Parents: how do you handle your children rejecting your faith?

Inspired by this other question about parents educating their children

About 35 years ago at age 13 I was seriously beathen by my father for refusing to go to Church with my parents. I had lost my Catholic faith and wouldn’t pretend any longer – I decided I was an atheist (I still am). I got my way because my dad understood the only way to get me there was beating me to the ground and dragging me.

It was the last time he ever hit me, and I suppose it had useful lessons for us both. I learned there were limits to his violence, and we both learned that I had sufficient stubborness to make it through his rage without being intimidated enough to cave.

I’m curous how others of you have dealt (more rationally than this, I hope) with the situation. Stories of conversion to another faith are equally welcome. I’m sure my dad would have swung just as hard if I told him I was going to a synagog.

I’m atheist, my wife is a Christian of some sort. My daughter is very logical and expect her to lean towards being atheist as well. If she ends up following some chruch, I wouldn’t care. She needs to find her way like all of us. If she finds it in god, that’s her business - not mine.
The ONLY way I would get involved if it was some over the top wacky church or cult or a “religion” that preaches hate. Then we’d have words.

But if it is healthy, I’ll support her even if I don’t agree.

“You’ll go where I say you go and believe what I tell you to believe, or I’ll beat the living shit out of you.”

Brilliant parenting. And a recurring theme in religion. Makes one all warm and fuzzy, no?

I’m not a parent, but I have a story about my younger brother.

About five years ago (when he was 15) he informed my parents that he did not believe in Christianity. He felt like his attendance at church was a sham. He refused to go.

Their response was to offer a trade: go to church, return home, relax. Or don’t go to church, and “we give you a list of chores that will be performed under pain of death!11!!!11 by the time we return home.”

He chose the chores. If we returned home and they were not all finished, the chore quota was increased the following week.

To this day he rejects Methodism, though I would always call him a good person. I think my parents went WAY off track when they equated church with work in Travis’ mind.

Mom lost her faith faster than I did.

It suprised me.

My family is full of very serious Catholics. When I made the decision not to go through with Confirmation, let’s just say the inheritance package didn’t look as thick anymore.

There were no words exchanged. Just dollars.

Umm, I guess we never really thought of it as “rejecting” our faith. We thought of it as finding their own faith.

Whether that was Baptist, Catholic, Judasim, or atheism, or etc…

For purposes of evaluating my response, I’d just state that we are deeply religious, but also understand the many inconaistancies in various faiths…you gotta go with what work for you. Faith is an intimate relationship with God. Not having any belief in God is ALSO a faith, and whatever is in one’s heart is what is important.

Parents train children to, ultimately, go out on their own, and so therefore, we are training them to “lose” them. It is just a part of responsible parenthood.

Hell, if it was up to my ‘parental genes’ I never would of potty trained our child, thereby pretty much avoiding any issues of her going out on her own! But my responsibilities, alas, dictated other direction/training.

So we are left with “Best wishes, and follow your own star…our hearts will always be with you and we will always be there for you as long as we live.”

The kid’s gotta make his/her own decisions at some point.

I came in here to make a point, but Live On A Plane said what I was going to say, and said it better than I would have.

I turned my back on the Catholic faith at the age of 11, when I was faced with confirmation. I had grown cynical, and refused to stand around chanting things like a mindless sheep. I’d seen, heard, and lived things that just made me want to take a stand and say “no” about supporting the Catholic Church in any way.

Thankfully, my parents were very supportive and never really pushed me to attend Church. I suppose they were lapsed Catholics, too, so they handled it all pretty well. Confirmation was “offered” to me, and I refused. I was told it was my decision, and the subject was dropped.

I should have been clearer: my parents were very supportive over that decision.

I did end up dabbling in other religions and faiths over my teenage years, mostly learning, trying to understand, and getting a feel for what others believed. I ended up spending plenty of college time in Religious Studies, and enjoyed it a great deal. :slight_smile:

My parents are very fundamentalist baptist, while I believe in a “live and let live and help out when you can” credo.

Then handle our differences of opinion by forgetting that I’m not a bible thumper. I have to remind them every once in a while. It actually makes me feel bad, because they get such downcast looks on their faces. I try to keep my mouth shut during some family debates now, because it gets so uncomfortable. Portions of my family actually debate such things as “Can animals be possessed by demons?”. My aunt won that debate when she referred to the story in the New Testament when Jesus cast demons out of a human victim and put them into a herd of pigs.

Now that I think about it, their particular church believes in the once-saved-always-saved school of thought, so its possible they believe that I’ll just come to my senses one of these days. Anyway, I’m a constant disappointment because a) I don’t attend a General Association of Regular Baptist Churches affiliate and b) I’m not married.

I was raised in an atmosphere of religious freedom. I attended church and temple with the catholics and jews in the neighborhood every so often, but none of it ever made any sense to me. Kid Kalhoun has also been raised in an atmosphere of religious freedom and appears to be quite happy with a religion-free life.

My dad is a minister and has been all my life. I rejected religion at 7 and have remained rejecting of it for the past 36 years now. My father was mortified, but my parents soon separated and it became less of an issue after that. He’s still not really accepting of it and I’m still not willing to give in just for show even once in awhile. I will show up to church when it suits me, mainly for hypocritical reasons and mainly once every decade or so.

