Telling teens why


My 13yoDD wants to know why:

  1. why we go to Mass every Sunday?
  2. why she can’t wear jeans to Mass?
  3. why ‘emo’/‘cutting’ is bad?
  4. why some people think she shouldn’t be an altar server?
  5. why she shouldn’t hate her father from whom i am separated due to his bad behavior?
  6. why she should eat more/better to gain weight (5’4" 84lbs fully clothed) instead of being anorexic/bulimic?
    It is hard to get through to her about any of these things. Maybe your words would better reach her. Please help!


The book by Pinto “Do I HAVE To Go” and Welborn’s “Prove It” series would help with the theological questions.

  1. Ten Commandments. Jesus said so. Jesus hung on a cross and died for you, least you can do is give him an hour.

  2. That one goes to house rules - I wear jeans to Mass (I also wear jeans to work). Mom and dad make the rules.

  3. Cutting is bad because harming ourselves violates the teachings of Christ, that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It also is not okay because she is a precious child of God.

  4. Some people feel that only boys should serve on the altar. For now, the Pope permits girls to serve, if/when the Holy Father says differently, we will abide by his wishes.

  5. Leave kids out of parental fights. Don’t talk bad about her father to her. She is to honor her father because God said so.

  6. Many girls with eating disorders have those disorders triggered by other events. She should be seeing a good Catholic counselor and a Spiritual Director. Also, Teresa Tomeo has a great series of books for young ladies, as someone Mrs. Tomeo herself had an eating disorder, I would very much suggest those books!


Remember at 13 she is allowed to question things. Goodness knows I did…and still do.

  1. why we go to Mass every Sunday?-Because our Lord asks only one hour out of 168 per week. It’s not too much to ask. Saturday evening, Sunday Morning or evening-one hour won’t kill her.

  2. why she can’t wear jeans to Mass?-Um, Your asking the wrong guy on this one-I always wear jeans and t-shirts to mass. Sorry.

  3. why ‘emo’/‘cutting’ is bad? Emo is a form of music that’s really good to listen too. Other than that, I don’t know what she talking about. Cutting herself is the sign of severe instability. Get her help.

  4. why some people think she shouldn’t be an altar server? Because some people think that change is always bad.

  5. why she shouldn’t hate her father from whom i am separated due to his bad behavior? Because he is still her dad. The issues you both have shouldn’t effect her.

  6. why she should eat more/better to gain weight (5’4" 84lbs fully clothed) instead of being anorexic/bulimic?-Get her to a counselor. Quickly.

She may need professional help.



Here goes,

1 and 2 - I would say because we are visiting and receiving our Lord Jesus at the Mass. I would then read John chapter 6 with her.

  1. I feel so un-hip, I don’t know what you said:blush:

  2. First of all, I believe that girl alter servers are allowed in the ordinary form of Mass. Why some say girls should still not serve? The best answer that I have heard (Mother Angelica I think) is that it is not fair to them, since they can not be priests.

  3. I would point to the ten commandments that you should honor your parents. Right now honoring him, is praying that he will get the mental and spiritual help he needs. She should pray that he makes a conversion. Perhaps you could say that he absolutely needs correction for his current issues, but that there is some good in him that can be built upon.

  4. Being that skinny is not healthy for her. I wonder if there is not a correlation to your dh’s issues. Could her borderline anorexia be related.


I didn’t mean to sound cold, so I apologize if I did.

13 is a tough year-the teen years are brutal. Show her some compassion (and I’m not saying you don’t) and remember that she has alot of questions right now. When I was that age you couldn’t tell me “Because Mom says so” or “Because that’s the way it is”. Even using logic, reason or anything like that doesn’t work because there only 13. At that age, it’s okay to be not fully formed yet.

Good luck!


she is in counseling, just doesn’t believe them either.
‘emo’ around here is cutting. cutting is cutting your body to feel pain that is more bearable than the pain you are feeling (usually emotional)
i am separated her dad because he looks at females as bodies, parts to lust after or at least ‘enjoy looking at’, not as real people and i threw him out to stop him from that sort of parenting/modeling/abuse, esp when he tries sneaking in to the bathroom when they are showering.
our rule is to be clean, neat, dressed up to show respect for God and His house – she has better clothing than jeans she can wear


she is my 4th child -- i've told them all 13 is the year to celebrate surviving! the hardest! the terrible doorway they must pass through to get to better times.


