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What would make a teen lose her faith?

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I think (if I'm reading Ryan's response correctly) that he was simply offering up one possible reason why a teen might lose his/her faith.

That must be what he meant, but it sounds like the author of the book says it was the tendency, which implies that it is the usual or most common basis.

>>"But essentially what he sees is that the relationship a child/teen has with his parents will be primary in if they cling to their faith or reject it."<<

This doesn't ring true as a rule, but as one possibility. There are so many different experiences! This idea seems a little too narrow. But I think in a novel for young people, having the disconnect with the mc's parents and their beliefs as Ryan describes would make a credible and interesting situation to build an atmosphere of questioning and disillusionment. The mc could start seeking answers to new questions and eventually lose her faith as a result of her journey.
#61 - July 13, 2010, 03:07 PM
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 08:51 PM by Lenzi »

mswatkins

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I friend of mine lost her faith when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had/has a real problem with God and has yet to return to Church. She was not a teen, but she was in her early 20's.
#62 - July 13, 2010, 05:27 PM

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I believe a Jewish teen could stop being religious if her family was acting religious to the outside world (ex. doing all the right actions, wearing the right clothes..), but not acting so religious in the home.
#63 - July 13, 2010, 06:04 PM

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This doesn't ring true as a rule, but as one possibility. There are so many different experiences!

Yes, I agree -- it wouldn't be the rule, but definitely one possibility :)
#64 - July 13, 2010, 08:44 PM
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I once heard a minister say that, in his experience, most people lost their faith when they felt their prayers weren't answered.
#65 - July 14, 2010, 12:31 AM
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RyanBruner

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Yes, I was talking about one possible reason, and a common one at that.  However, I should mention that the parental reason isn't usually a conscious awareness.  People tend not to realize how tightly coupled their view of their faith is to their parents, and specifically their father.  They may never even be aware there is any connection whatsoever, but it is still a fundamental driving force.  This isn't actually my opinion.  Tons of research on the subject shows this.  I'm afraid my post above made it sound like this was something that the person questioning or turning away from their faith is done in a conscious, explicit decision.  I didn't mean that at all (although it CAN happen that way as well).

For the sake of a story, however, it would be difficult to show that reasoning.  It is a subtle, almost imperceptible nuance.
#66 - July 14, 2010, 06:49 AM

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As I think about this, perhaps it would make more sense with an example to illustrate what I mean...

Our perception of who God is tends to mirror to some degree our relationship with our own father.  So, for example, if a girl has a father who is constantly finding fault with her, pointing out her failures, and then punishing them harshly without much room for mercy, such a child is more likely to be of the mindset that God is a harsh, judging God who punishes all wrong-doing. As this child matures, they might unconsciously believe in and then reject such a God.  Why would they want to follow such a God, after all?  Living in fear of failure all the time, etc.

If, however, a child is raised with a father who is loving a gracious, but never disciplines in any fashion, this child might grow to see God as an all loving God who ultimately has no real role in our lives.  Such a "distant" God might not sit well, and again, they might turn away.

These are only two examples.  Of course, there are a myriad of other unique situations that may paint a picture of God within a child that the child may or may not wish to believe in later. There is also the framework of the faith taught to them to begin with, which introduces complexities in this faith/father connection.
#67 - July 14, 2010, 06:57 AM

I think it's a more interesting question to ask how she got her faith to begin with, before she lost it.  For most kids, they never really got it at all, but were told by their parents that they had it, and so losing one's faith simply means to start thinking and feeling for yourself ... after which they may think and feel their way back to faith, or not.  I'd also point out that "losing one's faith" is sort of a loaded term, implying (sort of) that something terrible happened to her, although coming to the conclusion that God does not exist can be just as satisfying as coming to the opposite conclusion.  If you lose sight of this fact, you run the risk that your book will be preachy and moralistic, rather than simply a true document of one person's journey.
#68 - July 14, 2010, 08:22 AM

I think it's a more interesting question to ask how she got her faith to begin with, before she lost it.  For most kids, they never really got it at all, but were told by their parents that they had it, and so losing one's faith simply means to start thinking and feeling for yourself ... after which they may think and feel their way back to faith, or not.  I'd also point out that "losing one's faith" is sort of a loaded term, implying (sort of) that something terrible happened to her, although coming to the conclusion that God does not exist can be just as satisfying as coming to the opposite conclusion.  If you lose sight of this fact, you run the risk that your book will be preachy and moralistic, rather than simply a true document of one person's journey.