My husband was raised Catholic and his parents insisted to the point of hysteria our marriage be recognized by the Catholic church. However, they promised that they would not interfere with how we raise our child and they’ve kept their promise. We found a priest who would do what we wanted and honestly it seems a little sketchy that he’d do that. Who knows, we might not even be married, like Mr. and Mrs. Howell that time. My dad co-officiated at the ceremony.

But the main thing is, nobody bothers us about religion and that’s a major priority in my life.

My parents are Methodists and never really pushed anything on me. I didn’t break with the church so much as just drifted away. They don’t ask, I don’t bring it up; but it’s not a subject that is pointedly ignored.
So, my husband and I are atheists. But now my 5 year old son is a Christian. He has always gone to church daycare and his bio-father and that family are Christian so now my son is. There’s not really much to deal with - I let him go to church with his best friend or my parents and he loves it.
His best friend’s mother was very hesitant about asking if he could go to church with them. I could tell she was dancing around it not really knowing what to say. It’s like I told her - it’s more important to me that my son be happy where he’s at than believe what I believe.

I was born a Roman Catholic but the older I got the less it influenced my actions and thoughts. My daughter was born in January and I plan to share my beliefs with her when she gets older and let her decide what path to follow for herself. That said I will probably try and influence her to take all religious beliefs with a very large grain of salt.

I’m Methodist, and took my kids to church every week, though their father didn’t go often…too hungover. I insisted that they attend and get a religious education, and that they were free to make their own decision after they had learned enough. My daughter went through with confirmation, but my son refused to take that final symbolic step, even though he had a great relationship with his sponsor. Neither of my children considers themselves a believer at this point (24 and 22). When they started protesting going to church, I still insisted, because I went through my own rebellious period, and I don’t find a loss of faith to be a compelling reason to stop learning, especially when you are 14 and would rather say anything in order to sleep in. Plus it gave them contact with a group of other kids that I hoped could provide friendship. But both my kids were difficult and involved with drugs and raves and there were some run-ins with a particularly reactionary youth leader who over-reacted to some of my son’s questions, instead of seeing the situation as one of those testing things teens like to do. So now neither one feels a conncetion to the church, though my daughter would like our former minister to perform her wedding…but only if he can do it without mentioning God.

I still have hopes that at least my daughter will return to the church, perhaps when she starts her family. It’s fairly normal for young adults to wander off and then return when they settle down…even I had a period where I didn’t attend services regularly. So I’m not offended. Disappointed, yes, but at least they weren’t left rootless and wandering. They had a good basic religious education, and can make their own decisions. As long as they aren’t making them out of laziness, that’s fine with me. My chirch is filled with people who aren’t particularly devout, or who are questioning, or who come along with a spouse out or companionship, not belief. And that’s as it should be. Not everyone has to be at the same place on their (forgive me for using this term…I really, really hate it) faith journey, and I prefer to think of my kids as still on the train, just not clear on their destination yet.

I’m not a parent, but this is sort of related:

I have been published exactly once in my life: “I Stopped Going to Mass” appeared in the February 1995 issue of Catholic Digest (I submitted it with the title “When Your Kids Stop Going to Mass,” but the CD editors changed it). The short article offered advice from my then-23-year-old self to parents whose kids reject their faith while in high school/college, and talked about my own collegiate struggle with Catholicism (at the time I had recently returned to the Church; 2-3 years later I discovered that I am agnostic). The advice was simple, just telling folks not to freak out or get all fire-and-brimstone: if the kids have faith they’ll return to the Church eventually, but if not there’s really nothing that can be done about it. Eleven years later, I don’t think my advice would be any different.

(bolding mine)

Not *my *religion, thankyouverymuch. :dubious:

(I know you likely didn’t mean it like that, but I get very tired of seeing threads about “religion” and “God” where every post assumes that we’re all Christian and talking about the JudeoChristian God.)

As a neopagan hippie chick, I often joke that my son will rebel by becoming a Right-wing Baptist Preacher. But really, if he did, I’d still love him. If he started preaching fire and brimstone or messages of sin and hate at my dinner table, he’d be asked to take it outside, like any other person in my house. If he couldn’t control his behavior, he’d no longer be welcome in my life, but it’d be the behavior, not his religion, per se. He’s welcome to believe whatever works for him, but he’s not welcome to force anything on anyone else in my world.

(There actually was a Teen Bible Study that started up not long ago at several pagan festivals. It was quite a riot to see all the teenagers rebelling by reading and discussing the Christian Bible in “defiance” of their parents - most of whom didn’t really care one way or the other.)

Sorry, I didn’t mean to paint all religions with the same brush. But I hope you know the sentiment I was trying to convey.

My best friend is non-religious, and has let her children attend whatever church they wanted with their friends, and answered their questions as best she can. She simply refuses to be a hypocrite, and I respect her for that. I’m a pagan, and we have had some long and interesting discussions.

One day a few years ago, her then 11-year-old daughter came in from school in tears - nearly hysterical. Seems the lady who picked the kids up from school (my friend took them to school) had informed an 11 year old that she and her entire family were going to hell and would burn in flames forever because they didn’t go to that woman’s church every Sunday.

How can anyone do that to a child?