Maria Riley shares six tips for making Family Faith Formation work for your family this year.
Many parishes across the country have transitioned to a family-based formation program for their catechesis. The truth is that we are finding that the traditional classroom-based catechesis is not having the lasting impact that we all hope and pray it is having on our kids. True faith formation will happen when our faith is being lived day in and day out, not just while we sit at mass for an hour each week.
I believe in family faith formation. I want to have a family that lives our faith, and I know that I am responsible for that. I want all of us to grow closer to Christ, but there always seem to be too many obstacles in my everyday life. Do you have an active, busy family with kids going in multiple different directions after school? Do you love our faith, but realize that you’re not an expert and not sure if you’re qualified to be their teacher? Are you feeling overwhelmed by adding one more thing to your plate?
If so, keep reading for some practical suggestions for how to make family faith formation work for you. Even if your parish isn’t doing family faith formation or if your children receive their religious catechesis in school, it is imperative that we as parents make time to talk about and experience our faith at home on a very regular basis. I believe that one of our ultimate duties as parents is to help guide our families toward heaven. It sometimes seems like a monumental task, but remember that God does not expect perfection, just a sincere heart and honest effort.
If you are struggling to incorporate faith formation into your family life, here are a few tips and ideas to help you be successful.
- Put it on your calendar. Just because the lessons can be completed anytime doesn’t mean you should leave that time up to chance. Schedule it every week, and stick to your schedule. Treat it like piano lessons or soccer practice: it's something that you attend, on time, every week.
- Prepare. Take some time to pray and familiarize yourself with the lesson for the week, and prepare supplies as necessary. This will give you time to look up any answers you need and set yourself up for success. All teachers spend time preparing for a lesson, and family faith formation is no exception.
- Have fun! Our kids can tell when we’re enjoying something and when we’re not. Look forward to this time and find ways to make it fun for your family. I like to give my kids an M&M for correct answers or participation. We sing and dance to a favorite praise song as part of our time. Find ways to laugh together and make it enjoyable.
- Live our faith all day every day. The lessons we teach our kids do not end when we close our workbooks. My children have seen me, more than once or twice, turn to God in prayer after I have lost my temper. I pray out loud so they can hear my words as I ask God both for forgiveness for my anger and for His help with patience in the future. You can listen to Catholic podcasts for kids in the car, pray a decade of the Rosary while waiting at the doctor’s office, or give thanks to God for all the beautiful things He has made while on a family bike ride.
- Ask for help. Reach out to your parish coordinator or faith formation team if you feel overwhelmed or are struggling. At our parish, we have encouraged families to team up if they want to have a social component for their kids as well as support in preparing the activities. You are not expected to know everything or be an expert.
- Give yourself grace. If this is a new program and schedule for your family, expect there to be some growing pains. Have patience with yourself if things don’t always go according to plan or if the kids are resisting this new format. Family vacations, out-of-town guests, and sickness will interfere with your planning. Take time to pray and ask for guidance, and keep focused on progress, not perfection.
Copyright 2022 Maria Riley
About the Author
Maria Riley is a passionate Catholic writer and editor who loves volunteering when she’s not writing or mom-ing. Maria is the author of a new Catholic children’s chapter book series: Adventures with the Saints (releasing Fall 2022). Visit her at MariaRileyAuthor.com or on social media @mariarileyauthor.