What can I do if my son says he is an atheist?
Talking to children and teenagers about religion can be difficult. How do you respond to a child who says they are atheist?
Reading these posts it obviously hugely depends on where you live. For Americans it seems a negative, threatening choice. For us Brits the concept of atheism and agnosticism is usually the norm, especially during the experimentary teen years. It's not feared here but generally embraced as it shows your child is inquisitive and is bothering to think about and question their existence.
Any thought process that challenges the dominant religion and opens debate is a good thing. Throughout life we all learn and develop. Encourage questions and reserach, don't hinder it.
My 16 yr old just recently told me he wasn't a Christian. My husband and I are very active at our church and I spend daily time in prayer and devotion, so I was immediately shocked and upset. But God revealed to me that he is only 16, and as part of growing up he needs to make his own choice and come to his own conclusions. So we sat and talked about what being a Christian means to him, and I told him that I accepted what he is saying as part of his grwoing and trying to figure life out for himself. All I can do is be the best and honest example of a Christian to him and trust God to do the rest.
I would be happy. It means my child does not only chose logic over blind faith, but he also researched something enough to make an educated decision.
I was raised with a Jewish mother, and a Christian father. Neither of which were very religious, but their parents were religious enough that I learned much of both. I realized before my teenage years that they seemed more like tales than reality. I still questioned where I had come from, or why I was here, and what happened after I die, but I did not believe in either of the religions. Later I looked up wiccan, Buddhism, Hinduism. I still was not content. They all seemed so man made.
It was well into my 20's when I realized I really did not care. I am agnostic, and through that I researched that it is technically considered atheism. I believe that it is quite possible there is a god, but that I will most likely not know for sure in my life time. I also believe that if there is a god, he/she/they will not care if I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair every Sunday, making my Arthritis I've had since birth worse, and praying to an empty void, internally hoping it was not all for nothing.
If my son comes to me as a teenager, and has already figured all of this out. I will be ecstatic, and put him into gifted classes.
The important thing is, if he decides if he does believe in a religion, I will still be supportive. Because I believe whole heartedly that everyone is free to believe what ever they want. I think that as long as you are a good person, treat others better than how you expect to be treated, and don't hurt anyone, in any way, it does not matter what you believe, or who you wish/pray to/rely on. I will ask him questions though. Because I believe it is important not to just believe things because you were told to.
you congratulate him on his intelligence and his ability to recognise facts and proof.... obvious, no??
Remember that God gives us freedom to choose to believe in Him or not. Keep loving your son no matter what. My atheist son is now 30, and although now and then we share articles with each other about our respective viewpoints, we have unconditional love for each other. I am keeping the door open and praying for him daily. Faith is not a matter of just being persuaded by facts, although I am convinced the facts support the Bible. Faith is a matter of the heart, and I trust that God will speak to my son's heart at the right time for him. It's sad that he's currently missing out on the wondrous relationship he could be having with Jesus, and also sad that I can't tell Bible stories to my delightful granddaughter, but I do not panic. My son is in God's hands.
Let make up thier own minds. no one has the right to force thier beliefs on others. Iam an atheist but never forced my belief onmy children.
Congratulate them! They obviously have all their neurons intact,
first off, i find nothing wrong with the word 'atheist' it has been a beleagured word that instantly inspires negativism.
my son is 15 and has begun seriously reconsidering his default religion which is christianity. In a country that's 80 percent catholic, that created ripples within the family. I highly encouraged him to research all religions of the world, the observance of faiths in how that religion is lived, it's weight on positive change and issues related to them. my personal belief is that religion is a way of life and not just a name you put in a box on a piece of paper. it is his basic human right to choose for himself which religion he will live his life. I, as parent, is just a steward, guiding him through the murky waters of over information and ignorance. To say this is just a phase makes light of a weighty issue. adults still search for meaning and spirituality all their lives.
You just support him. If you try to force any type of belief on him he will pull farther away. We are taught to be tolerant of each others beliefs and if you can't do that with your son he'll never be able to do that with others. :) I hope that helps
I found this quote online and it sums up my beliefs pretty well: "Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid. - Marcus Aurelius --- Religion is not essential to becoming a good person. If he is truly an atheist, no amount of pressure from you will change his mind. It will only push him further away. I have gone through this with my own father. He became overly religious after nearly dieing from Alcoholism about six years ago and now refuses to accept the fact that I do not hold his same beliefs. The unrelenting pressure from him to go to church and his constant preaching have since pushed a wedge between us and we are no longer on speaking terms. Please do not allow this to happen to your relationship with your son. Let him make his own decisions and learn to respect them, no matter how much they go against your beliefs. Acceptance and tolerance is necessary, no matter what the circumstances.
