The story can be different for everyone and there’s no uniform way in which it happens. At times you’re trying to teach them the faith while their peers are introducing them to alternative explanations for their existence at school. You may think homeschooling might be a good idea, and although home schooled children are proven to hold onto their faith more it can happen them also.
It may be that none of you in the house were Christian until later in life mommy and Daddy decided they’d pick up Christianity. By this time the children have already grown up. They’re persuaded by the pleasures of this life and it’s god of scientific theories and research of what we can see. What to do, huh?
It becomes an even more difficult sales pitch, not because they’ve “grown out of believing in Jesus” and become enlightened, rather it’s because their hearts have been hardened, and they’ve become committed to their new cause. It may even be they’ve decided to take another path in some other religion holding onto their belief in God. There are just so many reasons right?
In the ideal world, we are all one big happy family aren’t we? No single parenthood, no babies out of wedlock, no conversions to Christ when our children have grown older. We would all love to shape the world in the way we’d like to see it. But it doesn’t always turn out that way. Many saints grew up in less than ideal homes where the faith wasn’t practiced.
St.Augustine was one of them. His father didn’t practice the faith and as a result he fell away from the faith. Later in life he came back thanks to the prayers of his mother. His famous quote that follows resonates with many of us including myself who loved God late in life.
“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”St.Augustine Of Hippo
Augustine had a child out of wedlock too, whom I doubt he ever saw again. I had a child out of wedlock also whom I have not seen since she was 8 months old and she is now 13 years old. You see? There’s lots of people suffering different things in life so don’t feel bad that your family is a big mess.
Lets discuss what we should do. I bet you’re probably thinking I’m going to give you some sort of recipe that will convert your kids? I don’t know if this is good advice or not but it’s what I do with just about everyone. Ready? I don’t do anything….By that I mean to say I don’t argue with them or fight them. I don’t punish them with lots of invites. You know what I do? I leave them alone. Like St.Monica I pray for them, leave good books around the house. I may have a channel on TV or movie about Jesus or something that challenges their existing atheism.
I live my life in Christ. I make one or two invites. If those invites are met with great hostility, I leave them alone after this. I simply leave it for them to engage in conversation because if they ask then they cannot complain about my answer because they’re the one who asked. I will trap them by setting up a conversation about Jesus without actually making it clear that I’m doing so. This is whats known as covert converting. I’m trying to convert you without you realizing I’m converting you.
The direct approach rarely works with teenagers. They don’t see you helping them, they just assume you’re using them to make yourself feel good by converting them. It is true that some people want to convert others as a prize for themselves and not for God. This trait in others is abhorrent so I don’t blame teenagers for thinking like this at all. But even though it’s not your intention they will make assumptions.
Show them the miracles of your Church. Teenagers are slaves to a visual spectacular experience. Don’t be afraid to give them that by showing them the Eucharistic miracles or healing miracles that the Lord has given us to make conversion for some easier. Leave good books around the house. Don’t leave around any old book. Make sure all the books you leave around are relevant to the battle for their souls. A good soldier knows his enemy and this is how he secures victory in battle.
What is it about religion they don’t like? Are they atheist? Leave around some great books that challenge atheism.Pick it up while they’re eating breakfast at table and read it. They’ll view the title I promise you and it may start a good conversation. Are they into Yoga and all that new age rubbish? Leave around good books from authors that challenge these philosophies and show them up to be erroneous.
Read them yourself, and be prepared with lots of good answers. Don’t start a fight. A covert way of doing it is to pretend you’re showing interest in their mindfulness nonsense. They will be overjoyed about your newfound interest in what they’re interested in. Then, you start proposing questions about what it is they believe and that’s where you begin to gently deconstruct the rubbish they’ve learned.
The idea here is that you’re trying to massage their brains for them and get them thinking more about the contradictions in the philosophies or other cults they’ve adopted. Combine everything you do with prayer and leave it in the hands of God. Remember that trusting in God to take care of everything is where change happens. When we are too busy trying to make reality suit us relying upon our powers to do so, we lose. God is the power here, and he is the one who will make the seed you plant in the minds of your children grow.
All you need to do is show God that YOU TRIED EVERYTHING to save your little ones. At the end of the day they will answer before the Lord for themselves as they’ve got free will. They cannot belong in the nest forever, and there comes a time when you’ve just got to let that bird fly and “work out your own salvation” as St.Paul tells the Corinthians.
That is how I go through life. I’m like the man climbing the side of a mountain cliff. On my way up there’s people along the way and they’re just sitting there. I offer them help, let them know this mountain is soon to come down and they’ll die if they don’t reach the top. If they take my hand and follow me all well and good.
If they say “no, I’d rather sit here” and refuse to believe me, I’m not going to do a lot of arguing with them. Forget that, I’ve learned from experience never to teach pigs how to sing, it only wastes my time and it irritates the pigs. You know what I’m gonna do? I don’t take pleasure in it but I’m gonna keep on climbing that cliff to reach Jesus.
Remember, there’s only so much you can do. You cannot save a man from himself. You can’t do it. Therefore don’t feel guilty. You’ve offered your children a hand and they’ve said no. Go now…keep climbing, don’t allow them to be the cause of your downfall. Jesus said he will reward those who leave even children for His sake. That is how much Jesus requires we become detached from the world and follow him. If you are reading this and you’re someone who is at his/her wits end trying to convert her kids, Don’t stress anymore OK? Pray, do everything you can, and when you can do more, hand it over to God and keep your focus on the prize.
God bless you my dear reader.