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Q: My son is not living up to his responsibilities raising my 6-year-old grandson in the faith. He starts first grade in the fall and hasn’t been enrolled in CCD. My son is Catholic but only goes to Mass when I visit, and the last couple of times I was visiting we brought my grandson with us to Mass. My daughter-in-law is also Catholic but hasn’t practiced since high school. What can I do? I am concerned about my grandson not being raised in the faith.
A: Embedded in your question, I hear two main points: Your Catholic faith is tremendously important to you, and your son and grandson are two of the people you love most in the world. Knowing how much meaning there is to be found in faith and a church community, you want Catholicism to be part of your son and his young family’s life. I imagine that many grandparents and parents around the world can relate to these themes.
But here’s the thing: You can’t want something more for someone than they want it for themselves, and it sounds to me like your son and daughter-in-law don’t desire for the church to be a part of their lives. Let’s face it: If there were a way for people devoted to the church to convince the people whom they love to embrace the faith, then over half of the people who were raised Catholic wouldn’t have left it as adults.
I’m not going to try to convince you that your son’s family is going to be fine without the church (though in fact I do believe that they will be). Instead I will say: by trying to get your son to want what you want, you are going to hurt your relationship with him, with your daughter-in-law, and with your grandson. Rather than trying to strong-arm your son and his family into practicing the faith and potentially ruining your relationships along the way, I’d suggest accepting their choice, loving them like Jesus loved all people—regardless of their faith—and looking for other shared sources of connection and meaning.