As far as sources I’m pretty dry so can’t help with that, but I can give my thoughts.

Attending Sunday Mass is part of our holy obligation. In the Third Commandment, God commanded us to “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” The Sabbath day being Sunday for Catholics. Thus we attend Mass that day to keep holy the Sabbath.

Wearing jeans to Mass is nowhere in Catholic teaching. There is nothing wrong with wearing jeans to Mass. However there is a standard of modesty that should be kept. Remember that we are going before Christ in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. Therefore we should have the utmost respect for Him. We are there to worship the Lord, not to try impress other people with our looks from both ends of the modesty system. I personally will wear a nice pair of jeans to Mass and have never ran into problems doing so.

Emo cutting? Like slitin wrists and all that dark whatnot? Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We must therefore be careful what we do to them. Harming them with drugs, alcohol, sharp objects, excessive tattoos piercing, would be destructing these temples. If a parent gave you a beautiful car that is unique and irreplaceable, how would you treat it? Chances are you would do the best you could to take care of it. And that’s how the lord wants us treat our bodies.

There’s an idea within the church held by some Catholics today that only guys should be alter servers. The church has nothing against women taking part in the different ministries within the church including alter serving.

As humans. We are giving the free will to make choices in life. Those of us who grow up to be fathers, are obligated to take care, love, shelter their children that they bring into the world, but they are not forced. That being, we have to make the choice whether we are going to put worldly pleasure ahead of them or not. Regardless of the choices we make, all human life is sacred. By hating those who hurt us deeply we do no service to our selves or to the Lord. It doesn’t mean we are required to forget and never mind the illicit behaviors others do to us, and instead act so loving that never even happened. But we should imitate Christ’s willingness to forgive those who hate Him. Hate will never obtain us anything and we should remember that.

This goes back to our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit. How other view our bodies means nothing to God. Being worried about how we look is simply torture that we don’t need to go through. At 13 she has a wonderful life ahead of her and there is nothing good that starving is going to obtain her. Anorexia is a problem that can require serious attention. I encourage you as a mother to do everything you can to help her. It’s not as simple as just eating more food. Anorexia literally makes people feel that they can not eat. I’m not a doctor by any means, but at least for now have her take vitamin supplements. Perhaps this all stems from the lack of a loving father, but whatever is needs attention and help. Talking to a good spiritual director and/or Psychologist would be a good idea.
You and her with be in my Prayers. Peace of Christ be with you.


Rachel…my prayers are with you.

As far as her eating issues, anorexia/bulimia…it could be that she is desperately trying not to enter puberty and have all the voluptuous womanly parts that accompany it. After being looked at improperly by her dad, she may wish to stay small and girlish forever. She may also have issues with her body because after all, it was her body that caused her dad to have to leave the house. Children have a way of making themselves to blame for everything inside their own minds.

This girl is obviously in pain…even teens with an “ideal” family situation fall into these dark mindsets and given what she has had to deal with, this is not an easy thing. I would make sure she has plenty of outlets for her pain right now, arts and crafts, music, etc. She does need counseling too. It is not too late to help her reclaim her view of her body.


I’m about as conservative as they come Rachel - but I have to say that your daughter sounds like she is fighting some pretty heavy issues right now. I would ease up on the jeans thing a bit, don’t make it a bone of contention if it means she will go to Mass. As long as her jeans are clean, not ripped up, and not revealing (too low cut), then I would say you need to pick your battles, and this isn’t one of them right now.

Spend your energy and emotion on getting her well - then worry about jeans at Mass. :wink:



[quote="RachelKH, post:8, topic:185231"]
she is my 4th child -- i've told them all 13 is the year to celebrate surviving! the hardest! the terrible doorway they must pass through to get to better times.


