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Now what? Son wants to quit confirmation

Q: My teenage son wants to drop out of confirmation. I want him to continue with his instruction, but I'm worried that he'll wind up resenting church if I force him to do so. I'm torn about what I should do.

designpicsA: Engage your son in a thoughtful conversation about why he wants to drop out and seek to understand his point of view. Before you make a final decision, talk with your pastor or youth director. Perhaps you can find new ways of working together as a team with your son.

No matter what you decide, it's important to keep your son's faith formation a priority. An ongoing dialogue about your family's faith — and the practice of your beliefs within an encouraging church community — is vital to your son's continued spiritual growth.

 
Send questions to diana@passthefaith.org
 

Comments

Carthaginian

Carthaginian

Posted at 8:58 am (U.S. Eastern) 4/28/2010

I would say, "as long as your feet are under my table, you will attend confirmation. When you become an adult and move out and are on your ow, then you can make those decisions."

Keith

Keith

Posted at 12:46 am (U.S. Eastern) 4/28/2010

You can force him to attend confirmation, but you can't force him to believe. The "while you're under my roof" bit may end up simply guaranteeing that once he's not under your roof, he bolts from church for good.

Sometimes you have to lose the battle in order to win the war, and making this a power struggle in which you pull the "I'm in charge" card could win the battle, but having the thoughtful conversation and respecting his views could end up winning the war in the long run.

Jennifer

Jennifer

Posted at 12:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 4/30/2010

My daughter felt the same way at one time.  I told her that she needed to understand what she said she wanted to reject before she could rejected it and learning about Christianity did not mean she HAD to accept it all.

When she became friends with a Muslim girl in 7th grade, the two of us taught ourselves some about Islam and attended a fast breaking ceremony during Ramadan with her friend's family.  I reminded her of this and that understanding Faiths helps us interact with different peoples understanding more about what influences them, and I pointed out that attending this ceremony did not make us Muslim.  (I agree this is more likely to work with a girl than a boy.)  She continued and finished Confirmation without a weekly argument.

My son was convinced to more willingly attend confirmation when one of his young adult Christian leaders ate a slug in front of him. Maybe you can find a willing leader.  

Jack Labusch

Jack Labusch

Posted at 9:52 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/2/2010

After confirmation, I pretty much gave up on church.  The intra-ethnic bitterness, which I hardly understood then, was heavy-duty.  I don't have any free advice to offer other than, maybe, a change of Lutheran church.  (My next regular attendance at church was some twenty years after my Lutheran confirmation.  That was a non-denominational "holiness" church.)

Katharine

Katharine

Posted at 1:13 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/5/2010

Sometimes when my children have not wanted to conform, I have told them, "Yes, I know. I feel that way, too, sometimes." Usually that sets them back. I often suggested playing hooky together, just one child and me. Usually it was good for a couple months of conformity because the VERY IDEA of mom playing hooky took some of the fun and rebelliousness out of it. Plus, it built attachments with this child, like we were partners in crime, but really, it was just the two of us taking a much-needed break. Stolen waters ARE sweet, after all...

 The key was that the only time the child could quit (like quit confirmation) was together with Mom.

Steve Krebill

Steve Krebill

Posted at 6:16 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/11/2010

Perhaps what you can be in charge of is that he continue the instruction, in the same way that our children don't get a choice about whether they will attend school.  But then, allow him to make the choice whether or not he wants to affirm his baptism after he has completed the instruction.  That's the part that will ring false if you force him.  Nobody was ever kept out of heaven because they weren't confirmed, but a lot of damage is done when youth are forced to make promises they don't believe just to please their parents.

Kent Krumwiede

Kent Krumwiede

Posted at 1:20 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/12/2010

Jennifer

You have an awesome youth leader there (daring to risk)...

To everyone...it is not so much ordering them as to encourage them...encourage them to take what they learn and express it in their own words and ways. Faith must be meaningful to the individual...discuss what they cover each week. Maybe they misunderstood what they heard. Clarification means to clear uo the "fuzziness" not to question authority. Even the disciples questioned Jesus' lesson and parables. Encourage them to ask questions during class, after class, at home. Remember we live under grace...when we ask questions it means we are thinking about our faith and it still means something to us. Research proves out that the vast majority of teens rank faith as high on their list of priorities (Exemplary Youth Ministry).  They don't always show it or say it, but they are interested. As parents, we can model faith in our daily lives. Pray that God keeps them in faith and then "be the prayer." I raised four sons through confirmation and know it is by God's grace that they still know and believe what they were taught. My wife and I tried to always model faith. DON'T forget, model forgiveness also. It is part of the Christian journey. Faith, Hope, and Love, the greatest of these is...

Jane Bahls

Jane Bahls

Posted at 6:40 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/12/2010

Most of the youth in my son's confirmation class were just going through the motions, but Tim questioned the Christian faith down to the foundation. Did he really believe in God? He certainly didn't plan to affirm baptism if he didn't. I commended him for thinking this through and noted that too many people raised in the church never do. I explained some of the reasons I believe. I mentioned his concerns to our education committee, and a couple of adults invited Tim out for ice cream and conversation. The clincher was a conversation with our associate pastor, who explained that everyone in the church has questions and doubts, and his decision on going through with confirmation was really about whether he wanted to continue his questioning in the community of the church, or outside of it. He decided to go through with confirmation--and somehow those doubts faded away. He's now a very strong, committed Christian and church member.

Mike Cannatelli

Mike Cannatelli

Posted at 11:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/15/2010

I'd agree with those who said that you should not force your child to make the pledge at the end of confirmation if they do not believe it.  I'd also ask my child, what specifically do they disagree with the church.  I also agree with whoever said, that in order to reject something, you need to know what that group, in this case, the church stands for, so he should complete the classes to learn, but if then he still doesn't believe then he should not be required to complete the process as that would be asking your son to essentially lie to God, the church, and to you.  

Is he looking to stop going to church altogether, or just the confirmation class.  Maybe, he needs more time, so let him continue to worship each week at your Lutheran church where he receives the Eucharist each week, and is fed by the Word of God, and taught the application of that Word via the pastor's sermon.  Maybe next year, when the pastor announces a new confirmation class being formed, your son on his own, will volunteer to take the class and then join.  It might take longer.  The important thing is NOT that he's become a member of the Lutheran Church, or any church for that matter, but that he has a relationsip with Jesus Christ, worships the Lord, and receives the grace from God via the Eucharist.  Membership will eventually come, in God's timing. 

Dee

Dee

Posted at 11:05 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/17/2010

I would make him finish his instruction.  At that point, you can let him decide if he would like to "affirm his baptism" or not.  Confirmation is when he becomes a "grown-up" member of the congregation and he can choose not to do that, but he needs to have all of the information before he can decide (read:sucessful completion of confirmation classes).

kristin

kristin

Posted at 11:15 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/17/2010

wow, I just posted a similar question on my Facebook page - what to do with a reluctant teen?  Mine is also renroleld in confirmation and I am so tired of the Sunday morning battles. I also don;t want to say that getting confirmed = don't have to go to church anymore.

Rudy Leeman, pastor

Rudy Leeman, pastor

Posted at 8:19 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/18/2010

Your son is not rebelling against God if that is your concern. He doesn't care for canned religious nonsense that doesn't speak to his needs as a growing and maturing young adult. Confirmation is not a rite of passage into adulthood. It's the church's way of feeling good about making a young person into their religious image.

I speak as a Lutheran, as a retired pastor, as a parent/grandparent and as one who made of this time a symposium directed towards the things important to a young person growing up in a complex world. I worked with their spiritual needs, not religious nodding at ananachronistic approach to a search for spiritual certainty and faith in a Creator. I feel for your son. Just let him hear from you that God loves him no matter what, just like his mother. It's not turning a crank that makes a person of faith but an attitude that creates behaviors in keeping with God's desire that your son be the best human he can be and one who cares for all his fellowmen, who are also loved by God.

Period.



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