Lorelei Savaryn considers the importance of honestly and accurately answering our kids' questions, even when the topics are difficult.
As a mom to four and middle-school teacher, I have ample opportunity to hear firsthand the wonderful questions kids come up with about all sorts of things.
“Mom, why is the moon in the sky in the morning?”
“Why does the snow on the road melt first?”
“It’s been 2,000 years; is Jesus ever coming back?”
Some questions are easier to answer than others, that’s for certain. And sometimes more questions come my way in a short period of time than I have the energy to answer. But my heart has been drawn, in particular, toward paying close attention the questions of faith that these young ones ask, and to realizing how important it is that we find a way to make sure they know that there’s a good answer.
Each child will be different in terms of when they will be ready for deeper answers about God, our faith, and moral living. As caretakers of these souls, I think it is important that we pay attention and that we are prepared when that time comes.
For example, if our kids grow up never hearing the “why” behind a particular Church teaching, then they are at risk of someday not thinking that a why exists, and of placing certain beliefs or teachings into the box called “outdated” or “irrelevant to my life.” Of course, there is no guarantee that our kids will embrace our faith their whole lives long, I wonder, and I hope, that if we are prepared to enter into intentional dialogue with our kids, on an ongoing basis about these things, that they might be less likely to place certain pieces of our faith in those boxes as the years go on.
In theory, it makes sense. In practice, it can be tricky on a number of levels. Sometimes that’s going to mean having conversations about things that are difficult to have conversations about. Much of our faith is concrete and even touchable, like in the sacraments. But much of our faith is shrouded in mystery as well. Our Church asserts many things about moral living that do not fit comfortably in the world we live in today.
I’ve been trying to learn to not shy away, even when the topic feels like a lot to navigate. And the main thing that has encouraged me on my way is the fact that I love this faith. I trust this faith. And, because of that, I trust that what the Church teaches me is good for me, and is the best way for me to live the life I was meant to and to be of service to the world.
And the truth is, there are reasons, relevant reasons, deep reasons sorted out by brilliant minds for millennia as to why we believe each and every thing that we do as Catholics. Those reasons are beautiful. And, even though it can be tricky, our children deserve the opportunity to learn about that beauty. So when they go off on their own, they might choose to carry it with them and embrace it too.
Sometimes it can also be difficult to wade into waters that we don’t feel we understand well ourselves. For that, perhaps we can undertake some catechesis in the lingering areas of confusion, on our own, or even with our children.
Some great resources for ongoing Catechesis, including programming that digs into the why behind some of the Church teachings that many find challenging in our world today, can be found in these and other places:
Formed.org: a video streaming platform available online and through many parishes across the country.
The Catechism in a Year Podcast: Hosted by Father Mike Schmitz, he reads through the catechism in a year and offers reflections each day to go with it.
The Hallow App: An app with some free elements, and others available via premium subscription, this app offers many recordings and meditations to help people grow in their faith.
Theology of the Body for Beginners: A framework for viewing the world through an authentically Catholic lens, that allows us to establish the why behind many of the Church’s teaching that feel at odds with the morality of our world today.
Copyright 2023 Lorelei Savaryn
About the Author
Lorelei Savaryn joyfully joined the Catholic Church in 2016 after many years as a Protestant. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, four children, and dog named Saint. She writes about her faith and family life on ThisCatholicFamily.com. She is also a children's author. Her debut novel, The Circus of Stolen Dreams, released in Sept 2020 from Penguin Random House/Philomel.