As a parent, the most important role you have is to help your child develop a relationship with the Lord. But it is not always an easy task. Your child’s personality, outside influences, and even simply their stage of development can make them resistant to certain aspects of the faith. Many parents (especially parents of a teenager) wonder what they can do when their child is resistant or simply apathetic toward the faith.
A listener recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ asking for practical ways to help her teenage son care about the faith. She explained, “I have a junior in high school who really doesn’t care. We go to church every Sunday, and we have explained that if he lives with us he has to go with us – that is is our faith and we go to church every Sunday. But beyond that, what can we do to love a person back into the faith?”
Monsignor Stuart Swetland responded by reassuring the listener that this is common for people in their teens, saying, “First of all, this is partly joking, but I think the definition of a boy who is a junior in high school is someone who doesn’t care. There is a certain age where they put off at least that they don’t care about anything.”
Msgr. Swetland then asked the listener what her son does care about, and what things he enjoys. She responded that he loves music, to which Msgr. Swetland responded, “Some of it is building upon that. I don’t know what kind of music he likes, but I was just at a concert this weekend of classical music, and it’s all based on faith. Almost everything that lasts through space and time is faith-based when it comes to music. Because it is the most beautiful. It is the thing that lasts.”
Another thing that the listener listed as an interest of her son was engineering and making 3D prints of designs he creates. Msgr. Swetland once again encouraged her to build upon her son’s interests and use them to show how God is relevant in the things he does care about.
Drawing from his own experiences, Msgr. Swetland said, “You know, my first degree was in physics, and I believe exploration of the natural world and it’s wonders, its beauties, and the laws of physics, engineering, and science should lead one to appreciate and know God’s ongoing creative and re-creative love. Because you see it laid out in all its wonder.”
“When I was running away from God – and I did that in my late teens and early twenties – one of the things that kept me connected to God and the things of God was the fact that I couldn’t deny that there was a God behind Creation,” he continued. “It was just too orderly. And the more I explored the laws of nature the more I realized that there was an artist behind the art. And an artist that was more brilliant than I could even imagine.”
He ended the call by encouraging the mother to not give up hope for her teenage son, and to continue setting a good example of the love that comes from the Lord.
“There is lots there to build upon,” he said. “You and your husband and his siblings are going to do a lot of setting a great example, a lot of prayer, a lot of sacrifice, and have Masses offered. Because we don’t want to just leave someone who is missing out on the greatest friendship ever, the greatest love affair ever. Because we love them too much for them to be missing those things.”
Listen to the full conversation below: