Why Your Kids Won’t Stay Catholic

The scenario is familiar to everyone working in parish ministry–8th Grade religious education apathy.

When they’re young, they are so full of natural desire for religion. In 3rd Grade, their eyes light up when talking about God. Even by 6th Grade, you can still see that spark.

However, in 7th Grade it starts to wane, and by 8th Grade it’s almost totally gone. I’m asked all the time how to get kids to come back for the second semester of 8th Grade CCD. Attendance just drops off, and that apathy continues into High School.

Why won’t our kids stay religious? The natural aptitude is there, why does that spark die out?

Talent Is Overrated

My wife just read a book called Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. The premise is greatness doesn’t lie in natural talent or abilities. It’s the same message as Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Greatness in some sport/job/skill, etc. is more about practice than natural ability. Gladwell says you need “10,000 hours” of practice to become an expert. The greats always practice more than anyone else. That’s what makes them great.

There are some other factors to consider for greatness:

  • Affinity: If they don’t like doing it, they won’t put in the hours to get great.
  • Access: They need facilities, teams, coaching–a way to actually work on the skill. If Lindsey Vonn had grown up in Louisiana, she probably wouldn’t have an Olympic medal in downhill skiing.
  • Youth: They usually started young…like very young! Tiger Woods started playing golf when he was two!

Here’s the interesting part

In every case, at some point their parents had to push them. Sometimes it was good. Other times, like in the case of Tiger Woods, not so good (his father drove him relentlessly to be great golfer). Most often it was a parent that made the difference in them sticking with it.

Don’t miss this–in their teenage years these superstars needed some help. Their natural drive couldn’t carry them and they needed outside incentive. Very often, they owed their greatness to their parents pushing, poking, prodding and sometimes forcing them to continue.

What do we do as parents to help/push our children to succeed in the practice of religion?

Parents must be the spiritual motivators

Parents are the strongest influence on their children’s spiritual formation. They must actively work to foster that formation.

All the above factors for greatness apply to religion:

  • Every child, every person, has a natural affinity for God. But it has to be nurtured in order to grow.
  • Children need access to religious formation and training in order to grow spiritually.
  • They need to start young! If religious practice doesn’t start early, it won’t have enough time to get ingrained and, consequently, it won’t survive adolescence.

Parents, your kids won’t stay Catholic because you don’t push them to practice!

Catechetical Takeaway

Let’s start thinking of religious formation as a critical life-skill. How do our kids get these skills? They must practice! They must put in their 10,000 hours! And, they must start young.

Will they always like it? No! But they don’t know what they need. They’ll want to skip religious education or youth group because they’re tired or because there friends aren’t there. They need to go!

Even the greats, who had an unusual desire to practice their sport, sometimes needed prodding.

Parents, you are your child’s spiritual life-coach. Don’t let their spark die out! Send them to CCD/youth group. Help them to practice their faith. In the end, they’ll thank you for helping them stay Catholic.

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Comments

  1. Well said! I so enjoy the comment – Let’s start thinking of religious formation as a critical life-skill. How do our kids get these skills? They must practice! They must put in their 10,000 hours! And, they must start young.

    Now, here is where parenting skills are important! Where are we nurturing today’s parent to be so involved in the religious formation of their children when so many parents today are not formed themselves in their faith? One can form, when they are formed in their faith tradition!

    • You’re so right about this! The Church makes a big point of saying that parents are the primary educators but often doesn’t do anything to help them. I think it’s should be part of a parish’s responsibility to educate and equip parents to fulfill their God given role in this regard.

      That is exactly why I believe so strongly in family catechesis! I run a family catechesis program where the parents are taught how to teach their kids and given resources to do that with. Not only lessons but activities and ways to celebrate the liturgical year as a family are all important aspects of this program.

      But you know, just celebrating feast days, holy days and the liturgical year can be a powerful thing for parents to do. There are tons of books that outline activities and projects for this. That in itself would be great religious formation for families. Although, ideally some type of instruction would accompany that as well.

  2. Excellent post. I don’t have kids yet, but I want to make sure that we get them practicing early.

    It’s funny, because in my own life I can see that the most influential things my parents did to keep me involved in my faith were all when I was pretty young. The doxology which I learned at around 5 years old touches my heart more than any of the religious practices I learned from them later on.

    • Thanks Joshua! I know you will get them practicing early. I have no doubt about that. 😉

      That’s interesting when you said the things that stuck the most happened when you were young. I think that concrete experiences, especially involving liturgical celebrations, have a lasting impact and really get into the brains of kids. Those kinds of experiences can be very influential.

  3. Paul Kaiser says:

    Nice post, Marc. I wince at the word “push,” though. What kid likes to be pushed? I get the gist, and I’ll just read it as “encourage.”

    That said, there comes a time in young lives when they hit a giant speed bump called puberty and start questioning their identity. They may have feelings or take actions that fill them with guilt. At that point, it can easily feel like they are so full of sin that they are an “exception to the rule” and that there’s no place for them in the Church, that God just wouldn’t understand, etc.

    At that crucial point, they need reassurance, encouragement. They need to feel they haven’t somehow outgrown God’s forgiveness, and that God’s love remains unconditional, regardless of what they’re going through.

    If I remember correctly, a key point in “Outliers” had to do with mentors. One of the most important functions a mentor serves is providing reassurance during times of doubt. Without that reassurance, it’s easy to just “up and quit.”

    • Profound comments Paul!

      I think you read my mind and what I meant by *push* but that’s a good point. I don’t necessarily mean that they should be forced in a harsh way but a loving way. I don’t think it exactly works to force conversions. However, I think in this case I’m reacting against the parents that won’t make their kids go to religious education based on the fact that the child just doesn’t want to. Many people will allow their kids to make those decisions but the kids don’t really know what’s good for them and need a loving “push.” Like the same sort of push you have to give them to do their homework or eat their peas. 😉

      You are right though. There’s a difference between a child that doesn’t want to go because it’s more fun to play video games and one that is hesitant because of emotional or spiritual feelings of inadequacy. I think in that case, it’s important to try to understand the child and where their resistance is coming from. Encouragement and reassurance are in order at that point. Those are such good points to reassure on as well–God’s unconditional forgiveness and their acceptance.

      Yes, mentors…that’s the idea. The parents should end up being someone that can give the necessary encouragement/push at the right time because they know and understand the child. More forceful when it’s needed. More gentle, listening, nurturing and understanding when that’s called for as well.

      Awesome comments! Thanks!

    • “they hit a giant speed bump called puberty” Yes, and the Catholic Church quite rightly does not allow for any wiggle room (so to speak) for sex outside of marriage. So like many adults, teens who don’t want to deal with that standard punt.

  4. Marc, you’re really on fire lately! Provocative title and interesting post.

    As far as…hmm, “forced encouragement,” I’m going to call it – I think we have to be really careful with that. I’d suggest perhaps that parents should get their kids to do SOMETHING Catholic outside of Mass attendance, but that youth group isn’t always going to be that something. (CCD I see as less “optional” than youth group.)

    I’ve seen a lot of kids whose parents kept making them attend youth group meetings, retreats, etc., hoping that it would ignite a fire within them, and all that happens is that those same kids push right back against their parents and draw the group down with their apathy. And at the same time, they’ll be terrific volunteers, really engaged in community service, what have you. I think that with some kids, youth ministry – unless done REALLY well – comes across as “if you don’t like this kind of music and talk openly about your love of Christ, you aren’t being Catholic.” And so they decide – well, fine, I don’t want to be Catholic.

    This is why I struggle with the idea of requiring kids to attend a certain number of retreats for Confirmation prep, for example. On the one hand, it gets a lot of kids to go on retreat who wouldn’t have signed up without that “excuse” of “my parents/the parish are making me go” – and then they’ll really benefit from the experience. On the other hand, I think it’s okay to be a teenager who dislikes retreats. Doesn’t automatically mean you’re less faithful.

    I have a feeling I phrased all of this wrong, but am hoping I didn’t offend all of the terrific youth ministers out there who really have their work cut out for them and are putting together some really strong programs for kids.

    • Good points Dorian. I’ve thought about those things as well. I think you’re right–some kids won’t be into youth group and getting their hands dirty with service opportunities might. For some kids it might be helping the elderly. I think, in general, a youth group should probably try to hit on all those modalities but obviously many don’t.

