Let's Talk About Child-Rearing

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By Rebecca Teti

Monday: Parenting

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Terrible toddlers? Trying teens? Something in between? This weekly forum is the spot to share your questions and struggles about all things related to parenthood.

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Rebecca Teti


  • First time poster here, asking for prayers. My niece is in the midst of preparing for Confirmation. She is a very kind and thoughtful girl who has gone to a mediocre (in faith) Catholic school. She was questioning whether she should be Confirmed but was strongly encouraged by my sister, her mom to do so. Unfortunately, our extended family has many lukewarm Catholics and her dad's side is non religious. My husband and I try to lead her in the right way by example but I am asking for you to pray for her, my sister and a younger sister in the family. Their dad has been sporadically involved in their life (he has addiction issues, mental illness and recently suffered a heart attack). Please hold them up in prayer, specifically for family unity,a stronger faith in God, and healing for their dad. I am worried about her and feel like she is in a vulnerable place right now. Thanks, Anne

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 9:10 AM by Anne

  • I will pray. My son is being confirmed. I am a little disappointed in that this seems more the thing to do than a deep, mature embrace of the faith. But, bottom line, it's a sacrament - an outpouring of God's spirit. Our parish priest has been underwhelmed by the preparation on the part of the confirmation candidates, so underwhelmed he actually threatened to cancel confirmation. I understand his frustration, but I also feel we shouldn't put a wall between the sacraments and those who most need this grace. That's my prayer for your niece, my son, and all the other confirmation candidates.

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 1:14 PM by Kelly

  • I will pray for both of you, as well as those who aren't thinking about it so much. Many parents at our parish also push their kids/teens to go to classes and confirmation. It's like a "rite of passage" instead of a deep, mature embrace of our faith. I did not push my oldest daughter to go, and in the light of some questionable, and down-right immoral training that went on this year, I am very glad I didn't!

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 1:53 PM by Anon7

  • I think a lot of parents view First Holy Communion as a rite of passage (rather than a sacrament) as well. A friend of mine has First Communion registries for her daughter at several locations, and the gifts are all secular. (Not that there's anything wrong with secular gifts, but First Communion is a sacrament, not a gift grab.) I do not plan to force my son to be confirmed. I do want him to attend confirmation classes (although I guess I would have to reconsider if the material was questionable or immoral as Anon7 experienced). But ultimately it will be his decision whether to be confirmed.

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 5:56 PM by Claire S

  • First Communion registries! Aaaaaah! I was a little surprised that my oldest son received a lot of cash for First Communion. My second son received an Ipod, which we had no intention of giving to a second grader. Crazy. I'm thankful that my son in confirmation class has an excellent teacher who has shared his faith journey in an honest and upbuilding manner. We have not faced unorthodox teachers in faith formation. Boring, sometimes, but not unorthodox.

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 8:23 PM by Kelly

  • Sorry for the repeat comments! Mouse malfunctions.

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2013 at 8:23 PM by unknown

  • I think most 8th graders would skip Confirmation if they could just because they are not old and mature enough to understand the need. It's the same with First Communion. That is why I make it mandatory. Last thing I would want is my son going years without the grace of the Sacraments,waiting for him to grow up. My son is quite religious but he doesn't like the extra homework of Confirmation prep and would skip the whole thing if he could. He would also skip school and most of his activities if he could. He just doesn't have the maturity to see why he needs things and would just rather play all day. But I know he will be glad later on that I made him do these things.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 1:16 PM by MM

  • Our Diocese doesn't do confirmation till 11th grade. I am going to require my son to do all the prep (unless the material is questionable as someone had previously mentioned), because I want him to learn about Church teaching. Ultimately, though, I don't know if I would force him to be confirmed after completing the prep. I'm hoping he'll want to after learning about the teachings.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 1:50 PM by Claire S

  • Again, as others have mentioned, many parents "force" their children to go to Confirmation. I wonder if that is the best way. I came into the church as an adult, when I was able to do the many things required : {as the Catechism states} 1319 A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs. It's pretty serious, as it should be, and I wonder how many for whom it is mandatory take it as seriously as they ought to?

