Grandparents and Mass?


#1

My mom and step-dad are great grandparents in almost every way. They're responsible, loving, and caring. There's a "but" coming here (I bet you all saw that!). One is agnostic at best, the other is atheist. My husband and I are both practicing Catholics.

Tonight, I dropped of my oldest (who was just confirmed this year BTW) for a planned weekend trip. For the last trip, I requested that the kids be back on Sunday afternoon so that we could attend late mass. Not a problem. This time, they were quite resistant. They're flying (step-dad has his pilot's license), and hoped to stay longer.

I told them that wasn't a problem if they took him to mass in the city they were visiting. Definitely not a problem as far as that goes, there are a ton of them in the area. They both sort of rolled their eyes at me for this. My mother asked if there wasn't some sort of "grandparents dispensation" for this. (She was laughing, and thought it was funny). I told her that no, there wasn't, and the options were either for them to make sure my son attended mass or get him home in time for me to take him.

So CAF, what you have done? I wasn't prepared for this change up in plans, and my son definitely wants to attend mass, and is aware of his obligation, and will be stressed out if he can't attend. I'm of the mind that if they don't do as they said, this will be the last weekend trip they get. Going to mass isn't an inconvenience, it's a privilege.

My husband is on his way home from work, and will probably be upset about this. He converted this year, and is really on fire for his faith. We haven't missed mass in I can't remember how long.

This attitude is sad, but kind of expected I suppose. My mom's attitude is that religion is okay if it's kept out of sight, and doesn't interfere with anything else. :( I feel alone since the only practicing Catholics are the four of us (hubby, the kids and me).

Thanks for reading, I'm just really frustrated right now.


#2

Your kids, your rules. If your parents can’t respect your family’s religious obligations, then they don’t care for their grandchildren on Sundays. Simple.

My much-loved in-laws are athiests, and the only profound argument I’ve ever had with them was over religion and their insistance on telling my daughters that God was a myth, etc., etc., etc. Civilized conversatons failed, and one day the girls were really upset after a visit to grandma’s and she’d told them there was no heaven. I lost it and told her and my father-in-law that that was the last conversation about religion they’d had without me or my husband there. They got the message after that.


#3

I would give them this one time to prove themselves. You gave them the two choices that were acceptable to you. The ball is in their court now. If they abide by one of the two choices, then they have proven that they are qualified to take your child away on a Sunday. If your son comes home late Sunday not having attended Mass, then that is the last weekend they get to have them, and they had been warned. I'm sure your son would have hated to miss Mass, but I don't think there would be any culpability there because he went with the expectation that his Mass requirement was going to be taken care of, and he had no way to get there since the adults wouldn't make provisions.


#4

Thank you both-- I've pretty much always been very direct that as the parent, my decisions should be respected-- and especially in a situation such as this. This is their one and only chance. I'm going to go to early morning mass on Sunday, and then again on Sunday evening if necessary. My fear is that they'll get him back to the airport at 4:55-- completely unacceptable, but the behavior wouldn't surprise me.

My son will really be upset. He was concerned on their last trip that he'd be home in time. I hope this turns out well, I'd hate to say no to weekend visits.


#5

My in-laws are vaguely Christian, but don’t do anything about it. They once promised me that they would take my kids to Mass on Sundays if I wanted them to when the kids were staying over.

They have not done it ever.

My daughter has now received her first Holy Communion, and so she knows very well what is expected of her. I now will make absolutely sure that my in-laws know what I expect of them. I told my daughter that she has to ask them to take her, but if they don’t then it is not her fault, she has done all she could.

It’s hard for me because my husband isn’t fully supportive and doesn’t see that Sunday Mass is so important that it can’t be missed here and there. If they don’t want to do it, they’ll ring him and get him to hassle me.

I guess you (and I) have to make yourself absolutely clear, that it is not negotiable, and that any Sunday visiting will be stopped if they will not abide by your rules. Then be prepared to follow through.


#6

[quote="familyof4, post:1, topic:248495"]
I'm of the mind that if they don't do as they said, this will be the last weekend trip they get. Going to mass isn't an inconvenience, it's a privilege.

[/quote]

This. They have no right to disrespect you and your husband. It is a privilege for them to be able to take children for trips, not a right. And if their attitude turns out to be inconvenient then the privilege should be taken away, at least until they change their behaviour.

This is a serious issue and you and your husband should not give in. I would never let family members undermine my parental authority. Now this - what next?


