“Your kids rock!” A friend of mine told me the other day, and she was right…they do rock. They’re phenomenal children and more importantly, they’re really nice people. I don’t think I’ve had a lot to do with that, it’s more in spite of me than because of my handiwork. These children are the direct result of a lot of prayer.
There’s something about having 7 children which seems to fool people into thinking that I’ve got this parenting thing at least part of the way figured out. I know the truth. I’m just beginning to scratch the surface on parenting knowledge and am just smart enough to get out of God’s way.
Along the way, I have picked up a trick or two for raising children who love God and strive for sainthood, in spite of the parents He somehow decided to give them. (You can feel sorry for them. It’s okay with me.)
- We pray for them all the time.
- We pray with them at least 4 times a day. (It seems like a lot, but it’s every meal and bed time.)
- We always pray over meals, even when we eat out. I think it’s important to teach them that faith isn’t something we only do in our homes when no one else is looking, so we bow our heads and ignore the other people. There’s no need to be a dinner show, but there is a need to say Grace.
- We go to Mass every week as a family. There’s no way out of it unless someone’s puking. Do they complain? Sometimes. Do we listen? Just long enough to tell them it’s Mass or Confession, which would they rather do? They never pick Confession.
- We discuss sin with them so that they have a good understanding of what it means.
- We discuss Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. They know where they’d like to end up and that they can’t get there on their own.
- We take them to Confession, especially when we know they need it. I’ve been known to call the priest and drag a boy in to see him in the middle of the afternoon. (It’s always the boys for some reason.)
- They know we don’t like to go to Confession but that we go anyway. (There’s a power in their seeing that it’s not easy for us either. I didn’t know how important it was until my son cried in my arms because it was hard for him and seemed so easy for everyone else. When I told him that I had the same struggle, he stopped crying and didn’t feel so alone.)
- We tell them that they’re not alone.
- I encourage my children to ask me to pray for them when they need it, and I often ask them to pray for me. It shows them that we all need a little help and that even as small as they are, there is something they can do.
- We talk about God. They have questions and we discuss. Kids ask great questions. My favorite nun ever, Sr Philomena, said “You can’t ever truly believe something you haven’t questioned.” That’s why I encourage questions.
- I admit that I don’t know all the answers and let them see me search for them. I want them to know the Bible and the Catechism as being sources of Truth rather than as books on the shelf.
- I tell them stories about the saints ( they like the bloody ones, the sickos), and they tell them to me. There’s nothing better then when they discover someone I don’t yet know. (Like my daughter’s Confirmation saint, St Marciana of Mauritania.)
- I teach them to offer their suffering up to God, to unite it with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Then I remind them to do so…..often. (What? You didn’t want to clean your room? Offer it up and get up there!)
- We help them pick good friends. I can’t stress enough how important that is. Children learn about the world from their parents and hear about it from their friends. Their friends can be a help or a temptation, so talk to them about the qualities that make a good friend. If they pick a bad one, make it easy for them to walk away when they’re ready.
- Supervise!!!!! I firmly believe in trusting my children. I believe even more in not tempting them beyond their power to resist. If there’s the possibility of my popping in at any moment they are much less likely to do something wrong.
- Read the Bible with them. It is the Word of God. They need to hear it.
- Hang up a few pictures, put a statue or two on your shelf. We put pictures of Grandma on the shelf so that the little kids are familiar with her and know who she is and because we love her and like to think of her. It’s the same thing with pictures of Jesus and Mary. I want my children to know them as real people and not just characters in a story they hear, and I love them and like to have their pictures around.
- We love them.
Most of all, we realized a few years back that the relationship we have with them should mirror the relationship we want them to have with God. If they learn that they can’t trust us or rely on us, how can we hope that they will have a trusting relationship with their Heavenly Father? We love them madly, the whole motley crew of them. They know it. They know that we would give our very lives for them, which makes it so much easier for them to believe that their Savior did.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Rebecca-Frech.png[/author_image] [author_info]Rebecca Frech is a Cradle Catholic who came back to the Church in 2000, and thanks God for it every day. She lives just outside Dallas with the brilliant Computer Guy, their 7 not-quite-perfect children, and an ever-multiplying family of dust bunnies. When she’s not teaching math, neglecting housework, or reluctantly training for a marathon, she’s blogging at Shoved to Them.[/author_info] [/author]