Catholic Activity: Help Your Child Avoid a Mixed Marriage
Here are some ways to minimize the danger that your child may marry outside the faith.
1. Teach him from his early days about its danger. Of course, you should not use the false approach that Catholics are "better" than other people. But you can stress the fact that we are different — and that we have different views on our responsibility to God and our fellow man, on the divinity of the Savior, on the permanence of marriage, on moral questions such as birth control, and on many other points. When questions about marriage or divorce arise in the family circle as a result of news developments, use the occasion to discuss with your youngster the Catholic teaching on these subjects, emphasizing the importance of marrying a person who shares the same views concerning them. At the same time, instill in your child a reverence for his religion so that he will abhor the thought of endangering it through marriage.
2. Provide ways for your child to meet other Catholics naturally. You can do this by enrolling him in Catholic schools or by encouraging him to join the Newman Club where Catholic schooling is not available. Try to get him active in church groups like the Catholic Youth Organization, the parish choir, and similar bodies. By increasing his contacts with Catholics, you will magnify his opportunities to meet attractive Catholics of the other sex. In communities where Catholics are a small minority, make a conscious effort to form friendships with other Catholic families and to encourage their youngsters to associate with yours.
Parent groups can do much to develop parish programs which will enable Catholics to meet and marry their own. Where ambitious social programs have been developed, the increase in all-Catholic marriages and the corresponding decline in mixed marriages has been spectacular. For instance, at St. Mark's parish in Cincinnati, Ohio, a co-ordinated program was set up. It included social and athletic events, C.Y.O. activities, a social club for high school students, glee club, and a clubroom where young people could meet. Before this program was started, the mixed-marriage rate was 26.2 per cent. After the program was developed, it dropped to 15.6 per cent. Thanks to a similar program, the proportion of Catholic-Catholic marriages in Little Rock, Arkansas, has doubled.
3. Discourage your child from, dating any non-Catholic. To many youngsters, whose only interest in dating is to enjoy an evening's recreation, this proposition may seem unduly severe. Their common response is that they do not intend to marry the person with whom they are having a first date.
These youngsters overlook the fact that almost every marriage starts with a date which neither partner expects to end at the altar. But one date leads to another. The boy and girl who are strangers on their first date become good friends on their third or fourth date. And as dating proceeds, they become emotionally involved, often without being consciously aware of it. Suddenly, they discover that they are "in love." By then the parents may be helpless to end the relationship. Thus the tragedy of each mixed marriage starts with the seemingly innocent first date.
Long before your child begins to date, let him know that he must not date a non-Catholic. He will show no resistance to this instruction when it is presented as a principle and before any personalities are involved. Your teaching may be too late if it comes after he has become emotionally involved with a member of another faith and marriage is a serious consideration.
Activity Source: Catholic Family Handbook, The by Rev. George A. Kelly, Random House, Inc., New York, 1959