My heart is breaking. My son started college this past September, and when he returned home over the semester break he informed me that he would not be attending Christmas mass with me - or any mass, for that matter. "Jeff" told me that he realized that religion is nothing more than "pablum for the weak minded masses" and that he wanted no part of it.
I have tried talking to him about his sudden change in behavior, but the more I try the further he runs. With the whole hulabuloo in your home state over a prayer banner in the local high school, I am sure you have had it with issues of religion; but please, is there any advice you can offer me on how to break-through to my son?
Your son's words are quite hurtful, for many reasons, but especially since you appear to be a devout Christian. Please know that you have my sympathies.
Many times, when a child leaves home for the first time it is a time of personal discovery. Whether your son is an atheist or is simply exploring different philosophies is something that only time will tell. In the Book of Matthew (13:1-23) the parable of the Sower and the Seeds tells the story of the various places seeds fell - "some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them..."
In times of adversity, some turn away from their upbringing while others cling to it; the same can be said in times of prosperity. I gather from your son's comment that religion is "pablum for the weak minded masses" that there is more going on in his life than he is willing to share. Perhaps he is the seed that is being choked by the weeds; or the seedling that cannot burrow into the rocky ground. Rather than chase your son back into a life in the church - as you have seen, that will not work - try to approach him on his own terms: Ask him why he feels as he does, what has happened to affect this sudden change in his beliefs, and why he feels he must use such hurtful language. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs; but nobody is entitled to be disrespectful to another - especially to their Mama!
If you can engage your son in an honest and caring conversation - one in which he does not feel attacked - perhaps he will be more willing to discuss his feelings on this sensitive matter. I cannot guarantee that he will return to the church - that is a decision that he alone can make - but at least you will know why he has walked away from it.
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