      Of course, bad youth ministry won’t be helpful for anyone. The “holier-than-thou-conform-to-the-image-of-a-good-Catholic-youth doesn’t really help anything any more than youth group being an extension of the school cliques. But those things happen.

      As far as the apathetic teens pulling down the rest, I definitely see your point there. That’s always a danger. But, if they don’t go ever, how will you know if they could actually change? How will they know? I’ve heard some success stories from kids that were forced to go to religious events, went reluctantly and ended up liking it and really converting. I talked to someone like that at Franciscan. They were forced to go to college there and ended up totally converted and totally Catholic.

      I’m also thinking of the story of Cassie Bernall from the book “She Said Yes.” She was on the totally wrong path and with the wrong crowd. Her parents only allowed her to go to youth group and nothing else. She ended up so Christian that she was martyred at Columbine for her witness. So, there’s success stories and failures I suppose. But better to try it and fail than never to try at all. You’re guaranteed a negative outcome that way.

  5. I absolutely love this post! I agree with you 100%.
    As I started reading this though, I can’t help but wonder if we need to start grabbing them at that “I’m thirsty” age. Really emphasizing on the middle school years before they totally give up their Catholic heritage.
    Too bad I can’t do it all – I’ll stick with my youth ministry with the teens! 🙂

    • I definitely think they need to be “grabbed” at that earlier thirsty age. My philosophy is to start having faith conversations as a family from the beginning of their religious education years (or sooner) and carry that all the way into adolescence. That way, the parents have established a culture of faith discussions within the family and it’s not a foreign thing when the kids are teens and they really need it. I run a family catechesis program that does just that.

      I think it has to start early or else it won’t survive adolescence. It will be much harder to start in the teenage years, which I think is when a lot of parents start those conversations because the kids are questioning, doubting or just plain rebelling. By then it’s too late. Not to say it’s impossible, but definitely extremely more difficult.

      Thanks for the comments! Keep up that work with the teen ministry! We need good work on all sides.

  6. Thanks Kimberly! You’re living what I’m talking about!

    I find myself getting caught up in the busy-ness of life in this regard as well. Then I realize that I have to find time to make these connections or read to them from the Bible do some devotions as a family. It’s most important when it comes from us as parents.

    Thanks for commenting on your experience with youth groups too. That’s exactly what I was talking about. It sounds like your diligence has truly paid off!

    Thanks for commenting!

  7. Thanks Lisa! I so greatly appreciate your support.

  8. Marc – great post. We need to continue to give parents tools to help their kids grow and love their Catholic Faith. If parents merely drop their children off at CCD then they themselves are not growing and often they don’t have much of an idea what their children are learning in class. I do think parents need to “push” their kids more than they generally do. They are worried that their kids are going to leave the faith but without some pushing and helping them grow they might leave anyway. Some great reflection and comments about this post!

    • I think your last statement is very true. They’re worried the pushing is going to make them leave the faith, but without some pushing and encouraging, they’re not going to get anywhere either. Kids just need help with this. They’re kids!

      Thanks for the comments!

  9. Is she the one doing that or does she not like it when the kids do that?

  10. I know what you mean about Mass. It was very difficult with my kids too. My oldest was not the kind to sit quietly or just go to sleep during Mass. My wife and I tag teamed Mass a lot when the kids were really young just to get something out of it.

    Eventually, we just saw it as our duty to train them to behave in Mass. That meant forcing them to be still and taking them out when they couldn’t any more. Then bringing them back and trying again. It took a while and was embarrassing at times but it worked. People say they’re well behaved now (they’re 9 and 7) but it took a lot of time out in the back to get there.

    One thing I did was never use the cry room. I didn’t make it fun for them to be in the back of church. So they would rather be up front.

    On integrating the faith into a busy life–that is a tough one. One thing you could do that isn’t a huge burden on you is to enroll them in a religious education program at a parish. That’s just the time involved in getting them there.

    However, I think it’s very important for the parents to be involved in some type of religious activities too. Mass is definitely most important. So getting into that routine is huge! It might just be hard slogging for a while until you get them trained for it but it will get better.

    Then, outside of that, try doing something you like in little bits. If you like to read to them, get some Bible story books. There are some good ones. Or, read some kid’s versions of the Saints lives. There are some good religious videos too. You could watch with them.

