The greatest gift we can give our children is a foundation of faith. A truth that is their anchor for all life can throw at them, and they can be confident in their purpose which is to know, love and serve God.
How powerful is that?
Each family will go about this different and there is no exact recipe. Neither is there a guarantee that if you do XY or Z, your children will never waver. That’s not how life works or the gift of free will.
I wish there was a formula for “perfect” success. Sign me up!
Our kids are still young and have much growing and changing to do yet. We are navigating the teen years currently with 3 (soon to be 4!) teenagers. So far the easiest part has been the faith journey! 😉 Our children are far from perfect. They are though, genuinely interested in their Catholic faith and are beginning to own it as their own journey. We don’t have battles about going to mass, which I’m very thankful for and don’t take for granted.
Tips for Helping our Kids Stay Catholic
Much like homeschooling is just a way of life for our family, so is being Catholic. Homeschooling has made it easier in many ways to pass on the faith to our children. It becomes another cocoon to wrap your children in so to speak. Definitely another reason why it was so difficult to decide to let our oldest go off to school! But we also have faith that we serve a big God and we need to trust in Him.
Teaching the facts of our faith feels far easier than teaching one to have a prayer life. Honestly, we are still working and encouraging that with our children. I suspect we will never stop!
Here are a few things that we have consistently done as a family from the time our bigs were littles!
Mass – Non-negotiable. Every single week as well as Holy Days of Obligation. Even when it wasn’t convenient, even on vacation, we just go.
Daily Mass – As often as we can we make a point to get to mass during the week. Sometimes several weeks go by before we can go, sometimes, like this past summer, we made it almost every week.
Monthly Confession – We started doing this when our kids were younger. We would get up early on a First Saturday morning, go to confession and then go to breakfast or get a donut. We wanted to make the event enjoyable because let’s face it, going to confession can be hard. Now we go on Saturday afternoon before mass, but our kids still have fond memories of breakfast treats each month.
Rosary – We try to make a point to say a family rosary often. The kids and I will say a decade during most school days, and anytime we are all in the car together we say it!
Altar Serving – As soon as our oldest son was old enough to altar serve he started serving. At 16 he is still serving a couple of times per month. Our 14 year old serves and helps usher, and our 10 year old serves too.
Get Involved – I firmly believe their is a “season” for this in most families. It has been much easier for us to gradually get involved in more of parish life as our family has gotten older. When your family consists of babies, toddlers and preschoolers – it probably is NOT the time! We make an effort to find ways for all of us to serve when and how we can best. It makes a difference when your children feel connected to the people they see at mass.
Liturgical Living – I will admit to being much better about this when the kids were younger than I am now. When they were little it was easy to print off a coloring sheet of a saint and read a story. We still read the Saint of the Day, but no one is too interested in a coloring page or simple craft. Now they just prefer dessert! Reading about the lives of the saints is an important tool because so many saints did NOT live saintly lives early on and I think that gives all of us hope.
Prayers Before Meals – A no brainer at home, but we do this even when we are out to eat. Not always fun for a teenager who feels like “everyone is staring at us” but we do it anyway. 🙂
God’s Mercy – Over and over again we try to remind our children that not only is God’s love infinite, his mercy is too.
A note about the photo above, no one was happy to have their picture taken that day! All sorts of whining and complaining that it was “too hot”, the sun was “burning their eyes”, they were hungry etc, etc. Like I said, just normal kids!
Words of Wisdom from Others
I asked a few friends with older kids for their words of wisdom as well:
“We found that attending mass together, praying a family rosary (especially every Sunday) and attending monthly reconciliation are all so very important (even as teens). However, “normalizing” our Catholic faith as parents to our teens in an ever-increasing hostile society is so crucial. This can be done by asking your teens what they need you to specifically pray for them about, keeping alive your domestic church, talking about faith with them using current events or social trends, and never ceasing to pray for them. Don’t allow faith talks to grow awkward by avoiding them with your youth once they are of teenage years.
For our first born going to college, we supported her decision to meet the nearby parish priest at the Baptist University she is attending before we dropped her off at school. It meant an extra 6 hours round trip, but who cares! The gains for outweighed the cost. Never ceasing to pray with them and for them, and tell them how much you love them is a strong base.”
~ Patty @ Reasons for Chocolate
“To keep my teens engaged in their faith, my husband and I encourage them to be a part of parish life whether it is volunteering at VBS or my son altar serving or my daughters singing in the choir, playing handbells or being a reader at daily mass. My husband and I also try to set good examples (there’s always room for improvement) for keeping our faith a priority by consistently praying before meals (in and out of the house) attending Sunday mass regularly even while traveling, attending daily mass often and praying a family rosary as often as possible.”
~ Tracy @ A Slice of Smith Life
What are ways your family works to keep things Catholic?
More Catholic Family Tips