Lately I have been experiencing the joy of trying to figure out how to properly raise a 13 year old boy.
Let me rephrase that, trying to take care of my 13 yo, discipline even, in an effective manner. Number one son , Has been no stranger to trouble recently. (nothing really serious) but enough for me to wish I could whisk him off to a Zen monastery for a year or two, so I don't have to be a disciplinarian.
Naturally, my frustration with him (and myself) has led me to reflect on how I was at that age, and I can't remember in great detail. What I do remember is that church was very important to me, especially my position in the Preisthood. (at thirteen I must have been a Deacon?) I was intent on not doing anything to jeopardize my duties (listening to rather aggressive music was my only vice back then) I also, deeply believed that God saw everything so, I was pretty straight.
The way I learned morality and the way I am currently doling it out to my son are both quite different, the differences are enough that I am having difficulty with it. My parents had God to back up their actions, they never abused their position, but I knew that if I did not obey that God would have the last word. In my house the kids get time outs, or stuff taken away but we are the final authority. This becomes an issue when they start to see that even we can't really enforce everything. My son figured that out when he was grounded a couple of weeks ago; yes he could walk away from me and " no I won't chase you down and force you to stay."
His punishment depended on his agreement to see it through, which depends on him caring about how we see him and him admitting that he did something which is unacceptable.
This is where I think religion looks useful. When you go to church as a kid, you get taught not just a set of beliefs and practices but you get a whole community that tries to live those beliefs and practices. Kids are not just getting morality from their parents but from a larger community. My son is not part of a group of people who are trying to clarify some set of rules.