How to bring up the topic of Baptism


Hi All,

This is my first post and I’ve joined because I am looking for opinions from other Catholic parents of adult children, especially those who’ve been in my situation.

How do I bring up the topic of Baptism with my lapsed son regarding the Baptism of his new baby? He has told me he is not Catholic (has been Baptized and Confirmed, made First Confession and Holy Communion). Wife not Catholic, but do not know if of any other religion though does not seem to be practicing any if she is.

What do I say without alienating him further, causing a scene or argument?

Thank you all for reading my post.


Given the situation of your son and his wife, I doubt a priest would be willing to baptize the baby. The parents have to promise to raise the child Catholic, and it would be obvious that they aren’t willing to do that. Pray that your son returns to the faith, and takes his wife with him.


Thank you BoomerangToo for your reply.

I have been praying the rosary daily for the last 8 or so years for my lapsed family members to return to the Church (and I think not so long as that but for a lot of that time for the conversion of my non-Catholic DIL and grandchildren too) but my prayers have not been answered as yet - I’m still holding out hope that God will hear and answer my prayers.

I raised the issue with my PP and his advice to me was that the Priest is the one who determines there is no hope of the child being raised Catholic. (As I asked him whether I should raise the issue considering my sons attitude. He also advised me to do a discernment exercise to hopefully hear God’s voice and what He wants me to do in this matter).

I feel that it is my duty to advise my son of his duties regarding his son being baptised. On the other hand, I can’t see my raising the issue being met with acceptance and so can’t see the Baptism happening at all. But do see that it’ll anger my son and potentially cause a fall out between us (which I’d be prepared to risk if it meant my grandson would be baptised), as well as possibly provoking him to say something against the Catholic Faith.

Perhaps you would kindly offer up a Hail Mary or some other prayer for this difficulty?


Prayers offered for your children and grandchildren.


Hello jeannetherese,
Thank you for your kindness in offering to offer up some prayers.

God bless you.


As has been said already a priest is unlikely to baptise your grandchild because there seems to be no prospect of the child being raised in the Catholic Faith.

I think one of the best things we can do as parents is to be good examples to our children. So rather than pushing your son and daughter-in-law to have their child baptised just be around to be a good mother and a good grandmother.

I know this is not how you want things to be but, sadly, that is the way they are. If you push too hard you could completely alienate them and that would result in you being estranged from your son, daughter-in-law and grandchild.


This is one of the more difficult situations that Catholic grandparents find themselves in, these days. From one point of view, it’s an opportunity for us to catechize ourselves in terms of what baptism is… and what it isn’t.

What it is, is an opportunity to begin a child’s initiation into the Church. Since it’s a beginning, it brings with it certain responsibilities for the child’s parents. Among them are the promise to raise the child in the Catholic faith, and ensure that the child receives catechesis in the faith (i.e., either Catholic school or CCD), and that they are initiated at the appropriate time in the other sacraments of initiation (Eucharist, Confirmation).

What baptism isn’t, is ‘magic’. It’s not the case that, as long as a child is baptized, the pressure’s off and his salvation is assured. Far from it! I think that, from a traditional perspective, we Catholics are so accustomed to children being baptized as newborns, we have the impression that the baptism ceremony itself is the most important thing. In a certain sense, it isn’t. It’s critical that the parents and their children practice the faith! Without that regular practice of the faith, baptism will not save a person, per se!

I’ve seen situations in which grandparents take on the responsibility to ensure that their grandchildren will come with them each week to Mass, and attend CCD, and receive the sacraments. It doesn’t seem, from your post, like that’s a possibility here.

One thing that I would ask: please, please, please don’t take it on yourself to perform a ‘bathtub baptism’ of your grandchild. While it may be valid, it will nevertheless be illicit, and the end result is that you’ll have a Catholic grandchild who is orphaned from the faith of his baptism. (Chances are, you’ll also anger your son, and place your relationship with him and his family at risk.) That’s not what you’re looking to achieve, right?

I’ll be praying for you – and for your son and his child!


This really isn’t something that’s your business to bring up.

I understand your concern. I understand that your adult son has duties to his faith.


He’s an adult. He has made his choices. He has the right to raise his children as he sees fit. If you bring it up he could well decide that you’re interfering and decide that you’re not to have any access to his child.

The most you can do is pray for his conversion back to the faith. If he eventually approaches you and asks what he needs to do to return to the church, or to have his child baptized, then you can offer advice. Otherwise, you really need to stay out of it. As the PPs have said, DO NOT do a “bathtub Baptism” for your grandchild. This only serves to do two things: 1) bind a child to a faith that he/she has no means at this time of understanding or observing due to a lack of commitment from the parents; 2) raise the possibility of a serious rift in the family because you’ve demonstrated that you can’t be trusted to obey your son’s wishes. At best, you might not be allowed any alone time with your grandchild. At worst, you might never see your grandchild again.


I think that the topic may be raised, the challenge is in how to go about it. My priest advised me to reach out to a child who had fallen away as a parent who worries about having failed my child. This put the onus on me and helped soften the resistance I might have met if I had focused on my child.
Saint Monica is our friend, as is Our Lady. The goal is salvation. Try to be patient. We can always model the faith and try to support positive formation.
Perhaps when the grandchild is older tuition support, should the parents be willing to allow it, to the parish school could be helpful here? I had a friend who taught 4th grade at a parish school and witnessed the two non-Catholic kids in her class bring their parents into the faith; with God all things are possible and, unfortunately, due to poor faith formation we have a generation of Catholics, many of whom do not know their faith well enough to claim it as adults.
The sacraments confer grace. There is debate about grandparents baptizing their grandchildren and, if you are on the opposed to the action side of the debate, you might want to pray for baptism in the spirit as we may pray for a spiritual communion. As Catholics, we know that baptism has three forms: baptism in water using the Trinitarian formula, baptism of desire, and baptism of blood.
May God bless and guide you and your children and your grandchildren.


