Fear for my son's soul


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I was less active around that age. I think "going to classes" when you don't want to be there is a hard one. On one hand it helped, on the other, I learned more about the gospel in 3 months of activity then 14 or 15 years of being "raised" in the church. I mainly would try to help him make friends. Going to activities makes him in a bad mood? Then the other kids there aren't befriending you son. For me, I stayed in the church initially for FRIENDS. After the right age, I figured I better learn for myself if it is true or not. So to me, he won't gain a testimony if you force him to go. But if the Bishop talks to the boys about befriending him and you can get him a friend or two, that'll do more good than anything! But as always that helped me, and each person is different. So use prayer and talk to the Bishop!


Good Luck!

Very perceptive SP.


I have a nephew that basically left the church at a very young age due to a lack of "socialization".  Actually, it was more than a lack, it was hostility from Aaronic priesthood members.This is likely what is really happening.

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I've never understood the advice from certain quarters to let a child skip church if they announce a desire (or whine) to not go. Will the response be the same for children who don't want to go to school or fuss about doing chores? You don't like it so you don't have to do it?

This +infinity.


There is this really stupid idea in modern culture that parents stay STTE "I want my kid to think for themselves".  

No you don't-that is the most insane, idiotic thing for a parent to say. A parent who says that is a parent who lacks the self-confidence and internal discipline within themselves to know that the way they are living their life is right.


know the principles and concepts I want my children to learn because I believe it is the best way to live. I don't care how anyone else leads their life, I have my own moral compass that I want instilled into my children. It will lead them to a happier life and a more fulfilling life. I can't make them believe the same way I do, but I will disciple (the root word of discipline) them in the way of light and truth.


I want my children to take upon the things that I have learned as the best way to live life and to build upon it so that the next generation lives a better life than I have; better life in attitude, work, fulfillment, religion, etc.


It is my opinion that the root of most of today's societal ills falls right back on how we are parenting.  Kids are becoming atheist because they aren't being discipled well enough at home.


A great quote "Discipleship means ‘’discipline!’’ The disciple is that one who has been taught or trained by the Master, who has come with his ignorance, superstition, and sin, to find learning, truth, and forgiveness from the Saviour. Without discipline we are not disciples"

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My family did all of those things when I was growing up. Sometimes you can do everything right and still have a curveball thrown at you.

Absolutely, everyone has their own free will to do as they see fit; you can do everything right as a parent and still have a screwed up kid-it's just life.  But, if you do everything right the chances that the kids will be screwed up will be reduced.

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My kids know the rules in my house.  They won't have to wait until they become atheists before they realize Sunday church attendance is a rule in the house that can only be avoided through emancipation.


See, this is the thing - a lot of this is now reactive.  We are reacting to the event AFTER the bridge is crossed.  This should have been something that has been address LOOOOONNNGGG before.... 

Another +infinity.  An awesome parenting mentor of mine likes to draw the stages of growth in a child.

Something like:

1st Stage 0-2: center of the universe stage

2nd Stage 2-4: basic skills stage-gradually learning that the world doesn't revolve around them

3rd Stage 4-13: obedience and authority - learning that when I say jump you say how high

4th Stage 13-18: mentoring and leadership - child learns how to take advice and counsel while learning how to make own decisions within appropriate parameters

5th Stage 18: emancipation baby!


Nowadays parents are finding major issues with their kids @ 13, this incident or think of the incident with the Baltimore riots and the mom.


If when your child is 13 you say jump and they say so what-you've already lost them and it will take a herculean effort to get salvage things-it can certainly be done-but it will be extremely difficult.


The best part of being a parent is when your kid does something wrong and you give 'em "the look" and they sulk away with their head down shoulders slumped thinking "ah crap, I screwed up". I just turn away and smile, and think YES! that exactly how I want you to feel-stew in it kiddo! :-)!!!

Edited by yjacket
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...dont pray for him to come back to church


What the WHAT?!



...instead pray for him to be touched by the spirit and find his relationship with Jesus Christ, This will lead him back to the church where the true Gospel teachings are being taught.


A Missionary in my ward said this a few months ago in sacrament..."We convert people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ not the Mormon Church."

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Fear less for his soul, and accept that his journey is his alone because of the most important principle of God's power --- agency.      If he were my son, I would tell him that it is hard to prove things about faith false, just like it is hard to prove them true empirically.   I would tell him that I'd read the CES letter and disagreed that they do what he claims they do.   I would tell him that in our family we attend church every week, we do not have to believe anything, we do not have to  participate, but we do sit in church respectfully,  behave appropriately.   I'd tell hm that when he turns 18 he can chose the church he wants to attend, or move out and not go to church (which would make you sad). 


I would not require he attend scouts, but I would ask his quorum leaders to make sure he was invited to every social function, and protected from ridicule of others for his beliefs.


I would tell him that when it was his turn to do FHE lesson, he was free to teach a value principle that he wanted to teach, so long as it was helpful to your family closeness, and not teaching against gospel principles.   I would also point out that the Gospel of Jesus Christ incorporates all truth of all kinds, and that means that if he is seeking truth and you are seeking truth, you are both going to end up believing the same things when both of you know and understand all truth.  (It is important that he understands that lots of scientific things people once thought were truth have since been shown not to be true).


Fear for him less, love him more in ways that encourage him to stay close because he knows you will love him no matter who he is or what he believes.   To the limited extent you have any influence in it, accept and encourage good friends with high standards.   Teach him about the atonement and how it actually works and that God accepts his personal best, however distant that is from objective perfection, plus quick repentance.   Involve him in service to others.


And understand that when children lose belief it may be because he has been abused, or is gay, or knows someone who has beem demeaned or judged by a leader, or endured too much judgmetn and hellfire you will do what I say from parents,  or have a porn or masturbation problem, or committed some sin he thinks makes it impossible for him to make it to the celestial kingdom no matter how he tries (because he has tried unsuccessfully), or something else that interferes with his own ability to believe in God, or his ability to believe he is worthy of or capable to be everything that is expected in teh church.   I'm not saying you challenge him on any of those points, I'm suggesting you not make it a parent child authorty challenge or a worthiness issue.   I'm suggesting parents make every interaction with him as close ot how Christ sees him and how He would nuture and lift and serve him, so that he does have experience with the spirit of God.

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...instead pray for him to be touched by the spirit and find his relationship with Jesus Christ, This will lead him back to the church where the true Gospel teachings are being taught.


A Missionary in my ward said this a few months ago in sacrament..."We convert people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ not the Mormon Church."


Who would think that a parent earnestly praying that their child comes back to church secretly meant that they didn't care if he believed or was converted, just so long as he was in church?


But...okay... OP...don't pray for him to come back to church in body only without conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ...just in case that's what you were planning on praying for.

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I'd highly recommend How to Hug a Teenage Porcupine by Dr John Lund. 


It's LDS based and brought me comfort and increased my faith in Heavenly Fathers plan. 




Peers, even in church, can be brutal. Our youngest daughter is struggling and we require she attend Seminary and Church, but don't force her go to youth activities.  

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So, tons of people have already replied.  I didn't read the responses, so I apologize if I am echoing what other people say.


My brother went sour on the church in his teens, probably also around 13 or 14.  My parents pushed it on him and it only made things worse.  He is still a good kid and all, but very anti-church.


My advice: Be accepting and supportive.  It sounds like he is struggling to find himself and the truth.  He is old enough to decide whether or not to go to church and learn and study about other religions, so let him make those decisions for himself.  Join him in his research and learn together.  If he decides the church isn't for him right now, just be the same, loving parents as always.  Don't try to force it down his throat, don't drop hints, don't make lectures, don't try to persuade, just continue life as normal and teach by example.