#7

Sad. Half my family are Protestants. Never an argument when staying with them. Always made sure fish was served on Friday, knew the schedule of Masses before I arrived, and they’d arrange for a Catholic friend to take me there and drive me back to their home. Ditto with my college roommate’s family. All this was decades ago.


#8

[quote="aicirt, post:7, topic:248495"]
Sad. Half my family are Protestants. Never an argument when staying with them. Always made sure fish was served on Friday, knew the schedule of Masses before I arrived, and they'd arrange for a Catholic friend to take me there and drive me back to their home. Ditto with my college roommate's family. All this was decades ago.

[/quote]

I think it is different with atheists. Devout protestans understand why going to church is a must. Atheists just don't get it. I would never expect an atheist to actually take my kids to church, even if I explained why it is important.


#9

Maybe but IF you value the relationship, you’ll comply. I would go out of my way to make sure I didn’t serve pork to a Jew. I don’t send Christmas cards to my Jewish friends. I send Hanakua (sp?) cards.

It depends on the individual atheist. If he knows the rules and respects the parents, he will know that asking for a Catholic child over a weekend means taking the child to church.


#10

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:8, topic:248495"]
I think it is different with atheists. Devout protestans understand why going to church is a must. Atheists just don't get it. I would never expect an atheist to actually take my kids to church, even if I explained why it is important.

[/quote]

I understand and agree with this statement over all. The exception being that this is my mother, and she should know better. A large part of this is my fault-- I was very lapsed for years (long story, but one I'll share if anyone thinks it adds to the discussion). I wasn't raised Catholic, obviously, and drifted away after high school. When my husband and I had children, I put them in Catholic school, finally got them baptized and slowly over time came home as regularly attending church, etc. My husband came in this year. In the past, when the children were little, we were much more lax about attending mass.

The grandparents know that we go each week, and on the last trip I made it clear that we needed them back so that we could attend mass. I just don't think it clicked that we were really serious that mass is not optional, even on vacation. Heck, especially on vacation!


#11

My sister is a lapsed Catholic but has chosen to have her kids raised as Catholics. She cannot force her ex husband on the weekends he has them to take the children to Mass even though he consented to them alongside his ex-wife to be received into the church a few years ago. She knows when they are with our mother that the kids do attend Mass as they are not given a choice, and my mother keeps some good clothes at her home for Mass.

Not sure as to why other family members disrespect the wishes of the parent(s) when it comes to Mass attendance. Even if others do not believe the same as the parent, it is the wish of the parent who has a child as a guest in the home of another family member to attend Mass no matter if its a block’s walk or a 10 mile drive.

My mother knew the rare times on weekends when me and/or my sister had sleepovers with my cousins when we were young that we had to go to Mass on Sunday. We knew that my aunt would not bend that rule.


#12

[quote="familyof4, post:4, topic:248495"]
My fear is that they'll get him back to the airport at 4:55-- completely unacceptable, but the behavior wouldn't surprise me.

[/quote]

This passive-aggressive behavior, if it extends into other parts of your relationship with your parents, also needs to be addressed.


#13

I believe, having read this question in the Apologists’ section, that your son would have a dispensation from his obligation due to travel that was out of his control. He is just a child and has no say over the adults in his life, so please reassure him that he is not sinning since he would have no way of meeting his obligation.

However, his grandparents are playing fast and loose with your trust…How very childish and stupid of them! If you can’t trust them with this issue, then that reflects greatly on your trust with them on other things, such as your childrens’ safety when they have custody. If grandparents can’t accommodate the parents’ rules then they are not entitled to have access to the kids unsupervised. One “small” thing (to them) undermines the entire structure and casts doubt on their sensibility when it comes to other rules/obligations/safety/structures.

If they don’t take your son to Mass this weekend, you have your answer. And your son has not sinned, because he had no control.

Edited to add: If they do not take him to Mass, they are sending a message that their own agenda is more important than his relationship to God. A very bad message to send. It tells you that they are willing to ignore his needs in favor of their own.


#14

Update! The grandparents came through, and in my opinion came through in style. Not only did they attend mass this morning, but they went to one of the oldest mission here in California to do it.

They may not understand the importance, but at least they're trying to be respectful, and find a way to do that they can appreciate (they're both suckers for history and old architecture).

As a side note, we took an afternoon trip with our younger child, and ended up parking near an older church (built in the early 1800s). After our excursion, we took the opportunity to pray and enjoy the quiet of the church. Our church is much newer, and we don't have the incredible stained glass this one had. :(

Anyway, thought I'd let y'all know how it turned out!


#15

This is great! I'm very happy they decided to do the right thing. Yoiu and your husband must be relieved that they are trustworthy and respectful after all. Brilliant.


#16

That’s great!! Kudos to the grandparents! Perhaps it was that their grandchildren convinced them that they consider Sunday Mass a privelege, too!!

Talk to your pastor about this, though. Your mom was just joking, but a dispensation actually is a possibility, depending on the circumstances of the outing the grandparents are proposing. Ask your pastor about that, so you know what the boundaries are with regards to your family’s particular circumstances. The last thing you need is your parents finding out that you’re being more Catholic than the Pope about this.


#17

[quote="familyof4, post:10, topic:248495"]
I understand and agree with this statement over all. The exception being that this is my mother, and she should know better. A large part of this is my fault-- I was very lapsed for years (long story, but one I'll share if anyone thinks it adds to the discussion). I wasn't raised Catholic, obviously, and drifted away after high school. When my husband and I had children, I put them in Catholic school, finally got them baptized and slowly over time came home as regularly attending church, etc. My husband came in this year. In the past, when the children were little, we were much more lax about attending mass.

The grandparents know that we go each week, and on the last trip I made it clear that we needed them back so that we could attend mass. I just don't think it clicked that we were really serious that mass is not optional, even on vacation. Heck, especially on vacation!

[/quote]

You know, everyone makes mistakes. Take a look around the U.S. You see extremely obese people. It's because they are lax with their diet. It may be hard for them, and they may see not point to eat healthy... But once they do, and they realize how great they feel... and then wow, perhaps even get into great shape... Would they go back to the junk? The stuff KILLING them? Would your mother offer them a great big ol' cream puff?

What about a former drug user, or drinker. Would she insist they have a drink for old times sake....

These are the types of things I would say to her... She may not understand your commitment... but it's not hers to understand. It's hers to respect... as she likely would with anything really much less important...

Hold your ground... I'm sure it's hard... but this is important... as you know... Also, I think it's important to show your son that it's important not to waiver. It's not as though he'd be missing Mass to see them on their death bed...

EDIT: Just caught your update... That's so great! See they do respect your choices!!!! Woo hoo!


#18

[quote="faithfully, post:17, topic:248495"]
....Take a look around the U.S. You see extremely obese people. It's because they are lax with their diet....

[/quote]

Clarification (at least I hope you would agree with this): While there are undoubtedly people who are obese because they just don't care about their health, this is not true of every obese person you see. Particularly once a person has become "extremely obese", weight loss is not a simple matter of "doing what is hard" and "seeing a point in eating healthy".

If I had to stake my life one way or another, I'd guess that most people who are overweight do understand that it is unhealthy to carry excess pounds, have made an effort to eat healthier, but just haven't found a way to keep in a healthy weight range with their particular circumstances and health history. As our grandmothers used to say: If wishes were horses, then we would all ride.

Those of us who are religiously observant also need to remain aware that there may well not be simple reasons why others are not observant. We do not know that we have not been blessed with a far easier path. Certainly, those of us who appreciate the gift of the faith and of the Mass are extremely blessed with a grace we did not merit, even if we do have to cooperate with it in order to be observant. It is still primarily the work of God in us. We can't afford to forget that. Some of those who are last will be first, after all, and our generous God will surely reward them with a wage equal to what we can expect to receive.


#19

I am glad the grandparents took them to Mass in your recent update. It proves they are showing respect for your decisions as parents when it comes to the faith of your family.


#20

[quote="EasterJoy, post:18, topic:248495"]
Clarification (at least I hope you would agree with this): While there are undoubtedly people who are obese because they just don't care about their health, this is not true of every obese person you see. Particularly once a person has become "extremely obese", weight loss is not a simple matter of "doing what is hard" and "seeing a point in eating healthy".

If I had to stake my life one way or another, I'd guess that most people who are overweight do understand that it is unhealthy to carry excess pounds, have made an effort to eat healthier, but just haven't found a way to keep in a healthy weight range with their particular circumstances and health history. As our grandmothers used to say: If wishes were horses, then we would all ride.

Those of us who are religiously observant also need to remain aware that there may well not be simple reasons why others are not observant. We do not know that we have not been blessed with a far easier path. Certainly, those of us who appreciate the gift of the faith and of the Mass are extremely blessed with a grace we did not merit, even if we do have to cooperate with it in order to be observant. It is still primarily the work of God in us. We can't afford to forget that. Some of those who are last will be first, after all, and our generous God will surely reward them with a wage equal to what we can expect to receive.

[/quote]

I would TOTALLY agree... I was over simplifying!


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