What if Our Children Leave the Church?

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This is a question my husband asked me a couple of years ago when we went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter weekend. I could write a whole post about this amazing program, which helped strengthen communication within our marriage and build trust, but that will have to wait for another day.

Today, I want to focus on this question that my husband posed to me during our time there.

“What if our children leave the Catholic Church?”

I am not sure what kind of contorted facial response I gave him but I do know my mind was reeling.

What would I do? What would that mean?

I responded, “It would break my heart. It would break it into a million pieces.”
Oh yes, I realize I have a flare for the dramatic but that’s how I imagined I would feel.

Then he said, “Well, what if they just went to a different Christian church? Not became atheists or anything like that.”

“I mean, that would be better than no belief at all,” I said, “but it would still make me so sad. If that happened then it means we failed in teaching them the truths of the Catholic faith. It means that we didn’t do enough, say enough, or know enough.”

This exchange came up when we were discussing a topic (one which I honestly can’t remember). My husband was asking about my two year long obsession with listening to Catholic Podcasts like; Catholic Answers, Go Ask Your Father, The Patrick Madrid Show, etc. — and also with my reading (or mostly purchasing of) TONS of apologetics materials. I am also a faithful viewer of The Journey Home on EWTN and love listening to conversion and reversion stories. I could not, and still cannot, get enough of these resources.

Of course, as my husband pointed out, all of this wasn’t a bad thing but the way I was going about it was less than ideal. An example of this used to happen every night, whenever he would come home from work, I would be rushing around making dinner with my earbuds in while listening to one of my podcasts and I would barely acknowledge him. Looking back, I see that was not a good thing. I think he was also concerned that I was building up my arsenal of defenses to unload on the next unsuspecting LDS missionary, JW, or non-Catholic the moment they questioned my faith. Yes, I want to be able to defend my faith and the Church. However, I am not one to seek out confrontation and being an apologist is definitely not in my skill set.

I explained to my husband that I wasn’t sure what was happening or why I had this insatiable fire within. I didn’t (and still don’t) exactly know what God is preparing me for – but it is for something. I told him about my desire to start a blog sharing the JOY of the Catholic faith with others (I did that!). I told him that the Lord could be preparing me to be a Catholic author, a speaker, or ministry leader — or perhaps I just need to know these things for the purpose of evangelizing our family and myself.

If I couldn’t defend my faith to someone who isn’t Catholic or even articulate WHY I am Catholic (and neither could he), then what chance would we have of raising kids that could do it? We have to prepare ourselves, so we can prepare them. He agreed.

Living in a world where indifference and relativism are spreading like wildfire, our boys could easily be sucked right into that way of thinking. It is our job as Catholic parents to do whatever we can to prepare them to not only face it, but stand firm and defend when necessary.

If this is important to you to (and I hope that it is) I recommend all the resources listed above. Also, I HIGHLY recommend Trent Horn’s book, Why We are Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith Hope and Love. Excellent for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. (Not an affiliate. Just a personal recommendation.)

“…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”
1 Peter 3:15

“What if our boys leave the church”

My hope is that I never have to face that question – but if the time does come, I know I have to place them in the hands of the Lord and pray like Saint Monica – unceasingly. I’ll love them like I always have, say Rosaries for them, spend hours in Adoration praying for them, make sacrifices, answer their questions the best I can, and anything else I can think of. I’ll also know that we probably could have done something more or different (we are far from experts) but for better or worse my husband and I will have done the best we could for our children. And really, that is all any of us can do.

So what things are we doing to try to keep our kids Catholic? I’ll be sharing that next time πŸ™‚

May the Lord bless and keep you ✝️

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim McGee says:

    This is tough. Our job as parents is to raise them as best we can and love them through everything. My kids have grown up going to Catholic schools, prayed together as a family, regular church attendees, kids were altar servers and active in the church youth activities. But they’ve fallen away. Not “not Catholic” but not in full communion. And yes, it breaks my heart. So I continue to live as a Catholic dad hoping my example leads them back into full communion. And all the while I just keep loving them.

    Like

    1. Christie says:

      Tim, thank you for sharing that. Stories like yours both worry and encourage me. It is worrisome because it sounds like you did all the things parents (myself included) might think would keep children in full communion with the Church, without them ever wanting to leave or stray. It is encouraging that as a parent, though it is painful, you keep doing what you have always done; leading by example, loving them, and praying for them. I suppose that is all parents can do once their children become adults. No one can walk with God for us, that relationship is uniquely our own. Some will stray for a bit, some will leave – but some will stay and some who left will come back more on fire than ever before. The hope for me is that if my children were to leave, the foundation that was laid and the graces received through the Sacraments will sustain them in any storm and bring them back one day. I will pray for you and your family. God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tim McGee says:

        Thanks Christie. My kids are good kids. They’ve fallen a bit for the world view of thinking they can believe without being a practicing Catholic (or, for many others, any other “religion’). My wife says, “no one told me how hard it is to parent an adult child.” They are still young adults, but they want (and even deserve) their independence. Tough stuff. Haha … worries never go away, they just change form. Love never stops.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Christie says:

        You sound like amazing parents! A blessing to your children. 😊

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      3. Tim McGee says:

        Haha … my kids may think otherwise! But we love them and they love us so … God is amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Christie says:

        You might be surprised, but even if they don’t admit it now I bet when they have their own children they will! And you’re right, God is amazing πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenny says:

    Ugh, one of the things I have tried so hard to make sure I do all the “right” things so it never happens. But as Tim mentioned, parenting adult children is hard and a parent can do all the “right” things only to have a child make a different choice. Dang original sin and free will, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie says:

      Right? I couldn’t agree more! We just got to keep trying and pray something will stir and their hearts will be ablaze with love of the Lord and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church πŸ™β€

      Like

  3. Ugh! This is so hard to even consider! As my children have grown I’ve realized doing all the “right” things doesn’t always equal the intended or hoped for the outcome…darn free will, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fouad says:

    This is such a great article!

    Like

    1. Christie says:

      Thank you! 😊

      Like

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