Hi, I have been using the parenting strategies since March. Things were going well, and my son even earned the privilege of a driving permit in April, which would allow him to take his driving test to have a driver's license. If he had stayed on track, he would have had his driver's test scheduled in May. However, within 1 week of earning the driving permit, he began to become rebellious again, argumentative, and sloppy or forgetful about his chores. I asked him what was bothering him, but he refused to say; he only had insults for me.
In the beginning of May, my son said that it was not fair for us to make him attend church on Sundays. I reminded him that it was a house rule that was agreed to by him. He told me that he did not believe there was anything after a person dies. I did not argue with him. 2 days after that statement, my son was hospitalized for 8 days because of seizures. He had over 60 seizures in that time span. My son was upset with me because we prayed for him-the seizures stopped.
He is at home now and has refused to go to church today. I repeated the request for him to be ready by 9am. I waited 10 minutes, and issued a warning of the consequence. I took his game controller when he did not get up. He told me that he was taking a stand for his faith. He told me he was agnostic 2 weeks ago.
This looks like a power struggle to me. However, I don't believe my husband will back down and let this go once he finds out. My husband strongly believes that his household will serve the Lord (at the least attend church). I believe this also, but would prefer to avoid the power struggle first.
What strategy should I have used? Once again, I will probably be in the cross fire between my son and his step-father.
I don’t think you will get your son to “serve the Lord” by forcing him to go to church. Attending church can be one of the most satisfying and exciting activities for any family. However, it can also be one of the most frustrating and draining days for moms and dads who have a difficult time getting their teenager to go to church. If your family finds itself in the second category, please understand you are NOT alone.
If your son does not like going to church, begin by asking the simple question, "Why". When asking this question, you must then be willing to listen. Don't comment after every sentence or roll your eyes when a reason is given that seems ridiculous. Ask God to give you patience as you listen intently to his objections, frustrations, and concerns. After your son is finished, begin talking about the reasons he gave and find a way to begin to actively address his concerns.
For example, one of their reasons could be he doesn’t feel a part of the group. Some suggestions you might give could be to allow him to bring a friend, or ask with a great amount of diplomacy if he is making an effort to meet other teenagers. You can also find an adult volunteer in the Student Ministry and ask what they have observed.
It’s true. You do have every right to “force’ your son to attend church, but talking, listening, and problem solving allows your son to no longer be the "problem" -- but to be a part of the solution instead.
Here are some tips on getting your teenager connected to the church family:
1. Find a place of service for YOU. One of the best things a parent can do is get involved in the ministry your teenager attends. NOTE: You don't have to be "cool" to work with students. You MUST have a heart for the Lord and a heart for people. The rest will come.
2. Find a place of service for your teenager. There are MANY places in the church that need volunteers. Allow your son to serve on Sunday morning. This will greatly increase the chance for your son to feel connected and "needed" on Sunday mornings.
3. Worship happens all week, not just at church. Make it a point to talk about God during the week, not just on Sundays. That shows your family that God is about every day of the week, not just on Sunday.
4. PRAY! Don't forget the power of prayer. God definitely wants your family to find a place to worship and connect with other Christians. This is a request He wants to answer. It might take time and a lot of work, BUT your labor will not be in vain!
- God will clearly reveal to your son the priorities He wants for him.
- God would put people in your son's life to “connect” with at church and to influence them and encourage them to want to be involved in church.
- You will model for your son what it means to be "connected" in the body of Christ.
- Your son will be open to listening to God's voice in giving direction in their life.
Bottom line: I would tackle this problem purely from a spiritual standpoint. Withdraw from the power struggle. Let go and let God. Don’t force him to go to church (otherwise he may equate “going to church” with “being punished”). And trust that God will WORK on your son’s behave.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
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