For nonreligious families, the idea of suddenly getting religious during a time of crisis doesn’t lend credibility to either entity in the eyes of the teen. It becomes one more silly tool in your bag of tricks that are obviously designed to ruin their life. Teens who are rejecting authority will reject the church. Teens who need to learn to make good decisions should be making decisions because life is simply better when you’re being a good person, and not because their religion is forcing them to. What happens when they get the idea to object to religion, you’re right back where you started. Or even worse.
From a psychological perspective, the brightest teens can be argumentative truth-seekers, and putting them in an environment where the Bible is the authority pits them against the very thing that you’re trying to teach them to respect. Instead, appeal to their natural instinct to be in control of their lives, and put them in an empowering environment that teaches positive behavior management skills, because they’re not going to argue with themselves. The last thing a defiant teen needs is another external authority to argue with.
A teen who has mastered self control and enjoyed the fruits of their own success will naturally begin to see the beauty and spirituality of the world around them. Instead of being forced into a religious setting, they will naturally be drawn to it, as a positive force in their world. A reluctant Christian is no Christian at all. For a true and honest way of helping your troubled teen make better decisions in life, do not make Christianity the enemy.
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