That's a good point.

Our perception of who God is tends to mirror to some degree our relationship with our own father.  ... there are a myriad of other unique situations that may paint a picture of God within a child that the child may or may not wish to believe in later.

This makes sense that a kid's idea of a fatherly authority figure like God would be influenced by their human father. I can see that in my life--my dad was loving, slow to anger, disciplined us in love, etc. and my idea of god was very positive too. I tended to dwell on his loving side as portrayed in the Bible and didn't really contemplate the wrathful, violent god of the Bible as I might have if that was what I was familiar with. I think you're right that kids with that sort of idea of god might want to reject it, but for some kids it is not that the god is a negative thing so much as the fact that they are just unable to believe in the construct anymore.
#69 - July 14, 2010, 02:25 PM

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I think it's a more interesting question to ask how she got her faith to begin with, before she lost it.  For most kids, they never really got it at all, but were told by their parents that they had it, and so losing one's faith simply means to start thinking and feeling for yourself ... after which they may think and feel their way back to faith, or not.  I'd also point out that "losing one's faith" is sort of a loaded term, implying (sort of) that something terrible happened to her, although coming to the conclusion that God does not exist can be just as satisfying as coming to the opposite conclusion.  If you lose sight of this fact, you run the risk that your book will be preachy and moralistic, rather than simply a true document of one person's journey.

I agree with this very much. I also think that to truly have faith in something this may be a necessary part of the journey. Believing in something simply because you were always raised to believe it doesn't truly embody belief or choice of faith in my opinion. There's the chance it could be perceived as something closer to brainwashing.
#70 - July 14, 2010, 02:36 PM

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Believing in something simply because you were always raised to believe it doesn't truly embody belief or choice of faith in my opinion.

This is very well put. This is also why I tend to shy away from books about "losing one's faith" because in 99% of them, it's not really about faith but of a tradition and way of live handed down by the family. Real faith always includes a personal choice, whatever the religion.

Someone was wondering above about the lack of books where a teen finds solace in faith or where faith is perceived positively. I wonder about this, too. Granted, preachy books aren't cool, but if we have books about teens losing their faith, then we should also have books about teens finding love and peace through faith. Right now those books tend to be published by religious publishers, which sadly means that a lot of people won't pick them up.
#71 - July 24, 2010, 07:59 AM

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I lost my faith totally when I was just barely past my teens when my father-in-law (I was 18 when I got married) and my little brother and grandmother all died within an 8 month period of time and then my mother got sick six months after their deaths and she also died six months later. It took me seven long years to come back to a place where I had faith again.
#72 - July 25, 2010, 11:56 PM
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This is such an interesting discussion. 

For what it's worth, my mother lost her faith when her older sister, a very strong, dedicated Christian, died in childbirth.
#73 - July 26, 2010, 02:18 AM

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I think there's a difference between personal belief and cultural belief. For a while, (IMO), all kids rely on what adults teach them. But I think everyone gets to a point where they take responsibility for their own beliefs, whatever they may be. Sometimes it may look like a teen has lost their faith when in reality they've rejected the beliefs they've been culturally a part of, but which they haven't yet gained a personal conviction of themselves. Maybe it's because they just haven't found the answers that satisfy them personally. Maybe it's because they don't have faith of their very own yet, but they are turned off by the hypocrisy they see in another person. Maybe they just start thinking for themselves and decide that what they've always done isn't for them anymore. To someone outside their head who has no idea what their inner faith level is, it looks like they've "lost their faith." But maybe they didn't have much faith of their own to lose. Teens are in that stage of life where they're learning to think for themselves, so some teens' "loss of faith" is all this process. Not so much a loss as a change. But of course, to the people inside the faith they are leaving, it looks like a loss.

I think that for people who do have faith of their own--and I do think some teens have reached the point of adopting their own personal beliefs by now, but surely not all of them because maturity levels vary--Betsy and Verla nailed it. When you do have faith, but the answers don't turn out the way you hoped/believed they should. When you feel like God has forsaken you. When you need answers and don't feel like anyone is listening. Essentially, a hard test of that faith. Sometimes people find a way back to their belief, like Verla said, and sometimes they don't.

With real people, it's probably impossible to judge and know what's really going on inside their heads. But of course, with a character you're making up, you can infiltrate ALL their thoughts, and do whatever you want! Fiction is so freeing...:)
#74 - July 26, 2010, 08:34 AM

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