As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to cultivate our children’s faith and encourage them to become God-fearing, sensitive and responsible adults. Having a solid set of Catholic values and beliefs can go a long way in helping our child make the right choices in today’s increasingly complex world.
Here are some ways we can raise our children to be good Catholic citizens committed to their faith.
Nurture your child's prayer life
Prayer is a fundamental part of the Catholic faith. As a young child, do you remember being asked to memorize the Lord’s Prayer? Perhaps you had to recite it with your family or classmates. The simple act of prayer strengthens faith that God will always hear our deepest concerns.
To encourage your child to pray, set aside a few minutes every day to pray together. First of all, this establishes a comforting routine for your child and gives him a few precious moments for reflection. Secondly, it forms the basis for a life-long habit which will provide strength in times of need. A good time to pick can be just before bedtime or right before getting up for school.
Teach your child that praying is much more meaningful than memorizing or repeating lines.
It involves having an intimate conversation with God. Encourage your child to make his own prayer and find his own true connection with the Lord.
Read and meditate on the Bible together
The Bible is an important source of wisdom and nourishment for our spiritual lives. Introduce your child to this at an early age by reading a children’s Bible together. Children’s Bibles are usually written in simple language and filled with colorful images that illustrate Biblical stories. They are a wonderful way to encourage the joy of reading as well as an early understanding of the Word of God.
Make this a daily activity that you can do together. At the end of the reading, talk about the central message of the story and what lessons you can learn from it. Or just meditate for a few moments together to soak in all that you’ve read.
There are many tools such as study guides and devotionals that are available in Catholic shops as well as online sources that can help your child read and understand the Bible. As they grow older, encourage your children to love not just reading the stories, but also learning about the catechisms and finding practical applications for them in daily life.
Find inspiration in the lives of the Saints
The Catholic Saints are living examples of faith in action.
If you want to witness what it means to live out Christian values of humility, charity and faith, you can find inspiration in the lives and spiritual transformation of the Saints.
Their struggles and victories are deeply human and thus relate to our own journey as Christians.
There are many books and movies that illustrate the hardships they went through and, more importantly, how they were able to prevail.
Furthermore, Patron Saints might share virtues or causes like love for animals, courage and bravery that resonate deeply with your child.
When your children read and know more about the Saints, they are getting introduced to people they can actually relate to and therefore learn from. Your children will realize that the Saints are not supernatural beings but real people who worked hard to transcend their human struggles and become extraordinary. This will inspire them to grow stronger in their own walk of faith.
Not only are Saint stories a treasure trove of practical ways on how to practice Catholic virtues in the real world, but reading about Saints also teaches children about their contributions to the Church and how they helped shaped its history.
Be part of the Catholic Church
The Church is a sacred place to worship God and express our deepest love to him, and the Church community is made up of people who share the same faith and love for an all-knowing God. It is a community in which Catholics can grow together as one spiritual family.
Surrounding ourselves with caring people who share our values and belief system is important.
This is what allows us to develop a deeply steady foundation and consequently helps us stay steadfast even when in the midst of life’s adversities.
Very importantly, your child needs to be able to appreciate what it means to be part of the Catholic community. It is best to cultivate this sense of belonging at a young age. Make it a habit for your family to attend mass every Sunday. This simple practice will show your child that your whole family makes spiritual nourishment an important priority.
Are you helping your child become a good Catholic citizen?
Parents are blessed with the opportunity for raising children of character; entrusted with training them to be good Catholic citizens. There is no formula that will do the trick; rather, most of all, reflecting on the impact of actions as parents will help guide them better.
We should ask ourselves; are we leading by example? Are we using opportunities in our daily lives to offer gratitude for our blessings, and importantly, are we moving beyond the pursuit of material gains to enrich our spiritual connection with God ourselves?
Simply put; be the person you want your child to be; teach your children best by example.