Also look at www.domestic-church.com for many, many more ideas on how to encourage your teen to turn away from the culture of death and embrace the culture of life.
The more time you spend with your teen without outside influences such as secular music, TV and school friends, the better chance you have of influencing her. Schedule a long family road trip and “forget” all the batteries to the Walkman to ensure ample time for conversation.
God bless you and don’t give up,
The Hidden Wife