According to recent research, 74% of surveyed adults said that they left Catholicism between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. With these harsh statistics, we might wonder if there is anything parents can do to effectively and joyfully raise our kids to be the next generation of faithful Catholics. The good news is, we can.
Theology of the Body reminds us that family life is the school of love and virtue, it is where we learn and practice all the qualities that help us live life as a gift. As parents, if we want to raise faithful kids, we need to do more than just take them to church, send them to Catholic schools, or teach them facts about faith and morals. We need to lead them into a meaningful, personal, relationship with Our Lord. Our children need to encounter Jesus as another member of the family–the most important member of the family who is the source of the warmth and love in our home. We need to show our children that Christ is not just present at Church or even just in family prayer time, but that he is present at the heart of mealtimes, family rituals, that we recognize him as the source of our blessings and the source of our strength in challenging times. And we need to show them how to develop a meaningful, personal prayer life that allows them to have a real encounter with God’s love. It’s a tall order, but God gives us the grace to do it. It all begins with asking God to help us be the parents our children need us to be and to help then encounter his love in their relationship with us.
Here are three More2Life Hacks for raising faithful kids:
Be A Disciple—A study by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) demonstrated that over 90% of Catholic parents pray individually, but only 17% of Catholic parents pray with their kids. Raising faithful kids means showing them how to encounter Christ in a personal way, and that means discipling them to have a personal prayer life. How can you do that? At least once a day, sit down with your kids. Teach them to close their eyes, to see Jesus, and to talk to him like they would talk to the person that knows them best and loves them the most. Help them thank God for the good things that happened that day. Teach them how to ask God for help with the challenges of their day. Remind them to pray for others, and help them ask God for the grace to become the loving, graceful people he created them to be. Let them imagine God holding them close in his arms, and have them tell God they love him. Just 10 minutes a day can give your kids a lifelong, meaningful relationship with Christ.
Give Your Kids A Mission–Raising caring kids means helping them see that they are on a mission to use every moment as an opportunity to become the person God is calling them to be. Ask your kids to think about the qualities they want to be known for: responsible, thoughtful, loving, joyful, etc. Lead them in praying that God would help them find opportunities each day to exhibit those qualities with friends, family, and in their responsibilities. Finally, each day–at dinner or bedtime–ask them to share examples of when they tried to live those qualities out. Ask them to think about opportunities they might have to exhibit those qualities at home or in school tomorrow. Teach them to remember that God wants to use them to make a difference in the lives of those around him and give them a chance to reflect on the ways God is using them to show his love to the world.
Make God A Member of the Family–Create strong family rituals like family meals, game night, family days, family meetings, celebrations and other times like this, AND INVITE GOD TO PARTICIPATE. Start your times together with a brief prayer. Thank God for the love you have in your home. Ask him for the grace to love each other even better. Ask him to bless this time you are spending with each other and to be present to you as you work, play, talk, and pray as a family. In the presence of your kids, acknowledge that God is responsible for togetherness you feel and that he is constantly working to draw each of you closer to each other, and to him. Make God a member of the day-to-day life of your family, and let him be the source of the warmth in your home.