How did your parents' religious practices (or lack thereof) influence your faith?


Did you rebel against authoritarian Christian parents, only to find your real faith later? Or did you rebel against materialistic, secular parents? Did you just follow your parents’ practices all the way?

Parents: How does your experience influence how you teach your children about the faith?


Yes to an extent, i’m not sure I found my real faith yet. No, my mom is catholic, my father is lutheran, I most recently attended a non-denominational church.


**I was raised without much religious influence. My parents have a basic belief in Christ but in a more personal way…not big fans of organized religion. We saw the inside of a church for funerals and weddings only. So I grew up with some misinformation (especially about Catholicism, even though I attended Catholic schools) and some biases.

If I had not met my hubby, I most likely would have continued on the path I was on. I imitated my parents’ examples of good morals and ethics and felt I was overall a pretty decent person. I had no idea what was missing!!!

Now that I am a parent, my goal is to have a good enough balance so that I am neither too permissive NOR shoving things down my child’s throat. I want our DD to understand WHY we believe as we do so she doesn’t end up just going through the motions and then quitting when she no longer lives at home.

We will make plenty of mistakes and, although I pray it doesn’t happen, we expect her to go through some teenage rebellion and a period of finding things out for herself. We just hope that we lay a solid enough foundation so that she always has it to build on.



My parents are both Catholic but it is my DH faith that has helped me the most in my search.


My parents were/are both practising Catholics, and they always took religion seriously, but not to “extremes.” Even though I fell away from the faith for a long time, it was their example that eventually brought me back to the Church.


Hey, paradoxy, this is probably more than you wanted to know, but I’m feeling quite talkative today (and I’ve edited out quite a bit already :blush: ).

My parents are not religious, and the family never attended any church services. My mom was baptized a non-denominational Christian at 18 years of age, and my dad was baptized a Roman Catholic at birth. They decided to let the children choose their own faith.

Much to my dad’s dismay, I became Catholic a few weeks before my 20th birthday (I’m 26 now). Within a year or two of being baptized into the Faith, my dad remarked that he should have “forced” me to be Catholic growing up, so that I wouldn’t want to be Catholic now. :frowning:

My siblings remain unbaptized and nonreligious at the ages of 23 and 24. My sister (the youngest) has a generic belief in God and Christ, but believes that as long as she is generally a “good person,” it doesn’t matter what she does (or doesn’t do) because God will forgive her. My brother does not claim or reject any belief in a Divine Being, and makes many decisions in his life based on what feels good at the moment.

My husband’s family is a little different. My husband, his little brother, and his dad are all cradle Catholics, and his mom is a convert (converted after nearly a decade of marriage). Mass attendance was generally sporadic, with a few years of consistency. My in-laws disagree with many Church teachings, and in the case of my mother-in-law, have told me directly that the Church is “so archaic” and wrong about many things.

My husband (26 years old) is currently struggling with his faith, but makes sure that our little family attends Mass every weekend and Holy Day, with illness being the only exception (I tell him that he has more faith than he realizes). His brother (23 years old) stopped going to Mass in college, briefly resumed attendance when he came back home after graduation, and currently does not attend. We do not know how often my in-laws go to Mass anymore; religion is usually not discussed.

For our part, as parents, we are trying to lead by example. For instance, we talk to our daughter (21 months old) about going to see Jesus at Mass, and we try to follow the teachings of Holy Mother Church as best we can. We make sure that vacations are either scheduled around Mass or that we visit the local parish wherever we are. Faith is very important, and it’s important to do it as a family unit.

My husband and I don’t really know how to be devout as a family, or how to encourage our children to follow the ways of Christ, because we didn’t have examples of how to do it growing up. I don’t want to be pushy with faith (because that’s apparently what drove my dad away), but I don’t want to be complacent, either. I just have to do my best, pray like crazy, and trust in Jesus.


My parents died by the time I turned 10…my dad, from lung cancer, my mom in a car accident only a few months later. My dad left me with the very best legacy…prayer. He taught me to pray nightly, and took me to mass every Sunday…my mom always prayed the Rosary. I have to say, even during times when I have questioned my faith, or the RCC, I remained true to it, because of their examples.


