(God)Parental rights?


My sister had a child, out of wedlock, 9yrs ago. Father turned out to be a big old loser, go figure. She asked me to be the Godmother. I said yes, thrilled to do it. She has raised my goddaughter for 9yrs now; I don’t like some of her parenting techniques, but I’m not the parent. She lives across the country from me. When we were home visiting, we all went to Sunday mass, and I leaned over and asked if goddaughter would be going to communion with us (innocently, just wondering) and she whispered “No, MOM” – apparently she has not made her communion b/c my sister has found another church (found this out from another sister) that is more “welcoming” to their situation…

what would you do??? I’m not sure I have any rights, but I know I have responsibilities…my sister is SUPER sensitive about being a single mom, much less how she raises her daughter, and I know she is consumed by guilt over the whole situation; that she has to work, that her dad is a jerk, and I’m guessing that she’s no longer a practicing Catholic…I’m sure they went to church with us b/c it’s easier for one week than to explain anything to my mother…

any advice??? thanks

You can send cards to your sister and your goddaughter when you are thinking about them. Throw in a Bible quote or so if the Spirit moves you. You can send age appropriate, situation appropriate Catholic material.

As another single parent who has never been married, I do have to agree with your sister that it is difficult to find a parish community that has members who are accepting of a single never been married parenting situation. I know that it took me a bit to get over my insecurities about my situation before I could see that my fellow parishoners weren’t judging me or my situation, they were praising God that I had a reversion because of my situation. It can be very lonely being one of the few never been married single parents in a very much married parish community.

If your sister has a parish in her area that has an active Pro-life community (meetings, praying at the local clinic, Project Gabriel, etc) then more likely than not, they’ll recieve your sister with open arms without codemnation.

PM if you think your sister needs another never been married single mom to connect with.

See, that’s just it – I’m betting (and I have NO experience, but can only go on what I know to be true for myself) that most of the “unwelcome” feeling is on her part moreso than the parish; she lives in a VERY liberal area of California, so much so, that when she went to a priest when she found out she was pregnant, he told her to do what she felt necessary and go to confession after :eek: – I love my sister, but she has a VERY martyr-like tendency – she craves sympathy; so much so that as awful as it makes me feel sometimes, I just can’t listen to much more of it – I do, b/c I love her, but so many situations I feel like she could be doing so much more to make things better, but just doesn’t. I don’t know – there’s so much I don’t know and can’t possibly know b/c she only tells people (it seems) what she wants them to know, kwim? Only the stuff that would bring “ohhh…poor you!!!” statements; even when we know of good stuff, you never hear it; only the bad. I only say this b/c I’m pretty sure she’s only focusing on the negative experiences she’s had, and either not seeing the positives, or dismissing them in favor of the “woe is me” attitude…I’m not sure. I just know that I promised her I’d care for 9yo’s upbringing in the faith, and I don’t know how to approach this one, kwim? I’m wondering if she asked me as a “nice thing to do” or if she trusted that when she was weak, I’d be strong…if I back off now, I’d be letting that trust go unfulfilled, but if it was just a “nice thing” to make me godmother, then I guess I’m doing all I can by praying for them, no?

PS – thankyou for the other side’s perspective; I know her road hasn’t been an easy one, and I respect her for the hardhips she’s endured to bring my goddaughter this far – she’s a good kid, a kind kid. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this, if anything

I have no idea what your sister means by a church that is “sensitive to her situation”. If she means that as a single mom she does not feel welcome in her Catholic parish, she does not belong to any Catholic parish I have been involved with in the last 20 yrs, where single parents, as well as divorced/remarried (some with annulments, some not) couples and blended families make up the majority of families in RE and sacramental prep programs.

The “lifestyle” if the parent is not used to judge the readiness of the child for the sacraments. The child is called at the age established by the diocese, and the parents (or godparents if available) bring her for religious instruction and sacramental preparation. Sounds like an excuse, not a reason, for evading parental responsibility.

Also no Christian makes any assumptions or judgements at all about the “lifestyle” of a single parent or any other parishioner. That is an offense against Christian charity. If your sister is feeling victimized by such judgementalism she is right to look for another parish, but that does not give her grounds from withholding the sacraments from her child.

She may be milking the “victim” role as much as she can, which is why she went to a different church to “milk” it some more. It seems as if she thrives on negativity (I have a few relatives like this). Be firm in your faith and from a distance teach your goddaughter. Children do love the Truth because it is so simple yet challenging. If your sister always plays the victim when her daughter is around, your goddaughter will be more than happy to hear the Truth. While you aren’t close enough to take her to CCD, you can still sew the seeds of faith so that when she’s a teen and able to get herself around by herself, then she may be more open to RCIA and take herself. I know that my little sister (my goddaughter) will be going through RCIA in college because neither my dad nor my step-mom can make the mandatory meetings for her to be confirmed.

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