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“Ask a Priest: What If a ‘Trans’ In-law Is Influencing My Kids?”
Q: I have concern for my children’s future faith lives. My wife and I are devoutly Catholic and intend to raise our children according to Church teachings. They are 3 years and 8 months old. My wife has a sibling who is transgender (male to female) who is engaged to another transgender person (female to male). I’ve always tried to dialogue with them respectfully, but I know they both desperately hate the Catholic faith. In spite of this, we’ve made it clear that we are raising our children Catholic, and they know not to attempt to lead our children away and say anything disrespectful about our Church. However, recently, my wife’s sibling asked my son if he was looking forward to Pride Month. He didn’t say anything and neither did we, and we just kind of left it alone, but it started to concern me. I’m not so afraid of that passing comment but I guess I worry more may come. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is. If I leave it alone, am I allowing my in-laws to influence my children? But if I ask them not to mention anything about their beliefs or experiences, it would put a major rift between my wife and her family. I would really appreciate any advice you could provide. Thank you! – M.P.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: I’m sorry to hear about the situation with the brother-in-law. It’s a sign of the times.
As a dad, a top priority is to help your wife and children get to heaven. You seem to understand that responsibility well.
Your children, being so young, shouldn’t be exposed to the topic of sexuality at all — homosexual, straight or “trans.”
If the brother-in-law refuses to forgo the topic with the little ones, you would be within your rights to ban him from your home, at least until the time when the children are old enough to understand the issues involved.
You mention that even asking him not to talk about his beliefs and experiences to your children would risk a rift between your wife and her family.
It’s not up to your in-laws to decide what your kids should be exposed to. They have no right to expect you and your wife to tolerate things in your own home that you deem deleterious to your children.
The Second Vatican Council declaration on Christian education, Gravissimum Educationis, backs you up on this, making clear that parents are the ones most responsible for the upbringing of their children:
“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. […] Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered” (No. 3).
It might be good to have a heart-to-heart talk with your wife. It’s crucial that you are both on the same page and present a unified front for her family.
Should the day arrive when your children ask why their uncle calls himself an aunt, you could explain charitably that Uncle X. is confused and needs the family’s prayers.
In the meantime, it might be good to intensify your prayers for the other in-laws, too.
As for the trans couple, who “desperately hate” the Catholic faith, they need a special grace of the Holy Spirit to see the love that God is actually trying to show them through his Church.
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