For Parents Of Young Children.. What Is *Your* Plan?


#1

One of my biggest fears, as a mother of 3 small children, is that they will lose their faith when they are older. I went to a Catholic school as a child and it seems like a good portion of my classmates are no longer practicing Catholic's. :shrug: I know society has a lot to do with. Its a pretty scary world out there.

So, do you all have a plan to help your kids follow the straight and narrow path? Or perhaps (for those parents whose children are grown) share what you did to help your children become faithful, Catholic adults?


#2

The main thing I can say is that both parents need to be involved all the way along. If you are doing as many things as you can, both the mother AND the father, not just going to Mass but doing activities during Advent, Lent, reading the Bible, learning the prayers, saying the Rosary, and talking about your faith all the time, as well as sacramental training, you will have done everything possible to give your children a foundation of faith. After that, every child has free will and sometimes there is absolutely NOTHING a parent can do to guarantee that the child will remain a faithful Catholic.

But as a prodigal who returned to the Church when my 1st son was born (I had been praying through the pregnancy but started going back once he was in the world), I can only thank my devout mother for the 10 years of faith that was her legacy to me. I was away for 20 years but I was always seeking - my spirituality as I would have termed it all those years was still crucial in my life. I just didn't know where to look!

And my husband is a Catholic by form but not by belief, which means he does attend church with us and he has allowed the boys to receive the sacraments and go to Catholic schools, but other than that and mealtime prayers, there is nothing flowing from him to them. He doesn't pray and doesn't relate anything in his life to God, not outwardly. He says he cannot state for sure that he believes God exists. The boys know none of this - as far as I know, they just think he's a private person. I have tried to make up for it but I'm afraid I haven't done as good a job as I wanted to - being the spiritual head of the household just feels all wrong to me. When I was more of a feminist I probably wouldn't have minded but since I got married and got my faith back, I want my husband to take that role. He can't, so there is a constant ache in my heart. The unequally-yoked thing? Yeah, I don't recommend it.

But even if you are unequally yoked, if you face that full-on and don't kid yourself that your husband is going to wake up one day and start doing family devotions, you can still really pass along your faith to the children. You'll have to work harder at it, but you can do it. Never despair, never become worried. Pray to Mary and Joseph and the saints. They are helping us all the time.


#3

Lead by example. Show them how it should be important to them by letting them see how your faith is important to you.


#4

This is one good way but don’t forget the three most important ingredients.

  1. PRAYER
  2. PRAYER
  3. PRAYER

#5

Thank you for the replies!

Like Therealjuliane, I too, am the one teaching my kids about God, as my husband is not a religious man. My kids do have a strong belief in God so I must be going in the right direction! :slight_smile: I also got them Green scapulars and pray for them everyday.


#6

Learn apologetics for when they get older and start asking harder questions.

The following is a good introduction. I have also heard that Lee Stroble's books on The Case for Christ are well regarded.

amazon.com/Guard-Defending-Faith-Reason-Precision/dp/1434764885/ref=pd_sim_b_1


#7

Agreed! My mother notoriously pushed her Catholic beliefs on me, and all it has done is push me away.


#8

I think it is important to them to see you living your faith...not just attending mass 1x a week.

My children are 3 and 10. My 10 yr old goes to the same Catholic School I attended as a child. The school goes to mass weekly and I take both kids to mass on Sunday. I also attend adoration monthly - and my son knows this. I also attend daily mass 3x a week - and my son knows this as well. I make him aware of what I am doing so that he knows and can see that being Catholic is alot more then just going to mass 1x a week on Sunday.

Also, when I have to correct his behavior I try to find a Jesus reference so that he knows that it isn't just me that wants him to treat others a certain way, it is God's will as well.

All I can really say is to lead by example.


#9

Don't forget to avoid pants that itch.

I know a man whose mother insisted that he attend church and Sunday school every Sunday, without fail. Winter or summer, he had to wear these wool pants, which itched. He hated it. As an adult, he avoided church like the plague.

We took that as a lesson, and bought our kids dress clothes (and shoes) that they like, and that feel comfortable. Whatever decision you can make on something inconsequential that makes fidelity more enjoyable, consider that. Even fasting (giving up something for Lent) should be shown as gaining the ability of self-mastery. Don't forget to allow your children the pleasure of enjoying that accomplishment. As long as they don't extend that into feeling better than someone else who is a lesson or an experience or two behind them, that is OK.

Also, do not promise things that go beyond what God promises. That will kill faith very quickly; it is only a matter of when. The Cross proves that bad things can happen to those who are faithful. What it also says, though, is that a fidelity that will persist even through the grave makes it possible for God to transform the worst thing in the world into the best thing in the world.

After that, well, realize that God gave us all free will. Parents will not succeed by being more controlling than our Father in Heaven is. As Mother Teresa put it: God did not call me to be successful. God called me to be faithful. Be faithful, then, and trust God and God's grace with the rest.


#10

[quote="adrift, post:4, topic:230858"]
This is one good way but don't forget the three most important ingredients.
1. PRAYER
2. PRAYER
3. PRAYER

[/quote]

I second this.

I am the Asst DRE at our parish and it seems our kids love coming to church. If they are able to see church as a happy and loving place their chance of staying in the Church increases. Our priests all love children. They are actively involved in making their church experience as much like the pictures of Jesus surrounded with smiling and laughing children as they can. 1st Reconciliation and even 1st HC can be nervous and anxious events. We/they make sure they know God loves them and welcomes them.


#11

There are a lot of great posts here that I could quote and repeat... :thumbsup:

But in addition, I think another important aspect is the ability to persevere through challenging times and putting our TRUST in God during those times. This is where parenting by EXAMPLE is so important. Discuss the challenging aspects in your lives and discuss how you are relying on the faith and especially the Eucharist to get you through these times. Discuss the fullness of what it means to SACRIFICE for our faith. Being Catholic is not "easy street"... but we KNOW it's utterly important to follow this challenging path.
Lead by example... :)


#12
  1. prayer

  2. A Catholic Education--whatever means you employ (whether Catholic school, public school, or homeschooling) is important to develop a Catholic worldview. Let them see the world through the Catholic eyes. We homeschool because it's the easiest way to provide a thoroughly Catholic Education, but there are many paths to a Catholic education.

  3. Lots of quality Catholic events--clubs, retreats, camps, vbs--things with solid content and a lot of fun.

  4. Good Catholic friends. This is easier if you homeschool or if you have your kids at a Catholic school.

  5. Good Catholic reading material. There are tons of wonderful picture books, chapter books and older fiction. As they get older and branch out, it's important to discuss how books support or deviate from Catholic moral teaching.

  6. A strong devotion to Mary. We have an image of Mary in every room. We also try to have a crucifix in every room.

I personally had a lousy Catholic education and barely any Catholic identity. I feel like I'm playing catch up on all the other Catholic moms who grew up immersed in Catholicism. My husband isn't Catholic, but he's very supportive.


#13

My children are still young but getting old enough to ask questions. The best advice I can give is to tell them that it is GOOD to ask questions (when they are old enough to questions things) and that you are happy to give them the answers because Jesus has all the answers!

My son was recently reading about dinosaurs and the big bang and came to me and said "mom what if God really does not exist and he is all made up?"

I freaked out at first and was upset that he would ask such a crazy thing but praise be to God I calmed down. I told him it was GOOD to ask questions and what did he think? We talked for a long time and he concluded that even though others don't beleive in God that he sure does!!!

It was a gift because I can only tell my son so many times that God is there for him. Eventually he will need to discover and beleive this on his own. I told him that God encourages questions and anytime he has one we will seek the answer.

My children are starting to ask more questions like "why go to Mass" and "why pray" and as upset as this makes me I tell them that questions are good. Go to Jesus with your questions he is happy to answer them! As they get older I plan on having good Solid Apologetics books on hand to answer their questions.

Beyond that I pray to the Holy Spirit and their Guardian angels and hope that I am leading by example. I know all too well that people can stray. My parents are FAITHFUL Catholics and 3 out of 4 of their children do not attend Mass. Two of them claim to be agnostics so it can happen. Pray and I will pray for you to!


#14

[quote="leonie, post:12, topic:230858"]
1. prayer

  1. A Catholic Education--whatever means you employ (whether Catholic school, public school, or homeschooling) is important to develop a Catholic worldview. Let them see the world through the Catholic eyes. We homeschool because it's the easiest way to provide a thoroughly Catholic Education, but there are many paths to a Catholic education.

  2. Lots of quality Catholic events--clubs, retreats, camps, vbs--things with solid content and a lot of fun.

  3. Good Catholic friends. This is easier if you homeschool or if you have your kids at a Catholic school.

  4. Good Catholic reading material. There are tons of wonderful picture books, chapter books and older fiction. As they get older and branch out, it's important to discuss how books support or deviate from Catholic moral teaching.

  5. A strong devotion to Mary. We have an image of Mary in every room. We also try to have a crucifix in every room.

I personally had a lousy Catholic education and barely any Catholic identity. I feel like I'm playing catch up on all the other Catholic moms who grew up immersed in Catholicism. My husband isn't Catholic, but he's very supportive.

[/quote]

That sounds like handcuffing a child to me. He or she is going to have no idea how to relate to those whose experiences fall outside what you've taught. A little diversity is a good thing in one's education. I'm not saying one has to agree with a different point of view, but one should have the education needed to understand another point of view.