Everyone is on their own path and timeline to the truth. What will help your son the most is respecting where he is at in his journey and supporting him as he learns things for himself.  

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  • 1 month later...

I have to apologize. When I read your post it made me chuckle. Then I started to feel guilty and remembered that, had I read this post ten years ago when my child was 14 and announced that she was no longer a Mormon and didn't believe in anything, I would have been crying before I finished your post.

Yea, we went through the same thing. And we took it waaay too seriously. And we learned that everyone has to eventually learn for themselves that the gospel is true, that the Lord lives, that Jesus is the Christ. And the process is rarely linear and always messy.

Some details that we learned that you might find useful.

1. In spite of raising our children in a gospel centered home, we were shocked (over and over again) to learn just how little she actually knew about the gospel. She "knew" lots and lots of tidbits and details she had gleaned from anti-Mormons but she didn't actually know the gospel.

2. We got more mileage out of the standards that she grew up with than out of the doctrines we taught her. The world that she was attracted to followed none of the standards that the Church teaches (modesty, chastity, Word of Wisdom, etc.) and her discomfort with those things did more to prompt her return than did any specific doctrine (worldly doctrine or gospel doctrine).

3. Time. Give it time. Lots of time. It's been 10 years and this past summer she decided all by herself that she wanted her life to be focused on the gospel that she barely knew. She reached out to the missionaries to come school her on the basics. She started paying tithing and fasting and reading and praying.

4. Nothing mattered more than for her to know that her parents love her. Anguish over her on your own time. When she's around it needs to be all smiles and hugs. She knows good and well that you pray for her every night with tears steaming. She doesn't need to have that rubbed in her face.

And for the parent, not you, who has actually lost a child to world and is beyond hoping to see them return there is some little solace in remembering that Ezra Taft Benson has a son who is a staunch anti-Mormon. So did Joseph Smith. And so does our Heavenly Father.

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  • 2 weeks later...



All that you're reading here is right.  And all that you're reading here is wrong.  My point is that any good advice (which I think all the posts have been) must be weighed by you the parents and prayed over.  Every child is different.  Every parent is different.  And there are so many variables that it is impossible to really know what to do based on an internet description of such a situation.


Give the kid choices . . .okay son, it's your choice if you don't want to go to church, no problem. But you don't get to just sit at home watching TV and playing video games while the rest of the family is at church. You've got 3.5 hours, when we get home the bathrooms will be cleaned, the living room mopped, the garden weeded and lawn mowed. Better get hopping 'cuz times a wasting! :-)


And if he isn't obedient enough to follow those instructions then you've got bigger issues than his religiosity.


This is what we did with our son.  He began being this way at around 14 as well.  He actually took us up on that deal.  He did clean the house and prepare lunch/dinner for the family.  He found it much better to go to church once we disconnected the internet during those hours.


I tracked his usage and found that he was not looking at naughty sites during that time.  He was actually reading books online.  Good books.  One would think that would be a good influence.  But for us it was not.  He just loved reading so much that it was difficult for him to relate to people.  We began working on that issue.


Don't pray for him to come back to church...instead pray for him to be touched by the spirit and find his relationship with Jesus Christ, This will lead him back to the church where the true Gospel teachings are being taught.


A Missionary in my ward said this a few months ago in sacrament..."We convert people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ not the Mormon Church."


We would pray for him to "find his path to peace."  We tried not to act any differently.  Kids can smell when you're "treating them differently because..."


What we eventually found out was that I was being a bad influence on my son.  I had actually hurt him emotionally without knowing it.  I began working on myself.  I worked on my relationship with him.  I got better.  Things got better.  He's happier.  He's is motivated to go to church.  He's even said he's felt the Spirit -- something that he's never said before.


We're still worried about him.  He's still got some growing up to do and some issues to iron out.  But I feel we've gotten over the hump.

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