    Get some holy water and start blessing them at night before they go to sleep. As a father and spiritual head of the household, you can do that. Kids love that!

    You could also try celebrating Saint’s feast days or holy days with crafts. I’m not a real crafty person, but there are some fun baking crafts that have the story built into them. It’s kind of cool and you get to eat the sweets after. There’s a site called Catholic Icing that has a ton of these. There are lots of books on celebrating the Church year as a family with activities and different foods. That could be a fun way to integrate it into the family life.

    It’s important to talk with them about God. Have some kind of conversations about faith. They really eat it up. Young kids love to talk about God. You could have these talks around the books or videos. That way they see it’s important to you. Your attitude goes a long way in influencing them.

    Hope that helps. Thanks for commenting! I appreciate it!

  11. One other thing Steve. I struggle with this sometimes too. I’m supposed to be Mr. DRE-know-the-faith guy, a most of the time I come home from work tired and just want to play video games with my boys or read about Star Wars. After a while I realize that I haven’t done as much as I should either. That’s why I know all the shortcuts. 😉

    It is hard work but it’s worth it. I just think about them grown up and I don’t want to regret that I didn’t give enough effort at the right time, you know?

    Thanks again!

  12. Totally agree… While the Louisiana native isn’t likely going to be a downhill skier, its the stories of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles that draw us in–like the Jamaican bobsled team. Who woulda thought?

    It’s the same with the blesseds and  saints. Who woulda thought that one of the best Pope’s in history would have come from a Nazi-controlled Poland during the height of oppression of religion in that country? That reason (amongst a bazillion others) that JPII is so beloved.  I think JPII had a priest-friend help him in his discernment of the priesthood. We all need a little help…

    • I think you’re right about JPII. And, I remember reading there was an older man who was very influential for him as a young man during the Nazi occupation. This man was a mystic and he introduced young Karol to John of the Cross. He profoundly shaped his life and future as a priest. We all need a little help!

      Thanks for the comments!

  13. Thanks for your post, Marc. It is something that is a big struggle for us at the moment. Our two middle children ( we have four) who are 14 and 17 have stopped coming to Mass. Sunday morning had become a battle ground trying to get them up and out the door. They had each been active previously and we have a wonderful Youth program at our church. It’s just not relevant to them. They say it’s boring. What I take from that is that they feel the gospel message, the Mass ritual somehow is not relevant to their concerns, their sense of themselves. I don’t know how to make things different than they are. I have encouraged them to come, insisted they come just to have my son sit in tears during the whole Mass with his head covered.
    My strategy at the moment is just to love them. Let them know I wish they would come, that we miss them. But first and foremost to be God’s love to them. And pray for them of course…..
    Thanks for bringing the subject up, it’s an important one!

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Thanks for leaving your comment Cathie! I really appreciate hearing from you!

      I’m wondering, have you tried praying with your kids? Sometimes a little extra prayer can do a lot for softening the heart. Maybe you could approach them and ask to say 3 Hail Mary’s with them every night? It seems small but even a little bit can really do wonders. Perhaps you could try reading the Bible with them too and discussing stuff. Maybe doing that and listening to them and talking to them about your own faith will help make things relevant.

      I remember feeling the same way when I was a teenager. I didn’t think Catholicism was relevant to anything. I thought it was just a bunch of man made rules that kept me from doing what I wanted to do.

      I definitely think you were right and justified in encouraging and even insisting that they go to Mass with you. Even though it ended negatively. I would encourage you to keep trying. Have you ever read, “She Said Yes”? I think about how Cassie Bernall’s mother really had to give her some tough love regarding religious participation but how thankful she was later when it sank in.

      I know it must be tough though. I can understand not always having the strength to fight that fight. I know God will be with you in this struggle because he loves your kids and wants them with him.

  14. Marc, I’m 16 and my parents are hardcore Catholics. I find myself shaking my head at everything you say and I wince when I see that everyone agrees with you. Why do you have to push so hard for your children to think the exact same way as you? You talk about kids like they’re dogs. Why should a parent decide for a child what their beliefs should be? If you really believed that the church is 100% right, and there’s no other way to go, then what would be wrong with letting them see what life would be like without it? Obviously if it was so blaringly obvious that you’re completely right, then they would be able to see too.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Greg, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your honesty. I don’t mean to offend with the tone of this post. Just to nudge parents a bit.