When my sister & I were growing up, we were brought up strict Catholic…even went to Catholic grade school (the kids there were anything but–vulgar language, verbal abuse toward the weaker kids, no respect toward teachers in 7th grade) and a private Catholic all girls high school (much better scenerio).

My mother was very strong in her faith. It got me through a tough time when I was facing serious surgery.

Fast forward to 10 yrs. ago- when I met my DH, the first thing that really impressed me was he wanted to attend Mass w/me after our 2nd date. From then on, we went to to church together & kept Christ in the center of our relationship. His family is very strong in their Catholic beliefs as well.

When we got married, he taught me much more when I had questions regarding Catholicism, praying, and reading the Bible. When I started to lose my faith 2 yrs ago after I was told that I had a clot in my brain due to a stroke,I was screaming that God hates me so He gave me yet another health problem. DH told me that God is with me and won’t leave my side. Don’t give up. That strength plus his spiritual support pulled me through one of the darkest moments of my life. To this day, DH encourages me to go to Bible studies when my Crohn’s isn’t flaring and help with the local food pantry. I am truly blessed to have such a strong spiritual influence. I am always learning something new & am able to pass it along to our nieces and nephews.


My mother was raised Methodist but rarely went to church. Dad was raised in some sort of fundamentalist “Bible Church,” but he was basically an atheist/agnostic. They were married in the Methodist church, but they were what one of my organist friends calls “DANSA’s:” Done And Never Seen Again. :frowning: They never went to any sort of church until we kids were in school. Then they decided that we should have some sort of “religious” experience, so they took us to this awful Unitarian-Universalist “church” which was basically a secular humanist organization. Even as a child, I hated that place and I always felt drawn to God. I used every excuse I could find to go to “real church” with my Christian girlfriends and neighbors, and those churches ranged from Baptist to Episcopalian to Seventh-day Adventist. I just knew that I had a hunger for Truth, and what I was getting at home left me starving and thirsty.

My Dad always talked about being a “free-thinker,” which to him meant rejecting traditional religious values. My journey to Rome was long and a bit convoluted, but once I finally made the leap, my parents were pretty shocked. Never mind that I was a grown woman in my 40’s. When Dad expressed his confusion/disapproval/whatever it was, I simply told him, “You raised me to think for myself, and that is what I did.” He didn’t have an answer to that, but over the years we have simply agreed to disagree and we leave it at that. Of course I pray for my family’s conversion on a regular basis. St. Monica, pray for them!


My mom is a cradle Catholic (much damaged by incredibly lousy catechsis right around Vatican II) and my dad converted before they married (because he didn’t really have a religion… and still doesn’t). They go to church every Sunday, except for when it’s inconvenient during vacations. :frowning: They were very strict in certain ways, and totally lax in others. They openly question many Church teachings, and belittle me and my husband for holding to them.

I nearly left the Church when I went away to college, but quickly decided that the Church is much bigger and tremendously better than what my parents had presented to me. (and THANK GOD for college and military chaplains! The priests I knew at the Naval Academy were a huge inspiration to me.)

End result? I did what my parents said and remained Catholic. Much to their annoyance, I actually read the Catechism and listen to the Pope. To their distinctly expressed annoyance, I even “let your faith dictate your life!” (This had to do with refusing IVF and choosing adoption; it was, unfortunately, definitely meant as an insult.) My husband converted a year before we were married, and was active on these forums before his master’s degree homework got heavy. Instead of standing by and apologizing when Catholics were insulted at college, I started learning how to defend my faith, and I found even more depth and beauty than I’d ever seen in the Church before.

My brother did what our parents did, but was more honest about it: he said he didn’t agree with the Catholic Church, so he went about his life as he saw fit, moved in with his girlfriend, etc. and ceased going to church, except when he was home (and, no, my mom did not tell him to sit down at communion, in spite of living with his girl friend…). Thank God, he has since married a nice girl who got him going to a nondenominational church. Mom and Dad are still rather mad that he isn’t Catholic. (Yes, I know this is directly contradictory to their nasty attitude towards my alleged Catholic “fundamentalism”.)

