As her children grew, Jennifer Thomas discovered that the best ways to nurture their faith are the little ways.
I definitely have a type-A personality. I'm one who likes and thrives on routine and follows rules. After having my own children and finding my way back to my Catholic faith, I found there was not really any type of guidebook for raising my children in the Catholic faith.
Sure, there is the catechesis but, in all honesty, I was unaware of its existence for the better part of my life. A lot of my faith came from prayer and the familiarity of prayer and having a routine, of sorts.
After having my own children, (similarly, to parenting), I was desperate for a manual of sorts. A guidebook. A “how-to.” Something to help guide me in instilling the Catholic faith in my children.
When my oldest was still an only child, I began saying a beloved bedtime prayer with her along with making the sign of the cross on her forehead as I told her goodnight. It was comforting and familiar.
When my oldest became a first-time big sister, I continued doing this. And it was comforting and familiar to her.
And after our third was born, the tradition had become the norm for us. Comforting and familiar.
As my children grew and some big life changes happened, I became almost obsessive about researching books and podcasts and websites to continue building the faith of my children. I wanted something beyond that rote bedtime prayer. But in my research, I became overwhelmed. There was just too much. Far more than I ever could have imagined existed.
It seemed like there were just too many choices. Too many opinions, curriculums, voices inside and outside. I needed to take a step back and regroup.
A few years later, I decided I wanted to give each of my children a little saint doll. After perusing the choices, it didn't take me long to decide which saint to gift each of my children. Each doll came with a little description of the saint. I seemed to be drawn to a particular saint for each of my children and, even though I had zero input on which one to pick for each of my children, something just felt right. I didn't have any outside opinions or voices trying to influence me in my decision. Except God's. Of course, I didn't realize it was His gentle nudge that guided me in choosing just the right one for my trio.
In the years since, my children have received a few more of these dolls, even a stuffed version of that first one. They call them their saint babies. And it seems quite fitting that there are occasions where "Baby St. Michael" engages in battles with some of the other stuffed toys my youngest has acquired over the years. Or that my middle son is quite gentle and loving with animals, similarly to “Baby St. Francis.” Or that my daughter has begun reading some of the Bible stories to her brothers in the morning as a little way to give mommy some extra time for sleep. Showing how much a little thing like reading to her younger brother shows God how much she loves him, like “Baby St. Thérèse.”
I'm slowly realizing that these little things I've been doing throughout the years are making a big impact on growing my children's faith. I don't need a guidebook or manual to tell me exactly how to do it. I just need to do it and allow my children to see me living my faith, even if it is in these little ways.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Thomas
Images: Canva; children in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe image copyright 2022 Jennifer Thomas, all rights reserved.
About the Author
As a Catholic wife and mom to three children, Jennifer earned her masters degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and recently reverted back to her Catholic faith. Jennifer is an avid stationery enthusiast who enjoys finding unique and beautiful stationery to send to her friends and family. She also enjoys researching ways to instill Catholic traditions within her family while finishing her first book.