Very hypothetical and curious about a something.

As a Protestant in a committed relationship with a Catholic, I’ve been informed about a thousand times that if he and I marry, he’s obligated to raise our children in the Catholic faith.

And please don’t explain to me why interfaith marriages are difficult and should be avoided if possible, because I’ve been told that a thousand times as well.

Knowing that he’s “obligated” to raise our children Catholic, what would happen if he didn’t? If he let me take them to my church because I, theoretically, believed that raising kids Catholic is the most effective way to ensure you’ve got rebellious kids? (I know it’s in the parenting, but I’m just giving a reason why I would possibly not let him raise them Catholic. I probably would.)

What if we took them to Mass until a certain age where we let them decide whether or not they wanted to continue? That would be a more realistic thing I’d propose for my children. Because forcing kids to go through a practice they do not like actually is effective for raising rebellious children. Would that be wrong, too?

What would happen if we did either of these things? Would he be asked to leave the Church? Would it be a mortal sin to let our children decide what to do?

Is demanding that children bathe several times a week, brush their teeth, tidy their rooms, and dress before 10 AM a recipe for rebellious children? Why not make them do that until a certain age (say 10) and then they can decide for themselves whether to bathe at all, brush their teeth, have knee-deep debris in their rooms, or wear jammies all day long on the weekend? In my household, all of those basic maintenance activities are way less popular than going to Mass. And as a kid, I was tremendously rebellious over doing dishes, but barely said a peep about going to my parents’ Protestant church.

The thing is, all effective parents have to choose their battles. We can’t die on every single hill, but we choose what is most important to us, and stick to our guns. That’s what effective parenting looks like.

I think the reason that this is hard for you is that you don’t believe Catholicism and hence you don’t believe that that is the best possible upbringing to give your children. If you believed that Catholicism were true, you would think that bringing your kids up Catholic would be the best thing for them. Why do you want to raise your hypothetical children in a faith you don’t believe (even up to a particular age cut-off)? That’s weird.

Why don’t you marry a nice young man who shares your religious beliefs and raise children in that faith? If your boyfriend thinks he should be a priest, he is the last person on earth that that 50/50 arrangement that you envision would work with.

I said THEORETICALLY. Meaning that is NOT what I actually believe.

Thank you for lecturing me on things I could have worded better and not answering my actual question.

“What if we took them to Mass until a certain age where we let them decide whether or not they wanted to continue? That would be a more realistic thing I’d propose for my children. Because forcing kids to go through a practice they do not like actually is effective for raising rebellious children. Would that be wrong, too?”

If your boyfriend promised to raise his future children Catholic while planning to do otherwise, he would be a liar. Do you wish to marry a liar? Or, are you thinking of keeping this plan from your boyfriend and then springing it on him after you have kids? That doesn’t sound very honest either.

“What would happen if we did either of these things? Would he be asked to leave the Church? Would it be a mortal sin to let our children decide what to do?”

There is no Catholic Mass secret police or church lady squad, taking notes on who is there and who isn’t there and then reporting people to the diocese, which then excommunicates them with bell, book and candle. That does not happen.

As to it being a mortal sin, that depends very much on the circumstances, but as a Protestant friend years ago once said about a different issue, how close do we want to get to sin? There’s a definition of mortal sin here that you may find helpful (grave matter, full knowledge, full consent of will).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin

You’re being really presumptuous about my character and I think you should stop it.

I’m going to rethink how I worded this post, and possibly post back later. I was having a near-episode when I wrote it and now I’ve calmed down and seen the many areas I’ve either presented opinions I don’t actually believe and been offensive.

But again please don’t do that.

What would happen? You would confuse your children, and THAT would be an “effective way to ensure that you’ve got rebellious kids.”

You see, the children would eventually be old enough to understand that you and Dad made a promise to the Church before God that you didn’t keep.

Older children and teenagers tend to see things in black and white, with no shades of gray. No matter how you explained it to them, they would see this broken promise as “wrong.” No middle ground. That’s the way kids are.

Even if you explained to them that you didn’t want to force them to follow a religion that they didn’t believe, they would still be unable to get past your broken promise. They would wonder what other promises Mom and Dad have broken over the years. They would feel confused, distrustful and insecure, and then they would feel resentful over their confusion, distrust and insecurity. This would lead to rebellion against Mom and Dad, who broke a promise to God Himself.

This could also lead to betrayal between you and your husband. After all, once you break one promise, it becomes easier to break another promise. Eventually you begin living a life of doubt and distrust of each other.

I wouldn’t do it. Don’t start out a marriage with a shaky promise. If you can’t honor the promise to raise your children Catholic, then break things off now before they get more serious and both of you are badly hurt.