Yikes, you tell them it is gonna be bad, and they live up to your expectations.


i ok jeans for daily Mass if she goes, like if she wants to accompany me if i get to go, or if she must altar serve then, but Sundays are no jeans times. she can wear khakis or nice pants or skirt or dresses. when i say ok to jeans then i have the extra battle of which ones are ok, and that gets harder, so i stick to no jeans.
yeah, she has lots to make it through. i try to love her up in ways that she can accept w/o getting creeped out (she has personal space issues, but backrubs are ok and hugs sometimes too) and we talk a lot but she just shuts her ears to what she can’t deal with or accept yet. lots of pain, distrust, anger, homicidal feelings toward her dad, but getting better bit by bit by molecule. her dad actually made a bit of headway thinking of her as a real person and trying to regain her trust – he dropped off a cute kitten poster for her room – a bigger deal than you can know!!! at first she didn’t even want to touch it but i said, ‘he’s trying. he’s a retard (her language, what the kids at school call socially backward peers), but he’s trying!’ and she was able to accept it, even showing it to her sisters in happiness.


Why would you call her dad a name?

When you tear her dad down, you tear part of her down. Ripping on her dad is not a way to help this girl. Keep your personal problems between him, your priest, your counselor and yourself.

If you cannot say something good about her father to her, say nothing about her father to her or in front of her - and to any of the other kids as well.


lol – i talk to them about being 13 when things start getting rough toward the end of their 12th year.
my oldest son: in 7th grade my normally talkative/social/ easy going son would come home from school and go right to his room and Shut The Door and only come out for meals! it scared me and i mentioned it to my friend who also had a 7th grader who asked her DD if maybe my son was ok? and she told him ‘hey, your mom is worried! are you doing drugs? depressed? what’s up? you better get out of your room more and talk to your mom!’ so he did – the pressures of being a perfectionist/top of the class/in all the do-good groups were getting to him and he was hiding out and just working hard in there, but learned to again be social w/ us and not over stress – although he kept his perfectionism and class rank was valedictorian afterall.
i don’t cause them to hate 13/7-8th grade – i’m just understanding of the perils and trials it holds! at least i hope not!


this is the daughter who opened my eyes to my husband’s behavior – she knew him for what he does/does not do before i did. in calling him a retard i was just speaking her language in helping her know that even tho he has real trouble understanding or caring about anyone else’s point of view or feelings, he was trying!!! it was a compliment, understood by her!!! and he understood too when i called him up right afterwards and told him what I’d said and how she had reacted before and after i said it and I praised his efforts!!!


[quote="RachelKH, post:1, topic:185231"]
My 13yoDD wants to know why:
1. why we go to Mass every Sunday?
2. why she can't wear jeans to Mass?
3. why 'emo'/'cutting' is bad?
4. why some people think she shouldn't be an altar server?
5. why she shouldn't hate her father from whom i am separated due to his bad behavior?
6. why she should eat more/better to gain weight (5'4" 84lbs fully clothed) instead of being anorexic/bulimic?
It is hard to get through to her about any of these things. Maybe your words would better reach her. Please help!


  1. why we go to Mass every Sunday?
    If we love God, we search for Him. He's there in the tabernacle!
    As for Sundays specifically, yep it's in the Ten commandments.

  2. why she can't wear jeans to Mass?
    Has she ever felt awkward or distracted when a really hot guy (her language ;)) is in the same room? Tell her that for guys the awkwardness is even more powerful, and when a girl is wearing tight or immodest jeans (and many are) it is distracting for them to focus on the Mass. She might like this explanation, especially because it comes from the beauty of her body and how it must be respected :)

  3. why 'emo'/'cutting' is bad?
    Destroying your body is bad for no reason. There is a difference between Our Lord giving Himself and His body for us, and somebody mutilating themselves. It is in contempt of God, because He formed us in the womb, and cares so much for us that He gave us our wonderful bodies. For us to hurt them is against God.
    Perhaps you can introduce her to mortification instead of cutting, as a way to help get closer to God rather than farther away. The whole deal is giving up little amenities in your life to other people, and learning with God's help to control your desires and not be so helpless whenever you feel hungry, or have some compulsion.
    As for emo, she wouldn't dress like a prostitute if she didn't want to be recognized as one. In the same way, she shouldn't dress like some kind of satanist if she doesn't want to be taken as one. If you dress like a prostitute, you will have many perverts following you around, and presenting yourself in this way will open yourself up to receiving attention from the wrong kinds of people. So dressing in black, ugly amounts of eyeliner and ugly makeup, will bring you into contact with bad people. You should take her to Ulta or a department store and have them do a free makeup job on her, to help make her look pretty in a modest way, and they can teach her to use makeup in a way that will bring out her beauty rather than hide it behind ugliness.

