EWTN Catholic Q&A
Adult children
Question from Mom on 12-19-2013:

I have sons who are living at home. They are barely twenty years old. I try not to force them to come to Sunday Mass with me because I just don't feel that is appropriate for me to try and do that to them at their age anymore. Sometimes they do agree to attend but I never know if I am doing the right thing (by God) bringing them because of several reasons.

One is that when they do attend it is primarily because I have persuaded them to, not because of devotion to their Catholic faith. And two, they won't go to confession and they are receiving Communion in a state of sin, possibly mortal. Am I offending God by bringing them to receive the Eucharist? What is a parent's responsibility in faith matters when children are grown? I am very concerned about the state of their souls. They were always so faith filled growing up, and it is so sad and frustrating to see what this society does to our kids! It has been an uphill battle, I will tell you! And it continues to embattle me!

Answer by Catholic Answers on 12-20-2013:


Parents have the right to insist that children who are dependent upon them must go to Mass, even if those children are legal adults. If adult children refuse to abide by this, they are free to pack up, move out, and support themselves. Adult children are not free to sponge off their parents while snubbing their nose at the parents' house rules and moral values. (That said, you have already ceded this battle. I'm afraid that you cannot retroactively reclaim your authority on this one.)

You are free to persuade your adult sons to go to Mass with you. Once there though, you cannot force adults (even your own children) to go to confession or prevent them from receiving Communion. All that you can do is to give them information on the Church's expectations, assuming you have not already done so. If you have done so, then what they do with the information is their responsibility.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers