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When Kids Reject our Faith

by | Sun, Oct 16 2022

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It’s a tough question, but what should we do when our kids reject our faith? Often what they really want is to explore life on their own terms. But it can be challenging to know how to respond, especially when we see them making choices we don’t agree with.

Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family recently joined us on Rise & Shine to talk about how parents can let go of control and allow their kids to make their own choices. No matter how hard it is, we have to give our children over to God.

‘The key to everything is fighting on your knees,’ says Brett. ‘But the other part of it is parents have to maintain the relationship. That’s the hardest thing when you see your kids making choices that are against their upbringing. It can be so frustrating because you know the answers, but you can’t force that upon them.’

Unconditional Love

We all know you can’t make someone become a Christian. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But as parents, we can love our kids unconditionally, just like our Heavenly Father loves us. God loves us despite our flaws, and we have to apply those same principles to our children.

‘We know there’s going to be consequences for those choices,’ says Kate. ‘But let’s face it, all of us have done things that horrified our parents growing up. God promises never to let go of our children. And you just need a whole big prayer team around you.’

Brett and Kate know from experience how difficult it can be when a child questions their faith. The say the key is not to react, but keep a calm façade. It’s natural to be upset, and often parents ask themselves where they went wrong.

‘Parents want their children to be critical thinkers,’ says Kate. ‘We want them to ask questions about God. We want them to find Him for themselves. We want them to have a genuine relationship. So if they’re not asking questions, I’m kind of concerned because we want them to have a deeper understanding.’

Keep the Conversation Going

Sadly they might go off the rails for a time while they’re trying to find out who they are and where they fit. They may also say they don’t believe in God, but in reality what they’re doing is finding out for themselves. The best thing we can do is keep the conversation going with them.

‘God says there is a hope and a future and He has a plan for our children,’ says Kate. ‘He tells us to pray without ceasing. We need to press in, and we need to have other people praying. Grandparents can be great for this.’

Sometimes parents panic in the moment, because they’re desperate. They might try and do things in their own strength like sending texts, and badgering their kids to come to church. But the fact is, your children already know they’ve disappointed you.

‘They already know that your heart is breaking,’ says Brett. ‘They know the values that you’ve instilled in them, but they just haven’t found it for themselves yet. The best thing you can do is actually say, I take my hands off, I’m letting go and letting God take control.’

So many times, we lay things down at God’s feet, but then we keep taking it back. But God doesn’t do things in our timing. We have to remember that when we’re praying God is doing something in us as well as our kids and the people around them.

It’s a Spiritual Battle

‘We see this mess, and our emotions are all caught up,’ says Kate. ‘But God is very calmly in the background knowing our kids need to build spiritual muscle. And He’s also building our faith and trust as parents. There’s a whole story going on that we forget about because we’re not battling flesh and blood.’

Brett and Kate have a number of different articles and podcasts available that can help. There are strategies that can help take the emotion out of the situation and allow us to back off a bit. Knowing what to say and how to say it is so important.

‘You can do further damage if you try and do it in your own effort,’ says Brett. ‘Don’t push your kids away because of your value systems. Even though they may choose against that, you still need to love them unconditionally.’

Listen to Brett & Kate’s full interview below on Rise & Shine, and for more resources visit our Vision Store.