Must children always obey their parents?
Saint Alexis did not. He refused a marriage his parents had arranged.
Saint Catherine of Siena did not. She likewise refused to marry despite her parents urging.
St. Francis of Assisi did not obey his parents. In fact, he refused his father's patrimony.
St. Rita of Cascia disobeyed her parents - "what may have seemed
on the part of little Rita were in fact mild reproofs, prompted, no
by God, against that vanity which alas too often is planted by
parents in the hearts of their young children....From the Augustinian breviary we
learn that Rita Mancini was twelve years of age when she made her
St. Thomas Aquinas refused his parents' will for his life.
Joan of Arc disobeyed her parents, choosing instead to walk 40 miles to meet a local lord.
St. Clare of Assisi secretly left her home and parents when she was 18.
And, while technically not his parents, St. John of the Cross suffered similar travail:
"On the night of 2 December 1577, St. John of the Cross was taken prisoner by his
superiors in the calced Carmelites, who had launched a counter-program
against John and Teresa's reforms. John had refused an order to return
to his original house." "He managed to escape nine months later, on 15
August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He
had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day)." St.
John of the Cross disobeyed his superior's order because it was unjust,
therefore, immoral. For disobeying he was imprisoned, but then escaped
since he knew the actions of his superior was not God's will for his
As I've noted before, until
1917, the canon law of the Catholic Church considered anyone above the age of 12 capable of
marriage. The 1917 Code raised the minimum age for marriage in the
church to 14 for girls and 16 for boys. This is still the law in the 1983 Code. Though any minister considering marrying someone under 18 is supposed to consult with parents or the bishop, once a the individual turns 18, that consultation is no longer necessary.
Children have a duty to obey their parents.
Parents have a duty to recognize their children's maturity and consider it in their decisions.
CCC 2253 Parents should respect and encourage
their children's vocations. They should remember and teach that the
first calling of the Christian is to follow Jesus.
Much as they would like to be, parents are not dictators, nor are their children - especially their teen children - always bound to follow a parent's dictates.
God gives us children so that we raise them in sanctity. He also gives us children so that we may become more holy. We have to submit to the will of God not only in our lives, but in our children's lives. The children may know a call that the parents do not fully see or fully comprehend. Subsidiarity is one of the bedrock principles of Catholic Faith. Subsidiarity requires that, just as small children must learn to trust their parents, so parents must, to at least some extent, learn to trust their children.
Pray God that we can.