Should a 16 year old be forced to go to Confession


Hi Everyone,

I have a problem that I need to address with my 16 year old niece. Two Sundays ago she was at my house for a BBQ and stole a bottle of Vodka from my cabinet. The next day she took
it to a friends house and got very drunk. The friends brought her home to her Grandmom’s house were she lives with her Dad and left her on the front lawn. Someone called the police when they saw her, so they came and brought her to her door. She told Grandmom and Dad that she wasn’t drinking and that some boy gave her a soda and maybe there was something in the soda. They believed her and said that her wasn’t allowed to hang with this friend again.
It wasn’t until her friend called and told Grandmom the truth about what my niece had done and where she got the vodka that they called me to ask if the bottle was missing. Of course it was.
As far as I can tell very little action is being taken to deal with this very serious matter and I feel I must step in. I was told that my Niece would call and apologize. It’s been 2 days now, no apology. I called to see what actions are being taken and was told by Grandmom that her father just doesn’t know what to do. When I asked about the apology, Grandmom said that she would make her come to the phone while I waited. I said no, that she is a big girl and that she needs to do this on her own and that includes dialing the phone to call me at the very least. Grandmom also said that she would make her go to Confession this Saturday. But because she went up to Holy Communion last Sunday, and had not been to Confession for this incident, I think she is not sincere about her faith and may not even confess this sin if forced to go. I really see that she has been snowing everyone with this good-girl behavior.
I am devastated by her actions, I have done so many things for her, attending her plays, taking her on trips, taking her to mass, weedends at my house etc. I feel like I don’t even know her.
I’m her God-mother and I care very much about the state of her soul, I don’t want to misguide her or overlook her lying. Should she be forced to go to Confession ? What can I do for this poor child?:confused:


You can not force her to go to confession. You can strongly encourage it, you can talk about the redeeming value of it, you can offer to take her to the Church for it but you can not force her to go. She has to have a repentant heart and desire to not do it again in order to go and only she and God will know if this is true.

Pray for her, she has a lot to deal with in her life and now stealing alcohol and drinking it until she is drunk are part of it.

Prayers for her and you and all involved in your family.

Brenda V.


A person should never be forced to go to Confession.

Also, if a person isn’t sorry for their sins, there’s a good chance they won’t even be absolved.

Encourage her to go. Show her what Christian forgiveness is. Pray for her.


Thank you Brenda,

And by the way:) Horton’s quote about- A person is a person no matter how small -is one of my very favorites.


I’ll pray that she goes of her own free will, and that the Holy Spirit guides the priest who hears her confession.:slight_smile:


A forced confeesion would not be valid.

The best you can do is pray for her.

God Bless



I would encourage you to continue your loving and gentle support. She won’t be 16 for ever; many teenagers go through a difficult period only to blossom into full adulthood. As for confession: it needs to be presented in a positive way: I don’t think it will help her long term if she sees it as a punishment for what you think she may have done.

Stick with her and you’ll both have a great long-term relationship.

God bless you both.



Looks like more of an opportunity to help this girl. Since you are her God-mother you are in the perfect position to discuss the implications of her actions on her relationship with God. I do believe it is within your right to require a trip to confession as a way to show a serious apology to you. You two probably need a few hours together. Maybe on the way to confession next week? She’s just a kid. There are people that influence others to do what they do. Your job is to be a positive influence especially when others might not be. It may take a lot of patience, but with prayer, I’m sure you are up to it once the shock of the situation passes.

Remember, use “I” statements not a “baseball bat”.:thumbsup: :wink: Turn it over to the Holy Spirit! Treat her like Jesus would. Sounds like she needs firm, but loving direction in her life that she isn’t getting elsewhere.

Peace be with you.


:blush: My parents (and grandmother) forced me to go to confession a few times when I was a teen. :blush: It is not like they went in there with me, although they did sit outside and wait for me to be done. They never asked the priest if I confessed. I remember once I told my priest that my parents were forcing me to be there. We had a nice talk and yes I did really feel bad for what I did and I knew I did and he knew I did.
Personally, I don’t think it hurt me that they forced me to go to confession. I think it really helped me understand that I can feel better about myself and my relationship with God and my family by going to confession. It also taught me that no matter how bad I thought my sin was, that my priest was there to help and support me. So even though I was forced, after talking to my priest and admitting my sin through my own free will it was a valid confession.
Also, my parents would NOT let me go to communion if they knew I needed confession prior and had not gone and YES they would have told my priest if I would have tried.

