The thoughts, ideas, findings, and fancies of a Catholic student at Our Lady's University.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Guest Post by Mom (or: The Secrets of a Pro)

In a comment box on this blog, Robert asked, “As a father to a young Catholic girl, 12 years old, I am wondering what it is your parents have/had done that most inspired you to love your faith and Holy Mother Church as much as you obviously do?” I’m not sure what Holly’s answer would be, but mine (in no particular order, and probably incomplete) is as follows:

· Grace and prayer.

·Mass and the celebration of the sacraments is a given. Even the most pious teenager will be tempted to sleep in on Sunday if given the chance. Never get to the point where you need to make a conscious decision on Saturday about whether or not you will be going to Mass the next day.

·There is very little in our culture that will support you as a Catholic parent, so build your own little oasis of Catholic culture. Develop friendships with other Catholics (invite families to brunch at your house after Mass, make sure your kids have at least one solid Catholic friend, etc.) When people come in your home, will they see any indication that you are a Catholic family? Do you set Sunday aside to honor the Lord in some way?

·Develop a missionary spirit. Teens will always rally behind a cause that they feel is worth living and dying for. Pro-life causes, chastity, the New Springtime of Evangelization – all good stuff in this category. We need our Catholic oasis, but must never use it as a hiding place. Think of it as more of a place to recharge.

· Yes, our culture seems to be spiraling downward fast, but make sure your daughter knows that before the beginning of time, God has planned for her to be alive right now. She has unique gifts that He wants to use to transform the culture. It’s an awesome thought!

· You are your children’s first and best teachers (John Paul the Great said so!). When our kids were younger, we passed on the Faith using Family Formation ( as the vehicle. What we didn’t know, we got to learn along with our kids. It’s a great family-based catechesis program.

· Don’t trust youth groups to evangelize your older kids. We’ve been involved with great ones and heretical ones. Don’t get me wrong, I do recommend involvement (in most cases), because there are obvious benefits from the great ones, and the heretical ones served as a good apologetics tool. But I have found that quite often when I think my children are learning doctrine, their small group has instead gotten bogged down with talking about someone’s boyfriend problems. One of the biggest danger with youth groups, however, is that you as the parent will be handing your job over for someone else to do. No one has the grace to parent your child as you do. Don’t give that gift away! You will be their primary educator in the faith until they are mature enough to take on that role for themselves.

· Fall in love with Christ and His bride, the Church. Never get tired of learning more about them.

· If your daughter is 12, she is old enough to see some of the great things the Church has to offer to adults. Are there any good Catholic speakers coming to your area? Go hear them. They will probably have an expertise and enthusiasm that will be of interest to you both.

·Serve your local parish and the greater Church. Parishes ALWAYS need volunteers. Can your family be greeters? Can you and your daughter teach a religious ed. class together? Can you organize an All Saints’ Day party or Epiphany pageant for little kids in your parish? Can you help the office staff stuff envelopes? Can you organize games for a vacation Bible school? Do something and remember that doing more than something will be better. Your kids need to know that the Church needs them and that Christ wants to use their gifts to help more firmly establish His kingdom on earth.

· Guard your time together as a family. We love to be busy, but find it best to be busy together with the kind of things listed in #10. Make some time in your life for quiet. It’s more important in the long term to have time to develop a prayer life or go to weekly Adoration than to become a soccer star.

· Subscribe to good Catholic periodicals. When an Envoy magazine comes to our house, I am always 3rd or 4th in line to read it. They are funny and solid at the same time. Buy books by Mary Beth Bonacci, Amy Welborn, Jason Evert, Matt Pinto, etc. written for teens. Read them separately, read them together, talk about the content.

· Evaluate what influences you are allowing into your home. TV, Radio, Music, DVDs, even catalogs can be good or bad. Make conscious choices to reject the bad and hold yourself to the same standards you are holding your children to.

· Don’t worry too much about fitting in. In this world, if you’re not being countercultural, you’re probably doing something wrong.

·Talk about EVERYTHING. Why won’t your family be watching (insert TV show title here)? Why did you vote for one candidate over another? Why did you choose one purchase over another (or saving over purchasing anything)? Why are we celebrating the fact that Mrs. ____ from church is pregnant with her 6th child? Kids need to know your thought processes so they will be prepared to make good adult choices on their own someday. Your children may be obedient enough that they will do things just “because I say so,” but making adult choices involves knowing why.

· Develop a personal life of genuine holiness. Your kids will see right through you if it is an act.

· Pray and ask for the grace to start again when you fail.

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