Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

"I have a 15-year-old daughter who is a very kind and loving girl. She accepted Christ as a young girl, but now she's starting to express doubts about God's existence. I know her doubts are a normal part of growing up, but I'd like to be able to offer her some solid answers. Can you help me?"

A. Doubt is a normal part of Christian life, especially for teens. They are at a point when they decide whether to embrace the faith they've grown up with or not. It's not only a normal stage but an essential one as well. A child who wrestles with questions of faith now will likely develop a deeply rooted belief that will last for a lifetime. Children who simply accept what they've been told without ever thinking it through tend to grow up with a faith that cannot stand up to the difficulties of adult life.

As your daughter works through her doubts, be sure to let her know that you are there to help her find answers to her toughest questions through prayer, study, and wise counsel. I also recommend the following guidelines:

Ask open-ended questions. Find out what it is about Christianity that concerns her. Listen to her and ask follow-up questions.

Offer to assist with research. When your daughter has a question you can't answer, tell her that you can both do some further exploration and come back in a week or two to review what you've each discovered. Encourage her to talk with your pastor, youth pastor, or other Christian adults you both respect. Show her how to do research at the library. Go online and use a search engine to find more information (you should do this together so that you can help her weed out questionable information).

Review the past. Ask her what she thinks about her early childhood faith now. Use "I" statements to tell her about specific memories you have of her experiencing God's presence as a child. You might say, "I remember how you loved to pray for your friends." Don't be put off by what she says about her past. I had a teen in my Sunday-school class who referred to a vision she had as a child (confirmed by both her siblings and parents) as "a dumb dream." She came back to the faith in college.

Be patient. Your daughter may be at this stage for a long time. She may even reach a point where she says she doesn't believe in God anymore. As heartbreaking as that would be for you, stay connected to your daughter by continuing to model God's unconditional love for her.

Pray, pray, pray. One of our strongest callings as parents is to be prayer warriors for our children rather than worry warriors. As a queen of worry, I encourage you to take the higher road God calls us to.