Renowned exorcist Fr. José Antonio Forte talks about adolescence and the role of the devil, hormones, and society – and warns parents not to be too heavy-handed.
Do you want a word that produces fear, anxiety, and uncertainty – or at the very least, caution? Adolescence.
Adolescence is a period we all look at with caution. In my case – or rather, in my house with 12 children – it’s a time that will accompany me for more than half my life.
I can say that I’ve survived the adolescence of my first four, that I am in the middle of the storm of the following five, and that I have three left for dessert. So my passion for this topic, born of personal interest, makes me want to know the opinion of experts who can explain everything I can learn about this time that is so … “exciting.”
Last week I had the great opportunity to talk about adolescence with Fr. José Antonio Fortea, well known for his work in the ministry of exorcism.
Father Fortea, as a mother of teenagers, I’m glad to be able to ask an exorcist: What happened? What percentage of guilt does the devil have in the disappearance of our children’s innocence, their trust in their parents, and the natural happiness of their lives, all in one fell swoop?
Fr. Fortea: Actually, I have to say that there are several factors that affect adolescents. They are intoxicated by essentially three elements.
One, hormones. It’s very striking to see how elephants, when they reach that moment of hormonal revolution, go absolutely crazy. In the herd, they just let them do their thing until it passes. And in the case of human beings, these hormones upset us in exactly the same way.
Two, the devil. He does add fuel to the fire. He does tempt, but he’s very much bound by God. Neither we nor the teenagers are going to be tempted beyond our strength.
And three, society. This element is important – much more than demonic interaction. Societal influence is a tremendous thing, it’s a real school of evil. So, if we add up hormones, the devil, and society, we have the result we’re all familiar with.
Don’t be heavy-handed
What do you recommend to parents at this stage?
Fr. Fortea: I think it’s essential not to be heavy-handed. Talking over and over again about the same things to a person whose mind is closed doesn’t do any good. Don’t be so insistent they can’t stand to listen to you anymore. And know that many of the things you say to them can blossom in time, and when I speak of time, it can be in their 30s.
If you advise us not to be annoying, what can we do when we see that they are on a slippery slope inclined towards hell itself?
Fr. Fortea: In adolescence, bad decisions can lead to a bad situation. And, unfortunately, sometimes their relationship with God dies. But praying parents are sending graces that help them avoid hell.
Why turtles have shells …
Speaking with Father Fortea, it’s striking that a man who has worked so long in close contact with extraordinary things has such clear ideas about ordinary life. He urges us to take advantage of the stage when they are young to educate them, encouraging them to help around the house. “That age is when parents can do most,” he assures.
Do you think it is good to look for a “bubble” environment for our children?
Fr. Fortea: It’s a very good thing. It’s a fantastic protective measure. I recommend looking for groups of friends with the same concerns, of families who have the same worries. In parish activities, in Opus Dei clubs, etc. Don’t be afraid of a bubble: turtles do not grow shells for nothing.
What should be the role of a mother in the family? What is my role?
Fr. Fortea: To take care of your children, to welcome them, to excuse them. Imitate the role of Our Lady in the Church.
Fr. Fortea, thank you very much for responding to this mother who is in the middle of dealing with adolescence. I ask you please to pray a great deal for all families who are going through this tsunami.