Son dating Protestant Girl (Long)


#1

The problem with some background-

Our 28 year old son is our only child, and the kind of son everyone wishes for. Good looking, successful and a good Catholic, he is quickly moving up the ladder in a large billion dollar company.

He has had a string of girlfriends over the years, some we met, some we didn’t. Most were never around very long.

However, he is currently in a relationship with a Baptist girl, and for whatever reason, it has turned very serious, to the point they are talking about marriage. She is the same age, no children, never married, so none of those problems exist. This girl has other issues dealing with personality, but like l told his mother, we’ll have to let our son deal with them. If he doesn’t have a problem with them, then we’ll just have to get over it.

My son was raised in a loving Catholic family, surrounded and nurtured by only people that loved him. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, he has never known divorce, or outside child care, he never caused us any problems. His girlfriend comes from a broken home, mother divorced her father when she was 10 to pursue a career. I think she still has a chip on her shoulder about it. She is the middle child of 3. Although I don’t know for sure, my take is her family unit was dysfunctional at best.

She is a practicing Baptist, sings in the choir etc, and has 2 uncles that are Protestant ministers. I’ms sure over the years she has been fed some anti Catholic rhetoric. I voiced my concerns about this relationship with them not long ago, and from that conversation, she told me the wedding would be Baptist, and the kids would make their own decesion about religion. I told her in no uncertain terms “that wasn’t gonna fly.”

I also told her some of the stuff that went on in her family, we just don’t put up with, “that marriage is a serious thing, and in the eyes of the Catholic Church is a Holy Sacramenet, given to us by Jesus, and if you don’t view it as such we’re gonna have a problem. Now, I don’t know your mother, and I’m not gonna judge, but leaving it to pursue a career, is NOT ok. I know you had no control of your mother, but I just want to make sure you don’t take the same view as her, because that is definately not how our Church, and family feel.”

I only said that to her because I know history likes to repeat itself. It is a known fact, children of divorce have a greater tendency to go that route when things get hard. I’m not gonna judge ALL such children, but I will go with the general.

In a recent conversation with my son he said the kids WOULD BE Catholic, but the ceremony was still being discussed. My son is naive when it comes marriage law.

Our family is small, including extended family. My brother and sister each only had 1 child, my parents are deceased, and our size has made us very close to each other. We view our nephews almost like sons, and Chris feels his cousins are brothers.

She has been attending Mass with him, and when they are here she joins our entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins) for Mass on Saturday evenings.

One of the concerns I have about this girl, is she may want to marry our son to gain something she never had. Although my son makes a good salary, I’m just a retired firefighter, so money is not it. I’m sure she loves him, but perhaps she looks at our small, tightly woven family, as something she wants to be a part of, to maybe have something shes never had before.

I spoke to my son about this, and his response was, “why is it a bad thing for her to see how a family is SUPPOSE to be?” I did not know how to respond to that. LOL.

She thinks we feel she is “not good enough” for our son. But that is not so, I just want to make sure my son does not do something he might regret, and that my grandchildren attend Mass with the rest our family. Not having that would be very hard to deal with.

I told my son “I don’t even know why were talking about it, you oughta know how we feel about this. I want you to go back to and tell her the rules of the Church are gonna be followed, or won’t be a wedding, and if she can’t deal with that, you’re moving on.”

My wife tells me that is too hard line, and might drive them closer together. Better to let her witness how we practice our Faith, and to see first hand what it means to my son and his family. But I told her, somethings are just meant to be, and if she is adamant about not allowing our son to follow his faith, a call has to be made, and I fear him making the WRONG one.

No date has been set, no announcements have been made. My son has righfully put this on hold till this issue is dealt with, and secondly to see how his recent relocation will work out.

In the meantime we have this elephant in the room with us when they are in town and around the rest of the family.

Advice?


#2

If being honest causes them to dig in their heels and try to prove something, it shows immaturity, not readiness for marriage.
—KCT


#3

I know its hard in this kind of situation because we know without doubt the Catholic church is the fullness of truth and we want so badly to evangelize but not all are willing to listen. Seems both of their beliefs are strong but someone will eventually give in and you really have no control over the decision. I would ask you to remain loving to both of them regardless of the outcome. The best we can do as Catholics is to genuinely demonstrate our love of Christ as covenant. Hopefully they may slow down a bit with plans so they can grow even more. I recommend “Theology of the Body” by Christopher West. Have a great day.


