Parents converted but not the older children

Me and my husband (swedish) converted to the Catholic Church 1,5 yrs ago. Former non-denominational. We have five children, the first four 16-10 yrs didn’t follow us into the Church. Our 2 year old is babtised catholic and we are expecting nr 6 in december. I find it hard to know the best way to go in dealing with our older children. Two of them (12 and 10) follow us to Mass, But Don’t want to be catholics anyway and won’t atend catholic teaching etc. The other two (16 and 15) Don’t follow us to Mass But are not very interested in going to a protestant Church either. I also find it hard to know what’s the best way to go in changing our family traditions into more catholic ways around Easter, Advent and Christmas. Our 4 oldest are against all thats “catholic” But we ofcourse want our smallest to grov up with Catholic traditions. Are there more familie in a similar situation out there? Would be so great to hear how you do things in your family.

Keep praying for them NON stop and just keep leading by good example. They will see through you what a JOY being Catholic is.


Try to look for fun traditions, especially ones that are traditional for your region.

I suspect that your big kids won’t argue with sweets or pancakes for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, and there are a lot of kid friendly Advent traditions.

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Be a good example. Have lots of Catholic reading material in your home. Continue to pray and encourage but not mandate with your older children.

As for Catholic traditions-- start with Advent. Not just Catholics have Advent traditions. Also, you are Scandinavian, so try incorporating St Lucy’s Day also, and St Nicholas during Advent. Then focus on doing charity work during Lent more than “giving up” something. Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are right there in the book of Matthew, so it’s hard even for non-denominational Christians to argue with that! You can fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (kids aren’t required to do that anyway). The family can abstain from meat on Fridays if you cook non-meat dishes. If the kids eat meat elsewhere, that’s OK, they are not bound by Catholic laws.

I think since your little one is baptized Catholic, just start doing “Catholic stuff”, always invite the non-Catholic kids but let it be their choice.

I can tell you the influence will rub off, especially if you have Catholic literature and books in the home that are easy for them to read if they get curious. Through a complicated series of family events, my mother was baptized Catholic but raised in the Episcopal church. I was baptized Episcopalian and raised in the EC by my grandparents. In her mid-20s my mom returned to her Catholic roots, became practicing, married a Catholic, had children and raised them Catholic. Through all of this, I remained EC-- actively practicing in that denomination. But by my own mid-20s I was at the stage of questioning what I really believed, read a lot of the books my mom had on hand (pre internet) and at age 25 I entered the Church.

I can’t say that will happen with your children, I will just say that having a Catholic example and my mom just living her faith while not pressuring me to do so was the right approach until I was ready to ask questions.

Kids are complicated during their teen years. Let them ride it out, encourage them to be active and faithful in SOMETHING, and keep praying.


We have two older children brought up evangelical Christian. Our youngest grew up Lutheran but at first didn’t like the Lutheran Church but quickly warmed up to their liturgy, kneeling for communion, seasons like Pentecost and advent. She became active with the youth. Their confirmation class was very good, similar to the old Baltimore Catechism.We had a very loving, godly pastor. It was very Catholic. Then my husband finally realized the bad theology. My daughter was twelve when we started attending Catholic churches. No one was friendly, kids just stared at her. She was seeing and hearing things that went against what she had been taught at home and at the Lutheran church. It was one thing to have the right theology but the faith was not put into practice like the Lutherans.

We finally ended up in an Eastern Catholic parish. She attended with us until she went off to college, a “Catholic” college. Her experiences there are why she still considers herself a Lutheran. Though she and my oldest will attend our Eastern Catholic church, our son stopped going to church at 16. He has trouble dealing with Christian hypocrisy, though he does love a good theological debate. He would make a good contemplative, lol.

All we can do is share the gospel with them and practice our faith. I pray for them daily.

I have no direct experience but I could see implanting the change (incorporating Catholic life) more slowly might help. What I mean is don’t go overboard and change everything. Children like stability and too much change can turn them off something.

Lutefisk may be a barrier to conversion! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes, we have done that a little on feastdays for some Saints. We tell about the saint and then we have some kind of celebration including sweets. THAT is no problem for non of them :slight_smile: The hard thing is to change traditions we have had into something new thats catholic.

Can you be more specific?

