At what point (if ever) does lack of prudence become sin?

I was inspired to ask this question, by a recent CAF topic as to whether it is a sin to let a 3 year old play on a trampoline if there is a warning that it is only for “age 6 and up” and the consensus was no, it is an issue of prudence, not sin.

I was also inspired by the recent US news story about an 8 year old boy “borrowing” the family car and driving to McDonalds, and arriving there safely because he learned how to drive from watching YouTube videos. The parents were sleeping at the time and were not charged with any crime.

However, what if the parents had allowed the 8 year old to do this? I certainly know of people in rural areas whose parents let them start driving at very young ages, as young as age 11-12, though I think most such excursions were supervised.

Also, while manufacturer warnings are often motivated more by “risk management” than anything else, some warnings on children’s toys are indeed valid. For example, many toys that are labeled as meant for “age 3 and up” are labeled that way, because they have small parts that present a choking hazard if the child were to put them in the mouth as many who are under age 3 do.

So, what if a parent ignored that warning and let a curious 2 year old play with a toy labeled “age 3 and up” and the child did choke on a part? Would the parent be sinning in that case?

I can think of many other bits of “child safety tips” that parents admit to, or even brag about, ignoring, such as having a child wear a helmet while riding a bike, or not letting a child ride on a parent’s lap in a car, because “I did all that and worse when I was a kid, and I was just fine, so obviously all this sissified advice, is just about those crazy nanny-state liberals wanting to usurp my parental rights”. There was literally a whole topic about this in CAF Parenting once.

So, can extreme imprudence by a parent, ever be a sin? Or is it only a sin if there are actual laws being broken, as the Church teaches we have a duty to follow the law UNLESS it is clearly unjust - and while some libertarians may disagree, I don’t think that a law to, say, put infants in car carriers, is cleariy unjust.

When imprudence becomes deliberate ignorance, then becomes deliberate negligence, and leads to injuries - probably.

Manufacturers understand their products better than the users I would think.
I believe human model 001 came with manufacturer instructions not to eat apples.
That didn’t turn out well when disobeyed. But eventually forgivable but as through fire.

See, not all of those things are lack of prudence. Say I live on a farm and let a 12 year old drive my car at 5 kmph in a field with me sitting beside them. That’s not a lack of prudence. It’s a decision that the general rules can be dispensed in your particular circumstances because they don’t apply. Also genuine ignorance would alter the sinfulness of lack of prudence.

Some 2.5 year olds are less likely to eat a small toy than some 3 year olds. If you come to an intelligent decision about your child’s ability to not kill or injure themselves, it isn’t lack of prudence. If you decide to throw caution to the wind knowing there is a risk, that is imprudent and the level of sinfulness is proportional to the consequences I suppose.

IMHO :slight_smile:

Prudence is the knowledge of how to avoid evil and to pursue the supreme good. When the conscience in any subtle way inspires you to know what are the good books to read or to commence to read after knowing - and you decide to pursue vanity - that would be the departure into sin.

Or else, when you wake in the morning - what is your first thought? If it is not to the praise of God imprudence is to blame for not training yourself to start your morning correctly. The battle of prudence starts when you wake.

“I rose at midnight to give praise to thee; for the judgments of thy justification.” (Ps 118:62 vulg.)

“Yet if thou wilt arise early to God, and wilt beseech the Almighty: If thou wilt walk clean and upright, he will presently awake onto thee, and will make the dwelling of thy justice peaceable.” (Job 8:5f.)

“God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early.” (Ps 45:6 vulg.)

“Arise, O my glory, arise psaltery and harp: I will arise early.” (Ps 56:9 vulg.)

“I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me.” (Prov 8:17)

“Well doth he rise early who seeketh good things; but he that seeketh after evil things shall be oppressed by them.” (Prov 11:27) and Wis 6:15, Sir 6:36 vulg., Sir 32:18 vulg., Sir 39:6 vulg. in the Catholic Canon.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.