18 year old son turned his back to God

18 year old son turned his back to God

Hello everyone!

It has been a "rough" year for us. My oldest just graduated from High School. He has held a great GPA and was a National Honor Society member. Like most kids he struggled with "Senioritis" this last year and decided that grades were not important. I watched an A/B student bring home C's, D's and even an 'F'. He managed to pull through with enough to graduate. He had a teacher that did not care for, so turned in very poor work. In several conversations with him, I tried to convince him that grades WERE important. And the only one "paying" for his poor work was him. Turning in bad work to aggrevate the teacher accomplishes nothing - it just hurts him. I also told him that there will be many people that he works with in the future that he will not care for. However, we must learn to work with them/for them. None of this ever seemed to get through to him. So, finally I tried to approach it on a higher level . . .

My son has been involved with our church youth, led worship in the church orchestra and over the years has reached out to others and brought them to church. He also witnessed to several Mormons. In more recent years, his school work and activities have kept him busy enough that he quit going to youth group, but he continued in the church orchestra. I had noticed that his passion for God wasn't what it used to be. Anyway, in another conversation about school performance, I tried appealing to him on a higher level - thinking that he would realize that his poor performance did not glorify God. After discussions on GPA and working well with others, I said "I have one other question. Do you consider yourself a follower of Christ?" He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye and said "no, I don't".

He hasn't been one to stay out late at night, nor has he changed into some "monster". He is not partying or had any major girl trouble. I don't know what changed and I don't know how I should approach him. He's getting ready to leave the nest for college, so I feel like I will have no influence on him at all! He has been interested in philosophy and still has an interest. I've wondered if that had an influence on his faith.

I know the #1 thing I can do is pray - and I have been. We have "trained up our child", so I am leaning on God's promise that he will return to Him, but it is so hard to let your child go when he is not properly grounded in God! Has anyone else been through this with their teenager? What would you recommend? I'm afraid to say too much, because I don't want to push him away further. Any advice would be welcome.
I am only 18 myself, so have not had experience in this department but,
The only thing i can say is to keep praying.
Maybe try and talk with him, find out if something has happened, someone has said something ect.

I hope he comes back to the Lord soon!
I'll be praying for you and your son.

God bless.
some children rebel.and think they know better.if you have given him a good start,which it sounds like you have it will put him in good stead.give him a little space.but still show you care.men dont grow up i think until there 30,s.in my experience,hope it works out ok.i hope God shines on your family.
Alot of times we try not to say to much because we don't want to push them away...but then we start not saying enough, giving them the impression that you don't care. True love hurts some times....talk to him...his soul is more important than whether or not he likes you at the moment. Let him see a passion in you for the Lord that he has never seen....I am a 20 year old youth pastor, and i dealt with this in my life and also some of my youth's life now.....My generation wants to see the real thing.....we have seen church, programs, youth groups, choirs, preachers.....but we want true real burning passion for the real God......if it is not real we don't want it.....It is sad that sometimes the world seems more real than most churches and Christians...that is why I backed away from the Lord a while back, and that is why some of my have dealt with the same thing......we don't want youth groups...we want the blazing fire of the Lord. So let him see that....he will be drawn to it. The people who were drawn to Jesus, were the people looking for something real...not the Pharisees and religious people stuck in programs....your son wants the real Jesus......God Bless....I will pray for him.

I went through a somewhat similar period during that time (I'm 29 now). The months just before leaving for college are extremely difficult, even though your son would surely not admit it (I wouldn't have). He's leaving home, leaving family, leaving everything he has known for 18 years. What will college be like? Will I pass my classes? Will girls like me? Will I be forced to drink beer or sit in my room alone? A thousand questions like this.

Anyway, it sounds to me like your son is going through an absolutely normal progression. Much like Radical Freak said below, he's probably also asking the same questions about his faith...is it real? Do I believe just because Mom and Dad do? Is any of this stuff true?

After going through that stretch and coming out the other side, my faith was MUCH stronger than before. I questioned my beliefs, which forced me to examine them much more closely, and found the truth that God is real. After struggling, Christ seemed so much more important than before, but I had to be taken through the desert before I could understand that. The general atmosphere at most universities is not too conducive to a Christian lifestyle, but the tough questions by professors (especially in philosophy...wow) and even tougher lifestyles of classmates forced me to question what I really desired...my way or God's way?

I can't say this same experience will happen with your son, but a few years from now, it will probably make much more sense to you (and to him). Like you said, pray your heart out, lay it all before God, and rest assured that you've done a fantasic job to teach him while he was at home. God is in control...even during college!