      I’m pushing hard for my kids to believe what I believe because I think it’s the best thing for them. It’s my job to prepare them for life, to make sure they are mature, responsible, trustworthy adults capable of functioning in the world. And, I need to make sure they are emotionally and psychologically prepared to handle whatever life will bring. I believe the best way to go through life is devoutly Catholic. Believe me when I say, I’ve been on the other side. I’ve lived life without it. I rejected the Church and God when I was your age and it left me hollow, burned out and restless for meaning in my life. When I came back and embraced Catholicism, it filled a hole in my soul I didn’t know I had. It filled me with a peace and fulfillment I didn’t know I wanted. It replaced bitterness and resentment with acceptance and belonging.

      I do know what it’s like to live without God, and I know what it’s like with him. And, I can say that it’s much better with him. That’s why I want them to believe. I don’t want them to have to go through that. I regretted that. I regretted not having parents that would’ve pushed me to stay Catholic. I regretted the wasted time I spent away from God.

      I believe that Catholicism is a fantastic roadmap for life. It provides guidelines on how to live your life with meaning and purpose. That’s what I believe. I want the conviction of that beautiful for my kids. Just like I want them to have the best medical care they can get and the best education. It’s what they to be integral, mature human persons. It’s what they need to be everything God has made them to be.

      I want my kids to benefit from my experience and my mistakes. Otherwise, what’s the point of fatherhood? They can’t decide on their own. They don’t have the experience or maturity. They need my help to understand how the world works and that includes the spiritual world. Obviously, faith is not really faith if it’s forced. I present the Faith in it’s beautiful and richness hoping to attract them to it…not as a law or heavy-handed rule they must obey. They could decide against it. However, they need training to understand the truth of it too. Spiritual understanding doesn’t come naturally. We’re fallen creatures. Our tendency is to reject the spiritual. We all need practice, training, and grace to accept God’s truth and to live according to his will. That’s what I want to give to them. If, after they’ve received this training, they go another way…maybe that’s okay. But I will have done my part to help them the best way I know how.

      Instead of wondering what would life be like without it, maybe you should consider what would life be like fully with it. My guess is that you’ve never fully embraced it. I can understand that. Maybe life is better without the Church. However, maybe it’s much, much better with it. Live it fully first and see.

  15. I just read Greg’s post and I have been in this exact situation, went to Catholic school my entire life and it was around 7th or 8th grade when I stopped caring. It has nothing to do with achieving “greatness” but rather realizing that all of this is made up and everyone around you is perpetuating the lie. I’m 27 now and I have been a steady Atheist since this time, an Atheist who has a degree and a pretty good job helping others find employment. I harbor no specific ill will toward my Catholic education other than the treatment of Religion as fact rather than opinion.

    As someone who is on the cusp of the internet/millennial age I will definitely predict this attitude toward church will persist among this age group. Greg’s attitude is 100% correct, the more someone pushed me toward religion the more I pushed back. Kids now have resources available to them to find problems with any religious text or quote.

    Remember mine is also the generation that questions ANY image deemed too unbelievable is photoshopped, do you really think that we will buy what you are selling?

    It’s awesome you love your kids, but if you do….please let them make up their own mind about religion. It’s the ones who don’t that end up searching for something they can’t find.

  16. Just stumbled upon this… It’s a good blog post with thoughtful comments from the readers. I appreciate the perspective, especially the emphasis on the role of the parents. I’ve raised five kids, and I find that strong and loving boundaries around church participation have benefited all of my kids. They now express gratitude in their young adulthood that we had clearly established and consistently communicated faith values in our family.

  17. Joe Bigliogo says:

    I’m one of these kids referred to in the blog. Raised Catholic by well meaning but headstrong and staunchly Catholic parents. Now, we all have this thing in our heads called a brain. I use mine to think for myself. That means I don’t just believe what ever I’m told to believe by parents or a hierarchy of theocrats of a rich and powerful religious institution. Nor do I roll over when somebody tells me to. Most of all I don’t let a primitive holy book do my thinking for me. I reject the authoritarianism of religion and the dogmatic belief it spawns. I’m an apostate and a heretic. I wear them as a badge of honour and proclaim my atheism with pride. Little did my parents know that it wasn’t their faith they passed on to me but only their strong will. In rejecting the church and it’s teachings, Christianity and religion in general, I have never felt more liberated and free than I am now at age 17.

