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Fatherly Advice: My Daughter’s Classmates Told Her She’s Going to Hell. What Should I Do?


A listener calls into Radio Show in need of some Fatherly Advice after an unfortunate and disturbing incident at her daughter’s school: “I have a daughter who is 16 and in the 10th grade. My husband and I are both cradle Catholics, and our daughter went to Catholic school up until high school. She has learning differences, and there’s only one Catholic school in our area, and they do not have a program for anyone with learning differences. So, she’s been in a Baptist high school that has a program for the last two years. Yesterday in class, two of the boys started telling her that she was going to Hell because she’s Catholic and that’s what all of their teachers were telling them. They were calling her a Mary-worshipper and making fun of having wine at Mass. … I was proud of her because she said what the wine and the host represented, but they were just bashing her on and on. And I feel badly for her because she doesn’t want to be there — she wants to be at the Catholic school, but they won’t take her. … Do you have any advice for me to give to her for going back [to class] and for me to restore her faith in this school?”

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Father Dave says, “Part of it is [asking yourself], whether it’s worth it for you to raise issues with the school and the administration. Obviously, it’s private and not a public school, but I think there’s something fair to be raised that at a Catholic school, a Catholic school principal would not condone saying, ‘Sure, let’s tell people that they’re going to Hell if they’re not Catholics.’ So, that’s one side of the issue. The other side of the issue seems to me — though I’m not a parent of course — this would be really similar to any other way, I would imagine, that a 16-year-old would be teased by her classmates. In some ways, you can’t protect her from that. … You can load her up with every bit of Catholic apologetics from websites and books that you can, and I’m not sure how effective that would be [in deflecting teasing from] 16-year-olds.”

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Father Dave also shares a personal story from his family: “I can tell you from experience that my younger sister went to an Evangelical Christian college, and there were very few Catholics at the college. … There might have been some bias even from the faculty and whatnot. And what it resulted in in my sister’s faith is that it made her a stronger Catholic. She really bonded together with the other Catholics who were there. It doesn’t sound like your daughter has anyone else to connect with [in this school]. But I wouldn’t rule it out as something that necessarily needs to be fixed or ended because of a couple of days of teasing or saying you’re going to Hell or whatnot.” 

Father Dave concludes that it might be a healthy moment of growth and maturity for her daughter to wrestle with the question, “How can these people treat me this way and call themselves Christian?” (Original Air 10-10-17)