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 4:08 PM by Anon7

  • I think there's a difference between requiring the classes vs requiring the sacrament itself. I think we as parents have a duty to make sure that our children are educated on Church teaching. If my son were to reject it after learning about it, I probably would not force him to receive the sacrament against his will.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 5:24 PM by Claire S

  • Yes, Claire, I totally agree.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 6:16 PM by Anon7

  • I always wonder that too, Anon7. From what I understand, if a person above the age of reason is truly forced to receive a sacrament, they don't receive it at all. The bar for consent, though, is pretty low. If the kid agrees to get confirmed for a party, they're confirmed and receive the graces of the sacrament, which they obviously need.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 9:38 PM by Alice

  • That's my understanding too, Alice. And even if they don't accept the grace at the time of the confirmation, it is available to them if they accept it and cooperate with it a later date.

    Posted on Apr 10th, 2013 at 10:16 PM by Claire S

  • To explore this further, let's say your child doesn't want to be confirmed. But it's not because he or she doesn't want to be Catholic but for some other reason such as doesn't want to do the prep or doesn't want to wear a suit or whatever dumb reason. Would you force or not force in that situation? And why is Confirmation different from the other Sacraments we parents force our children to receive over the age of reason (Eucharist, Confession, and possibly Anointing of the Sick). Even if my child doesn't want to go to Confession as long as he is sorry for his sins, he receives the grace of the Sacrament. Even though given the choice he would have stayed home and played video games rather than go. I once "forced" my son to receive Anointing of the Sick. He didn't want the priest over because he was embarrassed about his condition. Did I say, okay honey, no Sacrament. No, I still had the priest come over and give it to him. After he got well, he was glad about it. He wasn't opposed to it on philosophical grounds but immature kid grounds. Same with Confirmation. They may not "want" to go through the whole thing but unless they completely oppose it on philosophical grounds, they still receive the grace of the Sacrament. I would not force my child to receive the Confirmation if he was truly against being Catholic. But when the mom knows her child's reasons are frivolous, I think she should force it. For example, going back to my son, I know he wants to be Catholic but just doesn't want to do all the required prep (you cannot opt out of that in my parish and I wouldn't want him to). But the minute after he receives the Sacrament and all that work is done he will be happy about it. I know this because I know my son. So the bottom line is, I think the reason a child doesn't want to receive the Sacraments would have to factor in to the decision to force or not force. In general though, unless the child is specifically rejecting God and their faith, he or she still receive the grace of the Sacrament whether that is Eucharist, Confession, Anointing of the Sick or Confirmation even if the parent "forces" it.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 10:09 AM by MM

  • Hi MM, I certainly didn't mean to "single you out" in this discussion about forcing Confirmation on our children. Since you took the time to write a fairly lengthy response, I will respond. I understand that it is a Sacrament-and if my child were of the age and temperament to avoid it because of prep work or wearing a suit/dress then I would think him or her not MATURE enough to make this lifelong decision to be Catholic. Please understand that I am not saying YOU are wrong for requiring it, I simply wondered if it were the best way. I have seen so many youth who were forced to accept a faith through Confirmation into which they had put little time, little thought and even less prayer, and so rebelled and left the faith. I just wonder, if given time to mature and grow in the faith, without cajoling and forcing, that the youth would come to see the beauty and richness of their faith in their own time.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 10:45 AM by Anon7