Each person is right in his own eyes..and justifies his belief. There's a "group joke" that's gone around saying "the earth is flat"..no discussion changes their minds! History reminds us a few men sincerely believed this.. of course it was proven false. Many books talk about supernatural, experiences of going into the celestial sphere, or heaven as they call it and how wonderfully mind changing it was. Many from that time on believe there is a god because no man could create all of that. "Some" of those stories were no doubt from God, and that's good. I take it a step further. People whose minds are dead set there is No God, and..No Hell..and multitudes of other false beliefs saying "their way" is better than God's Way..need a supernatural experience also. A visionary trip to Hell. There is a way that seems right to man, but the end of that is destruction. God loved the world so much He gave His only Son... who was crucified on the cross. He arose from the dead and lives today. He is offering LIFE to each one of us, if we will only believe and accept HIM. A personal relationship with Jesus, changes your whole life now and forever more.
cheer and say thank goodness you're not sucked in by all that religious make-believe.
It is not our job to create clones of ourselves, but to nurture our children to become individuals able to forge their own way in the world and make their own decisions. Teach your children the truths you know, but be happy when they have grown to find their own way, even if their path diverges from yours. Be joyful when they make their own choices for it means that you have done your job as a parent.
Religion, if not used rigidly, is a wonderful way - but not the only way - to re-enforce values and responsible behavior. But you will damage your relationship and create resent for the religion if you force it upon him. Respect his choice and encourage him to explore and think freely. Our end-goal as parents should simply be to raise thoughtful, open-minded and good people.
You support them. I told my mom the same thing whe i was a teen. I went to a religious high school and learned about many different relegions in college. IMO there is nothing wrong or bad about being atheist. My parents were good teaches to me. Religion did not make me who I am now my parents did.
As someone who has studied biology from a creation standpoint I would try to give him the facts- When I talk to a room full of teens and try to get them to believe that a coke can just materialized they think I'm silly- yet we ask them to believe that the human body (which is infinately more complex) did just that. Help get to the root of what he means by athiest- it could be that he is agnostic-
As the mother of a 16 year old- I would continue to keep the discussion open- If you truly believe the Christian faith then the road of "oh well I'll let him believe what he wants to believe" is like saying, "I really believe if he dies he will go to hell and burn for all eternity, but oh well itf that's what he wants". As a mother who loves my son- I would not be able to be so cavalier.
As a Christian who truly believes there is one way to heaven I would be remiss in not trying all I could to explain that to my son. Definately continue behaving like a Christian, have him go to church (you never know when God will open his heart, pray and love him. (in other words exactly what you are doing) Our children are only on loan from God and the best we can do is steward them well.
I will add my prayers to yours that your prodigal son, lost sheep will return.
uhm... support him? guide him? offer him information on atheistic views. It's his life, he's allowed to believe in whatever he wants.
I agree. Teenagers are often exploring what the world and limiting their reach will only harbor resentment. Do we tolerate this as a phase? No. Rather we show our teenagers that their beliefs are worthy of respect, and if they want to start making grown up decisions you're there for them.
I was raised Catholic. Dragged to church ever Sunday. As I left home, and learned to think for myself I educated myself on religion, mythology and history. I came to the conclusion that religion was invented by humans to provide some guidelines as to how to live. It is also a means for controlling people and a cause for many wars.
I would never tell this to my mother since it would hurt her. She very firmly believes in God and due to the fact that she is uneducated and has anxiety issues, I think it is good for her since she can 'Put it in God's hands.' I do not choose it for myself.
If you want to respect your child, as you would want to be respected, you would need to respect their belief system as you would want them to respect yours. You may want to ask them how they came to this conclusion and listen honestly and respectfully to their opinion. If they are sharing this with you, be proud, because you obviously have a good relationship.