Oh, also, we belonged to a small parish and I am sure our priest knew by the way my parents were sitting in the pew that I was being forced to be there :wink:


You can’t force an eight-year old to go to confession. Don’t even try a 16-year old. You can suggest, you can drive them to the church, but you can’t make them.

You can, however, urge Grandmom and Dad to make the dear child fork over the dough for your bottle of vodka and any other damages caused in obtaining it. If she has no job and no money, I would suggest she earn some in service to you. How’s your lawn looking these days? I wouldn’t trust her in the house alone (and lock up your booze! Seriously- get a locking liquor cabinet).


Put your liquor far out of reach when any teens are in your house.

She should make it up to you. One cannot force confession, one can strongly suggest it.


Can’t force a teen to go to confession? Maybe not, but all through my high school years, the entire family was piled into the car on Saturdays and we went up to the local church for confessions. Nobody was given the chance to opt out, just as we were not given the chance to opt out of Mass on Sunday. I suppose we could have gone into the church but not went to confession, but that never happened. It was expected. It was done.


nobody can be forced to accept a sacrament, that is canon law. you can drive her to the church and lead her up to the door and even shove her into the confessional, but you cannot make her confess. a far more useful approach would be a reality check for the people responsible for raising her so they can stop enabling her and start helping her. I hope adults in the family have learned to lock up the liquor cabinet, and I hope they check out liquor liablity laws in their state. the treatment for alcoholism is AA or al-a-teen, not confession, which is the treatment for sin.


A 16-year old should know that stealing liquor is not acceptable so stowing away the alcohol shouldn’t be necessary.

I would maybe write the girl a note saying that you’re disappointed in her behavior but you understand that people make mistakes and then try to make up for their mistakes. Since she’s an adult you know you’ll be receiving a call/visit from her soon to apologize for stealing from you and that you await her contact.

Throwing in a little guilt to get the situation rolling shouldn’t hurt too badly. :wink:


I agree with that…my son doesn’t always come with us (he is 15 yrs old) but, when we go as a family, he attends with us…there is no opt out clause. I don’t believe in forcing a child to confession, or coercing a child to confess a particular thing–as another poster said, that could be cause for an invalid confession, as we must have a truly contrite heart and be repentant for our sins. But, I think just as an overall personal opinion…my son doesn’t get to say…‘I don’t want to go,’ if it’s a family day for confession. When he is grown and out of the house, he can choose to not go–I pray he choose to stick with this beautiful aspect of our faith. If we are not taking our kids to confession, or strongly suggesting they go…how will they learn?


I sure wouldn’t be easy on her. You are her God Parent and her Aunt. You have a right and in my opinion an obligation to be a bit tough on her. I would read her the riot act for stealing from you and then let her know just how you feel. I would then let her know as a God Parent just how you feel about her receiveing Holy Communnion in an obvious state of sin. I might mention confession, but I wouldn’t dwell on it. Tough love is gentler than most think.


No, but you do have an opportunity here as the OPs have noted. I would take her out for coffee and sit down and talk to her. Use a little guilt, and talk about expectations and responsibilities - particularly the responsibility for standing up and admitting you made a mistake to the people you hurt and to God. Remind her that in Him we are all forgiven, even if we don’t ask, but to have a clear heart, we need to confess to Him even though He knows all.

You should also explain the responsibility that she seems to have forgotten about not taking Communion when you have not confessed your sins.

This could be a turning point lesson for her. If you approach it gently and respectfully, rather than insisting that she call you to apologize, I think you might have a better result. I’m not judging you - I would be FURIOUS if my niece or nephews did what she did. But seeing how they respond to different approaches, I wanted to suggest this way.

Prayers to you and your niece.


While confession is an awesome answer, the sacraments are not the only tools God gave us to help ourselves and each other. This girl needs professional help. She, and probably her father and grandmother, need some serious counculing. Call your church and speak to the YM. That person, or one of the priests, should have contact info for one or more Child and Family therapists. If you are lucky, you will find one that is Catholic and will most likely weave confession into it.

Good Luck and lots of prayers.



Thank you for your Prayers a good advice.

I am definitely locking up the liquor.

Since Dad and Grandmom are not going to do much to help her-
She was made to call and apologize and I told her that I love her and that we need to talk about why she did this. She told me everything was worked out. In other words she didn’t want to talk about it. She is not being grounded, last night she went to Target with a girlfriend at 7:00 at night. -and no offer to pay for the stolen liquor.

I know now that I’m getting lip service from her.

I will try to get her to counselling.

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