What do I do with our 15 year old boy, who up until 8 weeks ago had a strong testimony? He has always been spiritual. He is a hormonal nightmare now who is fighting for autonomy in his life. He resents us and doesn’t like us right now at all. He says he’s been brainwashed and that the church is crap. This is not about the church, this is about us but he is throwing the Church under the bus. He doesn’t argue about coming to Church but we are not making him going to Youth. Are we doing the right thing? What can we do to get thru this?
We all ride on the testimonies of others until we reach a point where we must stand on our own feet. Some make the transition smoothly, others with a few bumps, and still others after very rigorous trials of their faith. The teenage years are a natural time for children to start stepping away from the views and beliefs of their parents as they try to chart their own course. The best thing you can do to support him as he walks down this path is to make it clear that as long as he abides by your rules and expectations, he is free to believe as he wishes. Allow him the freedom to study and discover, and make sure to supply him with unbiased materials from which to study.
Many who have studied our faith with the very specific desire to disprove it and tear it down claim that our leaders are liars who have brainwashed the congregations, and it is possible your son has been exposed to some of this material- either in writing, on the internet, or from well-meaning non-member friends trying to help him. Try to limit his exposure to such materials as much as possible, as it can be very degrading to the faith of even the most stalwart members. I would, however, refrain from forbidding he read it if he chooses or referring to it as “anti-Mormon” as such will reinforce the idea that he is being brainwashed. Just make sure he is aware of the bias behind such writings and that it would be better for him to seek out more reliable sources for information regarding his faith related questions.
We he has decided what he will believe for himself, his faith will be much stronger than it was before and he will possess a greater sense of dedication to whatever path he has chosen. Teach him correct principles, exercise love and patience, and no matter how long it takes, we have been promised that our “wayward” children will eventually return. Whether this remains a momentary sprouting of youthful self-discovery or becomes an arduous journey through treacherous terrain, if you as parents hold true to the faith and continue to pray for your son, he will find the truth for himself.