Is it always the parents fault?

whenever a young person leaves the church or gets in to immoral things, there is always a lot of bbbbblame directed at the parents, either from others or themselves.

I’ve participated in prayer ministry in the past, and have had many distraught fathers and mothers come in thinking it’s their fault that their children have rejected the faith.

but I mean, ther’s no guarantee, is thereurn
, that if you have a child that they’ll grow up and follow God. the parents could teach them everything and they still have to make their own choices later on.

I do get that in some cases, maybe parents could have done a better job. but there are a lot of people in the church who think that that if the parents produce good fruit, the kids would never leave. The whole good tree would never produce bad fruit analogy, or vice versa, that if you have bad parents, you won’t turn out too good yourself.

it’s hard to know what to say in these cases, I personally don’t think it’s true but is there any church teaching that can clarify this? thanks

I wonder how many people said this about St. Monica before her son returned to the Church.

I suppose we could say we could all do better in how we raise our children. We are, after all, learning on the job. While there are classes for new parents, I’ve yet to see one on how to raise saints.

And we have to remember that we’re not raising these kids in a vacuum - there are a lot of bad influences, including Catholics.

I don’t know about church teaching but clearly we live in a very secular society and devout, orthodox Catholics and other Christians of any stripe are definitely in the minority. You may have a great prayer life and strong faith yourself but there is no guarantee that can be passed on to a child. Society all around us is cynical and frequently aggressively anti-Christian. Values exposed in the environments young adults frequent such as college campuses, bars, nightclubs etc. are often in direct opposition to Christian values. I know because I was a non-baptized atheist myself as a teenager and young adult.

Now as a parent I find within the church people who wish to water down the faith and offer little in the realms of support to families trying to raise their children in the faith. A lively lady who was leading a bible study I was part of in the past six weeks, is in her lates 50s or early 60s and is our new Adults Formation assistant in the parish. She explained very clearly to us that she does not believe in hell. I don’t like to spend time thinking about evil but I don’t deny it’s reality.

The recent Synod on the Family didn’t seem to spend any time thinking about how to support parents who are trying their best to raise their children Catholic. Or at least, I haven’t heard about it as much as other issues.

So - parents are asked to do their very best to pass on the faith but they are within a larger framework of the church and society and the young person has total free will to reject God and the church.

Well said!~


While this blog post from a few years ago seems to be addressing homeschooling parents more so than others, it reminds us that even if we do all we can to raise good Catholic children, some may end up doing things we never imagined and we (the parents) are not to blame for our young adult children exercising free will when we’ve raised them to the best of our ability.

One thing that must be understood by parents who are concerned about children practicing the Faith. Parents can not give children their Faith, Faith is a direct result of an encounter with Christ, it is a supernatural gift. Parents can set the example, and do their best to predispose the children to accept the Faith, and point the direction to the One who gives it by instruction and example. Each child that is born into this world is born with Original sin, and it’s consequences. This is where all of the rebellion that parents experience from their children takes it’s origin. Sometimes the parents set bad example and this does not add to predisposing the child to the Faith. All of this is a frustration to parents, and the children. The parents are frustrated because the child can not giver what it does not have, conversion. Children are frustrated because they can not meet the demands of their parents. So practicing the Christian virtues of patience, unconditional love, long-suffering, ingratitude from their children, makes for a saint, that’s what marriage and family are all about. I think if you practice all of these things, eventually God will bless you and your family with a good Christian home life.

I don’t know, but obviously, 99.9% of parents are not living Saints, and it’s unfair to compare them to absolute models of parental holiness. Likewise, very, very, VERY few people will be given the graces that St. Augustine was given, and God doesn’t intend for everyone to be the sort of giant that he was. Unfortunately, I wonder how many parents of fallen-away Catholics are themselves hardly Catholic, and how many of their children require a nigh-on miraculous intervention to cooperate with the graces of conversion. Who will intercede for them, I wonder?

Yes, I think that, whenever there is almost an utter lack of catechesis and prayer at home, then clearly the parents are some sort of a cause of that. We live in an age that bends over backwards to make excuses for people and their shortcomings, and we can’t analyze culpability, but the parents do have responsibilities when they have their children Baptized, and some parents seemingly don’t care about those responsibilities in any profound way.

In terms of children never leaving the faith if their parents are devout: obviously, that’s not the case. However, children who have been taught to pray devoutly on a daily basis most certainly will be far less likely to leave the Church than those who pray very infrequently.

You missed my point, which is that parents of wayward children get criticized, but we don’t know if those wayward children will be coming back to the Church, and perhaps even be saints.

Whether or not a child comes back to the Church really is not relevant to whether or not the parents can be criticized. When we have our children Baptized, we openly agree to the responsibilities that that involves. If we refuse to live up to those responsibilities, we have done wrong. Judging culpability is one thing, but admitting that parents have done wrong is quite another. :slight_smile:

I’m pretty sure that’s what the OP was talking about - blaming/judging other parents. I’m the first to admit that I was not perfect when my children were growing up. But “admit” that I am the sole cause of their leaving the Church? No way. And I keep praying they’ll come back. And no one - not me, not you, not the judgemental person at church - knows if or when they will return.

yes, that was what I am talking about.

sometimes parents do their best with what resources they had, and it happens anyways.

or other people say “oh well, they must not have raised their kids well, if this is happening”

not caring about their responsibility as parents in their child’s faith formation and just expecting the school or the church to do it, is a whole other issue

Every parent who has this experience would do well to know the life of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and to invoke her intercession.

She was widowed at an early age and left to raise five young children. Both of her sons went through crises of faith and other life crises. Surely these boys were not helped by the absence of a father in their formative years. The financial misery was also an ordeal that marked their youth – as surely were some of the provisions that were made for the care and education of the boys in such difficult and trying circumstances. Both boys entered the Navy.

Once on their own, neither William nor Richard were that attentive to their mother or her life’s work as foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph; she, of course remained a devoted and attentive mother to them. Her prayers and abiding concern for them and especially their spiritual well-being accompanied them until her dying day – and, no doubt, into eternity. William did, at least, make a rapprochement to his mother during her lifetime. Richard died only two years after his mother – while in the Navy and and as a result of contracting a contagious disease while caring for an Episcopalian missionary. Richard was buried at sea off the coast of Africa.

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