Respectfully, I disagree. As parents, our obligation to our children does not cease when they reach the age of majority. We still have a responsibility to them. How to best live out that responsibility becomes the challenge.


I’m in the same situation you are.

My two children who are married both married outside the Church.
Daughter is married to a non-Catholic but son is married to another Catholic. Neither couple practices and son recently declared himself an atheist in a Facebook post.
Daughter has two sons, 7 & 4 years of age. When I brought up Baptism with the first one I was told, “Mom, when I got married I didn’t do it in the Church because I knew that marrying a non-Catholic would force me to say I would raise my kids Catholic and not lose my faith. Answering yes to that under oath would have been lying and I couldn’t do that. Now that we have H. I will not have him baptized because again I would have to lie. I don’t even think A. believes in God and I’m on the fence. So don’t ask me again.”

Oh how I struggled not to do a bathtub Baptism but I knew it would be pointless as they’d never get anything more with us living 1500 miles away.


Hello TomH1,
Thank you for your thoughts. I agree and hopefully will be able to be there. The relationship with DIL is not close, I think by her choice judging by her actions. There is also the possibility they may move further away than they currently live, and if this happens then there is nothing I can do.
Being estranged from my son is a possibility which would prevent any further possibilities of having any influence in these matters in the future. This lies on “the other hand”, on the negative side of my speaking up.


Hi Gorgias,
I fully understand what the Sacrament of Baptisms is and isn’t.

I agree with you point about it not being a possibility of my being able to take my grandchild to Mass each week as things stand as they are now. But I could teach him some prayers and about the Bible and the Saints etc.

Only in the danger of death would I perform a Baptism on him, certainly not a bathtub baptsim as I know people are tempted to do. I think whilst these others have the best of intentions, it usually backfires and the child suffers as a result, hence certainly not advisable regardless of how tempting it may be.
Thank you for your prayers.
God bless you.


You don’t.

You pray for them, love them and leave it in God’s hands.


Hello His_helpmeet,
Thank you for the points you’ve raised. I agree with you and still hope for his return to the Faith.
I too can foresee that in the scenario of my speaking up about the baby being Baptised that if I’m not alienated then I’d certainly wouldn’t be granted any alone time just in case I might try to give the child a medal or teach him some prayers or anything along the lines of religion. These reasons go on the negative side of the list of reasons in trying to discern whether or not to say anything or keep out of it and just keep praying.

God bless you.


Hello jeannetherese,

You’re right in that I’m hoping people will have suggestions as to how I may phrase what I say if and when I do bring up the topic of Baptism. If I speak bluntly and say for example “He should be Baptised and as his parent it is your duty as a Baptised Catholic to see that he is” - will be met strongly negatively I am sure. So in what terms can I phrase it?

I’m doing the discernment process as my PP advised me to do. I’m wanting to get ideas on what to say so I can put these ideas on the positive side, if this is what I discern is the action God is wanting from me. The thoughts of all you kind people about why not to say anything I am placing on the negative side ie as this may be what God is wanting - that I not say anything at this time.
Whilst I knew of Baptism of desire in addition to the Trinitarian formula, I did not know I could pray for Baptism in the spirit for my grandchildren. So I thank you for this guidance.
Thank you for your prayer.

God bless you.


It seems that there are a lot of grandparents out there that get really upset over a child not being Baptized. That’s always seemed strange to me. Why would they die on the hill of a Baptism, knowing there is very little chance that the parents will follow through with raising the child Catholic? Isn’t that the most important thing? As another poster pointed out, a Baptism isn’t magic. It doesn’t mean that the child is going to practice the Catholic faith despite their parents. Doesn’t it make more sense to not alientate your adult children, remain involved in the grandchild’s life, be a good witness for Christ and the Catholic faith, and hope and pray that the child become interested in the faith and seek it out when they are old enough?


What do you want to say to him about it? Obviously, if he is no longer Catholic and his wife has no religious beliefs than they aren’t going to baptize their baby.

If your son joined the Mormon church and had conversations with you encouraging you to join the Mormon church, think how you would feel about it. You indicated you are fearful of causing estrangement with your son. Of course that would most likely lead to estrangement of your grandchild, too. Nobody likes being told about their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

I would suggest letting this go. Instead, love your grandchild and your son, and be happy you have a relationship with them. Leave the rest in God’s hands.


A woman in my former Baptist church prayed for 40 years for the conversion of her family member. There was quite a celebration when he finally gave his life to Christ.


Hello All,

Sorry for the delay in replying to posters, but earlier on I couldn’t post anymore replies as apparently I’d reached my limit of post for the first day after joining.

To Phemie,

I’m in a similar boat as you so I can empathize. Both of mine married outside the Church as well.

The DIL married to my other son, raised the issue with me herself and told me that as she wants the children to attend Baptist and my son refuses to allow them to, and he wants them to be Catholic but she refuses to, they’re at a stalemate in addition to believing it is better to allow the child to decide for themselves without undue influence from either parent. How this can happen when there is no knowledge that their are religions and what these entail is beyond me. A child can’t decide one way or another if they don’t have any knowledge to begin with. But I will keep awake for any opportunity to explain the Catholic Faith if asked for information by the grandchildren themselves.

I will offer up prayer for your situation too.

God bless.

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