It entirely depends on why the young person does not want to go. If it's because they are just lazy or would rather sleep in then I can understand a parent pressing them to go. However if the teen has issues and objections with the faith or has come out as an atheist, then forcing your faith on them or pushing church attendance may well strengthen their resolve and achieve the opposite of your intentions. It might even drive a wedge between you and your teen.
If I forced you to attend a mosque and pray to Allah, would you become a devout Moslem? No, you would feel outraged and deeply put upon that your religious freedom had been violated. It is no different with teenagers. You cannot force belief or acceptance of your faith by compulsion. Belief cannot be coerced, it can only develop by way of being convinced. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
Angela, the rest of the article has a lot more to say. But my heart goes out to you. It's so hard to see our children reject beliefs that are so dear to us. Heavenly Father has gone through the pain of also having children who rejected Him. He knows your sorrow and He will help you to love your daughter and build a more loving relationship with her. You mention two reasons that you think she didn't want to go, but they both seem to indicate that she wasn't feeling safe and loved and valued at church. And unfortunately, 25 years ago, we were often teaching our children "the rules", rather than helping them feel the Savior's love for them. But it is never too late! Heavenly Father loves her far more than you do, and He will guide you as you attend the temple more, read scriptures more diligently, pray harder, and work to have an increase of the Spirit in your heart. As you feel His love, your heart can soften and you can be a conduit of his love. Your righteousness will bless her, whether or not she comes back in this life. God bless you!
I'm a good friend of a mother of 12 children, all did well in school, went on to college, the sons were Eagle Scouts & served missions, a daughter served a mission, all have remained active, they've been seminary teachers, bishops, RS presidents, Primary Presidents, on the high council. And I try to figure out why, one by one, three of my four children dropped away from the church, although knowing won't do me any good. Two of them were married in the temple. One child hates the church, quit attending at 16 & wants nothing to do with it & thinks I'm a fool for staying active. Another child & spouse were very active until recently, then they stopped attending & my youngest is barely hanging on. Most of my grandchildren don't go. One young grandson, a "tween" who lives with his father half the time and his mother (my daughter) half the time (due to a divorce) goes with his father but drags his heels every Sunday & will bolt at the first opportunity. It really saddens me to see my extended family just fall apart spiritually, finding fault with the church, etc., and sometimes I find conversations very strained, especially when it comes to religion. I love my children but this really hurts. As much as they seem to think I should leave the church, I really don't know what good that would do me. I have a strong testimony, love my ward, have so many friends. Sometimes I wonder if my kids ever even had a testimony. You can't force your children--and mine are in their late 20s/early 30s--to do what you want them to do. I'm hoping one day their hearts will be softened and even if they don't come back to the church, they won't hold it against me for staying with it.
I think this is a great article with good advice. Of course the details are different for each case and we have to pray for guidance from the Spirit. Here is our experience in case it might help someone dealing with this. We faced this dilemma when our middle child, at 14, decided he didn't believe in the church and didn't want to go. We were unprepared for this and initially let him stay home. It didn't take long for several of his younger siblings to realize how much more fun it looked to stay home and they didn't want to go either. We then decided that going to church was part of our family standards and all our kids had to go until they left home at 18. They didn't have to believe, but we felt this helped preserve a good environment for our other children to choose to believe, as well as kept the child that didn't want to go involved with good church people. The down side is that he started to resent the church because he was forced to attend when he didn't believe, so we amended our rule by saying that we expected 3 hrs of service a week, and they could fulfill this by going to our church, another church or community service. Often he ended up just going to church with us because it was easier, but it gave him an out and was his choice in a way. These are really tough and painful situations where we do the best we can as parents. There is a fine balance, and ultimately, I don't know that this affected the outcome, but it might help someone dealing with this situation. Again, pray for guidance from the Spirit, He'll tell what you need for your individual circumstances.
Angela, I don't know the circumstances of your home life during you daughter's raising, and I don't want to judge. I don't know if the fire of the covenant was present in your home, if family prayer, Home Evening, or family scripture study were not cherished. But one family's experience does not negate the great value of the ideas in this article and the gospel.
What gives me concern is that in our era, lukewarm Latter-day Saints are failing in the faith, and then they turn and blame the Church, its gospel, or its prophets and leaders. I see this pattern as epidemic now. It's as if the five foolish virgins want their due. People fail to embrace covenants, to be on-fire committed, and then they shake their fists at God when life throws them to the ground. They then get into blaming, or trying to fault the latter-day gospel as being too simplistic.
I wish you well,
I have to say that I think this is a rather simplistic approach. Teenagers aren't always this rational and their reasons for not going to church can be very complex. My daughter, aged 13, announced one Sunday morning that she didn't want to go to church ever again and had no intention of even getting out of bed. At 18 her membership was withdrawn and now at the age of 38 she still doesn't want to go to church. Her reasons were twofold. First, she was being bullied by the other Beehives, a problem which the YW Presidency refused to confront. Secondly, her desires had turned towards the world and she was rejecting the standards and values that she had been brought up with. Having a rule that "everyone goes to church" just doesn't cut it in these circumstances. I have been promised many times in blessings that she will return one day but I am resigned to the probability that I may not still be living on the earth to see it with my mortal eyes.
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