Raising Children, Pt 2

Feb 8, 2018

Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,

A couple weeks ago I wrote a letter about the importance of passing on our faith to our children. Any good and loving parent wants to teach their child/children about the important things in life. And part of that is to teach them from a young age the things that will keep them safe. “Don’t touch something hot.” “Don’t stick your finger in an electrical outlet.” “Bundle up when it’s cold outside.” “Look both ways before crossing a street.” “Put your cell phone down when driving.” And I hope faith would be included in those things we teach our children from an early age. And just as a good parent would not leave the rest of these things up to someone else, Catholic parents promise at their child’s baptism to be the first & best teachers of their children.

Let me tell you about two sets of Catholic parents who both were very good at teaching their children about their faith. They did all the usual things--made sure they went to Mass every Sunday and holy days, learned all their prayers, received all their Sacraments, Catholic education, etc., etc. While both families considered themselves blessed, one couple struggled at times, and the other one became very successful financially. The latter family gave large amounts to a number of charities and were very generous to anyone in need. The former, although they did not have a lot of money to contribute, gave freely of their time and talents. Even in their senior years they would take the bus to their parish and pick up trash around the property. Both couples were recognized as model Catholics and wonderful examples of discipleship.

What I wanted to share was the fact that while both couples did all they could do in raising their children to likewise be good Catholics, in general, the children chose different paths. After they passed, the children of the wealthier couple hired lawyers to stop all the charitable giving that their parents had initiated. Then when the other couple passed, and after their children paid all the remaining bills and funeral expenses, they took everything that was left and gave it to their parent’s parish. They included a note that said they had discussed what their parents would want and they knew they would want The Church to have it. While it was not a large sum of money, it is the sentiment that spoke volumes. While both sets of children grew up in similar circumstances, at least as far as their faith was concerned, when it came time to deal with what their parents had left them, they reacted in very different ways.

Some might ask, “What went wrong?” Just like so many parents who faithfully teach their children about practicing their faith, and then wonder how they failed when their children no longer go to Church. I don’t really have an answer to that question, but I think that regardless of how well your children end up practicing the faith, the important thing...the only thing you really have control of is to be those good & faithful teachers. Ultimately, we cannot control what other people do, even our own children, but we can control what we do. And while I cannot promise success if you are faithful teachers, I can pretty much assure you of failure if you are not. Children learn far more from what their parents do & say than from even the best of teachers. If you truly want your children to be good and faithful disciples, then the best advice I can give you is to be a role model for them. Do as you want them to do.

P.S. And by the way, if you are concerned about what your children do after you go on to glory, I highly recommend that you talk to them about what you want.  Because even if you set the best of examples, it never hurts to make it plain. Even though you might feel a bit uncomfortable, if you want certain readings read or songs sung, then let someone know. If you want to have a say in what happens to your estate, then put it in writing. Speak up now or forever hold your peace.

In the Redeemer,

Fr Rick