Dilema regarding (adult) son and mass attendance /keeping the faith

Not sure if I’m posting in the right place…

My 18 year old (2nd) son still lives at home. I have 4 children. My eldest and my 3rd sons have sadly for years not come to church any more, and say they don’t believe in God. This is obviously very difficult for me, and I feel that I have failed as a mother.

So I attend Holy Mass on Sundays with my 2nd son and my daughter. Problem is, if I don’t take him, he doesn’t go. So if I am away, or ill, he does not go. And occasionally he has had a late night and can’t be bothered. I have told him that missing mass is a mortal sin, that he needs to go to confession, that he should not receive Communion, but he doesn’t listen. Apparently confession is only for old people.

So, despite telling him not to receive Communion, and he does, am I enabling that sin? Or do I just not take him? But then 3 of my 4 children will have left the faith. And then my daughter will question why she has to go when her 3 brothers get to stay home.

What should I do in this case? I am so torn. Thanks for any advice.


It is difficult when our children no longer want to attend mass.

You have already said your piece to your son. He is old enough to know when he should go to confession and why. Leave him be now, and just take him to mass. In fact, I would be happy that he still goes, all things considered. If you want him to stop going, keep telling him that he is sinning and should go to confession. Again, it is up to him, let him be.


Firstly, I don’t think you’ve failed; you’re still setting an example. And that’s my second point as well - focus on being the example to all of your children and don’t get too wrapped up in the words. “Preaching” at them (whether that’s what you’re doing or not, whether it’s your intent or not, that’s likely their perception) isn’t going to do as much good as simply letting them see you unshaken in your faith in the ups and downs of life. Invite them to go along, but - as unpopular as I may be for saying so - don’t worry too much about setting out the conditions of confession, etc. Just help them get there, pray for them, and let the Holy Spirit work a bit.


you haven’t failed. at the end of the day, even the best parents don’t get a absolute guarantee of their children keeping the faith, you can’t force them, God can’t even do that, they should go if they want to go. I thinkg uyou sould still take him if he lives with you, but don’t force the other issues, he is an adult now, he is responsible for his own state of soul and whether or not he goes confession or take communion when he should, you can’t police those things.

set a good example, encourage him, doe shte parish have a young adults group or some ministry he might be interested in? and above all, pray for him, many children have a reversion later in life. remember the story of the prodigal son?

I am sort of in the reverse situation, I am the child trying to convince my parents of Catholicism, believe me, children trying to tell parents something is extremely difficult, but I pray and persevere and don’t push, God will work on his own time, my dad is the same, he doesn’t relaly confess and received communion, their marriage is irregular but they won’t listen, but there is only so much I can do, at least they willingly come to mass now every week almost without fail without me having to convince too much, they recently went on a pilgrimage to the holy land of their own choosing, so I think we are slowly making progress


Thank you for your replies. It’s very interesting to hear different points of view. On way I definitely think I have failed is their lack of education, definitely down to me. My husband was agnostic and is now an ardent atheist, so the religion at home situation is extremely difficult and delicate to say the least. Plus, when they were younger I was pretty lukewarm in my faith, although I still took them all to Mass every Sunday, which was a real struggle.

So I feel I failed in not educating them enough, and felt I had a duty to educate my son by ensuring he knows it’s a mortal sin etc (mentioned it a couple of times over a period of month, not weeping and wringing hands every day!), so comments like ‘let him be’ and ‘preaching’ at him seem a bit funny. Like I said, it’s interesting to get other perspectives, which is why I posted in the first place.

We are sadly without a solid spiritual base/parish at the moment, I have been trying, unsuccessfully for a while to find a church, so I guess that doesn’t help. We are, me and my 2 children, very much isolated as we have no family, no friends and no catholic aquaintences, nor, like I said , a parish even, so the situation is far from ideal.

I guess I need to be praying hard! It seems so much worse now I’ve written it down!


You’re doing the best you can with what you have to work with.

I’ll remember you all in my prayers :pray:t2:

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Yes, prayer never hurts and definitely helps. I know that your children’s attitude toward the faith is upsetting, but, at this point, I’m not sure what you can do. Moreover, they are at an age when doubting or questioning not only faith but many other things is not unusual, so perhaps they will return later on in their lives. Apart from their lack of faith at present, are they good children, meaning their sense of right and wrong, values, kindness toward others, not getting into trouble, and so on? If so, you might be thankful for that much, which is no small thing.


I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties. In your search for a parish, have you come across one that offers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (aka traditional Latin Mass)? I am quite serious, this form of the Mass is very much gaining popularity among young people. Perhaps consider taking them. The priests often give very good homilies and they sometimes focus on confession. There may even be a line of (young) people waiting for confession during Mass!

I hope the best for you, and it’s clear that you are trying and you care.