#4

I understand your concerns, wholeheartedly. It would seem that your concerns stem from her background (family/childhood) than her faith background…or maybe a combo of both. ?

Although I sympathize with your concerns, I don’t think you can tell your 28 yr old son who to marry.:o (I could see if she was addicted to drugs, or would be a bad influence on your son, etc) I will have to mull it over a bit more, but I think you are very protective of your son, and that is a good thing–I am also with my kids. But, you also need to let your son, who is a grown man out on his own, make choices on his own.


#5

I agree with that too…but that is speculation on Bama’s wife’s part…I still stand by that you have to allow your children to make life decisions on their own…especially when they are in their late 20’s. (unless the person they are considering being with is truly living a destructive lifestyle, etc)

I have taught my kids about marrying outside of their faith–(they are 11 and 15 but never too young to start! lol) and if they choose to marry in another church/faith, that they would be in essence, allowing another person to come between them and the Eucharist. I think that might be a good starting point to see where your son’s faith is at. He was raised in a loving Catholic family–but he may not have the same views about his faith as you…or he might not fully understand the teachings on that. Might be a good bridge to these topics. But, again, despite my and my dh’s teachings, our kids will have to make decisions on their own. We always hope they will marry within the faith, but if they choose not to…we will have to pray for them. I think that praying and talking things out with them are the best things you can do, right now. But if your son insists on marrying her despite these efforts, he needs to live with the decisions he makes.


#6

So what does your son say about not being able to receive Holy Communion if he’s not married in the Catholic Church?

Glad


#7

Your son is a 28 year old man; you need to stop treating him like a child.

I told her in no uncertain terms “that wasn’t gonna fly.”

obviously you have not read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies.”

I just want to make sure my son does not do something he might regret,

that he might regret or you might regret?

I told my son “I don’t even know why were talking about it, you oughta know how we feel about this. I want you to go back to and tell her the rules of the Church are gonna be followed, or won’t be a wedding, and if she can’t deal with that, you’re moving on.”

Ever wonder why Martin Luther left the Church?

My wife tells me that is too hard line, and might drive them closer together. Better to let her witness how we practice our Faith, and to see first hand what it means to my son and his family.

your wife is a very wise women.

But I told her, somethings are just meant to be,

Maybe you son was meant to marry a Baptist.

and if she is adamant about not allowing our son to follow his faith, a call has to be made, and I fear him making the WRONG one.

is your son allowed to cross the street by himself or do you still have to hold his hand?

In the meantime we have this elephant in the room with us when they are in town and around the rest of the family.

I’d say that YOU are the elephant in the room

Advice?

let your son grow up.

[quote=Genesis 2:24]This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become one flesh.
[/quote]

[quote=Proverbs 22:6 ]Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
[/quote]

You raised him up Catholic and he will always be Catholic, he may wander for a while, but he’ll eventually come back.

[quote=Ephesians 6:4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
[/quote]

You sound like a good caring parent. All you (or any of us) can do at this point is pray. If you force him to break up with this woman, he will dispise you for the rest of your life.

[quote=Ruth 1:16]But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
[/quote]

However, if you show him how a “Good Catholic” family is to be (open to others) then you may be paving the way for this girl to convert to Catholicism.

LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE

Just a side note: When I was married, my wife was Catholic and I was not…it took 10 years for the Lord to lead me into the Catholic Church.


#8

#9

I heard a Legionary priest once talk about how women reared in fatherless homes will have a tendency to latch onto strong men of faith. So, you probably are right in that respect.

Your son is an adult and you have little control. As you have given your advice, your role is now to pray and be loving and supportive.

If your son was a strong Catholic, he wouldn’t be dating nonCatholic women. In your shoes, I’d let the subject of this particular woman go and help him to become a better Catholic by prayer, sharing catechetical material, and perhaps inviting him on to retreats and seminars.

