There are plenty of ways to foster faith in youth.
When Mary Clare Murray’s 8-year-old daughter came home with questions about why Catholics worship statues, Murray gave a simple explanation. Catholics don’t worship statues, said the mother of six from St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean, Virginia. Statues and pictures help us focus our minds to pray.
The question originated in a playground conversation between her daughter, who attends public school, and a classmate. Her daughter shared the explanation with her friend.
Are you teaching your kids that having fun means buying things?
Samantha, an executive for a Fortune 100 company and mother of two, loves to shop. While her job requires her to be nicely dressed, Samantha admits that she also often uses shopping as recreation. She brings her children shopping with her, and as a reward for waiting patiently while she tries on clothes and looks at jewelry, she’ll buy them a new toy, gadget, or outfit.
Give your kids the words they need to become good communicators.
I know I’m not supposed to play favorites with parts of the Mass, but I do. I most look forward to the homily, and a good one will stick with me for a week or more. Too often I regard the first reading, psalm response, and various beautiful prayers as transitional parts of the Mass that propel me toward my favorite parts.
Most Sundays if you would ask me what the psalm was, I’d probably stare at you blankly. But on a recent Sunday, Psalm 137 leapt out at me: “Let my tongue be silent, O Lord, my God, if I should ever forget about you.”
It is not in spite but because of life's disappointments that we must foster children's spiritual imaginations.
Recently a friend of mine posted in a Facebook group for moms that she was concerned about her son who was expressing a sincere love of God, a response which pained her. “I wish I could just enjoy it and not feel this weird sadness about it,” she said.
I briefly considered a joke: “This is very on-brand for you.” My friend, for as long as I’ve known her, has wrestled with how to talk to her kids about matters of faith. I wouldn’t call her a cynic, because it’s her awareness of how good the world can and should be that makes the awareness of the negative so troubling.
We cannot lead our children toward peace if we ourselves are feeling unsettled.
Beth, a mother of four ages 5 to 12, admits that her children may see her as June Cleaver. “I don’t know that they’ve ever seen me in my pajamas in the morning,” Beth says. “By the time they get up, I’m showered and dressed with my makeup on.” Far from being an aspiring 1950s housewife, however, Beth explains that getting up an hour before her children is something she does for herself—not her kids.
“Once they get up, my life is crazy,” she says. “Taking the time in the quiet, before that first kid wakes up, gives me the peace I need to start the day.”
It’s easy to love our children when they are being sweet. But what about when they act particularly rotten?
This morning Liam, our 10-year-old, was upset because I wouldn’t let him eat Cocoa Krispies for breakfast. Despite a long-standing rule that sugared cereal is for weekends only, Liam thought this should be the morning that I made an exception. I said no.
Liam, overtired from staying up past his bedtime the night before, was soon a wailing mess on the couch. I held my ground and went about my morning routine matter-of-factly, deciding that ignoring Liam was the strategy that made the most sense.
A letter from writer Brian Doyle to his son.
Don’t eat that! Do ask questions. Do not use that tone of voice with me, young man. Do pick up the wet towel from the floor and hang it either on the closet door or on the back of your bedroom door or in the bathroom as you have been asked to do since the beginning of recorded history.
To learn prayers by heart is to ensure they are there when you need God the most.
I could hardly believe it when I found myself reciting the Hail Mary as I was quickly wheeled into the operating room for an emergency C-section this past January. While the predominant emotions of the final moments leading up to my daughter’s birth were fear (“Will my baby be OK?”) and disappointment (“This isn’t going as I hoped it would.”), I also remember surprise that this particular prayer surfaced to my consciousness. Before the surgery, it had been years since I had prayed to Mary.
Despite having a bad rap, social media can create a rich faith community and deeper spiritual life.
One bright morning in December, I broke my usual Sunday fast from technology to scroll through Instagram. My kids were dressed and the diaper bag was packed, so I had a few minutes before Mass to slump down on the couch overlooking our bay window and watch the snow on our lawn begin to melt due to the balmy 43-degree temperature in Fort Wayne.
Every day is different in homes with young children, and so can be the prayer.
When our oldest daughter started kindergarten, we replaced previously lazy mornings with a chaotic new routine of rigid uniforms, rushed breakfast, and wrestling kids into the car. Once we got the hang of it, I began to appreciate starting the day with a quiet drive—everyone together and safely contained in car seats. One day, halfway to school, I eagerly announced, “Let’s say a Hail Mary.”
My daughter met my eyes in the rearview mirror with a glare perfected at an early age—a learned behavior modeled by me, unfortunately. “We pray all day at school, Mommy,” she whined.