Should parents force their children to go to Mass?
November 15, 2020, 12:00 PM
If a child wanted only to eat a steady diet of McDonald’s fries and nothing else, should his parents “force” him to eat fruit and vegetables? Of course. Should they “force” him to go to school even if he doesn’t want to? Absolutely. He has an obligation to society to make something of himself. And if parents are negligent in making sure he ate properly or went to school, he could be taken away from them and put into foster care. So why should parents take their obligations to God and less seriously?
Parents should try to convince their son or daughter of the value of worshiping God and hope that, in time, he or she will “get it” and choose to go to Mass on their own. If, however, they resist, it is a parent’s responsibility to make sure their children do what is good for them, at least until they are eighteen or are living on their own.
So, should parents shame children into practicing their Catholic faith? No, but a little guilt is perfectly healthy.
Your child should know that he should feel bad when he fails to give God His due, just as he should when he fails at justice toward any person. Guilt can indicate when we have done something wrong. Losing a healthy sense of guilt is like anesthetizing one’s conscience, which is very dangerous spiritually.
We suggest that parents not only require Mass attendance for minor children living under their roof, but that they also encourage them to become active in their parish or local Catholic youth group or go on a youth retreat, or both. Thanks to the concerted efforts of their parents, many teens and young adults have truly encountered Christ through such experiences, which led them to the deep, enriching relationship with our Lord to which we are all called.