I would be very hurt and concerned if my child was considering marriage to a nonCatholic. I’ve been in a mixed marriage for 17 years, and it has not been easy to maintain a strong faith life and to pass on the faith to my children. I wouldn’t want any of my kids to experience that or to have my grandchildren in peril of being reared without the Faith.

But, don’t act out of your fear. **Pray and fast. **

Here’s a brochure on the power of fasting

presentationministries.com/brochures/SecretFasting.asp


#10

The elephant in the room, Sir, with every due respect, is YOU.

Please know that I’m not saying this with malicious intent. But from everything you wrote, I only get one thing: CONTROL. And it’s YOU who has the problem.

You mentioned telling the girlfriend just exactly what you thought of her, her past, her beliefs and how she would be received–or NOT, in your case–if she were to become part of your family. Good grief, how could she feel anything BUT that she isn’t good enough for your family??

You also said the same thing to your son, and totally missed the point about his response–you son’s complimenting his upbringing by wanting to share that with her. Instead, you totally ignored that, laid down YOUR “rules” and pretty much insisted that he break up with her. To satisfy YOU. And your son, bending to your control, “rightfully” put his engagement on hold.

Pardon, and again said with all due respect, I would absolutely RUN from a potential father-in-law like you. You show absolutely NOTHING about the love of a Catholic, much less a Christian. You’ve shown this girl that it’s YOUR way or the highway, as if she’s marrying YOU! You’ve shown her intolerance to any other belief than yours, and in so doing, you’ve more than likely propagated any anti-Catholic belief she has.

And for that, you should be ashamed.

There’s also something else you seem to have a problem with: REJECTION. You’re basically saying that your son is the way he is because of YOU. And if he does anything contrary to that, you see that as a rejection–a rejection of his Catholicism, of his family upbringing, and most importantly, a rejection of YOU. And I shudder, in light of your recent conversations with him and his girlfriend, what you would do if he chooses to make his own decisions. From the sounds of it, you’d more than likely cut him out.

And again, if that thought has even crossed your mind, shame on you.

I’m very, very sorry you’ve allowed your issue with control and rejection to rule how you view your relationship with your son. By the sounds of it, it’s really no wonder no other previous girlfriends have stuck around.

–con’t.–


#11

–con’t.–

And the reason why this is SO personal to me?

I was your son’s girlfriend. And I’m now his wife. And I’m now Catholic.

My father-in-law was a man who sounded EXACTLY like you. . . but I didn’t bend or cow to him. I stood strong in my faith in Jesus as an evangelical at the time, but the whole Catholocisim thing (at the time) had nothing to do with it.

It had everything to do with the fact that someone was taking his son from him. Taking away his control of his son. Allowing his son to make his own decisions as an adult. Just like what’s going on with you now.

Nothing will be gained by your having the kind of problems with your son that you have now. The only thing it will do will turn him away from you–and just by reading what you wrote, that would be devastating to you.


#12

Good advice here, Bama…although, some might be hard for you to accept. I pray that you relinquish some of the control you have over your son, and try to communicate with him and this girl in a more Catholic way–a way that truly reflects the faith. You are concerned with your son, but at the same time, have placed him on a pedestal…which will be far for most to reach, it seems. :o

Just take a breath, step back, pray and share your concerns with your son–without brash judgement. Allow him to make the right choices. Marrying this girl might be the right choice–God works in mysterious ways. If he chooses to NOT marry her–it should really be his choice, and not yours. Good luck with this though–I know it must be tough.


#13

My son will always be my son, that was not checked at the door when he reached 25. This issue is serious business, and addresing it doesn’t mean I treat him a like a chid? Somebody mentioned what I did about holding his hand when he crossed the street, well I look at it like this, I’m prolly gonna move him outta the way if he stands in the middle of the road while a truck approaches no matter how old he is. What you do in that situation is up to you.

We live in the deep south, in a small parish, not very many Catholic girls to choose from. My wife completed RCIA and converted a few weeks before our marriage. That was 32 years ago.

