Teenagers who resent going to church


What do you do? I’m a single dad with four kids at home and a Fifteen year old daughter who give me a lot of grief because I make her go to church. You wouldn’t believe the rebellious behaviour.Or maybe some of you experienced parents out there would. What do you do?


*My kids have never “rebelled,” but on occasion…there’s the question…’‘do we HAVE to go today?’’ :oMainly because they want to sleep in, they are tired from the week. I think once you keep going, it becomes continual habit, your daughter will see that it is an enriching experience, to worship the Lord. Maybe hang out after mass, and socialize a bit. Have her meet the priest. My kids over the years, have enjoyed ‘getting to know’ their priests/pastors. It helps them gain a more personal experience with attending mass, I think.

She will hopefully, freely want to go, once she sees that it’s something you’re not going to back down from. I wouldn’t argue the point with her, just simply say…‘I’m not negotiating with you, please get ready.’ Kids who have foundations of habitually attending mass, usually keep with that when they are adults. You may receive different feedback here, I know some people who might tell you not to force her, but she’s 15, not 18…you still have the ultimate say, and you’re the parent who needs to build that foundation within your kids. Don’t back down, dad. :wink: Prayers that things get a little smoother for you both.*


The little cutie is taking advantage of your being a single father of 4 and probably working too. Wouldn’t be surprised if she is giving you grief over other things too. Let’s see, is she the oldest? Hold your breath, make it a matter of fact she is going on Sundays. But also, if she does other things that are of help to you, thank her for her unselfishness each time and in between look at her with delight for her good side. Honey is sweeter than vinegar in influencing teens. But firm boundaries are necessary also. I sympathize with you. I have two independent thinking teens also. However, if this is too out of hand (you suspect she is involved with a group who does drugs, etc), consult with a clergy member (married with children deacon or priest with lots of nieces) or a Catholic family therapist. This too shall pass and believe it or not and if it is not a sign of danger to her, you will remember and laugh just as you probably do at the antics they tried at 2 years old. No reflection on parenting per ce. Lots of factors involved. Some are easy. Some are challenging. You have the latter of the two. This is my opinion for right or wrong.


You know…when I was a teenager I really didn’t “get” much out of mass. Unfortunately a lot of people feel that way into adulthood and they start seeking more exciting or social churches or just plain stop going to Church. The reason I didn’t “get” much out of mass was that I really had no clue about the Eucharist and what it was. It wasn’t until I got into my 20’s and learned about the Eucharist from a theological and historically true standpoint that I really began to be in awe at mass. So…while I do think you need to have going to Church be a rule of the house, I also think strictness and making the kid feel “forced” can lead to resentment and them purposefully avoiding Church down the road (sometimes). My suggestion is to really have some teen-friendly discussions and literature about the Eucharist and how important it is. Explain how the Catholic Church is the ONLY place they can get it. Also, look at historically people have given up their life to protect the true teaching (think of the early Christian martyrs who were charged with “cannabalism” and killed). Thank God I matured and no longer go to church with the intention of “getting” a good “feeling” like I think so many adults do and fall into a trap of feel-good worship that is very temporary and empty at the end of the day. So for now, I say, meet the kids where they are. If they are resenting going to mass…something is missing from their spiritual life that is preventing them from being drawn to what is good. Maybe God is putting this time in your lives to grow as a family and learn together . Do not despair, I know of people who have been called to religious vocations who claim they didn’t enjoy mass as teens.


That is quite right.


Are there any parishes close to you that have a Life Teen program or a strong high school ministry? Usually Life Teen programs take place after a “youth Mass” which generally has more lively guitar music and homilies geared toward the teens. I would recommend finding a parish that has some high school outreach. There is also a book, “Do I Have to Go?
101 Questions About the Mass, the Eucharist, and Your Spiritual Life” by Matthew Pinto and Chris Stefanick that is targeted at teens and young adults to encourage an understanding of why Mass is important. You could also have a family discussions about the readings before Mass, so that the kids get more out of hearing them, and then discuss the homily afterward to encourage them to apply what they heard to their own lives.


Fabulous posts so far…
Another idea is to open up some options… maybe let HER pick the Mass time? :slight_smile:
Teenagers like to sleep in - school IS hard and the weekends are a time to crash… What about going on Saturday night? :shrug: There’s still plenty of time for her to spend with friends after Mass in the evening.

Make it a priority and a routine… other things can still happen, but Mass is #1. But flexibility on the time may help a little! :slight_smile:


I’m definitely going to have to agree with this advice.

Also, you should know that many teens and young adults are apathetic about faith in general. I’m 19, and throughout high school, and now in college, I have seen many people who really have just not even thought about eternal salvation.
You cannot force your daughter to love going to Mass, nor can you force her to believe in God, but you can provide the resources for her to discover God in a way that is right for her. Unfortunately I don’t think that CCD programs provide enough instruction on understanding the Catholic tradition of weekly Mass.

Just as some general advice, which I’m sure that you have already discovered, be calm when telling your teen that you will be going to Mass, or when telling her anything that you may think will upset her:
“I understand that you don’t enjoy going to Mass, and I hope that one day you will appreciate it as much as I do. Because you are my daughter and because I love you, you will be going to Mass with our family on a weekly basis. I know that we have had arguments about this in the past, but I don’t want either of us to waste our energy yelling at each other, so I am deciding right now that we all will be going to Mass, no matter what. I am sorry that you may not like this decision, and I hope that you will eventually see the benefits of a life centered around Christ.”


I second the LT/youth group idea.

  1. positive peer pressure. One of the things I hate about going to Daily Mass, or most masses for that matter is that I feel out of place becuase of my age. I’m often the youngest by 40 or 50 years at Daily Mass. And at some weekly masses except for some tots the people are older. It really is hard to not only have that community, but to look around and feel out of place.
  2. music that is familiar/relevant. The LT music/youth group music is usually a lot more appealing than the 1970’s hippy love music. (not to get into a musical argument…most churches DO play that music so there’s no point in arguing what is perscribed by the church)
  3. Homilies that actually address an issue. I don’t know if its just me or just the masses I’ve gone to, but youth group masses seem to often have priests that are willing to make a point.
  4. Better Mass times. These masses are usually on Saturday night, Noon Sunday or on Sunday night.

As posters said above, you can’t force someone to like anything, but you can provide a solid way for their formation.


*What I find interesting, is the suggestion about the life teen mass, etc. My kids, who love modern day music a lot like the next kid, did not like teen masses, here in Florida. They said that they felt like the whole mass was being ‘watered down’ for them. My son who is 16 said, I don’t need to go to a mass where the music has bongos and electric guitar to better worship God, or to understand what the message is about. (He didn’t like the implication, I guess) I didn’t either after a while, it felt like there was so much music, it didn’t seem like mass was taking place. Just saying, teen mass isn’t for everyone. I liked the mass in the beginning, but as we kept attending mass at that parish, it slowly felt like I was at a christian rock concert or something, and didn’t resemble a mass, really. :o

It’s important that local parishes don’t distort the mass into something it was never intended to be–entertainment, in order to attract teens. (or anyone for that matter)

Just my two cents. It doesn’t work for all teens…but, maybe it might work for the OP’s daughter. I agree with EM that maybe attending an evening mass would be better, since kids are sleepy on Sundays. (if that is part of the issue)*


whatever—I find that teens who have been well educated in faith and “get it” however resistant they may be externally, don’t often like the LT mass. They often come from 2 parent homes with little strife that most teens today face. It could also be that you went to a poor one.

But I think a kid who’s a confused, angry adolescent, the oldest with annoying little siblings, child of a broken home, is the kinda kid whom these masses do (and should) appeal to.


Yes, you’re right…I hadn’t thought of that. (your second paragraph) The other thing too…in remembering come to think of it, there was a teen mass offered back in PA…we never went just because of the time during the weekend when it fell…but, I heard great things about it, that there were no bongos, etc…an acoustic guitar…and the mass was very calming, and meditative. I think that would be a beautiful addition to the roster, but just in my own experience, the ones here in Florida…they almost seem, dare I say, that they are trying to compete with Protestant/non denom services here, that almost seem like you’re not experiencing a mass, but rather a ‘concert.’ Maybe I’m getting old. :smiley: Just not my thing. I just like meditative, solemn masses…guess that wore off on my kids! :slight_smile: Thanks for your thoughts on that, that is a great point.


Has your daughter given specific reasons why she doesn’t want to go? If she is being lazy, that would suggest one response. If she says she does not believe in God, that would suggest another.


Mass was a ‘non-negotiable’ at my house.

When my teen balked about coming to church, I just told her ‘with all the blessings you have, you can give one hour to God a week’. I did not care if she was bored. I told her to pray silently.

I didn’t care if she wore jeans.

I didn’t care if she refused to sing or say the prayers. She did have to stand and sit with the congregation.

And I did let her pick the mass time, as someone above mentioned.

But she got to know that if she wanted the privileges she got from us the rest of the week, she needed to be at mass.

Pretty soon there was no discussion. We just went.

Now she is 22 and living on her own. When she comes home, she goes to church with us.


Make sure there is not a boy friend or other friend who is influencing her away from the Church and God.


Practically, if there are arguments and strife over you trying to force her to go, you could try to bribe her. As a teenager there’s probably a ton of things that she’d like to have, or even some money. If there is an issue with peace and quiet in making her go, pay her to attend.

If you want her to want to go, that’s harder. Maybe if she met some other Catholic teens she would be more motivated to go.


Thank you all for your feed back.:thumbsup: Its most helpful and very supportive this is a great forum
My 15 year old meets up with her best friend every sunday evening mass, attends a youth group regularly. She even went to world youth day last year.She does though have alot of friends and boyfriends who wouldn’t even know what a church looks like. I guess really we just soldier on an d pray and hope all goes well


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