KaraGordon said:

“You’re being really presumptuous about my character and I think you should stop it.”

I’ve answered the questions you’ve posted. I am not saying that either you or your boyfriend is dishonest, just that it would be dishonest for either of you to promise to raise children in the Catholic faith, while secretly intending not to do so.

I am judging the hypothetical behavior, not the persons, as neither of you has been dishonest yet as far as I know.

“I’m going to rethink how I worded this post, and possibly post back later. I was having a near-episode when I wrote it and now I’ve calmed down and seen the many areas I’ve either presented opinions I don’t actually believe and been offensive.”

Go ahead.

“But again please don’t do that.”

Don’t do what? Answer the questions that you posted? I can’t read your mind. All I can see are letters on a screen.

I have to warn that some of the stuff you’ve said comes perilously close to setting you up for an invalid marriage. Any time there is deception of prospective spouse before marriage, that becomes a possibility.

ewtn.com/expert/answers/marital_consent.htm

OP, when your children are adults, they will definitely be making their own decisions. They may completely reject your values, completely accept them, or anything inbetween. Until they are grown, you will want to do your best to inculcate in them the values and worldviews you think to be true and right.

If you and your boyfriend got married, you wouldn’t be obliged to raise your children Catholic (though he would have to promise that he would do his best to raise them in the Catholic church); that said, you and your husband REALLY want to pull together to give your kids a good, strong foundation.

Another note: Most of the people posting on here want to give you the most helpful answer to your question, so try not to take it too personally when they say something you don’t want to hear. As far as I can tell, none of the replies you’ve received have been offensive.

Oh yes and taking on airs of superiority and backhandedly insulting me isn’t being presumptuous or rude.

Please stop replying. I posted during an anxiety attack and shouldn’t have and I KNOW I’M 19 AND STUPID.

Please just stop replying. I know I’m an idiot. Stop replying.

I married my wife and then reverted back to Catholicism after about 12 years of marriage. She is protestant. So, me now raising our kids catholic is sort of the reverse of your situation. Upon my reversion to Catholicism I asked my priest about the word “obligated”. I had thought at first it meant it demanded they go to catholic school, go to mass, etc. I cannot change some things so abruptly so my priest said to do my best.

As we all know what the priest says and what we hear can be two different things as can what some say obligated means and what others mean obligated means.

I figure that most kids at 18 do their own thing and I certainly did. My upbringing, the overt attempt by my parents had nothing to do with my faith, it was the quiet prayers and knowledge of faith I witnessed in my family members that meant most to me over the long run.

I let my wife do what she will with the kids for now, but I will not stop praying for them, showing them things and living by example as best I can. There are no easy answers I have learned with a protestant / catholic marriage.

Just out of curiosity have you considered converting to Catholicism? Not trying to say it is right in your case or saying you should do that, just asking.

I wish you the best!

KaraGordon said:

“Oh yes and taking on airs of superiority and backhandedly insulting me isn’t being presumptuous or rude.”

I’m not insulting you.

I’m 38, twice your age. I have been married 15 years and I have three kids, 11, 8 and 1. At least one other person who has posted has been married twice as long as me and has had over twice as many years of parenting experience. I remember how much I knew about marriage and parenthood at your age–roughly nothing. That’s not being insulting–it’s just being truthful.

“Please stop replying. I posted during an anxiety attack and shouldn’t have and I KNOW I’M 19 AND STUPID.”

You’re not stupid, but you are 19, and it sounds like you have a lot of problems and you’re in a big hurry to mess up your life.

Slow down and give yourself a chance to have fun, work on yourself, and grow up a little. And give your boyfriend some space. You both sound confused.

“Please just stop replying. I know I’m an idiot. Stop replying.”

If you aren’t already under the care of a therapist, that would be a very good idea. If you’re a college student, try student counseling.

Hi Kara:

I don’t know if this site is authoritative, but it seems to answer your question:

catholicexchange.com/do-catholics-have-to-raise-their-children-as-catholics

My wife is Protestant. We don’t have children, so raising children as Catholic is not an issue for us.

According to the article, the Catholic person is the only one obligated to raise his / her children as Catholics, but not at the expense of the marriage.

A priest could give a better answer.

A mixed marriage has not been a big deal for us. I like Protestant speakers, as well as Catholic speakers.

I listened to Joyce Meyer this morning.

Good luck.

I am in therapy so shut the hell up just stop

That’s really offensive of you to even say but rest assured i know I’m a mental case so get off of my case

Yes, that is true.

And please don’t explain to me why interfaith marriages are difficult and should be avoided if possible, because I’ve been told that a thousand times as well.

