Books and Culture has an interview of Christian Smith conducted by Michael Cromartie in which Smith assesses the spiritual state of American youth with wonderfully impressive precision. The interview should be an absolute must read for every parent, teacher, and religious leader in America. It's an extensive piece and is filled with wisdom and insight. Indeed, Smith says things that many parents and teachers have intuitively believed to be true but seldom saw endorsed by any cultural authority and rarely so cogently. Smith is such an authority. Here's the introduction B&C gives him:
In the course of the interview Smith points out, among other things, the following:
There's much more at the link. One of the messages that comes through in this piece is that parents should not be reluctant to talk to their children about the fundamentals of their religious faith, and they should be very willing to put up with whatever resistance some kids might offer to attending religious services. The benefits to the child in the long run are, of course, immeasurable.
On the other hand, parents also should ensure that the services they take their kids to offer more than just babysitting and social interaction. Teenagers both want and need to talk about their deepest convictions. They want and need to learn what it is their religion is all about, what it's based upon, and how it answers the most profound questions of life. Even if they reject it down the road, as Smith says, they need to know that they're rejecting something substantial and consequential. If they do the chances that they'll eventually come back to it are far better than if they perceive shedding their faith to be on a par with discarding a threadbare, ill-fitting, unfashionable coat.