A great fear for many Christian parents is their child walking away from faith and choosing to no longer believe. For many kids who grew up in the church, there comes a time when they must determine what they believe for themselves. In this moment, either the faith of their parents becomes the faith that they choose to embrace, or they choose to believe something different.
As a child grows into the teenage years, they are going through a process of individuation. Your child is beginning to forge their own way to determine who they are, what they value, and how they are going to choose to live their life. It is in these moments when questions about faith, beliefs, and doubts can begin to surface.
In their recent book Growing With: Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future, Kara Powell and Steven Argue suggest that “it’s not doubt that is toxic to faith; it’s silence” (p. 116). So how can you as a parent become a conversation partner for your student when they are experiencing doubt:
Realize that You Don’t Have All the Answers. When it comes to engaging children’s doubts about faith, often parents feel like they need to have all the answers. Though God’s Word is written to point us to Jesus the Savior, it is not meant to be an answer book for all of your student’s questions about God that are being fueled by their doubts. Doubts are conquered through the work of the Spirit opening your child’s eyes to faith and not by your theologically correct answers.
Understand that Growth in Faith Is a Process. When we think of growth in grace, we think that we are gradually ascending the mountain of faith. The truth, however, is that our and our children’s walk with Jesus looks more like a roller coaster than a hike up Everest. In the dips in the ride seen in periods of doubt, we know that God is still writing the story.
See Doubt as an Open Door for God’s Work. Leading your child from doubt to faith is something that only the Holy Spirit can do. Doubt is a wrestling with God through which your student is asking the hard questions. We worship a God that is bigger than our greatest questions. He loves your child more than you do, and though we may not see it, He is at work.
Dr. Ben Birdsong serves as the Minister of Students at Meadow Brook Baptist, and also writes and blogs at www.benbirdsong.com