Yes, interfaith marriages can be difficult. Not impossible but difficult.

Knowing that he’s “obligated” to raise our children Catholic, what would happen if he didn’t? If he let me take them to my church because I, theoretically, believed that raising kids Catholic is the most effective way to ensure you’ve got rebellious kids? (I know it’s in the parenting, but I’m just giving a reason why I would possibly not let him raise them Catholic. I probably would.)

If he did that, he would be he would be going against the teaching of his church. In fact, he would have lied to his church and to you.

If he knew ahead of time that you were going to refuse to allow the children to be raised Catholic, he would be counseled to not marry. In fact, during Pre-Cana YOU would be part of the discussion about raising children Catholic. So you would also have to lie about it.

What if we took them to Mass until a certain age where we let them decide whether or not they wanted to continue? That would be a more realistic thing I’d propose for my children. Because forcing kids to go through a practice they do not like actually is effective for raising rebellious children. Would that be wrong, too?

First you seem to have some very interesting reasons that cause “rebellious children.” Forcing kids to go through a practice they do not like? You mean, like the practice of bathing? Or the practice of attending school? Or the practice of attending Mass??

If you think about it, you know that it would be wrong to allow your children to raise themselves.

What would happen if we did either of these things? Would he be asked to leave the Church? Would it be a mortal sin to let our children decide what to do?

Who would know? :shrug: They don’t take attendance at Mass. So, yes, he could do it.

But of course God would know. He would know that He had been lied to.

Bathing - necessary health behavior
School - necessary practice to ensure a future for children
Catholicism - religion.

I stated that it was theoretical because I don’t believe that with the fervence I suggested. I know it’s in the parenting and the kids’ psychological makeup. I should have worded that a million times differently.

But not forcing a child, say, in their teens, to attend religious services they’re dead against is not “allowing children to raise themselves”, it’s allowing them to make life choices and not smothering them and forcing. That’s all I meant.

 Hello,,,,, yes this can happen in a Forum environment .....

Can at times be an unsuspecting mine field… Bit like raising children,
You come to there teens and ,BANG , where did that come from…lol
It’s entirely up to you how you raise your children ,and how if any you give religious instruction … We raised our 3 sons right through the catholic system,and I’d like to think it paid off… But having two Christian faiths in the one house does or could make it a little more challenging , particularly if one has stronger faith that the other,
From my experience , iv found that people that take children to church till there old enough to make up there own mind, lose there children’s religious commitment when they hit the teens, not through any parental fault,it’s because they feel no connection,
Other lifestyles take over because it’s all to boring and they miss there 11 a.m sleep in,
But what does really help is getting them involved in youth group,
Yes The catholic faith would like it carried through, but your the parents,r

Thinking about it in a better mindset I would not suggest that the children not be raised Catholic. That would be completely unnecessary on my part.

I just don’t think it’s a good idea to force older children/teens to do things if they’re clearly going to resent their parents for forcing them.

All I was asking was if the Catholic parent would receive any kind of upset from the Church if that were the case.

I could have worded it a lot better and I apologize.

Just stop taking that and telling me I need therapy.

Amen!

You don’t want to be lectured but your post contains some rather bold assumptions. If you think that raising the children Catholic is the most effective way to ensure you have rebellious children then you need to rethink this whole thing. It is a sad assumption on your part because there are many of us Catholics that are raising our children in the Church and it is not making them rebellious. but raising them with the attitude of “well we will let them decide later” will communicate confussion and rebellion. If you deep in your heart do not want your children Catholic then don’t marry a Catholic. You need to be honest with yourself here. There is a pretty good book out now “till faith do us part”. It is a study of mixed faith marriages. The author is Jewish who married a lasped JW. While the author does try to put a positive foot forward, her studies of mixed faith families showed that they were less happy, there were more problems and the children ended up as less committed to any religion. You claimed you don’t want lectures but maybe you are starting to realize that there are some real big issues here that will always be there unless either he leaves or you join. It is easy to end an engagement than marry and divorce later on. There are some red flags here that need to be heeded and stating I don’t want lectures means that they are being ignored.

Kara,
I was married to a Protestant and he agreed to let me raise our children in the Catholic faith. They went to Catholic Mass and Catholic school but they also attended some of his services sometimes. But I made sure they received all their sacraments. I fulfilled my obligations. They are now adults and do what they want. But I have to say that I really don’t think Xantippe is being rude to you. He is only trying to help you. In fact I think you were being quite rude to him. You are still young and have a lot of time to decide what to do. I won’t lie to you. Being married to someone of a different faith is difficult. It can be done but it is not easy. I wish you and your boyfriend all the luck in the world. :slight_smile:

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