Teen dating non-Catholic


Although I know it’s not a great scenario, it has already happened so going from there…my son has a very strong relationship with a protestant. He’s a senior, very intellectual and knowledgeable in his faith, great student, etc. etc. His Dad and I are now concerned however. The relationship is changing to more of the sharing of religions to see how they might proceed in their relationship. The young lady is very nice, extremely rooted in her faith and wants our son to worship with her in her church once in awhile. She attends Mass with us occassionally as well. We are opposed to this even though it would seem equitable as she has been allowed to attend Mass with us. We feel the ages are ripe for conversion when coupled with first love and don’t want to take the risk of the Protestant church influencing him. He is closed off to us now (emotionally) because of our decision to not let him attend. They are both soon to be 18 so, in the interest of protecting our son, what words of wisdom are out there? Thanks in advance for any help you may have.


As long as he knows it’s a mortal sin to skip Sunday Mass, it may be a good idea to let him go with her to church once in a while. He may not want to go to 2 church services in a day if he knows that the Protestant service cannot replace the Mass in his schedule :slight_smile:


You could ask advice from your priest about how to handle this without alienating your son.

Maybe discuss what he heard at the service and compare it to what the CC teaches and why it teaches what it does.

You need to accept that he is almost an adult and treat him with respect. If he is not firmly anchored in his Faith by now you are only delaying not preventing his leaving the Church.

Since you have already taken a stand, sit down with him and explain to him that you did not want him to attend because you were concerned about his salvation, but that, having considered it, you realise that he is intelligent enough to not be swayed by hearing things that contradict Catholic Teaching without exporing where the Church gets its Doctrines.


If it were me, and my parents weren’t letting me go to the Protestant Church, I might wonder if they were afraid of me discovering the truth. I let my daughter attend functions at other churches, even evangelical ones, but I discuss openly with her what the anti-catholic arguments are likely to be and what the truth is. She is happy that I respect her intelligence and she also comes to me with what is on her mind because she knows that I will be up front and honest with her.

My advice would be to sit down with your son and have a talk. Go over with him some of the differences in beliefs between Protestants and Catholics. I would let him go, but ask him to come to you with any questions or concerns that he might develop.


If he’s a senior in high school, I think it would be ok to let him go once in awhile as long as he’s aware that he must also attend Mass on Sundays.


Go with them to the Protestant service. That way you can discuss whatever you need to later on. (and maybe the girl’s parents will come to Mass w/ you :wink: —KCT


When my DH and I were first dating, I was not Catholic. I was a devout evangelical, and he was a practicing Catholic. After assuring myself of the reality of his real relationship with God, we became more serious. For a long time, he was attending both my church and Mass every Sunday, and once in awhile I would go with him to Mass. Granted, we were not teenagers, but in our early 20’s.

I assumed that he would eventually stop going to Mass and become a regular member of my church, and one night we talked about it. He assured me that he would never leave the Catholic Church, and at that point we almost broke up because I knew I wanted my (future) husband and I to be the same, and no way could I become a Catholic.

He convinced me to go to the National Catholic Family Conference to hear Scott and Kimberly Hahn speak, and that changed everything for me. Fast forward about 14 years, and now I am in love with the Catholic Church, we’ve been married 12 years, have 5 beautiful children (possibly one more on the way… not sure yet), and it’s a happy ending.

My point is, that I don’t think you should ban your son from Protestant church, but remind him of what his “first love” is. If he is grounded in the true church, then he may be able to bring her along. Talk to her as well, and maybe let her hear some of the Hahn’s tapes or other evangelical converts. The only reason I was open to hearing those truths is out of love for my then-boyfriend. Maybe she will have that same openness.

Sorry this was kind of long, but I feel a sort-of connection with your son’s girlfriend. I’m so glad that my now-husband wasn’t forbidden from going with me to my church. I think it helped him, also, to understand some of the arguments that Protestants have with Catholics, and brush up on some apologetics!

God bless you!


Dare I ask what denomination the young lady is a member of?


