Fraternal correction and family

I’m a late 20’s, single male having some difficulty relating to my non-practicing/limited practicing Catholic immediate family. I sometimes worry if I’m doing enough to try to correct my family members’ sin in a charitable way. Often I don’t correct, because 1) I’m pretty sure it will just get rejected and 2) it will create more tension in the family. However, often I wonder if I just don’t speak up, because I’m being a coward and don’t like the awkward conversation it would entail, especially with parents (and thereby my silence may be sinful).

For example, sometimes my sister’s bf will travel with the family or camp with them. My sister and her bf will sleep in the same bed in the hotel/camper and my parents won’t do anything about it. I wonder if I should say sometime to my parents about being more responsible and showing some kind of disapproval/not allow it. However, my mom is kind of liberal and would likely reject what I say or at least rationalize it away. I’m unsure what my dad’s ultimate feelings towards premarital sex are and if he would accept or reject my admonishment.

Another issue is sometimes my parents skip Sunday mass. I’ve mentioned to them before that they should/need to go and they just kind of dismissed it. Granted, I didn’t tell them it was sin not to go. Now I feel like I’m being a coward if I don’t talk to them about every time they skip.

Anyone else have difficulties dealing with family with issues like theses?


I understand what it can be like to have family members that may not take their religion too seriously. If they are not very religious, then it may not be best to approach this from a theological perspective. That may alienate them further as they may perceive you as “being a Pharisee.” I know that is not the case at all, but that may be the perception.

What you may be able to do is to pursue this from a natural perspective using logic rather than theology. For example, if your sister is using “the Pill,” you could point out the lasting damage and dangers of chemical contraception.

Also, there are good logical reasons (that are not theological in nature) as to why not to engage in premarital sex (

One of the beauties of the Catholic faith is that we can use logic and natural law to corroborate what our religious beliefs are. We don’t have to say just “because it says so in the Bible.” Yes, the Bible is inerrant, but we can use reasons that are outside of religious as well.

And this can be a very powerful weapon in our arsenal when dealing with people, especially family and close friends, who may not be as deep into their faith.

Why do you want to correct your family members? Do you think it will have the desired result of bringing them to Mass or preventing them from sleeping together? I’ve seldom – probably never – seen this happen. It doesn’t sound like you think it would. So what would be gained by doing so? Would it salve your conscience? It’s highly unlikely that they are unaware of your opinions on these matters (and that’s probably what they are to them – your opinions, not moral truths) so you’d probably be getting into beating-a-dead-horse territory.

It’s much more likely to drive them further into the behavior you want to eliminate. As a mother, I would have been beyond furious if my child pointed out what she felt were my moral shortcomings. She would have gotten a blast of her own transgressions thrown at her, along with a dash of warning about ignoring the plank in her eye.

Positive reinforcement always works best. How about asking them to meet you at Mass and then go out for a nice meal after? Parents seldom pass up an opportunity to spend enjoyable time with their children.

Yes, I’ve kind of felt at times like I was beating-a-dead horse, but this was kind of more so during a debate on morals or politics.

Things like missing mass as a sin is not really an opinion, but they may see it that way. I just feel like if I don’t say anything I’m basically consenting my silence and that I should be doing more to help them get to heaven. I don’t want my family members to go to hell. They know my opinions on big things, such as like gay marriage, but not less obvious things like being happy someone is marrying outside of the church or after a divorce without an annulment. They actually are probably clueless on those things as it regards to church teaching.

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