Friend's husband doesn't want child baptized


#1

Hello everyone, I originally posted the following in the “Prayer Intentions” section asking people to pray that this baby be baptized when he is born and that the father of the child experience a softening of heart:

“I recently learned that a close friend of my family who is having a baby soon will not be having her child baptized. She wishes to do so, but her husband is insistent that this not be done. He believes it is “unfair” to baptize someone when they cannot give consent and he claims he resents having been baptized as an infant by his parents. If it wasn’t clear already the husband does not have much (if any) faith and I don’t know when the last time he set foot in a church was. The mother explained how important this is to her to have their child baptized and was able to get a mild concession from the father who said something along the lines of, “You may have our baby baptized but know that I am strongly against it and that I refuse to attend the baptism if it takes place!” Since he “never askes for anything” (her words) and he feels so strongly about this, she feels guilty about going against his wishes. So for the moment she has decided not to disobey her husband and is not planning to have their child baptized when he is born, but the guilt is clearly bothering her.”

I was asked if I could start a second thread on the topic somewhere else on the site so that the issue could be discussed and advice could be given. I would still appreciate your prayers though in the original thread.

Also, I should mention that though this woman and her husband are good friends of my family, I personally do not know them very well. So I do not think it would be very productive were I to directly confront either of them about this matter. In fact I think such an approach would likely solidify the father in his opinions and create more of an obstacle. Though I am certainly willing to do what I can.

Lastly, I know that what the father of this child is doing is foolish, childish, and just plain disturbing. However, if we could try to restrict our comments to being productive instead of bad mouthing someone else that’d be very much appreciated. Thanks.


#2

If she is Catholic and he isn't, she had to agree to raise children in the Church, and that fact would have been made known to him in the pre-marital preparation process, and he would be aware of the Catholic spouse's responsibility. (I have two friends engaged to non-Christians-- that info is part of the process.)

It it were me, I would try to support my friend as best I could in having her baby baptized, according to her responsibility as a Catholic parent. As far as the husband goes, I would not interfere directly, (unless the topic were to actually arise in my presence). I think that as a mother, her responsibility is to her child's spiritual welfare, especially if the father is not playing a role in that, and even if it means annoying the father a bit. Her child's spiritual welfare is more important than her husband's opinions. She should also choose very dependable and strongly Catholic godparents.

Maybe he will come around and be part of it with her. Maybe he'd like to be part of planning a party after to celebrate? He might enjoy a social event afterward, and he might feel more involved if there was something specific that he could contribute. Maybe he does genuinely feel a little alienated? Maybe a different approach that would help him feel involved would help?


#3

When my husband and I got married I hadn't converted yet and to be married in the Church I had to sign something that said that any children we had would be baptized and raised in the Church. If they were married in the Church my guess is he would have had to sign something similar, because it seemed pretty standard, which would mean that this is pretty much something that they DID agree on before they got married...


#4

I should have probably been a little clearer in the description of the situation above. He is technically Catholic, in the sense that he was baptized and I'm fairly certain he was also confirmed. But like many Catholics who are now lapsed the sacraments he received were more or less a matter of "going through the motions". I do not want to speculate too much about his youth and when or how he strayed from the Church though since 1) that takes us away from the current situation and 2) it's all just a bunch of guesses since I don't actually know his life story.

The main point being, since he is technically Catholic I do not think anyone made him sign anything or make any formal agreements prior to their being married regarding any children they may have in the future. And even if they did make him agree to raise any future children in the Church I doubt he'd care too much about breaking some agreement he likely made simply to again "go through the motions".

I just hope that at the very least he gives in since it is clear that this is bothering his wife. He did sort of give her permission as I said in the first post on this thread, but if you read it it is clear that this was not really permission. It was one of those instances when someone says something is "ok" but you can see they really do not feel that way.


#5

would she rather disappoint God, and her child, by satisfying the husband's wishes? she knows the necessity of it. Jesus did say that he will bring family members against each other, and this is what He was talking about. when one member of the family is a believer and the other isn't, there will be fights among the family for Him.

when our child was diagnosed with a condition and had to undergo surgery at 5 days old, i decided to have him baptized in the hospital. both my wife and i are good, practicing Catholics, but she objected to it initially because she felt like it was giving up, that we were preparing him for death rather then keeping our hopes up that he will make it through alive. besides, we already had the baptism scheduled with the Church in the next month. but i explained to her why and i told her we're going through with it no matter what. when the priest came and performed emergency baptism and confirmation, we were so overwhelmed by the graces our son received, it gave us the tranquility within ourselves to trust Jesus that He would make sure our son comes back to full health. and our son did, and even right after we brought him to the Operating Room and left him there, my wife told me how thankful she was that i insisted on the baptism. perhaps the father of the child you are talking about will feel this way after the baptism, or at least he won't be as mad after


#6

The father must take his Baptism seriously or he wouldn't be so annoyed that he was
baptized against what he presumes his wishes would have been.

He sounds seriously conflicted.

I agree with the mother's actions, she should respect her husband's wishes.

There's no sense in a family coming apart over this issue, the wife has acted wisely.


#7

[quote="JadeStarr, post:6, topic:203420"]

I agree with the mother's actions, she should respect her husband's wishes.

There's no sense in a family coming apart over this issue, the wife has acted wisely.

[/quote]

Well, sacraments are not taken lightly by Catholics. This is important stuff, not some minor issue that is not worth arguing over.
Welcome to the Catholic Forum.


#8

A little badmouthing is in order. This kind of situation happens all too often.


