I felt so overwhelmed and frustrated with parenting because I thought I was responsible for the miracle, I thought my efforts alone would ensure the raising of good, Catholic children. I thought it was my job to produce educated citizens capable of serving their neighbor. But it’s not my job to do those things; it’s Jesus’ job.We need to let go, people. We cannot force our children to be anything. If God saw fit to give us free will, who are we to think we can somehow take free will from our children where faith is concerned? As Colleen says, “It is our job to show up with the necessary supplies and to be faithful.” That’s our responsibility, to be faithful. Now, to be honest, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hope and expect with our children, especially in regard to faith. It happens in many families. It’s that way in my family; right now, only one of our children is fully practicing Catholicism while the other wanders in and out. My husband and I pray, asking often for Mary, Undoer of Knots, to intercede. We are faithful and have been good, not perfect, examples to our children. That is what God asks of us and we need to remember that as we raise our children in the faith. Confession 4 “ I Don’t Like Watching my Children Suffer” was not easy to read for many reasons. First, as Colleen describes her problems with breastfeeding her son, I watched my daughter go through the same thing two months ago with her son. Different outcome, but I had to keep reading to know that. Second, though the book is open and honest throughout, this chapter hit me especially hard. In some ways, it helped me remember not to dismiss the blessings or trials in our life. It also reminded me to not give up hope and to stay focused on the goal and the plan as to how to get to the goal. We can’t control what happens to our children. As we do out best to provide and care for them, life moves forward and often it moves in ways we’d rather not have happen or would never have imagined. This can be in both negative and positive ways. All of us want the best for our children, but as Colleen says, “I don’t need to create a game plan for success for my kids because God already has that covered.” I think part of the paths life takes us that we’d rather not go down involves making peace with the situation, learning from it, and moving forward. I’ve never experienced serious health problems with my children, but I did with my husband. It has been a big adjustment and sometimes I’m reminded of what is gone because of the problems. But then I remember what I still have, my husband, and see how God is using him and how we are growing together. God gives us what we need to overcome difficult situations, be they health, finances, addictions, or whatever else life throws at us; we can hold onto that promise. Suffering is not fun or easy and the world tells us it is pointless. We know that’s not true; suffering helps to purify us and grow. So, while we don’t want to watch our children suffer, sometimes they have to. Of course, when the suffering is from sickness, disease or disability, we do all we can to help. But in doing all we can, remember that we can’t do it all and must call on God to guide us. To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- When you think about raising your children in the faith; do you spend more time worrying about it or passing on the truth, beauty, and goodness of Catholicism? What, if anything, needs to change in the way you transmit the faith?
- How have you been surprised or disappointed with your plans for your children?
- Do you see the difference between suffering that comes with life and is out of our control and the suffering created by choices and decisions made? How can we help our children learn that difference and learn that suffering cannot always be avoided?
Copyright 2018 Deanna Bartalini
About the Author
Deanna G. Bartalini, M.Ed.; M.P.A., is a certified spiritual director, writer, speaker and content creator. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com online community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through live, interactive faith studies. Her weekly Not Lukewarm Podcast gives you tips and tools to live out your faith in your daily life.