What to Do When Your Child Says They No Longer Believe

Of all the roles that I have, the one I feel the most pressure for is that of a parent, especially a Christian parent. I want my children to grow up to be good and emotionally healthy adults. But I also want them to become followers of Jesus.

The scary part of being a Christian parent is that there is a real possibility that one of our children will tell us that they no longer believe in God. What do we do then? Here are some thought I have on this subject.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t get mad at them for being honest. Better they tell you this than keeping it to themselves.
  • Don’t panic. Panicking is not going to help you or them.
  • Don’t try to scare them back to faith. Detailed descriptions of hell are not likely to bring them to faith.
  • Don’t assume they will be become a Richard Dawkins style atheist. You have no idea what this will look like or how long it will take.
  • Don’t lecture them. Sharing accurate information is important but they need more than a theology lecture.

What to Do

  • Listen. Don’t be quick to fix the problem. Let them explain what they are going through.
  • Seek out the reasons. Is it because of intellectual reasons? Prayers that were not answered? Bad experiences at the church? Peer pressure?
  • Be available. Have conversations with them as they are open. Don’t force it. And consider sharing your own faith struggles.
  • Pray for them. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Don’t leave it to just prayer but definitely include prayer.
  • Take time to learn. They may have questions and you should be prepared to answer. If you don’t know the answers, do the research and find out what you can.
  • Love unconditionally. The Bible says that God is love. When we love our children unconditionally, God is present. Their belief or unbelief should not be a factor in how much you love them.

The faith of my children is very important. That is why, among other things, I have written a short booklet called, Letters to My Children on Faith. You may find it helpful with your own conversations.

 

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One thought on “What to Do When Your Child Says They No Longer Believe

  1. As a parent I agree that the thought of my children not being in relationship with Christ is the scariest of things. But I cling to the words of Jesus when he assures us, “They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them from the Father’s hands. I and the Father are one.”

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