    • Certainly I’m not suggesting you quit thinking for yourself, Joe. No one wants that, not the Church or your parents. I felt exactly the way you do when I was 17. I was so happy to throw off the shackles of medieval Catholic dogma and begin living…the way I wanted to. Very often though, the direction we take outside of the wisdom of the Church leads to dissolution and destructive behavior. I’ve found more than a few people regret it.

      I think what your parents did for you is give you choices. They exposed you to the Catholic Faith and gave you the option of believing and following God. You are free to go your own way even if that path leads away from God. But, as someone who’s been down that road, I think you’ll find it’s not as good as the way Jesus Christ and his Church lay out before you. At some point in the future, if you feel a bit unfulfilled, take a second look at Catholicism as a more mature adult. If you study real Catholic teaching for adults from people like Scott Hahn, not the stuff you learned as a kid, you’ll find it fills the longings of the heart and fulfills your hidden desires.

      I know it sounds pat, but you really do still have a lot to learn at 17. Don’t give up on the Church completely. Leave it as an option even if you don’t continue to practice in the coming years. You might find her a haven in the storm-filled world.

      • Joe Bigliogo says:

        “…you really do still have a lot to learn at 17. Don’t give up on the Church completely. Leave it as an option…”

        Are you suggesting that you do NOT have much to learn at whatever age you are? (30s maybe?) Every last one no matter how educated hasn’t begun to delve the depth of all there is to know. You seem to be suggesting that young people require a comprehensive Catholic education before they have the right to dismiss it. If that is so would this not apply to all other religious belief systems as well? I am confident you are a rejector of Islam, Hinduism and a myriad of other beliefs. But have you studied them all sufficiently in-depth to reject them out of hand? You appear apply this line of reasoning exclusively to Catholicism which is where your argument fails. It falls under the category of fallacies known as “special pleading”.

        While it’s certainly the case there is very much we do not know, we can confidently dismiss certain things as being irrational and absurd. That is for making a mockery of science, of reason and of believability. Marc you do it all the time in your dismissal of all religious beliefs except the one you hold as true. Whereas I dismiss ALL religious belief and claims for the supernatural.

        I did not leave Catholicism so I could eat steak on Friday, bird dog chicks, or indulge in acts of hedonism that drove you away. I simply came to the conclusion I could no longer accept any claims for supernatural divinity followed up with doctrines I found untenable, irrational and immoral. I am just not subservient enough to believe impossible nonsense for no good reason

        • Joe Bigliogo says:

          Correction––I should have said…
          “I did not leave Catholicism so I could … indulge in acts of hedonism that ONCE drove you away.”
          I did not mean to imply you were still driven away.

  18. I believe in teaching your children about the great love God has for us and how He will always love us. I always stressed Eucharist and how He comes to us in that very special way and how beautiful that is. He does that because He loves us so very much. I really can go on and on about it and the beauty of it. I teach 2nd grade religion and my son is in my class. I am adamant about getting across to the children that Eucharist is truly the Body of Christ. Receiving Eucharist with a loving heart and yearning for Him fills us with special graces. My son made his First Holy Communion in May and decided on his own that he wanted to receive Jesus every day of his life. So every day since then we have been going to Mass. I am so filled with Joy on this beautiful blessing from God. I thank him every day for working within my son. I pray my son will always long for Jesus all the days of his life.

    • oh and keep up the great work!

    • That is beautiful Mary! Your 2nd grade son wants to receive Jesus every day? How amazing is that? You’re certainly doing a great job of fostering a deep relationship with Christ in him. And I think, that’s the most important thing for parents and kids…an active, vibrant love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Thanks for commenting. I love it!