I wish I could share my belief system with my parents, but as I know they cannot handle it, I protect them from the things in my life that they wouldn't understand. If you push the issue, I am sure your kids would take the same road. I know a lot of kids that go to church to please mommy and daddy then go their own way anyway. Religion is a personal thing and everybody deserves the right to make up their own mind about it. If you ostracize them, judge them and don't respect them, you may not only loose their trust and their respect, but loose them altogether.
Thank God that he is able to think for himself.
I think that religion is so personal and you don't just simply inherit your parents.....let him own his journey and trust that you have raised him up in such an environment that this is fine....You must have raised a strong will son who is confident of himself to explore such a different direction. Educate, listen and talk...oh! and Respect your kids for the people they are!! That goes a long way!
When I was about 13, I began researching a particular Christian religion that at first I thought would be a "weird" one. The more I researched in my school library, the more I learned they taught the beliefs I already held. My mother is atheist and my father does not believe in organized religion, but when I told them at the age of 14 that I wanted to be baptized into that religion, my parents allowed it. They do not understand what I see in the religion; however, I love them all the more for allowing me to make my own choice. I plan to do the same for my children. I do not always agree with their choices, but I always love them.
Born into Catholic home, hit by nuns, told atrocities by nuns, athiest at 14. Believe in athiesm fervently after all the lectures and praying by family, now 44. Love my life, husband, children. Funny at 15, 12 and 9, the elder 2 now believe in god and like church! We are open, loving and supportive. Good vs. evil, golden rule, is where it is, as long as your children are physically and mentally healthy and happy in their heart, isn't that untimately important?
I am amazed at the responses to this question. Most of the responses indicate unbelief on the part of the adult responding - or at least apathy. Of course, if you don't believe in God, heaven, or hell then this choice is no more threatening than choosing one college over another, or choosing one career over another. However, as Christians, we know that this choice is MUCH more important than anything else in life. Yes, it is choosing a lifestyle here on earth, but it is also making a choice for eternity. I have a dear friend who had been a missionary for many years whose daughter, Mary, told her a few years ago that she was not a Christian and wasn't interested in becoming one. My friend was, of course, heartbroken. She could just envision her sweet daughter dying and spending eternity in hell. She talked to her daughter often about her condition but always in a kind, loving way. The daughter is friends with my daughter who IS a Christian and loves Jesus with all her heart. My daughter continued to invite her to spend the night and be her friend. Mary loved our family. We were always kind and loving to her. We talked to her about things of God only when she brought them up. We continued to pray for her. Mary continued to attend church and spoke openly with the youth pastor and her Sunday school teacher about her beliefs. They both answered her questions without judging her and continued to show her love. In July Mary went with the youth from our church, including my family, on a mission trip. One one occasion she was in my car while we were driving around praying for the people of this town. She made a comment about how tired she was of her mom always preaching at her. I told her that I knew she didn't believe all this stuff but , "What if your mom is right? If she is then it would be like you sitting watching TV on the top floor of a wood building. Your mom discovers the building is on fire and if you don't get out you are going to die. You have no idea the building is on fire. Your mom is not going to walk into the room and say, 'Mary dear, how about coming for a walk with your mom.' No! She is going to come in and grab you by the hand and do whatever she can to get you out of there alive." I told her that she needed to understand that her mom's conversations with her about God were because her Mom loved her desperately and she only wanted her to be ok. The next day Mary wound up on the team that visited the homeless. On this occasion she happened to be paired with the youth pastor and asked him lots of questions. Before that day was over, she had decided to become a Christian. The advice you can draw from this story is:
1. Offer unconditional love to your child - not agreeing with beliefs or actions - but always affirming your love for him.
2. Surround him with Godly, loving friends and mentors who can honestly answer his questions when they arise.
3. Have people close to you pray for him.
4. You become familiar with apologetics so you will know how to answer his questions intelligently when they arise. Summit ministries out of Colorado has a LOT of resources for this. Anything written by Sean or Josh McDowell are good places to start.
I'm praying for you my friend.
I strongly believe that kids should make up their own minds, and parents have a responsibility to give their children the space and reassurance to do so, rather than condemning them or even threatening them if they do not conform. Kids do change their minds .... one of mine was fervently atheist and now a confirmed christian, attending weekly (we do not attend very often more high days and holidays). Religion is a personal matter of conscience that each young person needs to evaluate, and the more you press the issue, they more they are likely to be driven away. During the atheist phase we simply introduced the concept of being agnostic as an in between state .... you can be unsure.
