EWTN Catholic Q&A
Being charitable
Question from Ashley on 08-29-2013:

My family and I go to daily Mass with a lady whom it is very difficult to be charitable towards. She is very condescending, especially to my kids and my husband. We are not friends, yet she continues to call our house and ask us for favors; oftentimes, it seems like she is just trying to instigate an argument. I try to teach my children to be kind to all people, whether we find that they are to our liking or not. However, I want to tell her to leave us alone, but as kindly as possible. How do I go about this charitably?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 08-30-2013:


Are you sure you want to do that? If you really want to teach your children to be kind to unlikable people, then you should consider emulating St. Therese of Lisieux, who went out of her way to be of service to the most annoying, unlikable sisters in her convent. She offered up her difficulty in dealing with them to God as part of her Little Way to sanctity.

That said, if this woman is truly abusive to your husband and children -- although I must say that the behavior you describe does not sound to me abusive, just difficult -- you do have the right to distance yourself and your family from her. In that case, change your phone number and do not give her the new number. If she asks why you changed it, you could say, "We were getting a lot of telephone solicitations" (which is true). If she asks for the new number, you could say, "I'm so sorry, but it would be easier to reach us by email" and then give her an email address.

As for what to do when she asks favors, just keep repeating, "I'm so sorry, and I wish we could help you, but we're not available then." If you repeat that over and over, whenever she asks, she'll eventually get the message that you are never available.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers