Being a parent is not for the weak, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Likewise, handing down the Catholic faith to your children isn’t easy either. It takes courage, effort, and determination. Handing down the Catholic faith, like potty-training your children, is not something that simply happens on its own. Being good catechists to our children requires Catholic religious education resources--such as a Children's Bible, activity books, and other Catholic children's books--as well as time, patience, and most importantly, love. Here are some practical tips, in no particular order, that will hopefully help you pass down the Catholic Faith to your children.
- Don’t Do It Alone! – Handing down something as important, complex, and intricate as the Catholic faith is far too much for any one person to handle. This takes effort on everyone’s part. Remember, it has been said that it takes an entire community to raise a child. Getting your spouse, godparents, family, and friends involved in large and small ways in your child's religious education makes your burden lighter and your child will benefit as well. This will allow your child to see how important the Christian faith is to all sorts of people in their lives, and they will learn something different from everyone. Maybe this could include Bible story time with a Catholic Children’s Bible and a godparent, or play time with Catholic activity books and a grandparent. There are all kinds of creative yet simple ways to use Catholic children's books to get others involved in your child's religious education.
- Take Your Time – It is very easy to rush and try to cram Catholicism down our kids throats, especially if we are trying to make up for lost time. But we have to resist this urge and take it slowly. This is more natural and things are more likely to be absorbed by your child this way. Don't worry if your kids don’t know or understand as much of the Children's Bible as the Jones’ kids. Your children will get there in time, at the pace that's right for them, as long as you make the effort and are teaching them on their level. This leads me to my next tip.
- Teach Your Children At Their Level – This might seem obvious, but I think that many parents easily overlook this. There comes a point when the Children’s Bible has served its purpose and The Mass Explained book has run its course. Does this mean that your role as a catechist is over? No, of course not. It simply means that you need to move to the next level in your child's religious education with new material and new relevant ways to teach them the Catholic faith. As your children age they will need a new age-appropriate Catholic Catechism, Catholic Bible, and Catholic Children’s books. These will help your child learn to think about things they already are familiar with in new ways and help them to grow deeper in their faith. Staying current with your children in this way is one of the most important things that you can do for them and their growing capacity for faith.
My biggest suggestion is to avoid leaving your child’s Catholic religious education entirely to someone else. As their parent, you are ultimately responsible for raising them in the Catholic faith. Nine times out of ten, the parents should provide the primary catechesis with others holding supporting roles (as mentioned above). Never lose sight of this. Remember that many Catholic education resources are out there to help you with Catholic religious education throughout your child’s life. What tips do you think should be included on this list?
Copyright 2012 Kathleen Wellman
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