  19. This is a subject I’m currently dealing with regarding my daughter who just started college. Throughout her life, we regularly attended mass and were involved in our parish. She went on youth group retreats and missions and she remained in CCD until she graduated.
    When she was a junior in high school, she had a friend that went through a very sad tragedy. Because of that, my daughter questioned the existence of God. We managed to get through that, but now she is questioning the Catholic Church teachings, such has homosexuality. Now that she is away at college, she seems to be distancing herself even more. She even talks about being homosexual and asked me what I would do about that. I told her I would love her no matter what and that I would pray for her. She seemed happy with my answer, but I’m terrified she is headed in the wrong direction and will make herself miserable.
    We recently visited her and invited her to the Catholic Church on her campus, in hopes of getting her involved there. She did go with us, but she said she probably wouldn’t go again.
    I would love some ideas on how to keep her from leaving the Catholic Church. We are praying daily for this.

    • Hi Laura, That’s a tough one. First, I’m wondering if there’s a Newman Center on campus at your daughter’s university. I’ve seen some amazing conversions at the one here at the University of Illinois. I think the relationship aspect is very powerful for kids at that age. It’s one thing for mom and dad to say that stuff. It’s another thing to see kids their own age loving Jesus and so committed to the faith. It’s very evangelizing. Is there a FOCUS group on that campus? Maybe you could ask her to join a FOCUS Bible study. Ask her to do it for you. That might have an impact on her. I’ve heard stories from college kids saying their parents convinced them to join some Catholic group and it made all the difference in the world. It totally converted them. Making friends that are Catholic would have a huge effect too. It sounds like she’s being influenced in other directions since you say she’s wondering if she’s gay. Maybe a different peer influence would help.

      Unfortunately, it’s likely nothing you can say would help. Although, I have heard stories of books that hit people at just the right time. You could try sending books or CD’s, but that’s probably much more of a long shot. Scott Hahn’s stuff really sent me in a tailspin conversion. You never know what will do it. You can try Jason Everts or Chris Stephanik. Since she’s struggling with sexuality, perhaps the Theology of the Body will be evangelizing for her. It’s such an amazing, mind blowing teaching. It’s really connected the dots for a lot of people and set them on the road to freedom. It really is revolutionary. Thanks for commenting!

  20. I catechized my son like my Irish-Catholic Mother Catechized me.She created an excitement in me for my Faith.We pray the Rosary nightly and I have catechized him through the Mysteries of the Rosary.

    I left the Church in my youth and came running back as an adult.HE was waiting for me in the middle of the road.

    I told my son what I did,the sins I committed and the shame and longing for God in His Church that I finally figured out.

    My son is 19 and still serves mass.He did not have the benefit of Ursuline nuns or Redemptorist priests as I did and we talk about our Faith daily .I have ingrained in him the responsibility of catechizing HIS children when he marries and he understands that being a good Catholic husband and father comes before anything else in this world.

    My son is no robot.He is movie star handsome ,6’2″ and athletic.He has taken a vow of chastity which caused the breakup of last relationship.She was a CINO he was gently trying to catechize her but she wanted the physical and could not understand why he would not have sexual intercourse.He replied “Because I’m Catholic and that is reserved by God for a man and woman married to each other”.My son and I (It’s just we two) talk about everything.

    As our Parish Priest says-“Faith is not magic-it’s an INFORMED choice aided by the Holy Spirit.”He has made his choice.I made mine.We go to confession,often-y’know-that odd Sacrament that Catholics NEVER seem to have the need for.

    I fall,he falls The Sacrament in personae Christi lifts us back up.

    If I can take pride in anything in this life it’s that I did a good job WITH LOTS OF HELP FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT in raising a good Catholic man.

    My son said something to me that made me cry.He said when he was about 14,”Y’know Dad,the Holy Eucharist is the fuel that makes the Holy Spirit blaze in our souls.”

    Catholicism is so simple that children can grasp it and so complex that theologians wrestle with it.

    • Wow Gordon! What an incredible example! I’m blown away!

      I love this: “Faith is not magic-it’s an INFORMED choice aided by the Holy Spirit.” I couldn’t agree with you more. We have to lead our kids into this choice. They have to make it, but we have to lead them to it. I also think it’s amazing that you shared your prior life without God with your son and told him why you love God and his Church. I was just telling some parents about that and asking them to do the same thing last week. I believe that powerful witness is so very important.

      Thanks again for sharing your story. This is extremely encouraging!

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