I have met many men over the years who have expressed their regret about their kids leaving the Church. Many say that they wish they would have done more but at the same time are not sure what that “more” is.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church exhorts parents to take seriously the “first responsibility for the education of their children” (CCC 2223) and that “education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years” (CCC 2226). It can be a problem if we understand this education as simply imparting facts for our children to know. In other words, the faith is not simply a class to pass. Education in the faith is about introducing our children to Jesus so that they might know Him intimately. As parents we should desire that our children would have the kind of faith the Catechism describes in paragraph 150: “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.” “Personal adherence” and “free assent” are made possible if you know Him and you trust Him!
So, how do we help our children to know God and trust God? First and foremost, we help our children to develop a prayer life. This requires an apprenticeship in which they witness and share in our own prayer life. I have discovered that praying with my children has brought me great joy and consolation.
Praying the Rosary
In an effort to connect with my 5 children individually, I started something we call “Decade with Dad.” I isolate myself in a chair either on the front porch or my bedroom and each of my children pray a decade with me. They lead and before each “Hail Mary” they say a name of someone they would like to pray for. I was convicted when my 5 year old began praying for the people in our neighborhood like “the guy with the motorcycle” and “the sheriff” and “the boy with the long board” and “the couple that does not have any kids.” I realized that I had not really been praying for the people in my neighborhood. What has really made this time special is the conversations I have with my children after we pray that are usually inspired by their intercessions. For example, when my daughter prays for a classmate it allows me the opportunity to ask how her friendships are going at school. Finally, when we finish and they are about to go and tell one of their siblings it is their turn, I ask how I could be praying for them. This has surfaced some of their concerns that would likely not have surfaced with the question, “How are you doing?”
I could not have anticipated the blessing “Decade with Dad” has been for me. It not only allows me to teach my children to pray, but it also allows me to talk to Jesus with them, hear what is going on in their hearts, and affirm them in my love.
Have I helped my child(ren) develop a relationship with Christ?
What are some ways I can help develop my children’s prayer life?