Not a week goes by that I don’t speak with someone who is distraught because their son or daughter has lost the faith. Yet, rarely is it discussed in public, preached about, or help offered. It truly is the biggest never-mentioned problem faced by all Christian parents. And we are not talking about marginal Catholics or Christians. These are the faithful parents who are in the pews on Sunday. They raised their children in the faith. It is part of everything they do, yet somewhere between high school and their early 20’s, they decide that religion, especially Christianity is not for them.
They are influenced by the secular media, college professors, who laugh at religion as something that no reasonable person would profess, and a constant barrage of attacks on Christianity as being outdated, old fashioned, in conflict with science, women’s rights, gay rights, and the list goes on.
For some reason, it isn’t discussed because we are embarrassed and ashamed, that maybe, somehow we failed as parents to make our faith exciting and attractive to our adult children, and now it is totally out of our control. I know this, because I have these same feelings myself.
What can we, as faithful parents do? I don’t know that I have the answers, but I can share a few things about what to do and what not to do from my study and own experience;
1. Don’t argue with them! Frankly, it only makes it worse, and pushes them farther away. You’ll never out-shout or out-whit your kids into believing. I can think of one particular argument that I’d love to take back!
2. Remain Faithful! Don’t let their falling away from the faith discourage you or make you suppress your beliefs.
Exodus 20:6 says, “But bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Sirach 44:13 reads, “And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out.”
Our Lord promises that if WE remain faithful, he will bless our children! But, we must remain faithful and not be afraid to show the joy of the Lord in our lives. In the book of Acts, when the jailer asked Paul and Silas;
Acts 16:3 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said,” Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.”
3. Prayers and Sacrifice! Most have heard of Saint Augustine, considered to be one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He spent his younger days as a hedonist. He was anything but saintly! His mother, Saint Monica, prayed for decades for his return to the faith, and finally he did and become a doctor of the church.
4. Pray that God brings someone else (beside you) into their lives. Then we must trust God to do it! Although Monica prayed, she also prayed that God would intervene and put someone into Augustine’s life to prompt his conversion. And God did. Saint Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, who was Augustine’s match for rhetoric, but older and experienced. God put Ambrose in Augustine’s life to bring him back to the faith. Monica prayed!
5. Study and Learn to defend the faith! As we learn more about the faith ourselves we are better equipped to answer questions and defend what we believe. As stated in 1 Peter;
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15
6. Love them and do not push them away! Love them more than ever. Make it a point to tell them that you love them. Let them see your joy and happiness. Make them want what you have!
“This is good and pleasing to God our Savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Are these the answers, I really don’t know, but they are a start. I promise to pray for your kids and promise that every chance I get I will try to bring them to the joy of our Christian faith.
I pray that you might pray for my adult children, as well, and help them on their journey, if you can. Please!
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