I'd say "Fantastic!" and move on. :)
What can you do if your son says he is an atheist? Nothing. Love him and include him in your life and don't let something that neither of you have proof of get in the way of your relationship. I guess I don't find atheism very disturbing. Nihilism on the other side, I'd be worried about. Not atheism.
I had something similar to this situation with a few differences. First of all, I was that child. And secondly, I was not announcing that I believe I am atheist. I told my family that I am Wiccan. Wiccan parents believe in allowing their children to choose their own religious paths. I grew up with a Catholic mother and a Lutheran father. My father only attended church for holidays and my mother is very active in the Lutheran church. (The Catholic church was upset that she married a Lutheran and baptized her children Lutheran) My little sister was baptized, raised and still is a praticing Lutheran as is her son. I, on the other hand, was baptized and raised Lutheran but chose Wicca after heavy research and many public rituals. I had my son baptized Lutheran to appease my family but did his Wiccaning with Wiccan friends. If Zachary comes up to me one day and says that he wants to be Muslim, I will take him to a mosque and help him with his studies. If he decides to be Jewish, I would do the same. I expose my son to many different religious expierences (church with my mother, public rituals with other pagans, discussions about different faiths, Wiccan rites at home, etc) so that when he is older, he will have a treasure trove of knowledge to choose his own path. Even if he decideds that there is no higher power, I cannot change what he believes. His beliefs are his own. Since we are each unique, is it not reasonable that no one religious path is right for all? I did not feel any connection with the Lutheran church or their practices. I felt nothing other than boredom and confusion. Wicca fit my existing beliefs and showed me that diversity is perfectly natural and good. I saw an interesting take on religion. In a crude and humorous way, it basically said that we should not cram religion down anyone's throat. So, with that said if this should happen to me, I would embrace my child finding his own spiritual niche and help him to reach his spiritual potential if I could.
BE SUPPORTIVE!! Have an open dialog and see why he feels that way and explain with love and understanding why you feel the way you do. He is taking responsiblity for his own thoughts and own beliefs and we want our kids to do that in every aspect of life, including spirituality. Do not judge or tell him he is wrong. We all have our own set of belief or non-belief and live in a country that allows religious or non-religious freedom. Accept him and his belief or non-belief and everything else will work out just fine:)
I think it all depends on the age and the kind of example the child has been given. I am a Christian and I am not afraid to discuss it openly. However, knowing God is a relationship...a relationship that is built on knowledge and understanding. That child could go to church every Sunday, participate in all kinds of events with the church and still have no idea who God is. As a young girl I was not as versed in the Bible as I am today and the reason is because there is a tendency on relying solely on the Bible to understand the Bible. Let's face it...the Bible is not an easy read for adults and children are less likely to understand it even more. It was on the shoulders of others who had the same questions I once had that I learned to develop a relationship with God. By realizing the Bible is a History Lesson, Literature Lesson, Science Lesson all at once did it become much more understood. The context under which the Bible was written is just as important as the words themselves. It is then that we learn Who God is and understand how much we are like him...so that we can relate to Him and feel His presence so much clearer. Finally, it's important to understand the first step is to know God first...the rules and laws of the Bible are not the first priority...those come naturally as we become transformed internally.
I'm an atheist myself, so I'd applaud.
Don't make a big fuss over it. Teens are more likely to do the opposite of what you want if you push them. Set a good example of how you believe an adult should behave especially in regards to their personal relationships and being a productive member of society. It may just be a temporary view on life or it may be that this is how they will view things until they are old and gray. Ask your son what being an atheist means to him. Keep the lines of communication open and the love unconditional.
Accept him , let it go . If he really is then there is nothing but grief waiting for you both if you try to change his mind. Lead by example. If he is not then he will willingly come back to the fold. It is crucile keep the animosity out of your relationship at a time like this.
I believe that once a child reaches a curtain age, we need to hand them over to God and continue to pray for them. God doesn't want any of us to be robots - but rather that we would come to him with a desire for relationship with him. It is about relationship with our heavenly father not religion. It is also ok to remind God of his promises ~ Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. It is extremely hard to trust God with our greatest treasures (our children), but ultimately they were a gift from him to us and by releasing them back to the Lord God Almighty is the only thing we can do - it is not by our convincing people come into relationship with God but by the power of his Holy Spirit. Continue to love your son - unconditionally, pray and work on your own relationship with God and let God deal with your son.
