I’m in a quandry, and I’m not sure which way to go. It also has to do with my 14 year old son, who is a good natured kid, but who has a will of steel that he wields around at times. Having an open mind is often a conumdrum when talking to a teen….
So my quandry is this – and it’s a religious one to boot – he has been going regularly to CCD since he was little. He’s entering the last two years of his youth ministry where he is eligible to receive the sacrament of confirmation. Now, let me just say that while we are not ideal Sunday worshipping Catholics, we do have Christian values and he’s been participating in CCD since he was 5. In fact, my son was an alter server at the church for a few years until he got sick of it.
So, guess what he’s sick of now? Yup, CCD and he’s put his foot down about participating in the confirmation program. He gave me some shit about attending the the first orientation, but we still went. Things hit the roof that night though, when it came down to choosing which events and trips he would participate in. The conversation went like this:
HIM: “I am NOT participating in ANY events, and I’m NOT doing this. No way. This is stupid.”
ME: “But you have to sign up for something, better to pick something now than not have a choice later.”
HIM: “You are not listening to me…I AM NOT DOING THIS. THIS IS STUUUU-PID.”
This went on for a few minutes. I caught a few parental “glares”….mind you my son has longer hair than me so he’s a bit of a spectacle to boot. His irreverence was obvious. He really dug his feet in. So much so that I lost my temper (so much for being zen and believing in outcomes I want) and stormed out of the school gym in complete ire.
And here’s the real quandry. During the meeting, one of the leaders spoke about what it means to confirms one’s faith and told a story about her daughter who at the time didn’t believe in God and asked her Mother if she had to be confirmed…and her mother said No, because it’s more important to be ready for the sacrament spiritually than to be forced into something you don’t want to do or believe in. Well, this is all my son needed to hear. This prompted the argument that I just described.
I feel torn by the whole thing. Do I really care that he receive confirmation? I never thought he wouldn’t, really. I grew up that way and to be honest, I never entertained the fact that I could say no. It wasn’t an option. But why do I care? I think for me it’s more about finishing something you start. It’s even less about the sacrament. So If I don’t care about the sacrament, then why push him to do it at all? What I like about this part of program is that it involves alot of service to others – helping at soup kitchens, home repairs for the elderly, etc. I think that it is important to learn to give back. And then I think…well you can learn that without going to confirmation program. Honestly if I force my son to continue with the program, he won’t get all that much out of it. He’ll have his ears turned off most of the time, I just know it based on the beliefs he is holding now. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and he knows everything so he’s all set…lol.
If I force him to go, it’s my will against his. It’s a tiresome battle. There is an active role for parents in this program so we’ll be with him much of the time. So I win, but what do I really win? Do I really want him to associate God with all this resistance?
If I let him step out of the program, then he wins. His will have bended my will (again). He’s been known to quit things, so we’re trying to teach him the importance of responsibility to finish what you start. At the moment he’s grounded for his behavior, but I need to get to a conclusion.
I was thinking a middle ground could be to allow him to step out of the program, but put together my own program of service. Perhaps 1x month he can decide how he wants to serve, pick a charity and do something for someone else. It will force him out of his comfort zone, and perhaps he’ll pick up some of the growth that would happen in a confirmation program less the resistance.
I don’t want to be the old fashioned person who forces their kid through confirmation with the expectation that when they are done, they can choose as they desire about religion and how they participate. We all know he’ll stop going to church altogther until his 30s. I know I did.
What would you do? Do kids have too many choices these days? My mother wouldn’t have had this quandry. Or am I making my own?