Friends of ours are parents of a newborn. They were both raised Catholic and were married in a Catholic Church to please their parents, but have not practiced since they were in grade school, other than going to Mass occasionally. They are not anti religion or anti Catholic, just lazy and rather indifferent. They are anxious to do everything “right” for their baby. Does anyone have any suggestions on convincing people like this that going to Mass together as a family has benefits to the child and to their relationship. I’ve read that the dovorce rate is much lower for couples who attend any church together regularly. Are there studies out there that back up that and other “social” benefits? I think they may be more receptive to that kind of argument at this point. They are very interested in psychology and child development etc., so I thing that might be an appealing argument to get them at least started.
Since this is such a highly personal decision and a commitment that must come from one’s own character and will–you cannot nag or badger or necessarily even convince another person to take their faith seriously or pass it on to their kids.
What might be interesting and respectful of them would be to start a discussion about what their thoughts are about the moral and spiritual guidance they plan to provide their children. Start with a compliment and then add something along the lines of: “I have been so impressed, Susie & Joe, with how thoughfully you have considered the needs of your baby and taken on the responsibilities of parenthood like health care, nutrition, safety, discipline, educational options, etc…I would love to hear your thoughts about how you plan to approach the moral and spiritual education of your child…”
If nothing else, it opens the door to the topic in a very positive way and may encourage a dialogue that prompts them to reconsider their own commitment to their faith. From my own experience–nothing brings home a sense of responsibility about one’s faith like becoming a parent.
Great points and great suggestions. I have actually had a conversation along the lines you suggest. As I said, it seems to be laziness more than anything that keeps them from practicing. They plan to baptise the baby- again to please their parents.That’s why I thought that the next time it comes up, it would be helpful to point out benefits that aren’t necessarily spiritual but that would appeal to their desire to give their child a stable, hopeful, peaceful life. I think that if they got themselves to Mass regularly, the faith would “take,” over time. Since they are people to whom data is significant, I think referring them to an article or book that lays out statistics on how the practice of religion benefits children over time might be the trigger for them to start going.
Maybe you can offer them babysitting services, like, you’ll bring the baby to mass with you so that they can have an hour of free time to themselves. With time, if they allow you, they’ll probably want to join you, take their child themselves, or their child will begin to ask them why they don’t go. Young children WANT to go to mass. Many priests and teachers will tell you that, but it’s the failure of the parents who don’t bring their children to mass where the children are failed and aren’t getting fed the spiritual food they desire.
A new baby is always a great occasion to give a gift… Along with a gift for the baby, why not give them some Catholic parenting reading material - something by Ray Guarendi or Gregory Popcak’s Parenting with Grace: Catholic Parent’s Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids?