August 16, 2013


Forming children, and families, of faith today

Remember, life isn’t fair.

Or so many of us were told as youngsters when we had to do something we didn’t like because our parents or others in a supervisory role instructed us to do it.

Doing chores around the house. Buckling down on studies so we would get the most out of our educational experience. Going to Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation.

Kids today are no different. Many of them can probably recall a time when that adage was used by someone forming them in one way or another.

It’s now mid-August, and we bet that phrase has been used—possibly more than once in some households—as our children head back to school.

Not to turn this into a generational thing, but maybe our kids have a point with their “life isn’t fair” backlash to starting school before summer has ended.

I’ve had this conversation with fellow parents in recent weeks: “I can’t believe school is starting. I can remember when we were growing up, we didn’t go back [to school] until after Labor Day.”

Times change, we learn, and we need to adapt to them.

But one thing that hasn’t changed—whether it’s August or September or any other month on the calendar—is our duty as parents to be our children’s primary educators in their lives of faith.

Sending them to Catholic schools, if we can afford it or get financial assistance, isn’t enough.

Neither is making sure they get to weekly religion education classes at our parish.

We can add receiving the sacraments—reconciliation, first Communion and confirmation—to that list as well.

Those things are necessary, for sure, but there is much more to our vocation as parents.

Praying with them is essential. Not only before meals and before tucking them in bed, but also when you sense an opportunity to show them how one of faith’s greatest gifts is connecting with God whenever possible.

Teach them the tenets of the Church and share resources that will help them grow in their lives of faith. Think a children’s Bible, YouCat (Youth Catechism) and other age-appropriate resources, but don’t be afraid to go beyond that—especially if your children ask questions or seem eager to learn more about what the Church teaches and why.

And remember, it all begins with life.

In his recent message to a group of our brothers and sisters in South America, Pope Francis wrote that respect for human life must be taught to our children, not only with words, but by the example of their parents.

“Parents are called to pass on to their children the awareness that life must always be defended,” Pope Francis wrote to people joining in the Brazilian Catholic Church’s celebration of Family Week, which began on Aug. 11.

The pope returned to his condemnation of the “throwaway culture,” something that he spoke against several times during his July 22-28 visit to Brazil for World Youth Day. He said that modern cultures tend to treat even human lives as disposable, pointing to the way that people, societies and even governments tend to treat both the young and the old.

In his message, the Holy Father said parents have a responsibility to fight that disposable culture by teaching their children that human life, “from the womb,” is a gift from God.

New life ensures the future of humanity, he said, while older people—especially grandparents—“are the living memory of a people and transmit the wisdom of life.”

Planting and nurturing these seeds of faith with our children is critical, especially if we want them to be able to pass it on to their kids as well.

Life, indeed, may not be fair, but one thing continues through each generation:

God and our children are counting on us to help form them as disciples of Christ.

—Mike Krokos

Local site Links: