Refusing to bring my kids into the home of cohabitating family members


My brother is cohabiting with his girlfriend. I have three kids all under three years old, and despite a few invitations, I have avoided taking my family to his house because I don't want to expose my kids to that lifestyle. He wants to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, and so I finally just told him no and explained why in as nice of a way as I could.

My family (parents, siblings and their spouses) all think I'm being a big jerk.

I'm not wrong, am I?


Considering the very young age of your kids, the limited time you would be there, and that I can’t imagine your children actually fully comprehending the living arrangement you might want to give it a second thought. Just my $.02


Nope. You are not wrong at all. My husband and I secretly eloped at the age of 19, but told only a few people. We were warned not to marry and were told how angry people would be at us for not following their plans for our young adulthood. So we eloped, and then lived as the married couple we were. However, since so few people knew we were married, we felt obligated to hide our living arrangements from younger relatives. We lived in another city, so this was easy to accomplish. We also "separated" when we went home to visit. He went to his parent's house and I went to mine. We spent daytime hours together, visiting with each other's families, but went to our homes for sleeping. We didn't invite people to visit us at college, either.
We didn't want our siblings to be scandalized. We didn't want to parade around like we were fornicating, when in fact, we had long been married. But we were just so confused about why professed "Christian" parents were asking us to either live together or to break up, because we were too young to marry. :shrug:
Anyway, our 13th anniversary is rapidly approaching, the truth about our elopement is out, and we have been apologized to by our family members who now realize what they were doing to us was wrong.
But I am still opposed to cohabitation, and fornication, even though our arrangement would have been extremely scandalous for those very reasons if people had been more aware of it. I don't think that refusing to bring your children into your relative's home when they are cohabiting is unfair. Your primary responsibility is toward your children's spiritual development, not toward the feelings of other adults who are "living in sin". And I would never have made such a request and played house in front of my young relatives in that way. It is irresponsible of them to do so, and rude of them to ask you to do so.


The young ages of my kids is one of the main reasons why I don’t want to expose them to it. They’re very perceptive (the older 2 anyway), so they’ll kind of get what is going on, but my ability to explain things to them is limited. I don’t want my brother’s situation to be imprinted on their minds as an acceptable family model.

On top of that, my brother is still in the middle of a divorce from his wife, and my kids knew them as a couple, and we’re still friendly with the wife.


Is this whole “don’t expose children to sin” thing actually Church dictated or is it simply CAF dictated?


I think you're completely right, especially since your brother is actually committing adultery.

When I was divorced, but before I came back the the Church, I went to visit a really evangelical friend. She asked that I not refer to my ex-husband in the presence of her 3- and 6-year-olds. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me. They're young enough to notice, but not old enough to understand.

And you don't want to give them the idea that fornication and adultery are somehow OK if a family member is involved. It places a divide between what you say you believe, and what they see around them, and gives them the idea that you just have to say those things are wrong; you don't actually have to believe it.

God bless you and let you know for sure what you should do--all I can give is an opinion.



[quote="PatrickSebast, post:5, topic:214298"]
Is this whole "don't expose children to sin" thing actually Church dictated or is it simply CAF dictated?


Neither. It's common sense not to expose young children to things when they are old enough to understand what they see, but not old enough to know how to fit that into what they learn in church.



Nope. You’re right on target, being a great parent! They don’t need to be exposed to sin at this age.


I would shield them, if I had children.

Sounds like your brother is committing himself to a long list of “test” wives.


I’m pretty sure children under 3 years old won’t even know what fornication is, never mind the difference between “girlfriend” and “wife”. They won’t know that a sin is even going on. They probably don’t even understand the concept of sin yet.

I think you should put aside your differences and have fun at Thanksgiving. You don’t have to bring them over there all the time (because then they’d pick up on it), but just for Thanksgiving? Why not? They won’t absorb sin and start loving it just because they’re having dinner with the family. Which reminds me: you’re depriving them of a great family experience because of your extreme suspicions. I only wish my family was close enough to even think of having Thanksgiving dinner together.


Wow, I’m surprised so many people are saying not to take the kids to the brothers house?