I guess it’s hard to believe that this topic came up in 2006. My mother is Baptist and my father is Catholic. Sept 3 would have been their 50th anniversary. My dad passed away, last May. My siblings and I were raised Catholic, because in 1956 my mother had to sign a paper stating that she would raise the kids Catholic. She did. We also went to her church every other Sunday. Fast forward, 1990. My brother married a Baptist in the Catholic Church, no paper to sign, 6 weeks of pre-cana and that was it. My children and my sister’s children were baptized and rec’d sacraments in the catholic church. My daughter as a teen, was asked to attend churches of her friends, and they reciprocated. My husband and I thought nothing of it.

Your son is young, who knows when he goes off to college, someone there might invite him to another church…don’t go spastic over it. And please don’t “guilt” him into it. He is closed off from you, because he is a teenager, nothing more. That is what teenagers do.

My mother discussed with us, the differences in her church, from the church she promised to raise us in. If we had questions, she was there to answer them. I was glad to have had this growing up. I wasn’t confused at all. Actually, it made me curiously about other religions, and asking questions…not because I wanted to join it, but to make sure that I didn’t stereotype protestant religions with a broad brush. I would never tell someone of another faith, that because I am Catholic, that they are wrong and are going to hell in a handbasket.

We take many paths, to one journey. Learning about another religion and sharing your faith in return, keeps dialogue going, and ignorance from happening. If my children decide to stay with the Catholic church, or whether they choose another faith, doesn’t make me feel like a failure. It is their choice. They are still my children, and I love them.


He’s given you the first answer to your question. Don’t tell him that he can’t go to church with her. He will shut you out. You should have told him that he must also attend Mass and renforce the importance of the Catholic faith.

If you have done your job properly as a parent educating your child in the Catholic faith, no one will be able to draw him away from the Truth.

When I was young, I looked for Catholic boys to date, but dated Protestant boys if I found someone I really liked. In the end, regardless of how long the relationship lasted when it came down to discussing marriage and religion, if he didn’t agree to convert, everything fell apart. I couldn’t leave the Catholic church.


There are two books that I would recommend that you read and pass along to him and his girlfriend (with her parent’s permission). They have both been recommended by the Ave Maria Singles site which is very orthodox.

Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World: A Guide for Catholics by Fr. Thomas G. Morrow

*This explains how Christians really should not date one-on-one until they have discerned about whether marriage is their vocation and they are actually looking for a spouse. It talks about the difference between secular concepts of dating and a proper courtship for a Christian. It has great advice about chastity and other things. It does include some info about what is appropriate within marital relations, so be aware that it can be appropriate for an older teen who thinks that they should be dating (to counteract secular messages about sex) but probably not a younger one.

The Exclamation: The Wise Choice of a Spouse for Catholic Marriage by Patricia Wrona

*This book explains how to discern God’s will in general and then more specifically in relation to your vocation and your potential spouse. It includes moving from private discernment to discernment with a partner whom you think might be “the one.” It also speaks to relationships with a non-Catholic in a manner that might help your situation.

I think that both of these books should be required reading when a teen says that they want to start dating in high school or before they head off to college. I think they could spark good conversation with the same sex parent before a teen gets into trouble or spends their teen years trying to mimic adult relationships instead of studying and having wholesome fun.


If she is intelligent, appreciates the power of human mind, loves God, and is truly a nice person, then I think you should feel blessed that she is in your son’s life.


fyi as a young adult and baby Catholic, i began with the mentality that it was ok to date other religions. now as a much more informed and mature Catholic (still a young adult), i learned that it is just so much easier to find another strong Catholic. it would be too difficult to share my life with someone who didn’t love our faith as much and didn’t share my views, the Truth. it seems most young adult Catholics mature in this way as well.

perhaps it would help your son if he were properly educated in our faith (assuming he doesn’t have a strong devotion yet). young adult bible studies and church activities was critical in forming my faith.

oh ya, and pray pray pray like St. Monica!


I wouldn’t push the catholic religion on his gf. I wouldn’t get too worked up about it either. I’m sure her parents aren’t concerned that she will become a catholic. Has he mentioned that he is thinking about it. Let’s not assume the worst. Heck I will be happy if my kids still go to church willingly at all when they are almost 18, let alone 2x a week.


I was in college when it happened but I fell head over heels for a Catholic girl. She never asked, or told me, to convert. She never even asked me to attend Mass with her. She just made witness of the love of Christ through her actions and visible faith.

I’m an RCIA, soon to be Catholic and I believe that her willingness to let me find my own way back to Jesus Christ was the best decision she ever made.

The bottom line is you can’t force faith on someone, even if they are your son. While it is a communal act it is also very personal. All you can do with him at his age is teach him as much as you can and hope that he has the knowledge and skills to find his own way in life. Anything past that and you are sheltering him which will ill prepare him for this terrible world we live in where your mama isn’t around to keep you safe every day.


I had a non-Catholic gf. She had her troubles where she came from but I still thought she was done with that life. Turns out she wasnt. :eek: I suppose if she is a good girl then it would be fine if your son dated her.


I have always told my kids that they should date people who at the top of their list…God is there. A love for God, and my kids…and a responsible head on their shoulders. I would also be concerned–I can see why you have this concern, and it’s not unfounded. You hesitate to ‘let him go’ because you don’t want him to convert to another faith.

Is your son’s Catholic faith as important to him, as it is to you and your husband? That is the important thing to ask. If it is, I’m surprised he would be interested in someone who doesn’t share the same faith. But, he may also think that loving someone doesn’t involve faiths–and if she loves the Lord like he does, then maybe that is all that matters to him. It’s a hard one, either way…but I agree with the others, to not stand in his way of letting him go to her church service once in a while. But, he should be attending on Sundays, as this is a mortal sin, as he knows.

Good luck with this situation–but I would ask that question I list above, just to see if dating a girl/marrying a girl of his own faith matters to him?


My mom abhorred the idea of me going to Mass on a regular basis at first. I would walk to Mass, actually, because she didn’twant to support my ventures. I felt like there was this grand secret everyone was keeping from me.

I also felt more isolated toward my mom–and madder at–than I had in my life. She was suppressing my religious life, rejecting it, which is the ultimate suppression of self. He will look at your actions and see that you do not trust him. He will become distant from you… emotionally and spiritually.

Your behavior towards him is anything but advisable. Allow him to go. Discuss your faith. Don’t force it. As old as he is, he should have some grounding by now. If your son wants to go to a mosque, take him! But discuss and, most importantly, trust.

The girlfriend’s family is obviously an understanding one, or they wouldn’t let her go to Mass. Not letting your son go to her church on occasion (in addition to and never in replacement of the Mass, of course) is saying, “It’s fine if you make every attempt to understand and learn, but we won’t.” A bad statement to make.

I think I’m getting a consensus here: Loosen your reigns.


I dated a Lutheran all through high school. My parents were very upset. We went to mass and services together sometimes and we participated in each others youth groups and even other ones of our mutual friends. My dad barely tolerated it… he made comments often and even tried to forbid us seeing each other from time to time. I think our 5 yr relationship would have been over much sooner if my parents had left well enough alone. On the other hand, my sister wanted to date a Baptist and dad absolutely refused to allow it. He said Baptist’s hate Catholics so she couldn’t even date him. My sister came back with some flip comment about she wasn’t dating him for his religion and dad blew a gasket!!! Boy was that the wrong thing! We all got lectures about dating within our faith. All of us girls did end up marrying within our faith and my brother did with his first wife… unfortunately after she died he rushed into a second marriage with a Protestant woman.

So when My kids hit dating age, I thought it might be good to learn from my dad… My kids are 20, 18, 16 and 12 now and the youngest is the only one that doesn’t “date”… I say that because she is my step dd and her mom pushes her to have a boyfriend even though she isn’t old enough to go on dates.

My ds1 dated a Vineyard girl… it bothered me, but I knew what my past was like so I just reinforced that he could date her as long as he didn’t miss mass, etc… She broke up with him because she says God told her to… fine by me!!! Today he is one of the strongest 20 yo’s in his faith that I know.

DS2 dated a Baptist girl. She got him going to youth group at her church when we had none. I was quite unhappy about it because he is more of a follower type than a leader. Again, I didn’t say anything as long as he went to mass and had her participate in Catholic functions with him. That one didn’t last long either, which I am grateful but not because of her religion, but because I just genuinely didn’t think much of her mental health… if you know what I mean. He said she wanted to have sex and he said no. He is 18 and well… let’s just put it this way… Last week I told my 16 yo and him that we were going to the penance service and reconciliation… I got no arguments at all…

I am very blest with the kids I have… they have turned out much better than I could ever raise them, so I firmly believe that there was divine intervention in the raising of these kids!!!


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