Becoming a parent involves making many decisions. From food, to screen time, to educational choices, to curfew there are many things that a mother and father must navigate together in raising their children. And when it comes to important things – like passing on the Catholic faith to your children – parenting disagreements can cause serious divisions in a marriage.
This was the case for a listener named Sarah who recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™. Sarah’s husband converted to Catholicism, but she explained that has done everything he could to stop his kids from being Catholic. She wonders how she can be obedient to her husband when he has refused to raise their children in the Catholic faith. Monsignor Stuart Swetland responded:
“I’m sorry to hear about your marital struggles. Now, I can’t on the radio give marriage counseling, and it seems like you and your husband need that kind of outside help to reconcile some of these issues.
You still are the mom, you still are the parent, you still have a great role to play in helping them grow in their faith. We don’t have to be obedient to someone who orders us to do something that is immoral. Obedience does not extend, in any way, to following someone who commands of us the immoral.
I was just talking to a bunch of captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels in the army and we were talking about the My Lai Massacre and revisiting what went wrong there, and why you can only obey a lawful order. Even if your oath of office says that you obey orders, they say that you obey lawful orders. And if you are asked to do something that is immoral or against the uniform code of military justice, for a military person, or against the natural moral law, you don’t do it. Because that is not obedience, that is a kind of enslavement.
So you do not have to follow your husband if he asks you to do or participate in immorality. And not giving your children the faith is a form of immorality. It is not fulfilling your duty as parents. It is not fulfilling the promises you made when your children were baptized. It is not in their best interest and it is against the common good.
So we have to understand what loving obedience is. Yes, you are to be obedient to your husband, and your husband should be dying for you. He should be laying down his life for you and his children. His main concern, after loving God, should be to love you and your children by laying down his life. Then, and only then, the concerns for himself should come into play. That is what the husband should be doing.
But I do think, for you, you need to find that place where you and your husband can work these things out. … You’re much like St. Monica, who had to win over a husband, a mother-in-law, and her children. She did that through sacrifice and prayer.”
Listen to the full conversation below: