Lesson 33: Duties of Parents Toward Their Children
"But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

  1. To give their children the necessary food, clothing and shelter.

  2.    This obligation rests on both parents, whether living together or separated.  They must also keep their children from all danger to life and protect them from possible death.

  3. To give them good example.

  4.    Parents give good example by observing strictly all of their religious duties.  For example:  Regularly attending Mass, not eating meat on days of abstinence, carefully avoiding indecent speech, lying, cursing, criticism of others, immodesty and drunkenness.
    Parents should remember that children are great imitators, and they should be very careful of everything they do and say in the presence of their children.

  5. To provide a truly Catholic home for them.

  6.    A Catholic home is one in which God and Religion are of the greatest importance.
    In the home there should be crucifixes, pictures of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints.  Indecent pictures and calendars, sexy and sensational magazines, books, comic books, TV shows and videos have no place in the Christian home.  There should be good books, Catholic newspapers and Catholic magazines.

  7. To have them baptized as soon as possible after birth.

  8.    It is a serious sin to delay the Baptism of infants, and if there is any danger to the life of the newly born baby, the priest should be called immediately.
    In danger of death, and if no priest is available, Baptism can and should be given by anyone (preferably someone other than the parents).  The one baptizing need not be Catholic; he may be of any religion or of no religion.  But he must have the intention of doing what the Church does in Baptism.  The procedure is:  Pour water over the head of the child, saying at the same time:  "I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

  9. To see that they go to Confession, receive Holy Communion and receive Confirmation.

  10.    The children should be taught to go to Confession and Holy Communion regularly and frequently - every week, if possible, especially during vacation time.

  11. To teach them to pray.

  12.    Daily prayers should be said together by the whole family.
    As the saying goes, "The family that prays together stays together."  The daily family Rosary will go a very long way toward ensuring that the children grow up to be good Catholics.

  13. To see that they go to Mass every Sunday and on the six Holy Days.

  14.    Parents should not keep children home from Mass except for very serious reasons.

  15. To see that on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent they abstain from meat altogether and that on the other Fridays of the year they refrain from meat or perform a comparable penance.

  16.    See Lesson 43, especially Question 11.

  17. To send them to a Catholic school.

  18.    This includes high school and college, as well as grammar school.  Parents are forbidden by Church Law to send their children to any other kind of school.
    In very many cases today, the only truly Catholic school available is home schooling. Experience has shown that Catholic home schooling produces excellent results both spiritually and academically and that it brings great blessings to the family.

  19. To insist that they marry in the Catholic Church.

  20.    A Catholic cannot marry except in the presence of a Catholic priest and two witnesses.
    When a son or daughter begins to think seriously of marrying, the parents should have him (or her) see the priest and receive the necessary instructions on marriage.  They should encourage dating only with Catholics, or at least with non-Catholics who are willing to take a full course of instructions in the Catholic Religion.  Parents commit a mortal sin by forcing or unduly persuading any of their children to marry.

  21. To give them the Christian attitude on marriage and having children.

  22.    Parents should avoid complaining about the hardships of married life and joking about the sacred duties of marriage.
    The birth of another child should be a joyful occasion for the whole family so that the other children will consider having children as the greatest blessing of married life.

  23. To prepare them for marriage.

  24.    The children should be taught the serious duties and responsibilities of marriage, both by word and example.
    They should also be taught the practical side of making a home, such as cleaning, cooking, sewing, repairing, caring for children, being on time, and being neat and orderly.

  25. To teach them the facts on sex.

  26.    This information should be given carefully and with great emphasis on the beauty and sacredness of sex.
    Answers to questions about the facts of life should be correct, but always suited to the age and mental development of the child.  Parents should encourage the confidence of their children so that the children will come to them for information.

  27. To protect them from sin, particularly sins of impurity.

  28.    In addition to protecting their children from bad companions, etc., parents have a grave obligation to do whatever is necessary to protect their children from classroom "Sex Education" either in public or Catholic schools.
    Formal "Sex Education" is always grossly immodest and a temptation to sin, even aside from the un-Catholic and un-Christian "slant" with which it is usually delivered.

  29. To correct their sins and faults.

  30.    It is a serious sin to neglect this duty.

  31. To teach them the virtues of honesty, obedience, truthfulness, purity, and modesty in dress.

  32.    These lessons must be given early and repeated continually.

  33. To teach them respect for the rights and property of others.

  34.    Many parents sin seriously by bad example in this matter.

  35. To teach them respect for all lawful authority.

  36.    Children should be taught early to respect all lawful authority, especially the authority of the Church, the State and the School.

  37. To give them wholesome recreation and keep them from evil companions.

  38.    The Christian home should be the center of the child's social life, a place where he feels free to bring his companions.
    Parents should be extremely careful about allowing their children to attend motion pictures; they should also examine their comic books and govern their use of the radio and television, as well as the VCR.  Children receive many un-Christian ideas on life, marriage, crime, drinking, body piercing, etc. from these sources of entertainment. [One can imagine what Fr. Cogan would say of modern radio, motion pictures and television.]

  39. To encourage a child's desire to be a priest, a brother or sister.

  40.    Having a priest, brother or sister in the family is one of the greatest blessings that God can give a mother and father.  Instead of turning a child away from such a desire, parents should encourage the child.