When you think of teens today, “religious” might not be the first word that comes to mind. A common perception might be that teens are too shallow to embrace something as complex and introspective as spirituality. But why is this? The teen years are a time for self discovery on a deeper level. Shouldn’t religion be a part of the discussion?
We have known for years that parents are key influences on teens religious lives. Despite the tendency of parents to say they are helpless in this area, three out of four religious teens consider their own beliefs somewhat or very similar to those of their parents (they are more similar to their mothers’ beliefs than to their fathers’). In choosing friends, teens tend to surround themselves with people who reinforce the shaping influence (religious or nonreligious) of their parents. Here are two important messages: First, peers may be important to teens, but parents are still primary when it comes to religion. Second, “teenagers are not a people apart, an alien race about whom adults can only shake their heads and look forward to their growing up.”
Religious traditions understand themselves as presenting a truth revealed by a holy and almighty God who calls human beings from a self-centered focus to a life of serving God and neighbor. Adherents are understood to be reared or inducted into a historically rooted matrix of identity, practices and ethics that define selfhood, loyalties and commitments. Main central points regarding religion:-
1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
Teens made few references to traditional religious concepts such as justice, grace or resurrection. “When teenagers talked in their interviews about grace, they were usually talking about the television show Will and Grace, not about God’s grace.” This shows that teenagers are not that much into religion, it is there age of exploration.
The connections between religion and family life are receiving renewed attention from scholars. Recent work has examined the role religious practices and beliefs play in parenting behavior, marriage, intergenerational ties, and demographic behavior. Scholars are finally turning their attention to the role of religion in the lives of adolescents and young adults. Religious practices and beliefs also have been shown to powerfully shape adolescent sexual values and practices. Finally, some recent work has begun to address the role of religion in the post-teenage years, when youth are laying the foundations for their subsequent adult lives by making decisions about romantic relationships, cohabitation, and marriage.
Although religious practices differ by culture, political boundary, local community, and individual, some form of religion is influential, even central, in the lives of many people across the globe. Religion is an important context for development because it provides a means of socialization in areas such as moral behavior and offers emotional support to individuals from the cradle to the grave. Given cognitive advances during adolescence including increased abilities to think abstractly and understand symbolism, it is important to study the impact of religion during this stage.
Part of being a teen is exploring different aspects of identity for the first time. Religion is one aspect of that, and while it might not be as important to teens now as it was a few decades ago, it definitely still plays a role. Though teens hold many different beliefs on the subject of religion, many agreed that simply experiencing the world around them and respecting others are the most important values.