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The "Church" Told Me To

A father once came to me in distress because one of his children had left the faith as soon as he moved out on his own (a common occurrence today). We spoke for a while about his situation, and I tried to give him some counsel as to how to deal with things. At one point he said "I did everything the church told me to do, and he still fell away. I don't understand what happened." He was not losing faith himself, but was very confused about how things could go wrong after he did what the Church said.

The problem, as I explained to him, was that it appears that the "church" told him wrong. No, I do not mean that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was wrong, but that the Church's representative was wrong. I have raised five children of my own, and helped numerous parents in the raising of their children. I can say that the Church is not wrong in what she does say, but that many of her pastors misrepresent Church teachings to parents.

Somewhere in the process of parenting, every parent falls short of what they are supposed to do, but the grace of God can overcome our biggest failings. All too often, priests have softened the teachings of the Church in various areas because they do not want to offend people. The problem here is that the truth can help them to overcome these bad parenting choices, but if they are never given the truth they cannot take advantage of it. Like I have said before, I am not looking to offend, but sometimes that is what it takes to get the truth across.

Over the last century a plethora of bad parenting advice has been given out; some from pagans, and some from Catholics. Simple principles of parenting that used to be considered almost universal (even among most non-catholics) have been forgotten by most. We are not animals; children need to be taught how to be godly. Some parents allow bad influences in their children's lives, others may give bad examples; whatever bad exposure children experience it can counteract all the good they are taught if we do not do the extra work to overcome it.

It truly is disheartening to accept the fact that the laity can no longer trust that every Catholic priest is going to tell them the truth. Sadly, some priests may be fine when it comes to doctrinal or moral truths, but they have accepted various secular notions about family and parenting and that is what they communicate to their parishioners. Once again, here is the value of going back to the source: read the Catechism of Trent (there are terrific explanations of family and parenting there).

Parents, take note: you may have been misled and taught worldly and ungodly ideas about parenting. We all need to practice some healthy self-examination at times, but parents especially need to ask whether their decisions are actually in accord with the truth of God. The book of Proverbs is some of the best parenting advice of all. It may be time to re-examine your parenting practices, before you have to say "what did I do wrong?"


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