Now someone mentioned ( I don’t know how to do the quote thing yet) Martin Luther, yes I’ve heard of him. All I can say I have a core of beliefs, and that ain’t gonna change with today’s poll. Just like the Church, I’m willing to compromise on the minor stuff, but the foundation? I’m gonna follow the Church’s path in how it dealt with Martin Luther. I’m NOT gonna tell him its ok to step outside the Church’s teaching on this, and it will all work out in the end.

I told my son if you compromise what you believe in to accomdate this girl, you will grow to resent it. I don’t think I’m wrong in pointing that out. She believes all they need is love, and the rest will work out. I think all of us here know better.

I’d never make my son choose his family or this girl, I agree he would resent that.

My son is a good Catholic, but was not fully versed on Marriage law at the time the marriage conversation with her was first mentioned. I probably dropped the ball on that years ago, by not having that talk with him when he was younger.


#14

I just got out a situation very similar to your son’s. I dated a Baptist girl for about 14 months and marriage was very much on the table. It was ultimately our religious differences that led us to break off our relationship.

You son says the children will be raised Catholic while his wife states they will be allowed to make up their own minds. All the Church requires in a valid marriage is that the Catholic spouse make their best effort to raise the children Catholic and that the non-Catholic spouse is made aware of that. To make sure this is done, I’d suggest you get your son in contact with your pastor, especially given the tension that might exist in your discussions with your son. Your pastor, as an outsider to this conversation, can be a more neutral arbiter of the requirements and therefore hopefully explain to your son what the expectations of him are.

Something else for your son to keep in mind is that even if his girlfriend accepts raising the kids Catholic in principle. the actual arrival of children changes everything. Once she can see the children in person (or even feel them inside her), she may experience a longing to raise them in the tradition she was raised in, regardless of what previous agreements she made with your son.

Be careful not to push too hard on your son. One of things that helped drive my (now ex) girlfriend to me even stronger was the reaction of our respective families. Once her parents heard I was Catholic, they didn’t even want to hear my name mentioned and any mention of it led to a fight. Meanwhile, my parents and extended family welcomed her completely. The difference in reaction, I think, really helped show her the truth and love in Catholicism even if she couldn’t come to accept the Church. Make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes her parents made.

When I posted here about my relationship, some recommended reading When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic by Father Robert Hater of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. It’s a good book in terms of laying out the requirements a Catholic faces while also laying out the unique challenges an inter-faith marriage faces. I wouldn’t recommend passing it to his girlfriend though. I had my girlfriend read it and she was a little bothered by the impression that the non-Catholic spouse is always the source of the trouble in such a marriage.

The best path forward is to get your son to talk to your pastor (or another priest he respects so he can find our the requirements he faces. Good luck and pray a lot.


#15

Ok. I had to re-read all the posts.
I am really trying to remain cahritable with this new response. What kind of love have you shown this lady that would convince her the Catholic church is where Jesus resides ? At a time when you should be evangelizing her with loving action, you have reduced her to a piece of garbage because of her coming from a broken home. Have the courage to admit she isnt good enough for YOU. Quit lying to yourself and to everyone else sir. We will all pray for her conversion to Catholicism while offering prayer for your conversion of heart. Read about Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. May the scales fall from your eyes.


#16

Bama,

I totally understand your distress at the prospect of a mixed marriage. I am always the first person on this board to state it is unwise in the extreme.

If your son did not learn that growing up, it may be too late now. You can try to talk some sense into him, but if he’s already “in love” it may not sink in.

At this late point, your son needs to understand his obligation to raise his children Catholic and follow the marriage laws of the Church. However, that does not preclude the wedding taking place in the bride’s church. Canon Law allows for dispensation from form for a mixed marriage. The first step is for your son to talk to his parish priest.

You should continue to discuss this with your son. You do need to step back and stop interfering directly between your son and his girlfriend, however. Telling her how it’s going to be in “your” family is out of line– when your son marries he creates his OWN family.


#17

Bama,

I agree a lot with what 1ke, paulcosmith and some of the other more rational folks have said. It is disheartening to see those who have replied with such anger and bitterness toward you on this very difficult issue. Holy Matrimony is supposed to be a life long deal not some experiment to just try out. Marriage is so difficult these days and getting into a mixed marriage with someone who is not of similar background adds a significant layer of PROBLEMS.