Re Extraordinary Form - yes! I saw that this was available, and although I don’t know any Latin, and have never experienced anything like it, I went along and was /am totally overwhelmed by the majestic and reverence. I attend mid week as often as possible, but I’ve only gone once with my son, who was not impressed, so I don’t think I’ll be able to convince him to go again. The fact it was 50% longer did not help, and he complained that he couldn’t understand it. So I need to find a local parish, which is proving very challenging, while I savour the TLM for myself when I can.

My eldest has had some issues, but I can say that they are all good, kind kids. I am grateful. I pray for more gratitude.

I know a lot of “young people” are supposedly drawn to TLM but I believe those are people that are already churchgoers that are happy going to mass. I totally understand your son saying he can’t understand it, for some people, that means they will tune it out. I also think if he is not fond of confession now, he will feel he is being beaten over the head with it if, as everyone says on CAF, it is a big focus at TLM.

Just a suggestion. I’ve given this to my own children and grandchildren

I found this has helped people (even non Catholics) who need to know why we (Catholics) do what we do.

Example: Sunday Mass obligation
Heb 10: (all emphasis mine)
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (I.E. Baptism) . 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ( I.E. meet for Mass) 26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries (that describes mortal sin) 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God and profaned the blood of the covenant (sacrifice for sin and blood of the covenant = words Jesus used instituting the Eucharist) by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

When they meet, They are offering the “sacrifice for sin”, and; “blood of the covenant” = the words Our Lord spoke instituting the Eucharist Matthew 26:28 AND Mark 14:24 They are celebrating the Mass, the Eucharist when they meet on Sunday


those who deliberately fail to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday after being given the knowledge of truth,

  1. there no longer remains, a sacrifice for sin and blood of the covenant for THEM
  2. but a fearful prospect of judgement awaits THEM and a fury of fire will consume these adversaries
  3. They Spurn the Son of God they outrage the spirit of grace


Does that sound like :

  1. a minor sin or a mortal sin, to deliberately miss Mass on Sunday?
  2. A suggestion or an obligation to attend Sunday Mass

The best we can do for our children is give them information, and example.

You can’t do anything about what you did in the past.
Try to be the best you can in the now.
Faith is a gift, pray that they receive it.

I’m really appreciative of, and holding onto these words of wisdom. Thank you.

Well why don’t you tell him that there is someone out there that’s 2 years younger than him who goes to confession weekly out of his own will

You could have a word in his shell - like! Anything I say falls on deaf ears. Because none of his go to church, he considers himself to be pretty good, much better than anyone else he knows.

Ah well, he will be leaving to university in October, so if better notch up the prayers, and at least have more freedom with my daughter.

He’s a typical young person I can be guilty of that too sometimes

That’s funny. :grin:

I have something similar going on at my place, here’s my experience…my elder son at around 21 wld only go to church if we insisted. It was, most times some excuse or the other. I had a talk about this with him. He straight out explained, it was boring, he had no relationship with God, and found it pointless going to church every Sunday. He said he came out of obedience n respect n love for me. I then told him he got it upside down he shouldn’t be doing it for me, but for God. I discussed this with my parish priest who advised not to push. Best advice ever!

I did just that. But every time, I asked in the sweetest possible mums voice :blush: if he was joining us for mass, or rosary, or adoration or even if he was coming for confession. He was surprised with that change. I told him you’re old enough to make decisions, but every now n then I tell him, don’t let go off Gods hand ever… even if you’re just hanging on to his pinky finger, keep holding don’t let go. He smiles n says no mum I won’t. As mum, I will occasionally send them msgs about, feast days, holy days, reminders abt fasting, or blessings.

He travels a lot n will sometimes send me a pic at the church where he went for Sunday Mass, captioned “just so you know…” Sometimes he will choose going to a BBQ over Sunday Mass, n other times Im just surprised he decided to choose going to church instead.

Once I questioned this n he says 'Jesus is my buddy he understands I don’t want to hang out with HIM all the time, HE maybe yr best friend but not mine as yet, so you keep your relationship going, n I’ll worry about mine.

My younger son, 5yrs his junior, is surprisingly not following in his footsteps which I was so worried about he’s 19 & will faithfully make it to church every Sunday with girlfriend in tow, who happens to be of a different faith. Few days ago, out of the blues he went to church to inquire about serving mass.

What I’m trying to say is, they need to have a relationship with God to want to be in HIS house, to share in HIS Goodness, n Blessings n Love. Forcing isn’t going to help. It’s nothing about you having failed as a mom either. We mom’s are always learning what works n what doesn’t. After all life doesn’t hand us a manual for our specific model of a child ! God knows you’re trying, ask HIM to bless your tiny efforts to lead your child to HIM.

Pray, do your best n leave yr child in Gods hand to do the rest. That’s is what faith is all about trusting in the one above.

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