Non-Traditional Family


#1

Hi all - thanks in advance for your understanding and kind responses, and thanks for being gentle in your judgements.

I am a “new” Catholic, but am proud to be one. Previous to being received fully by the Catholic church, my boyfriend (now fiance) and I moved in together… with his two children from a previous relationship.

Since converting fully to the Catholic faith, I have on numerous occaisons confessed my sins, such as pre-marital cohabitation, etc.

His two children have been through many hardships in their young life. Though he and I are scheduled to be married in approximately a year, I think it is in the best interest of the children for us to remain living together as a family though it goes against the faith. They have suffered many losses and I feel that we shouldn’t confuse them further. Thoughts?

Also, once we are married, I want to bring the children into Catholicism. They have been raised thus far in a non-denominational Christian faith, which is far different from the quiet beauty of the Catholic church. Their idea of going to church is clapping hands, dancing, and singing loudly to contemporary music. Any suggestions on how to introduce them to the faith without ‘scaring them off?’


#2

With all due respect for your situation… is there any way possible to have a separate living place? This could be as inexpensive as staying with parents, to simply finding a next door apartment. This situation could allow you to spend the majority of the “family hours” at the house with the kids… there’s nothing wrong with driving home at 10pm at night and coming over to help early in the mornings.
You’re right… it’s a tough call and a difficult situation. But in the eyes of the kids - if you want them to eventually really take the Catholic Faith seriously - you have to LIVE it seriously. You need to explain to them that marriage is sacred - and live it by example.
I understand it’s not the easy answer… but if they see you LIVING the faith, then they will at the very least respect your attempt to bring the entire family into the faith.
A year really isn’t THAT long in the long run…

God bless you and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!


#3

Thanks for your reply - and I do agree with you!

I have thought long and hard about this. Finances would not allow me to live somewhere else in addition to our current living situation. Parents are not an option. Distance is a huge problem there. The biggest problem, though, is since the children lost their mother in a very upsetting fashion… since we four have been living together as a ‘family’ for a while now, it’s an issue of stability for them. They are quite young - seeing me leave, even if it is in the best intentions, will not go well for them. Their counselors have warned me of that, in addition to us as a family regarding stability as the number one issue.


#4

Bring them to Church but don’t push them to participate. You could go to the Catholic book store near by or to the Parish Office and pick up some books-- age appropriate of course-- explaining the different parts of the Mass. But most of all be open to discuss the Mass with them. As you are new to the faith they could ask a question you don’t know the answer to, but then again you probably know more about the Catholic Faith than most of us raised in it from infancy! :slight_smile: If they approach you with a question you can’t answer, be sure to let them know you will find out as soon as you can, maybe even take that child into the Priest to get the answer himself.

There’s a ton of great information out there so good luck!

And Congratulations!!! :extrahappy: Both on your conversion and your up-coming marriage!

As far as moving away, depending on the ages of your children that could be an option. You’ve already stated that you feel that would be detrimental to your children-- and they will be yours. Is it possible for you and their father to refrain from physical relations until the wedding? Could one of you sleep in a different bedroom? If your children aren’t old enough to understand why “Mommy & Daddy aren’t sleeping together any more” in the same bedroom, then perhaps you could keep it just between you and your fiance. It could be a very positive pact between you and him to abstain until your wedding night.

Otherwise my last tidbit of advice is to live your life as fully in the Faith as you can. We’re all mortal and we fall but its just as important for your kids to see you pick yourself up, participate in the sacrements, and love our Lord Jesus.


#5

Maybe I missed something, but why don’t you just get married now?

When you confess, you also firmly resolve to sin no more, but you’re going home to the same situation. Have you discussed this with the priest? I think that would be a good idea. Stability for the children is certainly an important consideration, but so is the salvation of your immortal soul.


#6

with all due respect for the difficulties inherent in your situation, how on earth did any priest consent to receive you into the Church while you were in what is at least objectively a gravely sinful mode of living? I am very sorry you were not given better counsel during this time, and if a priest slipped up in his responsibility you certainly are not culpable for his failure to give good pastoral care. Since you have wisely been to confession since then I assume you now know better and are obliged to remain in a state of grace and following what you know to be the proper course of action. If the priest is not aware that this is a present, not past, situation, tell him so he can advise you better, for instance, if when he hears the whole story he agrees that for the sake of the children you should remain together, he may counsel you to abstain from marital relations until you are in fact married. But that is for confession not this thread.

Why the delay in getting married? It should not take a year to get everything in place for this. Please make an appointement today with your priest, you don’t want to spend any more time than you have to separated from the sacraments of the Church, since you know better than anyone how hard it was to get there in the first place.

You can do this, with Christ all things are possible, see your priest, now.

your concern for the children is admirable and promises well for your future as a family, but you do them no favor by teaching them that a sinful mode of living is acceptable.


#7

Thank you TamaraSieja for your thoughtful words:

As far as moving away, depending on the ages of your children that could be an option. You’ve already stated that you feel that would be detrimental to your children-- and they will be yours. Is it possible for you and their father to refrain from physical relations until the wedding? Could one of you sleep in a different bedroom? If your children aren’t old enough to understand why “Mommy & Daddy aren’t sleeping together any more” in the same bedroom, then perhaps you could keep it just between you and your fiance. It could be a very positive pact between you and him to abstain until your wedding night.

Otherwise my last tidbit of advice is to live your life as fully in the Faith as you can. We’re all mortal and we fall but its just as important for your kids to see you pick yourself up, participate in the sacrements, and love our Lord Jesus.

With the counsel of my priest and within good faith, he and I are abstaining from physical relations until the marraige. It’s simply a shared living quarters. I appreciate your advice and I will make a point to discuss with the kids in a way that they will understand that until the ‘big day’ we are going to sleep in separate rooms so that it will be even more special for all of us after the wedding.

And in response to:

how on earth did any priest consent to receive you into the Church while you were in what is at least objectively a gravely sinful mode of living?

It pains me that you would judge such a great priest as mine. He knows the full situation as the present situation. Instead of turning me away like a lesser priest might, he accepted both my confession and my soul and advised me to remain in my current living situation while clearly abstaining from relations as it is in the best interest of the children. Also, why delay in getting married? I think the better question is “why RUSH getting married?”

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses thus far.

Also in response to Tamara - thanks for the advice on bringing them to Mass. You’re so right. I’m going to start taking them right away and encourage them to ask questions. If there is something I can’t answer - we’ll go talk to the priest together or look to the good Book for answers together. This was the biggest question in my original thread - how to introduce them into a faith that is very different from what they’re used to.


#8

I also dont know how old they are either, but maybe finding a childrens liturgy of the word they can go to? or attending lifeteen mass.

I agree with you. Children are very sensitive, and you definitely should not go out of their life right now.

I see you dont want to rush into getting married, but I dont understand as to why, if you love them so- you wouldnt become their “real” mom yet, so that they really can see you as a happy family. :slight_smile:


#9

Thank you kristanl. I’ve actually just emailed the lovely lady that runs the Children’s Liturgy of the Word program at my church for more information. Your post had great timing! I’m excited about that for them.

As for reasons for not ‘rushing,’ there are a few. Other than the normal reasons (finances, etc), we are going to be attending a six month pre-marital counseling course at the church. He is not a Catholic - and the course and other things are essential before we tie the knot in the eyes of God.

All four of us are excited to be an ‘official’ family! Thanks for your kind words.


#10

Congrats on coming Home! I applaud you for caring about things such as these.

I do agree that separate bedrooms would be a good start. I’m not sure of the age of the children, so you may or may not have to explain why you’re not in the same bedroom.

Some churches do have a “contemporary” Mass with more modern song, while it’s not my cup of tea, perhaps you could ease them into the Church through Masses like these.


#11

Sounds like you need to move up the wedding date. No need to have a big event and party, but a very serious need to rectify your living situation and give the children a true family.


#12

Excellent! Glad you are taking the preparation seriously. Please do speak to your priest about having the wedding directly after your prep is complete. There shouldn’t be too much financial involved in a simple wedding and the most important thing is the marriage and not the reception.


#13

Excellent! That was going to be my suggestion. One other thing that you could tell your fiance’s children is that your marriage to their father will make you a “real” family. It can’t be both just a simply shared living quarters and a family. What you have created now is a “pseudo-family” and what God will create upon your marriage is a real family. Right now you’re a nice lady who lives with them and who has taken an interest in their lives. Marrying their father will make you their step-mother (or possibly more if you eventually adopt them.) Rather than the focus being just on the shared bedroom, as the wedding approaches much closer (as a year is a very, very long time to children) I suggest you emphasis that with the marriage to their father you will all become a real family.

Sorry, it’s hard to deal with multiple topics on one thread. Your living together before marriage (with the general presumption that such living situations involve sexual relations) seemed a bigger concern to most serious Catholics.

As far as introducing them to the Catholic faith, one advantage that many Catholic Churches have over non-denominational Christian services is the actual building. Show them the art. Most Catholic Churches are decorated like a gigantic Bible picture books. If you know they are familiar with the Bible stories portrayed on the walls and in the windows, point those familiar story pictures out to them. “There’s a statue of what Jesus may have looked like when he was up on the cross.” “There’s baby Jesus in His mother’s arms.” If they are currently without a mother, introduce them to the concept of Mary as the mother of people who love Jesus, (since Jesus shared His mother with His beloved disciple from the cross.) You could use that later to tie into the concept of motherhood and family as your wedding approaches closer. We are all one family in Christ, and yet there are smaller, individual family units (which you will be part of with them once you marry their father.)


#14

@gardenswithkids - Thank you, I absolutely love the idea of introducing Mary to them in such a light. It was the Blessed Mother that drew me home to the Church, and I think it is fantastic to use her guidance in this. Much appreciated.


#15

I have some thoughts from my experience related to moving up your wedding.

First, doing the marriage preparation is I think, a valid and necessary reason to wait.

I know other reasons that seem compelling are money, and maybe having family able to come. These are the big reasons my husband and I waited after we were living together. Especially the latter, I wanted to be able to have my whole family there. (Of course, our reasons for living together were not actually as good as yours.) Also, my husband wasn’t then a Christian, so he wouldn’t have even thought it was an issue.

But in hind-sight, I realize that wasn’t actually all that important. It would have been better to just have a small wedding with my immediate family. Not that I didn’t enjoy my wedding, or that it wasn’t a meaningful sacrament, but what I remember as being important about it wasn’t the party or even many of the guests. The ceremony, and especially the marriage prep we did (which was when my husband really did become a Christian) were the things that have stuck with me.

Just something to think about. (And - you would be able to stop sleeping apart that much sooner!)


#16

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