I feel very guilty that my children who are older now, do not practice our faith. They, as they grew up, slowly left assisting Mass and the sacraments. I am sure it is because I did not pray enough or at all with them while young. I ask myself what punishment I deserve now for not bringing up my children to be faithful Catholics.
Fr. David Foxen’s response:
I think you are finding yourself in a position with which many parents are familiar. Parents do their very best to share their Faith and their values with their children. They want their children to be mature, loving adults, and above all, to be happy. Being realistic, parents know that their children are going to need inner strength as they encounter “for better and for worse.” So they want their children to embrace the values which have given them guidance and strength throughout their lives. In other words, I think you have probably done the best you could, giving a good example but at times not being perfect.
The other important element here is that children grow into adults and adults need to make their own decisions. They need to discover the values which will guide them and make them their own. We are glad to see them making decisions (no parent would want their adult children dependent on them as they were at ten years old). We hope they will make good decisions based on genuine values, but sometimes they don’t. But that is part of being adult and is also part of the wonderful gifts God has given each of us. These gifts are intelligence and free will. God trusts us to learn even by making some mistakes. And of course, only God truly knows what is in our hearts. We have all known people who may not have been overly devoted to religious practice but who are truly good and loving people. God knows them too.
My main thought I’d like to share with you is that you should not feel guilty as a parent even though your children may not be fully living the faith they grew up with. You did your best, but they must make their own decisions. Certainly you will continue to pray for them and encourage them. You will include them and their families in your love. And you will appreciate all the wonderful things they do which reflect the values of faith, hope, and love which were part of their home when they were young.
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