Questions Young People Ask Before Marriageby Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.
On Caring for Aged Parents
Is there any obligation that one member of a large family sacrifice his or her life to the care of the parents in their old age? I am thinking of the case in which the parents are financially independent, but partially, not totally, disabled by old age.
Some parents insist that one son or daughter stay with them, giving up any thought of marriage or a vocation of their own. Others whom I have known are willing to make any sacrifice to have all their children follow some vocation, even though it leaves them entirely alone.
The question has been raised in our own family and I wish to know what is right.
In the case as given, in which the parents are financially independent, thus presumably able to provide whatever care they need themselves, the true Christian attitude is that of those who want to see every one of their children established in their own vocation, even though it means sacrifice and something of loneliness for themselves.
It would not be wrong, of course, for one of the children to choose to make a vocation out of staying with the parents, thus freely sacrificing opportunities for marriage and a home of their own.
This would be a form of charity and sacrifice worthy of high praise, so long as the one who adopted it based it on spiritual motives, accepted the sacrifice without later grumbling and complaining, and cultivated a solidly spiritual life.
But such a sacrifice would not be of obligation in the case mentioned, and parents should be most highly commended who would urge that it be not made.
There are frequent examples of selfishness and even interference with God’s evident plans on the part of parents.
Thus, those who, in no great physical need and financially secure, refuse to permit a son or daughter to follow a priestly or religious vocation because they won’t give up their companionship, would even do wrong.
The same would be true of parents not in need who would, prevent the marriage of a son or daughter in love and desiring to marry, just because they don’t want to be left alone.
The case is different entirely if the parents are destitute and helplessly ill. In that case some kind of an obligation arises among the children to take care of the parents. Even in this case, however, it can sometimes be arranged that, through the cooperation of all, the parents can be taken care of and none of the children prevented from following an evident vocation.
Should a Girl Marry for her Reputation?
Should a girl who has fallen into sin and thus become pregnant insist on marrying the man who was her companion in sin?
Should those who have influence over her insist that this be done to salvage her good name and to provide both a mother and a father for the child?
I am a social worker, and come into contact with these cases every now and then. Is there any general rule to be followed?
The one general rule that can be set down is that the decision to marry or not to marry should not be made by such a girl solely on the ground that the marriage would (doubtfully) save her good name and provide a home for the expected baby.
The preservation of her good name would be little comfort to a girl if this were effected by entrance into a marriage that could be foreseen to have little chance of success.
Moreover the providing of a home for an expected baby would be of little advantage if there were little possibility that it would be a good and happy home.
Therefore each case of this kind must be decided according to the circumstances connected with it. If the circumstances reveal that there are good prospects of the marriage turning out successfully, it should be recommended.
This would require, of course, that the man in the case show some solidity of character, true repentance for his lapse into sin, readiness to assume the responsibilities of marriage, etc.
It would also require that the couple love each other sufficiently to be good companions and help-mates. It need hardly be added that both must be free to marry validly.
If the circumstances make it clear that a marriage between the two would have little chance of success, because of the weak character of the man, his lack of sound morals, his obvious inability to support a family, or because, as quite often happens., the girl has come to feel an antipathy for him, or is herself too immature to take up the duties of marriage, then there should be no thought of urging marriage.
Even though the ideal thing is that every child born into the world have a real home with a mother and father, the ideal must yield to the practical and prudent judgment that a particular couple could not establish a good home.
Surely a girl who has had the misfortune of falling into sin should not be coerced nor even strongly urged against her wishes to marry the man involved.
The tasks of protecting her good name in so far as possible, and of providing for the child, can be taken care of in other ways.
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