Question: Suddenly our teenage son is openly grappling with deep questions about social justice, the meaning of life, the existence of God and his own purpose as an individual. How can we help him sort through these issues and equip him with a solidly Biblical and Christian world view?


This is a question well worth asking. It deals with a subject that merits careful study and investigation on the part of every parent, teacher and responsible adult. The adolescent years are a crucial period in any individual’s spiritual and intellectual development. This is the time when the foundations of a person’s world view are laid down – the basic (and often unspoken) assumptions that govern attitudes, decisions and actions. Young people often make decisions during their teens that will set a course for the rest of their lives. Many make permanent spiritual commitments at church, camp or other events and continue to mature in their faith as the years pass. But these are also years during which fundamental questions about God and the universe are asked, and parents may find their own beliefs (or lack thereof) held up for inspection.

Faith must be a personal decision

Many teens feel the need to chart a different spiritual course from their parents during these years. This development can make parents feel very uneasy, but in some form or other it’s inevitable and absolutely essential. If he’s to grow up and find his own way in the world, your child must eventually make his own decision as to whether or not he will believe in God and follow His path. You can’t do it for him. That’s why, to a certain degree, an examination of what he’s heard as a child is a healthy process. Somehow or other, he has to figure out how his childhood faith applies to adult situations and problems.

During this time, your primary job will be to keep your own relationship with God thriving. This should include meaningful times in prayer for your children. Spiritual vitality that consistently manifests genuine joy, peace and other positive expressions of belief will ultimately communicate more to your adolescent than a lot of clever or convoluted answers to his questions. In matters of faith (and in other arenas as well) teenagers are particularly responsive to honesty and integrity and are turned off with equal fervour by hypocrisy.

Enlist the help of other believers

If your child’s need to assert his independence from you spills into the spiritual realm, you may need to entrust his growth in this area to other adults (or even peers) who can positively influence his view of God, faith and the world in general.

Youth leaders, teachers, young couples or single adults or other friends of the family can often "stand in the gap" for you in this area. Do what you can to encourage these contacts and interactions (without being pushy about it) and then leave the results in God’s hands.

In this context, we’d just like to add a word about Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project®. This DVD-based curriculum is designed to equip Christians to better understand a Biblical world view and effectively communicate its inherent principles to those around them. Focus on the Family also offers TrueU, a variation on The Truth Project designed especially for use with older teens and young adults. For more information, check out the TrueU DVD series in our online bookstore.

Excerpted from The Complete Book of Baby and Child Care published by Tyndale House Publishers. ©1997, 2007, Focus on the Family.

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