From what I have understod the Friday-fast Don’t have to be meat anymore, But rather something that is a personal saccrifice for each person, because fastiing from meat is not a saccrifice for everyone theese days. Besides not having meat on fridays in Sweden is very strange. Here we have a strong cultural tradition of eating taccos or hamburgers on fridays. A non-meat meal is not ok with our older children at all and is considered very catholic for them. So me and my husband fast from other things on fridays.

The thing is that here in Sweden we have a strong cultural tradition of giving the children a little gift/sweet for every day of december. And the houses are decorated like its allready Christmas. Drinking a special sweet drink called “Julmust” and bakning and eating a lot of gingerbreads. We have changed it slowly. Like for two years letting them have the gifts and sweets But also added somthing new. Docorated in purple and having a pray around the table at the Advent-candles. Last year we did a Jessi tree and our plan is to continue with that. For this year I want to skip the gifts, so our 2 year old doesn’t get used to that tradition. But our older children ofcourse Don’t want that. Maybe we could wait another year? Me and my husband have also talked about maybe starting to pray the Rosary after dinner togheter during Advent. But ofcourse let it be optional for the children to attend or not.

Tacos and hamburgers? That is funny. But it has to be a recent tradition, right?

As I understand it the Friday abstinence was supposed to be local bishop’s conferences choosing a penance for the region. It wasn’t supposed to be everyone pick their own penance. It was supposed to be a unified penance. For me giving up meat isn’t a big penance.

You could eventually try the Friday abstinence from meat. My wife and I do and find it spiritually good for us. You could make two meals to accommodate the other children. Obviously that is extra work but we are called to sacrifice. Of course you don’t have to do this. It is just something I found good for me and my wife.

Yes, like I answered someone else. For Advent in Sweden there is a very strong cultural tradition to give the children a small gift/sweets every day of december an till december 24:th. And the houses are decorated like its allready Christmas. People bake and eat a lot of gingerbread and there are two special sweet drinks called “julmust” and “glögg” that people drink during Advent and continue during Christmas. December is like one big Christmas-celebration. Not to do this, But instead decorate in purple/pink, skip gifts and sweets ect and instead have for exempel a Jessi tree and some prayer around the Advent-candle is very od and strange for our older children. They want to have it like we have had it before and like everybody else and thats understandable. Children are very traditional and hate changes. Also here in Sweden, 24 th of december is the big Christmas day. Not a fasting day at all. For Easter, Holy Saturday is the day of celebration with feast foods and children getting big eggs with sweets in them. Not a fasting day at all. For Holy friday it is easier to start with catholic traditions because we didn’t do anything special before.

Sweden is like America. Christmas and Easter mark the end of the season and not the beginning. Fasting and penance in preparation for the feasts is not something the wider culture or even a lot of Catholics do. If you do these things you’ll set yourself apart from even many Catholics.

But, I try to return to the old way. I try to make these true seasons of fasting and peannce. That is hard because especially during Advent people have lavish Christmas parties. But, we need to take back the culture. That means individuals bucking the trend.

It is interesting to me that we have such a hard time with fasting and penance. We live in a time of great abundance and yet we can’t cut back even a little. We deem this unnecessary. Even Protestants used to fast.

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Sorry, I don’t think that I’ll be able to be much help. I’m non-denom, wife and kids are Catholic and we basically do everything you’re trying to get away from in our house with our kids.

Candy and/or coins for advent, we’ll decorate the house the weekend after Thanksgiving, TONS of baking, etc…

We both grew up with either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day being the big Christmas day…most of the time both.

Several years before I even knew anything about the Catholic Church I felt sad during the seasons because hardly nothing seemed to be about Jesus. In my own way I tryed do something about it But didn’t really know how and felt very alone in this desire to focus more on Jesus. So when I came into the Catholic Church I was totaly amazed with Joy! Here it was everything I had missed and much, much more! I so Love the Catholic faith and all its beautifull traditions focusing on Christ! But turning the family is not so easy as you say. But now I know that I’m not alone, I have The Church behind me in this! Good to hear you have the same heart. God bless you!


We have done that - making two different meals on Fridays. And as you say the saccrifice is not the meat, but the extra work. But now I’m pregnant and have been low on iron and also Don’t have the energy to make two different meals. so for now saccrificing something else is the best way for me.

With the Friday tacos, how about you do all of the meatless stuff and ask the big teens to deal with the meat?

I think that’s a very fair request. Also, if time is an issue, they could cook the meat earlier in the week (for example Saturday or Sunday), freeze it, and then reheat it for Friday dinner.

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