  • That's how I feel too, MM. Because my diocese confirms in 11th grade, I think by then my son will be old enough to determine whether or not he has a philosophical opposition to Catholicism. If, after going through the prep and learning the fundamental Church teachings he decides that he opposes it, then I won't force him to be confirmed. But hopefully it won't come to that. I do think that even when kids are forced to receive the sacrament, the graces will still be available to them at a later date if they choose to accept them at that time. So if my diocese confirmed at a younger age, I might be more inclined to force the issue. But at age 17, I feel that while I should insist that he receive the instruction, I don't feel that I can force the sacrament itself. At that point he will be 8 months shy of his 18th birthday.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 10:50 AM by Claire S

  • Praying for all of you struggling with the issue of Confirmation with your children. In these difficult times, our children are in need of sacramental graces more than ever. Just a technicality (that might not be the best word to use here) I wanted to point out...Children do not make a lifelong decision to be Catholic nor do they accept the Faith at their Confirmation -- both of these are fulfilled at their Baptism when their parents & godparents accept the Faith on their behalf & the child becomes a member of the Body of Christ through the indelible mark of their Baptism. Of course, we all grow in our commitment to Christ & knowledge of the Faith as we mature...so, in a sense, in that way we do "make it our own." God bless--

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 10:58 AM by Patricia

  • P.S. Perhaps if the Church returned to the early practice of administering all 3 Sacraments of Initiation (in the East called the Sacraments of Illumination) -- Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation) & Holy Eucharist -- to infants as is still retained in the Eastern Catholic Churches, then this concern would not arise. May the Holy Spirit, Who is the Treasury of Blessings & Giver of Life, enlighten & dwell within all those preparing for Confirmation, especially those struggling with the decision to be Confirmed.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 11:04 AM by Patricia

  • Patricia, thank you, I agree. This is what I was trying to say. In the Eastern Rite the Sacraments of initiation don't require the child to be mature, they are all given to infants. So I wouldn't deny my kids the grace they need based on their maturity level. The parents are given by God the authority to see to their children's spiritual welfare. I don't have time right now to find quotes but I doubt that the CCC says that children should be denied Sacraments if they aren't as mature as some kids. The Church is well aware that parents make the decision for the children and having used various prep texts I haven't found anywhere that the child should get the decision to opt out. If anyone can find an opt out clause based on maturity level I would be interested in seeing it.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 11:37 AM by MM

  • Though these quotes deal specifically with the practice of infants receiving the Holy Eucharist, I think they also speak to the validity & importance of the reception of the Sacraments, regardless of age or disposition: “As a mother will not deny her children food until they understand what they eat, so too the Church will not deny the spiritual food of the Eucharist until a person understands.” (St. John Chrysostom) “That infant and children not yet come to the use of reason may not only validly but even fruitfully receive the Blessed Eucharist is now the universally received opinion.” (Council of Trent) Naturally we want ourselves & our children as properly disposed as can be when receiving Sacramental graces, but intellectual/emotional/spiritual maturity is not necessarily a requirement. We knew a priest with a real heart for serving those with special needs. He reached out to several such families who refrained from having their children receive the Holy Eucharist & Confirmation because they mistakenly felt unwelcome or feared their child was not "ready" or would act-up. It was a beautiful thing to see these children receive the Sacraments! It is a heartbreaking position to be in when a child rebels against something like Confirmation. My prayers go out to those who find themselves in this situation.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 1:53 PM by Patricia

  • There's a part of me that would like to see all three sacraments of initiation administered at once, during infancy. Because then even if the parents were doing it as a rite of passage and/or giftgrab, the kids would be too young to see it that way. I would rather see a gift grab for an infant who doesn't know what's going on, then for an 8 year old who is old enough to perceive it that way.

    Posted on Apr 11th, 2013 at 2:30 PM by Claire S

  • I am late to this discussion but I am curious to see if anybody in the Latin Rite has tried to push confirmation at baptism like the Eastern Rite? I am struggling with the understanding why our kids need to wait so long to receive this sacrament. I am in favor of the Eastern Rite's tradition.

    Posted on Apr 17th, 2013 at 12:42 PM by Kate W.

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