Parents are the first teachers for their children.

Catholic Parental Responsibilities

by Michele Norfleet

All parents are responsible for the health and well-being of their children. Catholic parents are also charged with the obligation to provide moral education and spiritual growth for their children and to educate them in the teachings of the Catholic church. Although Catholic schools and churches offer religious education programs for the youth of the parish, the primary responsibility rests with the parents.

Setting an Example

As a Catholic parent you have an obligation to discipline your children, teach them to respect others rights and property and provide good examples for them. You also have a responsibility to provide an atmosphere where your children are considered children of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs parents to create a home where tenderness, forgiveness, fidelity and respect are the rule. The church also expects that you will set a good example for your children by attending Mass, receiving the church’s sacraments, teaching your children to pray and providing good moral examples for them. Your daily actions should encourage trust, acceptance and forgiveness.


According to the Catholic Church’s teachings, you, as a Catholic parent, have an obligation to provide religious education to your children. The church teaches that religious education begins at home and it is your responsibility to provide moral education and spiritual formation. The church expects you to teach your children about God, angels, saints and Catholic traditions. According to the church, as a Catholic parent, you have a grave primary duty to educate and train your child in the Catholic faith, worship and morality which should begin in the earliest years.

Attending Mass

Your responsibility as a Catholic parent is to see that your child attends Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Your responsibility includes, not only getting your child to Sunday Mass, but setting an example by attending Mass with your child. Your obligation includes teaching him not just the rituals, but also the meaning of the Mass.

Receiving Sacraments

In addition to providing an education for your child, as a Catholic parent you are also expected to prepare him to receive the church’s sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation. According to Canon Law, infants are to be baptized during the first few weeks of life. When your child reaches second grade, or 7 years of age, it is time to prepare him for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. This preparation usually takes place at school for children attending Catholic school. If your child attends a non-Catholic school, you are encouraged to enroll your child in religious education classes at your parish for this preparation. Depending on your parish, the sacrament of Confirmation is received between the ages of 7 and 16 years.

About the Author

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master's degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.

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