Sin is everywhere. I have 3 kids under the age of 7 and I would personally take them. I don’t even think I would explain the situation to them…I mean, its only for a couple of hours for dinner. You can’t really shield the kids from seeing this kind of stuff, you can only explain to them why it is a sin. And since you said your kids are under the age of 3, they won’t even know the difference.:shrug:


Kids have a spirit and know good from evil… My grandson is a good example. His dad, my ex-son-in-law liked to play outside of his marriage (reason for being an ex) … His mom (my daughter) moved home when she found out about the adultery [size=2](when grandson was 3 months old)… The courts still say his dad visiting rights, so grandson goes every other weekend to visit dad. He is now 6 years old and each time he returns from a visit he is a changed boy and takes a day or two to return to his normal loving self.[/size]

His mom, his new step-dad and I wish that the visits didn’t have to happen… But our court system doesn’t recognise adultery as a sin [size=2](an environment not good for children to be around)[/size]


I do not agree with you. Here is why. Your brother is living in sin. That is not a judgement that is a fact. Okay now lets move on.

Does the Catholic Church teach us to shun our brothers and sisters who are away from the Church, or are we taught to pray for them and be a good example. Did Jesus eat with sinners? Are we not also sinners??

I realize your brother is doing wrong, but he knows his sin, and it is between him and God to get the sin right. He knows how you feel. He knows you do not accept his way of life. But God gave us free will. Would it not be better to try to become more a part of your brothers life in a Christian way and try to bring him slowly back into the Church, rather then push him away?


You are right Marian. My Brother is gone now and I would give anything to have dinner with him. We all have sins of our own. Now if the kids were older and the brother was still living this way I would simply say. I love him, but cannot accept his way of life and will continue to pray for him. I would never justify his way of life, because I could not.

But you know life has a way of changing things around on you when you least expect it. What if years later it was your child doing the sin?:eek:

Pope John Paul ll said it the best Hate the sin, Love the sinner. But at this small age the kids would not even understand. But sometimes its our ways of being a Christian that bring people to the Church, and sometimes keep them away.


From CCC, paragraph 1868:
*Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

  • by protecting evil-doers.*

Are we not called as Catholics to admonish the sinner? We are not to cooperate in sin. The silence of Christians is a big part of the problem within our society today. Our silence is cowardice. There is a dwindling of shame in our country due to our silence. We need to have courage to speak up for the truth.

Also, I have already talked with my wife about these situations within our family. I will not visit any of my relatives who are cohabitating. Will it bring some strife within the family? Of course, but we have to stand on principles as Christians and stop putting them aside so easily. Plus, we have already let our children know, if they cohabitate, do not expect a visit from us. How could I, in good conscious, then visit some other couples. The truth can divide, but in the end, it can also lead people back to Christ.


MarianD, dailey, and rinnie,

How do you comport your view with Matthew 18? The beginning of the chapter states that one who scandalizes a little child would be better off with the millstone, and later in that chapter is the instruction to go privately, go with one or two others, etc., and if the sinner does not repent, treat him as a heathen or a publican (D-R). This is Christ speaking directly in this chapter.

I agree it is a difficult situation, and of course everyone has their personal weaknesses, failings, and sins, but in this particular case, the kids know the actual wife. How will they not notice that? I think the instruction in Matthew 18 is intended to be medicinal.


The reality is that her borther has chosen to live in sin, and she has more of an obligation to bring her children up as good Catholics–that is one of the duties of her state in life–than to evangelize her brother.

Exposing her children to a scandalous situation when she is unable to explain it to them would be wrong, remember that the CCC says that we are to follow our consciences. Another person, with different children, might make a different decision, but this is the decision she has made in her raising of her children and it is perfectly valid.


If Thanksgiving is celebrated by your whole family, you might ask yourself, what is the most loving thing to do... for your whole family.

I doubt your kids are able to understand the nature of any relationships, other than those of their parents. They will, however, probably enjoy being with a large, loving family gathering.



Attending Thanksgiving dinner where at least 2 people in the room sin (not unlike all Thanksgiving dinners) does none of these things, so your quote from the CCC doesn’t apply here.

The OP should talk to her (I assume she’s female) brother about the sin, but she shouldn’t shun him completely out of her life. That’s not what the Church teachers. It teaches us to distance ourselves from the sin, not cut off all contact with the sinner. If it did the latter, then there would have been zero proselytizing and Christ would never have dined with sinners.

Which reminds me…even God Himself dined with sinners. Sounds no different than a Thanksgiving dinner with your family. So long as you don’t support your brother’s lifestyle, OP, there’s no problem.


You can still be part of his life without going to his place. You can still eat with a sinner at many other places. A Christian, who stands on principles these days, gets turned into the intolerant one. Cooperating with sin is not helping anyone get to heaven. Family harmony is a good thing, but it is not the ultimate goal, which is heaven. And this passive treatment of sin over the past 50 years is a failure, just look at the state of our culture.

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