  4. why some people think she shouldn't be an altar server?
    Is it because of how she dresses/acts or because she's a girl?
    -Because of how she acts: If she's a bad example, she doesn't deserve a special place in the Mass.
    -Because she's a girl: For less than forty years of the Church's 2000 years of history, girls have been allowed to be altar servers. It's an issue of tradition as well as our different places as men and women. Men aren't mothers, and women aren't priests. The idea of women not being altar servers stems from these very basic ideas, including our God-given features and personalities. In the Church, there is a series of steps that children can take when it comes to discerning their vocation, and they keep going almost infinitely. Boys go something like this: they can begin as altar servers, and continue on to become either a father and possibly a deacon, or to become a monk or seminarian, then priest, and continue moving up the scale. Women, not fitting into this series of steps of participation in the Mass, don't fit very very as altar servers, it doesn't make very much sense.
    (This is coming from a young woman who used to be an altar server on occasion too, only recently have I been trying to figure things out.)
    Basically because women cannot be priests (not even His Holy Mother Mary was made a priest, and she would have been a perfect candidate had this been Our Lord's intention!) being altar servers is illogical. As her mother, you much explain this to her with gentleness!

  5. why she shouldn't hate her father from whom i am separated due to his bad behavior?
    We must love everybody, even those who hate us or seem to hate us. He is her father, she cannot avoid that half of her is his.
    I have problems with my father as well, and she needs to invite God to be her true Father, and Mary to be her true Mother (no offense to you of course :)) If she truly does so, then they will lead her to obedience to others around her, which is difficult but this sort of submission of your will in favor of others is like medicine to the soul!

  6. why she should eat more/better to gain weight (5'4" 84lbs fully clothed) instead of being anorexic/bulimic?
    I'm very thin too, and yet still eat like a 200 pound man. It depends what her body type is.
    But having an eating disorder is unhealthy and she is bringing herself to an untimely death. It all goes back to self-love issues. She seems to hate her body, and yet she needs to pray, and we need to pray for her, to gain self-love and take care of the body which God Himself gave her, [BIBLEDRB]1 Corinthians 6:20[/BIBLEDRB].
    Christ Himself gave Himself so that she may receive eternal happiness, and her self-mutilation and hatred of her own body is a rejection of this gift. I think she needs a serious wake-up call, and not just from you, but perhaps from the priest, or from God Himself. All she needs is our prayers, a logical explanation can only get so far to such a young girl.

GOD BLESS! :hug1:


Rachel - I hope you are also going to counseling along with your children, and on your own. It sounds like a house full of issues there.



I think most of the other issues have been adequately covered here.

Re the jeans - I agree that if they’re not dirty, ripped, or too tight/low-cut you should ease up on her about them. If they ARE any of the above, don’t let her wear them on weekdays either, for that matter. I don’t believe in different dresscodes for weekday Masses and Sundays - EVERY Mass is special.

If necessary, you might want to remind her that at Mass we’re having an encounter with God - the King of Kings and Lord of Lords - the most important person in existence.

Would she wear dirty/ripped clothing/be showing her butt crack to the world if she were meeting the President? the Queen of England? Her favourite celebrity? Going to a wedding? Or a job interview? I doubt it - she’d probably put on her best (or at least clean and neat) clothes. She should show her appreciation of the ‘occasion’ of going to Mass in the same way.


no butt crack showing in this family, except when the plumber comes in (ew!!!), no too tight (0's hang on her!), ripped jeans don't go to school either. if it was really a big deal, i'd ease up -- only been questioned once, but that was last Sunday. we'll see.

thank you all for your words and help! prayers especially welcomed!!!

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