How do my DH and I try to pass on our faith? We talk about saints frequently. We attend mass every weekend and talk about the readings with the kids. We talk about our faith. We almost always say grace before meals. We let our kids know why we do and believe things, especially when the choice wasn’t easy. We have a crucifix, a saint statue, an icon, or something religious in every room of the house. We pray the rosary as a family at least once a week. We participate in pro-life events and Bible studies. We tell them why we don’t “do” Santa or Halloween, and how much better baby Jesus and Saints’ Day are. Unlike my childhood, Bible and saints’ stories are regular reading. My kids think nuns are cool (but they really don’t believe that the non-veiled ones are still nuns).

I hope we’re passing on not just the “what” but the “why”. I don’t intend to give my kids any reason to grow up and say I was a hypocrite. I want to pass on to my kids some grasp of just how beautiful and incredible the Church is, in every country, over 2,000 years, persecuted or free, in unity. I want them to understand that the freedom to love Jesus and His Church is a great gift that many people do not have.


It is difficult for me to even read about children brought up so strong in the catholic faith. My parents are both catholic, but did not encourage any faith in me. I went to CCD but in those days, very little teaching, but I did make my Sacraments. I can say with 100% certainty any mistakes I made, I would not have made if I had a religious influence in my life. To try to raise my children without ever giving thanks to God our Creator just feels like taking food from a store without paying for it.


Well my story is a little different then others, but not by much I guess.

My parents were both raised Catholic. My father was raised by my devout German Catholic Grandparents, was an altar server, attended Catholic school, and grew up in a very rural area. My mother was a “Navy Brat” and was trekked around the country as my Grandpa was transferred. My maternal Grandma hadn’t been raised Catholic, she converted after she and my Grandpa married, but she didn’t understand much of it, so she did the best she could. I get the feeling that she’s sad that none of her children are Catholic anymore.

Neither of my parents are now Catholic, I was raised as a protestant. When I was younger we attended church every Sunday, but that slacked off as I got older and we wanted to sleep in on Sunday. Still, however, we were told to pray often about things, we were taught to search for God’s will. My Father would often rant about things that weren’t in accordance with God’s teachings that he heard about on the news, and tell us not to do this or that because it wasn’t a proper thing for Christians to do. My mom used to sing Sunday School Songs with us (“Father Abraham” being a popular one).

The teachings I recieved from them, mainly “Do whatever God tells you to do, follow Him and obey Him,” were huge in my conversion to Catholicism. One of my older sisters now attends church nearly every Sunday. Another plans to start attending as soon as she moves into her new house. My younger sister…I don’t know, I think she has a vague notion of “God loves me no matter what, if there is a God”.


My dad was protestant, my mother Catholic. My father passed away when I was 3, but it seemed that at times he was almost more Catholic than my mom was at that time :slight_smile: (for example, he would have us get together on Christmas and pray the rosary).
My mom had always been a practicing Catholic, but got to know the Church better when I was about in second grade. She started praying daily, going to daily Mass, etc. I would say at one point or another I did “rebel” against her being “so Catholic” but in reality, looking back, my rebellion was probably equivalent to the behavior of a “normal” child, one that has not been brought up in an orthodox Catholic environment… I don’t know if this is clear…For example one rebellious thing would be to stay out of daily Mass in the parking lot because it wasn’t Sunday and going to daily Mass was “too religious”, though I never did miss a Sunday. See what I mean? While it was foolish of me to not go to Mass when I had the opportunity, other Catholic kids I knew were telling their parents they would not go to Sunday Mass. I don’t buy it when people say parents shouldn’t be too strong in their faith lest they drive their children away. My mother was stricter than other parents in moral areas, but was more permissive in areas that other parents were overprotective, and I thank her for her judgement in both areas. I didn’t always like her judgement, but now I understand it better and see how it helped me. Her strong Faith and example has been very valuable in my life and has helped me in so many ways. I always wonder how people who don’t know have God this present in their lives survive and I feel so very blessed to have a mother with such solid formation and vivid Faith. Although I never met my father, the stories I have been told of him have helped me too, knowing his fierce honesty and upright character, along with a big heart makes me want to be like he was. A couple of years ago we got in contact with some of his peers at West Point and they sent us some amazing letters about my dad. I just feel very blessed to have the parents I have and I know I owe God more because of it, so I have to work on that.



My mom was raised catholic. Went to catholic school thru middle school.
My dad was raised baptist. Church every Sunday at the same church in town all his life till high school when his own personal rebellion time came along.
When they met they began attending a nondenominational church. They were very involved in the church. Organizing functions and they sang and played guitars (just the two of them) at every service for the whole church. It’s all very vivid in my mind.
Then one Sunday all of the sudden we stopped cold going to church. I remember a conversation with my dad when I was 5 of him asking if I wanted to go to church and asking where I wanted to go… I suggested the same old church, he said we couldn’t go there anymore. I suggested his parents church, he said no. I suggested my grandmother’s (mom’s mother) church, he said no. We went to Sonic instead to get lemon lime slush. We never went to church again. I found out years later that the preacher from that church began to tell his followers that he was getting messages from God in his morning cereal… NO joke.
As a child and a teen I never had I desire for it. I even remember claiming once that I didn’t believe in God. I never felt the need to go. I didn’t think it was all that important. I attended several different churches as the need arose; if I stayed overnight with a friend and they had to go. I went to a lot of different churches. All of them I found some sort of momentary enrichment from.
I started going to church regularly again when I had my first daughter. I was brought to a catholic church by my current husband. At this point I became quite curious about what the bible held for me. I began to read it. My husband constantly criticized me for taking the time to read it telling me that I would never “get it” and I was wasting my time. He was telling me that since I had no religious upbringing in my life I was not good enough to read the bible. Oddly enough reading it brought peace and clarity to me for some reason. He and I divorced shortly after all this. God gave me clarity. Enough to see that I was on the wrong path.
I have since remarried to another catholic man who’s parents attended weekly and were extremely involved in the church and still are. We attend church regularly, pray together, and raise our kids to know that Church is in fact very important. Raising our kids by example. We both know what happens on both sides of the spectrum and prefer our children to have a holy life.
Even though my mother is vehemently against my joining the catholic church, I am currently attending RCIA. I think things have worked out for the best.


I didn’t do any rebelling in regards to my faith and my parents. They’ve always pretty much given me a free reign on what I wanted to believe. When someday I have kids of my own, I’m not going to force my own beliefs down their throats, because they have the free will to choose. Of course, I’m going to expose them to Catholicism as much as possible, because, contrary to popular belief, their eternal salvation would be kind of important to me.


I have ENORMOUS respect and love for my parents, and how they raised me in the Faith is one of the reasons for my love, respect, and appreciation.

My mom is a cradle Catholic of German-Irish descent. My dad is the oldest of five kids of an Irish-Catholic mother and non-denom, non-practicing WASP father. All the kids went through Catholic school, but only two or three of the five still practice today, not even his mom anymore. My parents met attending Catholic colleges, married after, bounced around the country with the Army, then around the world with an international relief and development agency. Wherever we lived or visited, going to Mass was NON-NEGOTIABLE. There was a time when I was ten or eleven or so when I was too lazy or too self-conscious (only Americans in the neighborhood, got stared at) to want to go to Mass, but my parents insisted saying, “We hope you’ll want to go for yourself someday, but go for our (parents’) sake now.” And I went, and I passed through that stage. I never had a “falling away” stage during college or young adulthood, for example, I was there every Sunday, singing in the Choir. :slight_smile: I even tried to remember (and not feel self-conscious or self-righteous) to say grace at meals in the college cafeteria, thinking maybe I could be a good witness to others.

We kids attended Catholic schools when available (my younger siblings were homeschooled in a non-Catholic country), made all our sacraments at the appropriate times, said the rosary together as a family occasionally, and my mom – a religious ed. master’s student – experimented with different family religious observances over the years. We said different graces before meals, complete with hand and arm gestures (like fingerplays for kids); we read the Sunday readings and told the stories with felt pictures on a board; we read the Jesse tree Old Testament scriptures prophesying the Messiah’s coming and lit Advent wreaths during Advent; we had a little doll-size crib we could put straws in when we did a good deed to make a soft bed for baby Jesus’ coming at Christmas; we borrowed from Jewish custom to welcome the Lord’s Day on Saturday evening (think of welcoming the Sabbath in Fiddler on the Roof); we held Passover Seder meals on Holy Thursday remembering the Last Supper; we discussed how the Easter Bunny represents the early Christians bringing Jesus (new life from the tomb Easter eggs) but defenseless in the face of Roman persecution, hiding in the catacombs; costumes and trick-or-treating at Halloween came from medieval morality plays and “souling:” poor people going door-to-door offering to pray for the dead in exchange for food or money; Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas (favorite Christmas decoration is a statue of Santa Claus kneeling in adoration of baby Jesus); my mom organized youth groups or sacramental preparation when they weren’t already available in a new location, etc. etc. When I was a teenager, my mom discussed artificial birth control and church teaching and how she and my dad came to use NFP.

The point is, it was a stable, loving family life – maybe not perfect, but pretty darn close considering the troubled lives many others lead – with our Catholic Faith permeating everything and NO HYPOCRISY – no dropping us kids off for Mass while the parents go do something else, HA! – and no subtle, or not-so-subtle, suggestions that the Church was all wrong on the hot-button issues (celibate priesthood, women priests, homosexual lifestyles, artificial birth control, abortion, etc.) and therefore, could be ignored on those topics.

And so now I’m all grown-up and still practicing the Faith and passing it on to my children. I married a non-practicing Jew, which is odd, perhaps. Maybe one drawback to my upbringing was not discussing how to choose a spouse: if you want to marry a Catholic, you have to date a Catholic. And what you’re losing when you marry someone who is not Catholic. I was only thinking “dinner and a movie,” but we got emotionally attached. I remember a Jewish girl in college who would only date Jewish men, and I remember thinking, “How extreme,” but she was clear-seeing of consequences, and I wasn’t. But my husband agrees and supports my raising the kids as Catholics, getting their sacraments, homeschooling, etc. and so, so far, so good. But it’s sad when he doesn’t come to Mass with us, and he doesn’t feel the same awe and wonder and gratitude to our Creator that I do and that I want our children to feel, and birth control may become an issue in the future.

But back to my parents…didn’t they do a great job?! :slight_smile:


I’ve heard this statement a lot, in various forms. I don’t think it works, if your goal is to raise Catholic kids, which, apparently, it is. No matter what you say, your actions in not enforcing some minimum of religious participation and observance say, “I don’t believe this enough to put my foot down about it.” From what you said, that is not your intention, but it is a likely unintended consequence.

Remember, God taught the Jews that the parents are responsible for the child’s behavior (including religious observance) until the child comes of age. “Raise a child up in the path of righteousness, and, when he is older, he will not depart from it.” Circumcision (and being made part of the Covenant) was not left up to the child’s decision; it was the parents’ responsibility.

I worked for someone in the Navy whose father was Jewish and whose mother was Protestant. The parents decided to “let the kids decide.” The sister became a messed up agnostic. The brother (the guy I worked with) said, “Yeah, my son can decide what he wants to do about religion… when he leaves my house! Until then, he’s coming to church.”

Plus, our children need a solid background of faith to make the important life decisions that start popping up around 18: career path, moral behavior, choice of spouse. If they haven’t taken religion seriously by then, odds are, they won’t think too much about it until their mid-20’s… by which point they will be committed to a career, maybe married to an unbelieving spouse, maybe saddled with an STD from promiscuity in college (possibly contributing to infertility), etc.


I’m afraid I have to disagree, Gardening Mommy. I agree that parents have a responsibility to teach their kids about religion; however, it still remains the children’s choice whether they want to accept Jesus.

Think of it this away. We’re all God’s children, and He is the ultimate Father, whereas Mary is the perfect Mother. Did either of them force their beliefs on their children, no? You have to find Jesus yourself. Parents can guide them toward Him, but the children will have to make the journey themselves.

While it’s true that the journey will not always be straightforward, and that as parents, you’d want the best for your kids, but your plan may not be God’s plan. God already has a plan for you and your kids. All we have to do is to trust Him and submit to the future He has planned out for us.

Anyway, just my $0.02.


Not to hijack the thread but;) …Of course, as adults your children will decide if they will be Christian or not. But as children they will and should be taught your faith. Jesus was taught Judiasm by his Mary and Joseph.

You’re last paragraph isn’t clear. Are you saying that we should just have faith that God will direct our children to Christ or are you saying that if our children become atheists that is his will?


My mom was unstable mentally. She was a Christian with a Baptist background. Her faith though consisted of not judging others and trying to help people. For some reason she was certain that eveyone who attended church was a hyprocrite. She based most of her moral decisions on her own emotions.

No I did not follow her practices!

I teach by example and talking, talking, talking to my children.

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