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  #1  
Old Mar 1, '11, 5:37 am
pigpen pigpen is offline
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Default When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

A relative of mine, a strong, faith-filled Catholic woman, is near death. I was updating a cousin, on her condition, the way she is meeting the end with great faith, and so on. The cousin commented on the judgment she will face when she dies for the fact none of her children have embraced the Catholic faith, save for one. I protested that she has tried and tried with her children, and she is not responsible for the free will decisions of her adult children to break from the faith. She raised them Catholic, their faith was central to their upbringing, the family prayed the rosary, she has stood for all matters related to the Church, the sanctity of life, and so on. She has also been a strong Catholic influence on her grandchildren, even though their parents (her children) rejected the Church. I stated to the cousin my belief that our obligation as parents is to try our best to raise them to be the strong Catholic men and women God wants them to me, but we have no control over their free will decisions to walk away as adults.

I found his words upsetting, but was able to sidestep a confrontation with him. I expect the discussion will come up again, and Iíd like to be equipped with more than my ďopinionĒ. What does the Church teach on this? Thank you. As always, I appreciate the wise counsel of the members here at CA.
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  #2  
Old Mar 1, '11, 6:10 am
uxordepp uxordepp is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

I will pray for your family.

I think you are correct. If parents did their level best to raise the children in the Faith, I do not think there will be culpability for children who, as adults, choose to leave the Faith.

I think your other cousin must be careful that he is not making judgement.
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  #3  
Old Mar 1, '11, 6:13 am
Marie682 Marie682 is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

This is from the Catechism:

Quote:
2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.35 The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.

2227 Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.37

2228 Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.

2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.

2230 When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them - quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.
I know this doesn't answer the question directly, but it would seem to me that there is support here for the idea that when they become adults, it's up to them to take responsibility for their own choices. It sounds like your relative did what she was supposed to as a parent. I think your cousin is completely out of line.
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  #4  
Old Mar 1, '11, 7:22 am
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

May God have mercy on our souls if we're responsible for every bad decision our children ever make.

First, God alone is the just and merciful judge. It is not our place to determine other people's individual culpability for the sins of their life (whether real or perceived). We would do well to assume that a person has confessed their failings in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and had them wiped away. For us to assume otherwise would be the sin of rash judgement which we will be culpable for on Judgment Day.

Certainly, there are scenarios where a parent is culpable for such a thing. Perhaps they frequently criticized their priest or taught their children things contrary to the faith. Such people could be held culpable for making it much more difficult for their children to embrace the faith as adults.

However, we cannot say this of every person whose children leave the faith as adults. For people like your relative who did the best they could to raise their children in an authentically Catholic home, I do not see how they could possibly be responsible for the free will decisions of their adult children.

Besides, God isn't done with her children yet. The memory of what their mother taught them as children may eventually bring them back to the Church before they come to the end of their earthly life. You just don't know.

Really, it's quite inappropriate to be speculating on someone's culpability as they near death. Unless that person is the individual herself or her Confessor, they really have no clue what they are talking about. I would point that out to your cousin (in the nicest way possible, of course ).
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  #5  
Old Mar 1, '11, 3:59 pm
m crane m crane is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

If God Himself can't make a person become a Good Catholic(free will and all that), why would anyone think a parent has that kind of power?

I'm sure she did her best. God bless her.
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  #6  
Old Mar 1, '11, 4:23 pm
pigpen pigpen is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

I knew I'd find the answers I need here, thank you all so much for your wise words, prayers and support. You have equipped me to speak diplomatically with this cousin, and not lose my temper. Thank you all.
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  #7  
Old Mar 1, '11, 4:26 pm
OrdinaryMelkite OrdinaryMelkite is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

I Agree She Is Basically Not Culpable.

However, I DO Think a Lot Of Christian parents send their Kids Off to Secular Universities without a thorough Grounding in Defending Their Faith, plus Arguing FOR and Actually LIVING that Faith.

Without that, a lot of these Kids are helpless against the Onslaught of Secularism and Moral Ambiguity that Assails Them almost as soon as They Step foot On the Campus--------thereby Causing a Lot of them To Loose their Faith and Embrace Secularism/Relativism.

NOT saying that is what Happened Here----We do not Know----but one can't deny It is ONE of the Big reasons Good Catholic/Christian kids are Losing their Faith.

Many Protestant Denominations/Apologetics have got us Somewhat beat on the Issue of Training Young People On Defending their Faith/Arguing Against The Wordly Secular Assault on their Values. We need to Promote EC and CC Apologetics Programs Strongly on OUR side So we do not Lose Any More People to the Forces of the World/Satan/Relativism.
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  #8  
Old Mar 1, '11, 4:55 pm
StrawberryJam StrawberryJam is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Well, I don't know what her style of evangelism was. Some can burn people off seeking the faith simply by presenting it poorly. I am not saying that was the case here- I am merely offering this to remind people that some are just better at it than others are.
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  #9  
Old Mar 1, '11, 5:14 pm
OrdinaryMelkite OrdinaryMelkite is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StrawberryJam View Post
Well, I don't know what her style of evangelism was. Some can burn people off seeking the faith simply by presenting it poorly. I am not saying that was the case here- I am merely offering this to remind people that some are just better at it than others are.
True. We Need to teach Good Apologetics for the People Presenting Them and the People Receiving Them.
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  #10  
Old Mar 1, '11, 5:20 pm
StrawberryJam StrawberryJam is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

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Originally Posted by OrdinaryMelkite View Post
True. We Need to teach Good Apologetics for the People Presenting Them and the People Receiving Them.
Keep trying.
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  #11  
Old Mar 2, '11, 6:27 am
AWguitar007 AWguitar007 is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

The cousin you mentioned is a poster child for religious arrogance that seems to emanate from so many "righteous" people.
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  #12  
Old Mar 2, '11, 7:12 am
styrgwillidar styrgwillidar is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Great line about parenting, from of all places, a fantasy novel.

"You will never know if your kids succeed or fail because of you, or despite you. You can only do your best."

There are so many influences on our children, if we try our best we can't take the blame, and also not the credit for what our kids do good or bad. It may be the influences of friends, the media, mentors which drive their actions good or bad. As adults, they make their own decisions and are responsible for them.

IMHO- Christ warned about leading others into sin deliberately. He did not say we were responsible for others conduct chosen by their own free will, especially if we've tried to show them the proper action to take. We are to take our brothers/sisters who are in error and try to get them to listen to the Church. Jesus said to treat those who refuse to listen even to the Church as tax collectors or gentiles. He didn't say if they refuse to listen we'll share the responsibility for their choices.


At some point, regardless of what our parents did we become responsible for ourselves.
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Old Mar 2, '11, 8:14 am
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AWguitar007 View Post
The cousin you mentioned is a poster child for religious arrogance that seems to emanate from so many "righteous" people.
Concise, blunt, and dead on! Even Christ's presence could not persuade some people to follow Him.

I would go a step further and say the bumper sticker I've seen reflects the perception of the cousin. "The religious right is neither." With "friends" like this, who needs enemies? Parenting is hard enough without expectations that all our kids must be nominated for sainthood else we are condemned to Hell. Maybe you should give your cousin a book on free will? Anyone have a suggestion? Sounds like a great Christmas present!
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  #14  
Old Mar 2, '11, 8:25 am
Inthemountains Inthemountains is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Is it possible that the answer is somewhere in the middle? As parents, certainly we do have influence on our children, otherwise what is the point? I also wonder what impact "secret" sin has on our children. My parents have a wonderful, long lived marriage. To this day they are still very affectionate and based on things my mom has said I know they still have an active sex life. However, they do not accept the Church's teaching on sexuality. They believe in monogamy, but beyond that anything in the bedroom is fair game. That is not anything I realized until I was an adult. I was sexually immoral in my teens and early twenties. I experienced an unwed pregnancy as did each of my siblings. One of my siblings had an abortion (despite my mom's anti-abortion teachings). Hmmmm. I wonder.
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  #15  
Old Mar 2, '11, 9:22 am
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RazzsMom RazzsMom is offline
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Default Re: When adult children leave the faith, parents culpable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe 5859 View Post
May God have mercy on our souls if we're responsible for every bad decision our children ever make.

First, God alone is the just and merciful judge. It is not our place to determine other people's individual culpability for the sins of their life (whether real or perceived). We would do well to assume that a person has confessed their failings in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and had them wiped away. For us to assume otherwise would be the sin of rash judgement which we will be culpable for on Judgment Day.

Certainly, there are scenarios where a parent is culpable for such a thing. Perhaps they frequently criticized their priest or taught their children things contrary to the faith. Such people could be held culpable for making it much more difficult for their children to embrace the faith as adults.

However, we cannot say this of every person whose children leave the faith as adults. For people like your relative who did the best they could to raise their children in an authentically Catholic home, I do not see how they could possibly be responsible for the free will decisions of their adult children.

Besides, God isn't done with her children yet. The memory of what their mother taught them as children may eventually bring them back to the Church before they come to the end of their earthly life. You just don't know.

Really, it's quite inappropriate to be speculating on someone's culpability as they near death. Unless that person is the individual herself or her Confessor, they really have no clue what they are talking about. I would point that out to your cousin (in the nicest way possible, of course ).
I agree with this - especially the first line!!! We raised our children in the Church, sent them to parochial schools. However, our DD has strayed nearly as far as is possible to stray from the CC. DH said it is as if she made a list of all the things she should never do, and then systematically began doing them and crossing them off the list....

Recall the Proverbs 22:6 verse: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
It says "when he is old", which tells me even if he or she strays, there is time to repent and return to the ways the parents raised him or her. It does not say the parents will be held responsible!

I will pray for your situation, OP, and everyone else who has a similar one.
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Last edited by RazzsMom; Mar 2, '11 at 9:25 am. Reason: clarity
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