It may come as a shock to you to learn that in today’s day and age, teenagers are shown to be less religious than their parents. It could, however, be exactly what people expect.
A recent study conducted and released September 10 by the Pew Research Center proposes that American teens are less likely than their parents or guardians to admit that their religion is important.
The study revealed that almost half of the teens surveyed share their belief system with their parents and many have attended service for that belief system with one or both parents. However, only 24 percent of teens deemed their religion as something “very important,” with 43 percent of parents.
Most teens in the United States identify with some form of religion; 60 percent as Christian, and 24 percent as Catholic. In fact, teens from a Latino background were surveyed as more likely to consider themselves Catholic, at 47 percent, than white Americans at 17 percent.
James Holzhauer-Chuckas, senior director of the United Catholic Youth Ministries in Illinois, suggests that the church’s strong stance against the LGBT community could discourage many teens in today’s day and age, and said that he himself has experienced that issue in his family.
“I think parents fear that if [negative messages about the church are] the only thing they’re seeing, and if they’re not already participating in the parish or in a youth ministry, it’s easy for them to walk away,” he said.
Parents struggle with how to respond to their teens at a time like this. Catherine Lucy, Catholic parent of three teens in Missouri, said that she does her best to teach her kids the stance of the Catholic Church, and also educates about views that are in opposition as well.
“I don’t want them to think they’re being brainwashed and that I’m only going to teach them one thing. I want them to know both sides of an issue,” she said. “When you’re a teenager, you’re questioning everything, and I think they occasionally get annoyed with, ‘Why do I have to do this every week?’”
The study also assessed how parents and teenagers rated the importance of religion in the other’s life. While 70 percent of them were able to rate accurately, many parents thought that religion was more important to their teenager than it was in reality.
Holzhauer-Chuckas encourages families to be open with one another about their faith and religious beliefs, as a means of better understanding one another, as much good can come from it.