Teenager in mortal sin?

My wife and I have recently learned that our teenage daughter has been lying to us about serious matters (such as chatting on the internet with a 25 year old man about kissing him.) We’ve discovered emails where she brags about how she disobeys our rules behind our back when it comes to things like the internet and cell phone. Now, her Catholic faith is important to her (she voluntarily attends daily Mass at her school). I’m trying to impress upon her the fact that with such flagrant disobedience, she is in danger of having committed mortal sin. But I’m just her dad, what do I know? Is there some article or pamphlet–an examination of conscience or a guide to confession–which will impress upon her the seriousness of deceiving and disobeying one’s parents?

of equal and possibly even more pressing concern is the fact your daughter is being victimized by an internet predator. Get her to a priest and get the police involved, and get some family counselling to find out why she is moving in this direction. There is a lot more to this story and a crisis is brewing.

Indeed. We’ve got those basis covered.

How old is she?

It seems to me all you need is the commandment “Honor thy mother and father” as your proof that what she’s doing is a sin.

Have you asked her why she disobeys? Does she not understand that you are protecting her by having rules about the internet?

It’s obvious to even her that she is in sin, but she is not impressed with the fact that this is grave matter and that she is placing her soul in peril with such acts of disobedience.

We’ve told 70 x 70 that we are doing God’s bidding and watching out for her own good. But she’s a teenager and is convinced that her parents just don’t understand.

Your daughter is deliberately defying your authority and you are trying to get her to understand that her actions are sinful??? Really!

That may be a reasonable point to make some time later. The truth is, defying you doesn’t seem to bother her, in fact, she likes it!

As her father, you need to get control. If she is using the cell phone and computer (that you undoubtably paid for) to defy you, then take them away. You need to get her attention in a way that causes her pain if she elects to persist in this behavior.

She must respect you as her authority, not her friend or her equal. To do that, you must assume the mantle of authority by leading her to proper behavior even if it is not altogether pleasant. She needs to understand that obedience is not optional.

This all may seem a bit harsh, but I really believe if you “put your foot down”: and not allow the unhealthy behaviors to continue, she will respect you…and not just because she has to…

The first 3 commandments deal with our releationship with GOD, the remainder deal with our relationship with each other. The bridge between the two, i.e. the 4th commandment is to Honor your Father and Mother. That is the bridge as it still implys we owe respect to GOD (the Father), but now directly assigns the “obedience” to the earthly father and mother.

Go to the cathechism of the Catholic Church and read the explanation of the commandments with a focus on the 4th. Look for other references from TAN Publishers on the 10 Commandments. Look for CD’s from Scott Hahn or others on this same topic.
And I would suggest that after dinner, begin a family rosary.

Believe me, we’re putting our foot down. She probably we’ve locked her from our computer, cancelled her access to computer at the library, taken away her school issued laptop. She probably won’t have an internet connection until she leaves home several years from now.

My question is not being answered. I’m putting my foot down. (The reason it wasn’t put down earlier was because my wife, her mother is overly permissive and lax about enforcing rules). I can figure out how to put my foot down. What I can’t figure out is how to impress upon her that she is–not in sin–but in MORTAL sin.

I agreed on “putting your foot down” and she’ll get it! All those “Active parenting” courses tell us parents to guide and talk, even when the kids refuse to listen. Especially, now, she doesn’t want to listen at all but she’s guilty; she needs to experience the consequences for not being a good kid in terms of the commandments. Everytime my teenager son doesn’t want to listen, I sit with him in a private place and softly with concerned voice, I told him that I have to talk about it to teach him because nobody else will and because it’s my job. At first, he got upset but then calm down and sober for being bad. The tone you speak is important! God bless!

I really appreciate the parenting advice! I really do. But will someone please answer my original question of how to communicate to my daughter, not that she’s being disobedient, or even that she’s in sin, *but that she’s probably in mortal sin.

I don’t think , right now at least, that you can impress on her that she is breaking commandments, and that she is in mortal sin. I think that if you gave her a book to read right now, that she really wouldn’t read it or if she did, pay attention to it. She really isn’t paying attention to any of that right now. She is feeling her oats, tasted a little freedom, and thinks she knows it all. The most important thing you can do is get her attention right now.

IMO, You need to impress on your daughter that you are the parents, and need to be obeyed.
I would take her computer away from her, and only let her use it for school work. I would move the computer to an area of the house where there is traffic and everyone can see what she is doing. Then I would take her cell phone away from her. When she cries about that, and what will she do if there is an emergency, well, there won’t be an emergency, because she will be grounded for a month. I would only let her use the family phone once a week from 7:00 to 7:30 and only in front of the family. And when she gets mad and goes to her room and slams the bedroom door, I’d remove the door.

