Charisse Tierney maintains that every little prayer, celebration, and decision matter as parents set the tone and example for their family's faith.
My 14-year-old son and I were reading about cloning in his science book, DNA Detective. “[Scientists] hope to one day copy the cells of parents, so couples who can’t have children naturally can have their own (genetically identical) kids.”
My son instinctively blurted out, “I don’t like that.” When I asked him why he didn’t like it, he said, “It just makes it seem like a kid is something you buy.”
This was the first time we had ever had a conversation about this specific topic. My son had read the book on his own, and we were simply reviewing and discussing his school work as we do every day. I could have easily read that part of his book to him and launched into a speech about morality, but he explained it better and more succinctly than I would have.
My son drew that conclusion for himself. We didn’t have a big discussion about the ethics of cloning before he read it. And because he drew that conclusion for himself, it became a part of his personal code of ethics.
Sometimes it seems like our efforts to form our children’s consciences bear no fruit. Talking to our teenagers can seem like talking to a brick wall, and even if we do get a response from them, hearing the stream of consciousness from someone who is still learning about the faith can be a little distressing.
They’re trying to figure it out. But they’re trying to figure it out under our roof and within the framework of our family culture.
They hear us. They see us. They experience the faith with us. And they are shaped by that.
I have to believe that because we always attend Mass as a family, my son has heard countless homilies on the sacredness of life over the years. Because we pray together daily as a family, my son is learning to tune in to the voice of God. Because my husband and I have been faithful to the practice of natural family planning and open to God’s plan for our family, my son has learned that children are gifts. We still celebrate the heavenly birthday of the baby we lost to miscarriage -- and my children understand what it means to accept God’s plan even during times of great sadness and loss. It’s not surprising, then, that my son would come to the right conclusion regarding other issues surrounding the creation of new life.
Every little prayer, every little celebration, every little decision -- whether it’s to stop a moment to refill a font with holy water, or to persevere through a family Rosary even with a 2-year-old screaming in the background -- all of it matters. It all comes together to create a foundation that our kids can build upon.
It’s hard sometimes, but don’t give up. The faithful family culture is a vessel for the Holy Spirit. When our children bask in His holy presence, they can’t help but be inspired to draw faithful conclusions for themselves.
Copyright 2021 Charisse Tierney
Images (top to bottom): Copyright 2015 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved; 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 in training. 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.