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Baptism: Should we impose it or let the child decide?

bapteme d'un enfant

Pascal Deloche / Godong

Edifa - published on 11/11/20

Some parents prefer to let their child decide later on. How should we approach this issue?

There are many parents who have the legitimate desire of not wanting to condition or prejudice their children, allowing them to freely decide who they want to become. The problem is that, no matter what the parents do, their decision will have an impact on the child.

A child is formed by imitation

If the parents choose baptism, there is indeed a conditioning for the religious dimension. But, by not baptizing them, they are equally influenced. It transmits the idea that baptism is not that important, since it was not worth giving it to them in the beginning. One day a man told me: “I will not baptize my children out of respect for their freedom. I refuse to impose it on them. Instead, they will see the way I live.” My answer was simple: “Pay attention: your way of living is precisely the strongest influence of all.”

The fact is, children are formed by imitation—they are like pure wax that registershow people act in the environment. We teach them to speak, to eat with knives and forks, we give them rules to live by. In doing so, it is inevitable that we condition them, consciously or not. However, the role of the parents is to transmit to the child what they think is best. If they think that baptism is more than just an occasion to celebrate the birth of the baby and give him a generous godmother and godfather; that it is, above all, a wonderful “graft” with Christ to become a beloved child of God; if they think that baptism is the seed that will make eternal life blossom in him — they will not deprive him of this sacrament.

Faith received, then chosen

Having said this, one must understand the wisdom of the Church, which asks that the child one day ratify this gesture imposed on him. This is the whole meaning of professing the faith: “That which your parents have given you believing it the right thing to do, now that you are old enough to understand and to choose, do you want to join in fully? Now it is your turn to see if what you have received deserves to be preserved.”

It is a joy to see young people today asking for confirmation. It’s a wonderful day when we hear them fully and freely accept the faith they received, which they have made their own, the blossom of light deposited by God deep in their hearts on the day they were baptized.

Denis Sonet


Read more:
Planning a baptism? Use this checklist

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