Oh....and be sure to send care packages. Lots of 'em, with homemade cookies. :)
I really feel for you. I will be in this situation in about 4 years. Its scary as a parent. I do remember, though, when I was that age, I backslid and tested the water so to speak. I believe it was a necessary part of my maturing. Sorta like learning from my own mistakes rather than my parents or aunts and uncles, teachers and pastors. I do remember that the whole time my concience (Gods tiny voice) was always present and audible. I had been raised right and was grounded in God's word and ways. I then grew up and followed what I had always known to be true. A couple of life changing experiences is usually all it takes to show young bucks that God is in fact true and real. I found out later that my parents continually showered my brother and sister and I with prayer every day every night all the time. I am sure now looking back that this was one of the shields that kept me. God bless in this time of change.
I have gone through this myself..

I turned my back on God and went in the whole other side of the tracks..but eventually after seeing what it was like and being hurt and broken down I found my way back right to where I belong in the first place. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves...it is nothing but the Goodness os the lord.

Prayer is your only help.
He will return just pray and ask God that it is sooner than later...time is so short

Much love,
hey jubilee4774,

I'm a 17 year old boy, and I wasn't a good teenager for my parents too.
I've always been to the church, club, and Christian camps, but I didn't believe all that stuff. But now I've became a Christian, and I've been baptized a year and a half ago. Maybe you'll think that my age was very different, but it isn't. (well mine is but I've got some friends of 18)

My best friend, is not a Christian, although I really want him to be. But he just doesn't believe. His mom is really sad about it, so am I. But I keep on praying, and sometimes I see God working in his live.

So pray, every night and day, pray with all your heart, and BELIEVE(!) that your prayer will be heard by God, and He does have His purpose with your son, and if God wants it, God will make it happen.

I'll hope God will answer your prayer soon.
Every one of your replies has been such a blessing! I appreciate your affirmation and encouragement to talk to him, cat and born2love. And RF - I needed to hear the "real thing" part! What a great reminder! I realize now that my son's questioning of his faith has put a damper on my own spirit to a point where I am apprehensive to express my faith when he is around. Since you have experience with youth, would you recommend any resources? Or just prayer and some well timed conversations? As I said, I want to give him some space. He DOES need to develop independently from us, but as a parent it is hard to NOT say anything!

Bassmasa, YellowJacket, JesusLivesForever and lostandfound: thanks for your input! I guess we all have times that we doubt or backslide. I grew up in church and was involved with my youth group. However, during my last couple of years in High School and in my college years, I was not living a Christian lifestyle at all. Although, at that point I considered myself a Christian (using a generic definition of "I believe in God"). I just wasn't walking with Him or giving Him much thought. Once we started a family, we both began attending church again.

Born2Love and lostandfound: hold fast to your faith! What an awesome example you'll be to the youth and young adults (and us old farts!) you encounter! God will use you as you touch the lives of others! God Bless you!

You know, I have to laugh at myself. When I hear your stories about backsliding and consider my own, why in the world would this be such a surprise to me? Hmmm, maybe a little pride on my part . . . and maybe I'm not letting go and leaning on God. Ouch. God will use this to refine me, I'm sure!

Anyway, thanks to all of you for "keeping it real"!

God Bless,
Ahhh, you sound exactly like my mum, bless you! It might be good for you to hear it from the horses mouth.

I did exactly the same thing as your son. At 17, I was at college, teachers were getting on my back, I wasn't enjoying education, and I would rather be out with my friends, meeting girls, partying, playing sport. Faith was never something on my mind, despite the fact I'd been brought up in a highly Christian home with God constantly surrounding me.

At college (which was a Christian college, thank God), I was introduced to God in a very real way by some Christian friends, however, at that age, I just wasn't interested in accepting Him.

When my mum used to talk to me about God, tell me of the messages at her church, ask me to listen to Christian music, or advertise church events to me, I would just reject it. It was also part of rebellion to say things like "How can you prove it?" or "You don't know that for a fact?" and other such comments. These comments were stupid, because in my heart, I knew God was real, I knew he was there. I don't know why I wanted to rebel, I just did.

I actually found that no matter how much my Mum brought up God, I felt it pushed me further away. I know for a fact that on my return to God, it was nothing that my mum had said or done directly. In fact, my return was when my dad told a friend of mine at the church to text me and invite me to an event, which I attended. Shocking how my mums direct bombardment tactics didn't work, but my dad's one move which I didn't even know about was the one that brought me to God.

As a worrying mum, this may be a hard piece of advice for you to take, but I'd honestly say, leave him to it. Don't say anything, and he WILL come back. God promised us this, and God will deliver. Deep in his heart, your son still believes in God, but he needs time to go out in the world and realise that life isn't as exciting as the Enemy leads us to believe. The Enemy lead me out into the world, showed me what I could have, but it was only in a divine moment of clarity that the Lord showed me there was so much more. I have no doubt he'll provide your son with this moment of clarity too, but all in his timing.

Keep praying, and don't lose your faith. If you believe God will work in your sons life, he definately will.