#9

[quote="jtodisco, post:1, topic:203420"]
The mother explained how important this is to her to have their child baptized and was able to get a mild concession from the father who said something along the lines of, "You may have our baby baptized but know that I am strongly against it and that I refuse to attend the baptism if it takes place!" Since he "never askes for anything" (her words) and he feels so strongly about this, she feels guilty about going against his wishes. So for the moment she has decided not to disobey her husband and is not planning to have their child baptized when he is born, but the guilt is clearly bothering her."

[/quote]

Well, first, it sounds like she wouldn't be "disobeying" him if she had him baptized. He said she could do it. If it were me, I'd do it because we're talking about eternal salvation here.

OTOH, this issue goes WAY beyond baptism. If he is so vehemently opposed to this, this is likely the first of many religious struggles they will have about the kids. How will he feel about taking her to church every week, or putting her in religious ed. What about learning prayers at home, and all the questions the child is going ask about faith. If a parent exhibits faith, the child will start asking as soon as they learn to say "why." Of course, I don't know how religious your friend is, so I can't say how much this will be there. But parents tend to become more religious after they become responsible for their children's souls, so even if she's not totally on fire for the faith, she may become more religious. And the more religious she is, the stronger the conflict with him.

These two need to sit down and get a handle on how they are going to cooperate in order to provide the child the religious formation that it needs. I'd recommend your friend talk to her priest about the baptism thing right away. I also think it wouldn't hurt for the husband to talk to the priest, along with the wife about the religious upbringing of the child in general. Perhaps he needs to understand what he agreed to in his wedding vows. Perhaps she does too (like I said, I don't know her motives for wanting baptism), or not just what he agreed to, but what her responsibilities are to her husband and her child as they relate to those agreements. Perhaps they need some mediation to plan for what is otherwise gearing up to be major conflict.


#10

[quote="Apollos, post:8, topic:203420"]
A little badmouthing is in order. This kind of situation happens all too often.

[/quote]

I understand your feelings on the situation and I agree that this sort of thing does happen too often. Actually I'd say it's more common for there to be no conflict at all and no baptism. It seems like more and more people I meet have grown up without any faith at all, not because anyone forbade it, but simply because no one ever cared enough to instruct them in it.

But I want to be clear, I didn't initially want this to be anything other than a prayer intentions thread. I made this second thread for discussion because someone asked me to so that they and others could provide advice. However, if this thread begins to degenerate into hateful name calling like so many other threads do on C.A.F. then I will ask the moderators to delete or close the whole thread. Not because I'm trying to defend the husband, but because I will not be a party to such infantile and un-Christian behavior.


#11

ThyKingdomCome, thanks for the input. I’m hoping that something like this will take place prior to the birth of the child. She is due in September, so there’s still a few months to go. One of my relatives, who is much closer to these two than I am, is also distressed by the husband’s resistance to baptism. Actually, this relative was supposed to be the child’s Godmother and yet another relative of mine was going to make the baptismal gown. So when suddenly we were told that the baptism was not going to happen it caused a stir to say the least. That said, because my relative and the mother are close I’m hoping that she will be able to wear her down a bit whenever they spend time together and in turn get the husband to go along with the baptism. This relative of mine is also very close to her priest and has him over for coffee and religious conversation often, so perhaps the mother could be invited to one of these get togethers and be better persuaded.


#12

[quote="jtodisco, post:4, topic:203420"]
I should have probably been a little clearer in the description of the situation above. He is technically Catholic, in the sense that he was baptized and I'm fairly certain he was also confirmed. But like many Catholics who are now lapsed the sacraments he received were more or less a matter of "going through the motions". I do not want to speculate too much about his youth and when or how he strayed from the Church though since 1) that takes us away from the current situation and 2) it's all just a bunch of guesses since I don't actually know his life story.

The main point being, since he is technically Catholic I do not think anyone made him sign anything or make any formal agreements prior to their being married regarding any children they may have in the future. And even if they did make him agree to raise any future children in the Church I doubt he'd care too much about breaking some agreement he likely made simply to again "go through the motions".

I just hope that at the very least he gives in since it is clear that this is bothering his wife. He did sort of give her permission as I said in the first post on this thread, but if you read it it is clear that this was not really permission. It was one of those instances when someone says something is "ok" but you can see they really do not feel that way.

[/quote]

Since they are both Catholic, they did agree to raise children Catholic, by the very action of getting married, and it is in the vows. (Well, the priest asks it, I'm not sure if it's considered part of the vows proper): "Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?" If he was not serious about that, or any other part of the vows, I would wonder whether that marriage was actually valid, but that could only be found out if it was examined by the diocese. Anyway, they did agree to raise children Catholic, and if he strays from that, it is her responsibility to see to the children's faith formation. As important as honoring one's spouse is, the child's spiritual (and general) welfare is most important, imho. It will be difficult, and take a lot of strength to stand up to her husband for the baby's Baptism, but I think that's what the baby needs her to do, and I think that is a perfectly acceptable reason to "defy" one's spouse. ETA: I also totally agree with thykingdomcome. This can cause problems beyond Baptism. That's why it really needs to be rectified now.


#13

[quote="jtodisco, post:4, topic:203420"]
I should have probably been a little clearer in the description of the situation above. He is technically Catholic, in the sense that he was baptized...

[/quote]

Sounds like he does not want to put his child in the same situation in which he finds himself...baptized before he was old enough to consent and subject to canon law against his will. As a practical matter, I suppose it doesn't really matter. However, I can see his point.


#14

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.