You have to get a handle on this now, and she needs to know who is the boss, and that all the worldly things she has right now, come from you. And you who giveth, can and will taketh away.
She has lost the trust you gave her, and now she has to earn it back. And that is a slow process. She has to earn the door to her room back, the cell phone back, etc… When she realises that her life was better before she disobeyed, she will start seeing that you get to do more things and have more freedoms when you obey your parents.

While she is isolated from her friends, and you start getting her attention back, then you can introduce some books or tapes for her. I think they will make an impact then, but trying to do it now while she is not listening to you, I think will be a waste of time.
I don’t have specific names of books or tapes, but you can ask your priest for a book he might recommend, look at the EWTN catalogue, or go into a Catholic bookstore, they usually know what’s going on.

The circumstances were way different, and not as serious as yours, but this worked like a charm on one of my kids.

Again, great parenting advice, but how do I impress upon my daughter that she’s in mortal sin?

While awareness of sin, especially mortal sin is vital to our salvation, I am not sure it will resonate with your daughter. At some level, she probably knows it is offensive to you and thus wrong, still she persists. Telling her that she is in mortal sin will likely not get her to stop, as I suspect you are hoping. Still, you are closer to the situation. You feel that her faith is important to her and for that reason, it may cause her to pause…

Reading your post, the more immediate need is to get your wife on the same page with you. You must both speak with one unified voice. Your daughter senses the different perspectives and she is manipulating that reality against you.

I understand what you are going through and it is hard. Rest assured you have my prayers. I pass these thoughts along, not as a condemnation of your tactics but as one parent of teenage girls to another.

God Bless you and your family…

I think setting up the situation of “Obey me or you are going to Hell” tends to alienate a child from both the parents and from God.

The problem is, whether or not this is a mortal sin is not a question for some people on the internet to answer. We can’t possibly know if she had full consent of the will, or if she thoroughly understood what she was doing. That will be determined during her confession according to the priest’s judgement. It sounds like she already knows that disobedience should be mentioned in her next confession, I don’t see that you need do any more on that front.

Right. But I want her to know that she’s dealing with grave matter. She’s not sneaking cookies.

Maybe I have misunderstood the OP’s reason for bringing up the subject of mortal sin, but I believe that it is to get her attention. Because she is offending God, she will rethink her behavioral decisions. Whether she has full consent matters to the confessor as it relates to moral culpability, but as a means of getting this little girl’s attention, it really doesn’t matter at all.

The question is how to best to discuss this matter with a teenage girl in a way that will be convincing.

I do believe that as you (OP) progress through this time that you sit down and talk to your daughter by telling her that “you love her and you care about her and that you want her to be the best “Name” that God made her to be. God has a special and unique plan that He has reserved for her and no one else. God’s special plan only works if we work with God. We have to cooperate with God and his divine will. Honey, you go to Mass every day and God is so pleased that you do that. I know that whenever he is thinking about you he is smiling knowing how much you love Him.”

“There are some things that you are doing that may not make God particularly happy. For example,______________… If you are willing to let God’s special plan for you unfold, you have to keep from doing the things that may hurt Him. In reality, God is God. But He knows that for you to be all He created you to be, you have to make good, smart decisions. Do you want to be what God made you to be?”

I agree. Not being a parent myself, my insight may be limited, but I think it might be more effective to focus your talks with her on the immediate issue of the serious risks involved in this kind of relationship, and the likely motivations of the guy involved. That conversation will naturally lead to a discussion of the moral aspects of the situation. It’s better for her to come to an understand why her behavior is wrong and how she’s hurting herself and her family, than to just be told that it’s a mortal sin and that God will punish her.

Ummm…if the mother is “overly permissive and lax about enforcing rules” then this cannot be a mortal sin! She was taught disrespect. You were basically an inefficent discipianarian previously and your wife taught your daughter that there was always a way to get her way. Yes, this is a serious issue but she, apparently, has not been taught that her parents mean business. So, your total reaction to this issue is probably somewhat of a surprize to her, and will probably create a secondary problem of manipulative sneakness and rebellion.

I think that her punshiment should be more than just taking away, but forcing her to give her time as a voulenteer for some organization, like an elder home, crisis pregnancy, food pantry or in the church or even visiting people in long-term minimum security prisions. Something that will build a life skill and keep her busy insted of stewing and scheming. If the organization deals with the poor it may open her eyes to how bad decisions affect your ENTIRE life.

No kidding. I think you misunderstand me. Trying to form my child with a proper sense of sin (which apparently she doesn’t have) is all I’m trying to do. I have NEVER insinuated “obey me or you go to hell”. NEVER. APART from disciplining her…for her next confession, for her formation in general, I want to try to get across to her the seriousness of this matter as far as sin goes.

So, am I to understand that parents shouldn’t ever communicate to their children about mortal sin or that they might be in mortal sin?

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