“Ask a Priest: Do You Tell a 13-Year-Old His Sister Is Living With Someone?”

Q: My 23-year-old daughter is engaged to be married and recently moved in with her fiancé. I have not told my son about her decision. She has asked if my son can visit her at her home and I have denied her request. I am ashamed of her even though she said she will remain pure until her wedding day. What do I do about my son? -T.H.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear about your situation. You are right to be concerned about the scandal your daughter’s decision has had and could have, especially on your son.

I think that it is very prudent not to take your son to your daughter’s new dwelling. To see his sister living with someone who is not her husband would send confusing signals to him.

Another issue is whether you want to tell him that his sister is living with someone. If you can avoid the subject, it might be better to say nothing to him. Or if he knows his sister has a new address, you could confirm that information and just leave it at that. If he finds out that she is living with someone, then you might want to explain simply that it is not something you approve of.

As to your daughter: That she says she intends to remain pure until her wedding day indicates a moral sense about the value of chastity.

Her decision to move in with her fiancé, however, doesn’t show good judgment. For one thing, her move has already caused scandal (to you and perhaps to others).

The Catechism in No. 2284 says, “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.”

No. 2285 adds, “Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.'”

A second sign of poor judgment is that your daughter has put herself in the near occasion of grave sin by living under the same roof with her fiancé.

You might ask her why she moved in with her fiancé in the first place. If it was to save money, then perhaps there are options that she can explore.

By all means, try to keep in dialogue with your daughter. While she might not be doing the most prudent thing right now, in the near future she could be married and starting a family. It will help her and you and all the family to know that there are bonds of deep love between you, and that you are all trying to live your faith. Mistakes are mistakes. We pray that the damage is limited. But then we move on, and keep building for the future.

Keep praying for your children, since you will always be their mom. And count on your family being included in one of my Mass intentions. God bless.

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