Can parents override a private vow?


If a parent gives you a command and following that command requires breaking a private vow, are you required to obey the order or keep the vow?


If you could provide more information concerning the command and the private vow it would help us provide advice.


Well, I haven’t been sleeping enough lately, and my folks think it is contributing to high blood pressure. Thus, they have ordered me to retire an hour and a half earlier than normal and try to get to sleep several hours earlier than I normally do. The vow, or vows, deal with pre-sleep prayers which I know I can not fit into the time frame I was given. Revealing them would potentially require revealing things of which I am ashamed, although some could be revealed without such a problem. Furthermore, an attempt at negotiating the command would likely increase the distress my parents have at the moment about my blood pressure (It was far higher than it should have been this morning, thus their concern). I know that their concern is unfounded, because it happened while I was praying, not because of a lack of sleep. Praying rosaries, and praying at all for that matter tends to be stressful for me because of intrusive thoughts that interrupt, but admitting that would potentially require admitting to some things which are matters kept between a priest and a confessee, and not something I wish to reveal if it can be avoided.

Did my rant provide enough info?


You need to talk to a priest about this.
Your “vow” actually sounds more like a resolve or promise rather than a true vow. Vows are usually taken under someone like a Bishop or priest. I’m uncertain about what a private vow would entail, which is why you should ask a solid priest about this.

However, from a practical look towards it, if your health is being so affected by the lack of sleep, then perhaps this isn’t the best thing for you or your soul and could be a result of scruples or the like.
You might consider reading up on the Ignatian rules for discernment of Spirits. But again, get a solid priest who can guide you spiritually in these matters.


Short answer - yes. They are responsible for your health and well-being.

If you can’t manage to say all the prayers you want to during your waking hours, you may be expecting too much of yourself. Talk with your priest about how to arrange your spiritual life.


Go to bed earlier, that way you can keep your vow, fit in all your prayers and still get a good nights rest which will ease your parents worry


This. Your parents are responsible for your health and while you live with them you have an obligation to obey their (reasonable) requests in this regard.

Talk to your priest about your prayer life; I’d be very surprised if he disagreed that you should obey your parents in this regard.


A vow taken before a religious authority is a public vow. A private vow is one taken without a witness of religious authority, but it nonetheless binding if the person who made it had sufficient time to consider it and keeping the vow is possible.

Vows, like most of Church teachings are actually quite interesting, and can be quit enjoyable to read about in the code of canon law.


If one actually made such (they are vary particular things):

Ones Pastor can dispense with a private vow.

The person themselves can even commute it to a better or equal good (the Pastor can commute it to a lesser good).


Ask your Pastor to dispense the vow if there was any – and also then talk with him about the kinds of prayer and approaches to prayer to avoid for the time being …and others that will not bring the stress (like perhaps occasional brief prayers–but discuss with him I cannot advise regarding a medical condition).


Thank you for the advice. I will be looking into it with my priest.

The stress itself does not come from prayers, they are easy, and they are something I try to do regularly. The only issue is intrusive thoughts, which can be a symptom of stress, depression, OCD, or even Iron deficiency(it can cause ocd-symptoms to occur).



As to the potential vow one would see ones Pastor not another Priest.

I will give you this as to the moral aspects of OCD From Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers fame

(We cannot give medical advice etc – and certainly do not do anything without your doctor and Parents involved)

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