It’s so hard to hear
“We respect your belief, Mom and Dad, but we’ve decided to live together.”
“I don’t need to go to Mass. I have my own way of praying.”
“I’m not even sure I believe in God anymore, Dad.”
ACK! What’s a Catholic parent (or grandparent) to do when the lack of a mature faith in their adult children hits them square in the jaw? After all, they came with us to Church every Sunday, we drove them back and forth to Catholic school or catechism classes, and they know how important faith is to our family. What happened?
Who’s to blame?
Maybe you did everything right, but there were other powerful forces at work. Free will is a wonderful and terrible gift! Don’t lose heart. Remember that God is watching and pursuing your child with more love—and power—than you can imagine.
Maybe there is more that you could have done. So, you were exhausted bringing home the bread or managing the household. Maybe you didn’t know what else to do or how. Ask God for forgiveness, ignore your pride and forgive yourself, and then roll up your sleeves. Your job as a parent is NOT over!
Remember that Jesus is GOD, and with all his love, wisdom, face-to-face encounters, and supernatural miracles… most of the people who saw and heard him still refused to buy into it.
What you can do moving forward
It’s a paradox! God, our loving Father, hates when we foolishly wander off into sin . . . but he lets us go there! Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, we must create a space between us and our children where it is safe for them to step into it of their own free will. Chasing, nagging, shaming, criticizing, and threatening will only drive them away.
If your older/adult children:
don’t even talk to you, pray, fast, sacrifice. Trust God and give it time. Write your children letters (edit for Catholic guilt!) and what you love about being Catholic and what your faith–and relationship with the Lord–have meant to YOU. Maybe in the future, they can become a powerful gift.
don’t want to talk religion, then don’t. But don’t hide or apologize for your faith either. Have the courage to not tolerate sinful behavior in your home. You may lose a relationship, but it may help to save their soul.
are lukewarm, give them a glowing example. When you remember the big picture and trust God more, you will be free of anxiety. Let them wonder where your peace and confidence come from.
are open, feed them the “rich wines and choice foods” (Is 25:6) of our faith. Do you know the deepest desires of their hearts? Do you know how to answer the tough questions they have? If you don’t, get help. Catholic Answers is a wonderful source for knowing how to share the faith effectively.
Take a deep breath. Give thanks. Give it time. Keep a fatted calf, the door cracked, and the hope that does not disappoint (Rom 5:35).
Adapted from an article for Catholic Seniors.