You have every right and duty to give your son advice and guidance, this is not like buying a car. Unfortunately their are many people of ill will out their today. And many oft them will do anything, say anything or change their ways to trick someone else into marriage. I would get your son on CAF so he can ask his own questions, it would really open his eyes, even show the difference between Orthodox and Liberal Catholics.

Try not to be overbearing, but it is never to late to give good sound guidance. You have a lot more expertise in life than your son does at this point. You may also see if his g/f will look into RCIA. Remember you son will be the leader of his family some day, he needs to understand his role.


#18

Currently there is no tension between my son and I. I asked him to put this on hold and take a breath, because I felt like he was being railroaded into something.

He has done that, that was all I asked for. Whatever he decides now, is up to him. She is going to Mass with him, and as is our tradition, the four of us attend Mass on Saturday evening when they are in town.

My nephew was recently wed (last summer) in a Baptist Church, (rules were followed) and a few months after joining our family, and attending Mass regulary with us, she is converting.

I’m ok with the fact my son’s girlfriend might never convert, but the fact my grandchildren not going to Mass would really bother me.

This matter is complicated because my son now lives 160 miles away. He brought this to me, before speaking to his local priest. Because my son’s company recently relocated him, his relationship with her is now long distance. They have been together almost 2 years.

The problem is not she comes froma broken family, and I feel she is not good enough, like I said, I don’t have a pedigree myself, I’M A RETIRED FIREFIGHTER PEOPLE. But do I feel like MY son was raised better than most kids? YES, and I make NO apologies for it. You people need to get your head out of the sand, take a trip down to the local first grade of your public school and count how many kids have BOTH parents at home. What would it be? 50%? The reason divorce is so rampant nowdays because everyone does it and thinks it OK?? Sorry I don’t buy into that.

I never met this girls mother, and I don’t know why her career was more important than her marriage, so I don’t know if my son’s girlfriend is influenced by her or not, all I told my son you better check it out, and if that makes me un Catholic, then dang!

My son has been with this girl almost 2 years, but knows little about where she comes from. Her hometown is across the state. She moved to be near with after seeing him for 3 weekends ( red flags). He met her while on a vacation at the beach. He has never met her mother, or 2 sisters. He was reminded of this because I pointed it out.


#19

PBH- I have not treated this girl unkindly. She spent Christmas here with us. Do I like her as much as some of his other girlfriends? Probably not, but I’m not the one marrying/wanting to her.

I do believe the best approach is to treat her well, and make her feel welcomed as best we can. But I can tell ya that might be hard to do when she doesn’t allow my grandchildren to go to Mass, but in the end my son will have the final call on that. If HE says thats what he wants, then I’d be hurt but accepting.

Now if some of y’all think thats a good thing, then I dunno what to say.


#20

Hi Bama;

As a Catholic parent of two children–both genders–I too would have my concerns…as a parent, how can you not? At the same time, it’s important for our children to make life decisions on their own. Sure, with advice and words of wisdom from us, as parents, but we shouldn’t be deciding who our kids marry–even if their choice disappoints us. I think you are just disappointed, that might be a better word for how you are feeling about this girl.

I hear what you are saying about her coming from a divorced family–but, coming from a two parent home doesn’t ensure that our children will have lasting marriages. I wonder if there is a stat on that, come to think of it? Hmmm. Anyways, I have many MANY friends (majority) who came from two-parent homes…and most have divorced within the first 5 years of marriage. So, it doesn’t guarantee that future generations will stay together, because their parents did. Just something to ponder.

I think that marrying someone who is already Catholic will be easier for your son in the long run. When kids come along, wow…it can cause a lot of rifts and fights…I see it with some of my Catholic gf’s who married non Catholics, but there is also a flip side to that…your son may be responsible for leading this young girl to the faith. God works in mysterious ways–I think it is important for your son to be forthright with this girl about the love for his own faith…perhaps if he is steadfast, she will start joining him at mass. Neva know.:slight_smile:

I will keep you all in my prayers…and I wish you a blessed New Year’s!:slight_smile:


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