Many Christians go through periods of doubt. Sometimes, this leads a child to conclude he or she needs to move away from the faith. This can be extremely difficult for parents, and they may feel like failures. These individuals may be tempted to force their children back into a faith, but this usually backfires.
Recognize It’s Not Personal
In most cases, your child’s choice to move away from faith has little to do with you and is more about finding his or her own path. It should not be interpreted as a threat to your own faith or the integrity of your parenting. Do not make your child’s choice about you or your family; do not accuse him or her of shaming or failing you. Give him or her space and ask questions when the opportunity arises.
Ask What “Christian” Means
When a child says he or she doesn’t want to be a Christian anymore, it may be for specific reasons. Ask, “What does being a Christian mean to you?” Then ask if there are particularly grievances or questions your child has. For example, he may say, “I don’t understand why we say homosexuality is a sin.” She may say, “I don’t like being told I’m going to hell for doing or not doing X.” Once you know what your child is thinking and feeling, you’re better able to address whether or not Christianity is still right for him or her.
Pour out your feelings to God, whether you’re hurt, in shock, or angry. Ask what He is teaching you through this process and how to approach your child’s decision. Then, be still and listen for the Spirit to tell you what you need to know.
Don’t Shut Down
If your child has converted to a new religion, don’t condemn that faith. Don’t engage in arguments or express stereotypes, and don’t cut off contact. Instead, ask open-ended, calm questions. Talk about topics other than religion. Focus on the positive aspects of the new faith.