I have a Granddaughter who says she is an stheist. All her 21 years I have taught her about Jesus and she has seen first hand God answering prayers for her when she was small. Our daughter also taught her about Jesus. She knows the truth and some day it will set her free from Satan's grasp.
Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Phil 2:12-13 ... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Psa 102:18 This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.
Al your life God has been there for you in little ways and big ways. Write a book about your spiritual history. Include little testimonies. IE different things God showed you and how He helped you.
It doesn't have to be large or professional.
There are tastefully bound books that have blank pages in them. Get one and write your story. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you write; Inclued stories about your child when he/she was young and the prayers you prayed for them.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to go before you and prepare the way and Bless the book so it will reach him for Jesus. Give it to your unbelieving child. Let him know that you just want him to know about your life.
How many times did Jesus say it is written? The written word carries a lot of weight. I pray this will help you.
My story is on line so my granddaughter can read it any time she wants. God bless you.
I told my sister I had come to point in my life where I didn't know if there was a God. She was so grieved that without telling me, she had a handful of large churches praying for me, hundreds of miles away. I had no idea. HUNDREDS of people were praying for God to open my eyes, and less than 2 years later, I began to CRAVE Truth. If you are looking for religion, you will find it anywhere. But if you are looking for Truth, you will run smack face to Face with Jesus Christ- it's unavoidable because He is the Truth. My testimony is incredible and supernatural, a testimony that is impossible to deny God.
I know there are many people here on this forum that are still at the place I was- never having encountered God. Their only opinions are based on things they've "heard" about God or merely things they've resolved to believe about God. I came to the place where choosing what to believe in was no longer good enough- I wanted the Truth and nothing but the Truth and I am living the most incredible life as a Christian (by the Bible's Standard of a Christian, not just a so called Christian).
The reason? PRAYER. Pray that God will bring him out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Anyone who denies God does so out of an anger they can't even explain themselves, or simply out of ignorance of the Truth because they have not encountered Him.
God is not willing that any should perish. He can take all the lies people believe about Him- it doesn't make it true, and He is not threatened by anyone's unbelief.
Just pray for your son with all the fervency of someone pulling him out of hellfire, and do not try to force a blind man to see- it will frustrate both of you. Only God can open his eyes.
Like many who answered here, I applaud the young person with a thinking mind. Raised in Christian foster homes, I learned only fear. Now I still believe to a certain degree, but have had conversations with my God in which I say I cannot possibly love that which I fear. We are working it out. I run fast from those who wish to tell me how wrong my thinking is, or that God, in HIS great Wisdom, disciplines those who don't do what has been laid down as "Chrisitanity."
Religion has been a matter of contention in our family at times, but, thankfully, my children, and "steps," all loving adults, have mellowed with age and realize that each is charged with responsibilityfor his own spirituality/religon.
For me, if one chooses to do something with integrity, not because it is "religiously required,' but because it is simply humane and just, then that ranks high in the kind of human being one "chooses" to be.
Great to read about this.... it is an big part of my daily mental and emotional meanderings.
My daughter is 15 and we've had discussions about her doubts concerning the existence of my God and the veracity of the Holy Bible. As a very strong Christian Mom, it is difficult for me to acknowledge that she has these doubts and has not automatically adopted my beliefs. All I can do is continue to pray for her and hope that one day she will acknowledge the impact on my life from following Christ as my savior and living per the standards and guidelines presented in the scriptures.
Try asking him why he believes that there is no God. Usually, they cannot provide any reasoning. Pray. Talk through any answers he offers, using scripture and logic as your guide. Consider researching the contradictory foundational beliefs of atheists. This will give him lots to consider if he is seriously debating the issue. If this is a choice of his will alone, then no amount of discussion will help at this point in his life. Continue speaking the Word in his presence, but allow him the time to want to have a mature discussion on the matter. Consider reading, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist," by Geisler... very interesting! I hope this helps!
I find that when pushed too strongly, it can deter some people from religion. I personally think religion should be something you choose when you are old enough to understand it, but a lot of people heavily immerse their kids in it. I believe in god but am not super religious, but I had a lot of it in my life when I was young, and I do think it was very overwhelming. I think the overly pushy radicals make it harder for the people that kind of don't really know what they believe. Just know that if he has had some teaching, part of that will always be in him despite what he chooses