#15

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:14, topic:230858"]
That sounds like handcuffing a child to me. He or she is going to have no idea how to relate to those whose experiences fall outside what you've taught. A little diversity is a good thing in one's education. I'm not saying one has to agree with a different point of view, but one should have the education needed to understand another point of view.

[/quote]

A little diversity often turns into very real near-occasions of sin. Trust me, kids aren't missing anything in the outside world that they can't experience when they are adults who have well-formed consciences.

I say this as a one who attended public schools all my life and found them (in retrospect) detrimental to my spiritual formation. There was nothing to be gained but introduction to evil ways. And yes - I plan to homeschool. No amount of good instruction from parents can shelter children from the disgusting things they will hear in schools.

Diversity can be experienced by the controlled teaching of the parents. Yes, it's important to realize that other ways exist, but children, especially young children should hear about it from their parents.


#16

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:14, topic:230858"]
That sounds like handcuffing a child to me. He or she is going to have no idea how to relate to those whose experiences fall outside what you've taught. A little diversity is a good thing in one's education. I'm not saying one has to agree with a different point of view, but one should have the education needed to understand another point of view.

[/quote]

The list did not say to avoid diversity. The list enumerated those things that should be there. Those things don't arrive in a child's life by accident.

St. Teresa of Avila remarked that parents do not realize the damage that can be done to a young person by having the wrong friends. She knew, because she had a harmful friend in her past. That's not the same as refusing to give a child a fair education concerning other religions or refusing to let on that moral rectitude that can be found outside the faith. I hope no one is suggesting that, because yes, that is likely to backfire. The world has moral non-Christians; even Paul said the same. (Rom. 2:14-16) Yet St. Paul, aware that we could not leave the world, also warned about the dangers of living "in the world". Of course the world has admirable Christians outside the boundaries of the Catholic faith. I hope that is so obvious that it goes without saying. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise. Even if children were that stupid, it would be wrong to lie to them.

You make a good point on that. You can't hide that the Holy Spirit blows where He wills, and that good people and good things exist outside the obvious boundaries of the Church. All salvation comes through the Church, but God controls his grace, not any of us, not even the Pope. We belong to God and not the other way around. Tell children otherwise, and they will learn the truth some day, as they rightly ought to.


#17

[quote="Monicad, post:13, topic:230858"]
My son was recently reading about dinosaurs and the big bang and came to me and said "mom what if God really does not exist and he is all made up?"

[/quote]

We had the former head of the Vatican Observatory come to speak a few years ago. They can trace the beginning of the Universe back to the Big Bang. They have not found a reason for it and can only point to God as the cause. It helped me see the bigness of God.


#18

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:14, topic:230858"]
That sounds like handcuffing a child to me. He or she is going to have no idea how to relate to those whose experiences fall outside what you've taught. A little diversity is a good thing in one's education. I'm not saying one has to agree with a different point of view, but one should have the education needed to understand another point of view.

[/quote]

No worries. My kids have a wide reading experience. And, our thoughtful Catholic textbooks are very good at explaining the worldviews of others. :thumbsup:

Understanding a different point of view is definitely a part of our education. :)

Don't confuse having a sense of right and wrong, a correct understanding of the nature of man, and a conviction of the purpose of life as a narrowness of view. In fact, it is the most expansive of views!


#19

There are definitely no guarantees. I have four younger (1 through 12) kids, and I watch the other families in our parish carefully.
The families with success at keeping their kids in the faith all seem to exude a joyful Catholicism. These families are heavily involved in parish life and are happy about it. They serve and obviously love to serve.
Families that have trouble (of those I have observed) tend to either be less than serious about their faith (or inconsistent about it) or they are serious but dour and joyless. I don't mean to judge the faith of the parents, but I think kids need to see how much we love God and how much he loves us. (And speaking as a father, I think they especially need to see that from dad.)
So we just live our faith life in a joyful manner, and that means talking about God. A lot!


#20

I think I have to agree with the "joy filled Catholicism" idea.

We did go to Mass every Sunday. That wasn't an option. But we didn't do daily rosary. My parents didn't go to adoration. We didn't say grace before meals. I wasn't taught to say my evening prayers.

But my parents are joy filled people. They have a great marriage and still like to flirt. They love being parents more than any other job. They have a solid sense of right and wrong and they are honest and very generous. They might not have been the most pious of people but they are very good people and very happy people. Somehow all 5 of us, though we lack several good habits, are totally hooked on Catholicism and are growing in it as we progress into (or through) adulthood. We knew where happiness was because we were raised by two people who lived it...and those two people were also Catholics.


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