Charisse Tierney explains the spiritual benefits of entrusting our children with beautiful, even fragile, things.
“To the youngest we give the best.”
This is a mantra I’ve heard multiple times in my work and training as a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist. This is not something I have always lived by. After all, 2-year-olds can’t handle eating off of glass plates, using professional quality paint brushes, and looking at a real Bible with its tissue-paper-thin pages, right?
But I’m learning that if we show our youngest respect by entrusting them with real, beautiful, and authentic materials, they will most often rise to the occasion. They eagerly watch us model how to use these special items and love embracing their ability to train their will to be just as careful with them as we are.
Of course, they will also need to learn how to safely clean up broken glass, wash their paint brushes, and repair a torn Bible page. But don’t I also have to do these things sometimes because of mistakes I have made?
When we give our children quality materials, we send the message that they are worth more than the most beautiful china dish or the most expensive paints. By giving the best to our youngest, we convey to them their great potential and their God-given gifts that are waiting to be revealed. A budding young artist cannot create great art with poor pigments. A rising musician cannot create beautiful sounds with instruments that are cheap imitations of the real thing. Manners are much easier to learn when surrounded by the dignity of a beautifully laid table.
Providing these materials for my youngest and teaching them how to use them sometimes takes more time and patience than I have. But I try to persist in taking the time. They want to be treated like the people they will become. When I show them respect in this way, our relationship grows and they are inspired to explore all of the other things they can do. They sense immediately that they aren’t a nuisance to be “dealt with”; they are a contributing member of our family and of society. They sense that they are capable of doing great things.
My 4-year-old was helping me plant flowers in our Mary Garden the other day. She watched me carefully remove a marigold from a six-pack and place it in the ground.
“Let me try!” she exclaimed, and I surrendered the delicate plants to her young fingers. “Mary will really like these flowers,” she said as she delighted in the responsibility of wielding a spade and setting the marigold in the flower bed.
It is in giving the best to our youngest that we enable them to give the best to others. And they delight the most in giving the best to our Blessed Mother and her son.
Start slowly with your youngest. Introduce a quality set of paints or a lovely dinner plate and build from there. The same little hands that hold these items will soon be holding Jesus Himself in the Eucharist. And hands that have delighted in carefully holding a beautiful china plate will teach the heart to reverently hold our Lord.
Copyright 2021 Charisse Tierney
Images copyright 2021 Charisse Tierney. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Charisse Tierney lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Rob and seven children. Charisse is a stay-at-home mom, musician, NFP teacher, and a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist. She is also a contributing author to The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion and Family Foundations magazine. Charisse blogs at Paving the Path to Purity and can be found on Facebook.