The Duties of Catholic Parents
by William C. Michael
The duties of parents, as revealed by God and taught by the Catholic Church, should be the concern of all Catholic parents.
When undertaking the work of homeschooling, many Catholic parents take up goals that are not appropriate for parents. Many parents speak of “raising saints” or “preparing children for heaven”, but these tasks require the willing collaboration of the children and, consequently, are not in the parents’ power.
What parents should be concerned with are the actual duties of parents to their children. These duties are described for us in paragraphs 2221–2231 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. By studying these duties and focusing their attention on fulfilling them, parents can aim at objectives that are actually in their control. Parents can enjoy peace of mind, regardless of how their children choose to respond to their teaching, by working to fulfill their duties to their children.
- ___ Parents are to regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons.
- ___ Parents are to educate their children that they (the parents) may fulfill God’s law.
- ___ Parents are to create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.
- ___ Parents are to educate their children in the virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance).
- ___ Parents are to apprentice their children in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery.
- ___ Parents are to teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”
- ___ Parents are to give good example to their children;
- ___ Parents are to acknowledge their own failings to their children.
- ___ Parents are to guide and correct their children.
- ___ Parents are to discipline their children.
- ___ Parents are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- ___ Parents are to intitiate their children into solidarity and communal responsibilities.
- ___ Parents are to teach their children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
- ___ Parents are to evangelize their children.
- ___ Parents are to initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith.
- ___ Parents are to associate their children, from their tenderest years, with the life of the Church.
- ___ Parents are to provide a wholesome family life that can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation and support for a living faith.
- ___ Parents are to begin their children’s education in the faith in their earliest years.
- ___ Parents are to teach their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.
- ___ Parents are to establish the parish as the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of their family.
- ___ Parents are to be generous and tireless in forgiving their children for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect.
- ___ Parents are to express their respect and affection by the care and attention they devote to providing for their physical and spiritual needs.
- ___ Parents are to educate their children in the right use of their reason and freedom.
- ___ Parents are to choose a school for their which corresponds to their own convictions.
- ___ Parents are to choose schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.
- ___ Parents are to respect the rights of their children, when they become adults, to choose their profession and state of life.
- ___ Parents are to be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse.
As opposed to inappropriate goals that are beyond the reach of parents, these duties allow us to know exactly what God demands and our children need of us. We can read through this list and examine ourselves, whether we have or have not fulfilled the duties of parents to our children. We can find weak spots to give attention to, and strengths to reinforce. We can go to bed at night with peace of mind, knowing that we are fulfilling our objective duties, even during times when our children are doubting, disobeying, wandering, rebelling, etc. This is crucial that we may persevere and not be overwhelmed with irrational guilt and vexation through foolish desires and expectations.
I have attempted to prepare this list of the duties of parents from paragraphs 2221–2231 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am not sure, at the moment, if the Church intends for this to be an exhaustive list of the duties of parents, so if you believe that the Catechisms of the Church or Sacred Scripture has anything more to say on the subject, please let me know. I will continue studying as well.
God bless your families,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
P.S. Please let me know if you think there’s anything I missed in CCC 2221–2231.