The Role of Parents in Kids’ Faith

Photo by Jenna Christina

As I’'m reading Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, the new book by Dr. Christian Smith and his National Study of Youth and Religion team, I am once again struck by how important parents are in teenagers’ faith.  Here’s a quote from Christian on page 284 that is so powerful I’ll just let it stand on its own for my blog post today:

Most adolescents in fact still very badly want the loving input and engagement of their parents—more, in fact, than most parents ever realize.  They simply want that input and engagement on renegotiated grounds that take seriously their growing maturity and desired independence.  All too often, however, parents misinterpret their teenager’s signals about renegotiated relationships as simple demands to be left alone and, for whatever reasons, they readily comply.  So just at a time when teenagers most need engaged parents to help them work out a whole series of big questions about what they believe, think, value, feel, are committed to, and want to be and become, in many cases, their parents are withdrawing from them.