I looking for wisdom here on what you think has worked to keep your children practising Catholics. Our children are young enough still that I hope we can make a difference and they will continue in their faith when they move away from home. They are 6, 8 and 14.
Lead by example. Children learn and form habits by their parents example.
Live your faith instead of just talking about it. (or selective parts of it.) Don’t be hypocrites and don’t frequently associate with hypocrites. (I’m not saying you are, but that’s the fastest way I know to turn a young person away from the faith.)
My husband and I are VERY active in our small parish (220 families). I have been the high school youth group volunteer leader for 14 years and DH is active in the Knights of Columbus and on parish council. We don’t miss Mass…period. When we travel, we look forward to visiting other parishes in our Universal Church.
Our oldest (daughter) is 23 and not particularly motivated to practice her faith. She faithfully goes to Mass with us when she is home visiting, but gets to Mass about 25% of the time on her own. She is seriously dating a Catholic boy (never Confirmed), so she seems to be revisiting the idea of regular Mass attendance. However, in spite of 8 years of Catholic school and 4 active years in youth group, she just doesn’t feel inclined to keep learning about her faith.
Our next oldest (son) is 21 and ON FIRE! He faithfully attends Mass at college, prays regularly, is a reader at Mass and has been a leader for Stations of the Cross. He is also a Knight of Columbus. He is very serious about being Catholic and is a vigorous defender of the faith.
We also have an 8 year old in Catholic school…the jury is still out on him!
Sooooo…we have done the same things as a family. Why one kid really seems to get it and one doesn’t is a mystery!
Display the grace and love of God in your home at all times. Nothing drives a teen from the church faster than hearing a message at Church about being filled with love and peace that surpasses understanding, and then seeing his lifelong Catholic parents bicker about bills or other trivia every night.
You are called to teach your children the True Faith, to pass it on to them, to show them you live the Faith.
Pray for your children.
Each person makes their own decision in life.
God gives each person Free Will.
If your child walks away from the faith, continue to pray for them. Answer their questions, but know it is their Free Will they are expressing. God allows all of His children their own Free Will. They may come back to the Faith another day.
Provide lots of Catholic culture: books, movies, social events. Help them discover Catholic heroes and heroines. Share lives of the saints. Encourage them to pray about their vocations and the vocations of others. Visit churches and missions when vacationing. Enjoy religious art together in books, online, at museum exhibits. Listen to Catholic radio while driving, pray together. Let them know some of the things you especially fondly recall of priests and religious from your childhood. Let them hear you praising and praying for your hardworking priest, bishop, archbishop etc. Make sure that they get the opportunity to assist at Masses that will catechize through their reverence. Catechize through your reverence.
Send them to your Catholic school if one is available and be involved in helping that school further develop its Catholic identity. Is homeschooling an option? There are many faithful Catholics networking to support each other as they teach the faith at home. How about a family summer retreat for a vacation? Or visiting a monastery?
Explore the charism of different orders each year. Perhaps there is an Eastern Rite church or a Dominican Rite Mass in your area? You might learn about the diversity of rites and visit some of the other Catholic churches.
May God bless you and your children. Amen.
I agree with what previous posters have said, and won’t repeat their statements. I’ll just add one.
I never hesitated to tell our children what, exactly, is mistaken or wrong with other religions, particularly protestantism, to which a lot of young are now drawn. I never sugar coated it or expressed relativism in the slightest way. My wife was always the same way about it.
Right is right and wrong is wrong, and a parent needs to make it clear which is which.
Well, I’ll add another thing. I was always interested in history, and made certain my children had a deep understanding of the history of the Church. So few really know, and young people who don’t know history have trouble withstanding the bogus historical accounts of others.
I think all of the siblings in my family are still active Catholics. I know us and my older sister’s families. I think my younger sister’s are active, but we are all in different states.
Someone said it earlier, but I think it helps to continue to do what we can in the Church as examples for our kids. Of course, and pray for them daily.
Good conversation helps. My kids surely know where Truth is, if they stray, they’ll know what they are doing.
Teach them that a lot of what is called entertainment is bad for them and why. Cultivate family events that are simple and fun: go to the park, play ball, whether it’s baseball, basketball or football, purely for fun. Play a simple board game with them. Teach them there is right and wrong and why.
How to trust others.
How to avoid situations that might get them in trouble.
Prepare meals for them instead of fast food. Sit with them when they eat.
Read them stories that are about good triumphing over evil.
Everything of what has been said above, every single thing, is very important. I’ll just add apologetics. Training them to defend their faith against non-catholics is also very important. Without such training, they are good non-catholic targets. This website is an excellent source to learn how to defend you faith.
Agreed. Very good point about teaching our kids the truth of our beautiful Catholic faith as given to us by Jesus Christ himself and handed down through the ages through apostolic succession. History is important and helps our young understand what is wrong with any other religion and why the Catholic faith is so right for everyone. Teach your children what they really need to know and then show them how to be a faithful Catholic in everyday life. No guarantees that our kids won’t stray, but if they have all the information, they won’t get too far away before they come running back.
You have received a lot of good answers! I think I should have emphasized the goal of becoming holy instead of the goal of avoiding sin.
New American Standard Bible (©1995) Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Just follow the Bible:D
You have to cling to the promise in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Another poster pointed out that we all have free will, and sadly, many children make the choice to drop their faith practices when they grow up.
What’s even more heartbreaking is that many of these children come from homes where the parents did absolutely everything right.
And once in a while, parents do absolutely everything wrong, and the children, amazingly, make the choice to follow Christ and serve Him and His Church.
And sometimes, parents do everything right, and then someone else in the Church really messes up bad, and the children bear the brunt of that person’s sin, and understandably, walk away from a church and a faith that they no longer can trust.
That’s what happened in our family. We were doing great, and to this day, our daughters praise us for the way we raised them. But when our girls were in their teens (one was away at college), we were thrown out of our Protestant church. Our older daughter dropped totally out of church for several years, but after we became Catholic, she converted, too, and practices faithfully.
Our younger daughter was still home during the ousting, and she experienced the brutality and the hatred of it all first-hand rather than through emails and phone-calls. She has never been a regular church attender since, although she will attend Mass with us when she is home. She doesn’t trust “Christians” or churches because of the horrible way they treated her parents and her.
We just have to trust that promise in Proverbs. She’s not “anti-God” or even anti-church. She’s just never seen a church that actually works the way it’s supposed to work. It’s kind of like eating fish–if every time you eat fish, you choke on a bone, you stop eating fish, and no one can convince you to try even the best-prepped fish.
Couldn’t tell you. I didn’t stay. There is just too much that I don’t agree with in the Church.
Thanks Ed, God bless.
Thank you all for your advice. I do homeschool, we are part of a Catholic homeschool group, attending Mass is not an option and we have some priest friends. We also attend Catholic family camp and seek out other parish’s to visit when we travel.
I am a revert. I was away from the church for 15 years. What drove me away was negative comments about my faith and the pressure to conform to secular culture. I also saw all of my Catholic friends slowly cave in to the pressure too.
So I understand that adult children will do what they do but like any good parent I wish to save our children from the pain of my mistakes. It certainly is difficult to forsee what obstacles ones offspring will encounter in many regards never mind thier faith.