10 Things to Say When Your Child Says They Don’t Believe in God Anymore
by Natasha Crain
This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the ReTHINK Student Apologetics Conference (there are more of these conferences coming—be sure to check out the link and learn about them!). I always enjoy talking to parents after speaking and this weekend was no exception. One thing I realized this time was that at every event where I’ve spoken in the last couple of years, there have been parents who share with me afterward that their child has recently said they no longer believe in God. Sometimes the kids are very young, other times they’re well into their adult years. But the question parents bring to me is always the same: “What should I say to them?”
After having a couple of long conversations with parents about this over the weekend, I wanted to write this post for others who may be struggling with the same thing. While this is, of course, a complex topic, these are 10 of the most important things I think you can say to a child of any age when they say they don’t believe in God anymore. For what it’s worth, this isn’t some kind of theoretical exercise for me. One of my own young kids periodically struggles with this because God can’t be physically seen. We have several of these conversations regularly.
1. “Thank you for sharing this with me.”
There’s no doubt it sends panic into a Christian parent’s heart to hear the words, “I don’t believe in God anymore” or “I’m not sure if I believe in God anymore.” But how we respond to our child at a time of spiritual crisis (whether they consider it a crisis or not) is critical. If our reaction is fearful, angry, panicked or condemning, we quickly let our kids know that expressing their doubts is not OK. As parents, we need to be the safest place in our children’s lives to have conversations about God or they’ll find another place to go—likely a place where you wouldn’t want to find them.
Simply saying, “Thank you for sharing this with me” lets them know you are happy they came to you, that you want to talk with them about their feelings, and that expressing doubt in your home is welcome. To be clear, that doesn’t imply you’re happy about the doubt itself, but that you’re happy to be a safe place for these conversations…
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