Should teens be forced to attend religious education classes?

Filed under: Teens, Alcohol & Drugs

For the most part I am a fairly reasonable parent. I am willing to listen to an argument, weigh it over and, on numerous occasions, agree with my children's opinions rather than my own. However, there is one area in which I have dug in my heels and am holding my ground: religious education classes. I require both of my older children to attend these classes. My middle child, Cassidy, goes willingly enough, but the oldest, Loren, has issues with the classes. He is 14 and believes it is his right to chose whether or not he will attend religious ed classes. This is where we butt heads on the subject.

I completely understand my son's aversion to these classes. When I was ten years-old I calmly explained to my mother why I didn't like them and why I would not attend them. She accepted this and instead required I attend Mass every single Sunday until I moved out of the house. During my teen years I loathed Sunday mornings and the hour I would have to sit pinned to a chair as I listened to the priest. Once I went away to college I realized I was missing something and began attending Mass on my own. While I am in no way a devout Catholic, I do find a peace and reassurance in attending church. My mother's insistence helped me to find that part of myself.

Now that I have my own children I am following somewhat in my family's tradition. My son Loren is currently in the classes leading up to his Confirmation. I know he would rather be doing just about anything other than this, he has not been subtle in his fury at having to go through this process. I have tried to explain to him that I am not being an ogre but am simply trying to instill some tradition, follow through and perhaps even some faith in him. If in the next two years he finishes up his classes and then decides to never again set foot in a church of any kind, that will be his choice. For right now I want him to finish this journey he started when he was five and attending a Catholic school kindergarten.

Loren's religious education teachers tell me I am not alone in this struggle, they say not a single teen ager wants to be in those classes on Tuesday evenings. Although I have not spoken with the other parents I often wonder about their justifications in forcing their teens to attend religious ed classes. Is there screaming, tears, silence? Are there bribes or promises made to make these kids finish up and become Confirmed? I am at a bit of a loss over the whole situation. I want my son to finish the process. I want him to understand a comitment and feel the success of completion. But am I hurting him in the process? What do other parents do?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.