Over the years people have asked, “How did you get all your kids to practice their faith?” I began by explaining how important it was for me to marry someone who was as committed to their faith as I was. My husband’s love for his faith was one of the most important things that attracted me to him in the first place.
I wanted the patriarch of our family to have a solid faith with inner strengths that the children could emulate. I wanted our children to have a strong connection with both of us and learn how to cope with life’s difficulties in a mature and faith based way. Even if momentarily side-tracked at least they’d have an anchor pulling them back to the right path. The important thing is to know which path is right.
Research has shown that religion gives people a strong sense of identity, links them with people who hold similar views and teaches many human and spiritual values. Religious discussions around our dinner table presented numerous opportunities to engage in moral and ethical debates and discuss matters of truth that would help them cope with life difficulties with insight, wisdom and maturity.
Having planted the seeds of faith in our children we had to keep watering and feeding to be sure those seeds took root. One of the ways I did this was to take the kids to Mass everyday. If they were well behaved we went to McDonalds and had hot cakes! We prayed the Rosary as a family every night. We taught them morning and night prayers and how to offer things up when things didn’t go their way. But more than anything else, I always asked Our Lady to wrap Her mantel around our children and protect them. I totally believe that Our Lady kept our family together through the good times and the bad no matter how many detours. What a wonderful Mother she is!
Our children have seen their father and me struggle to love God and accept whatever He and His Blessed Mother thought necessary to bring us closer to them. I often talk with our kids about my faith. I share my doubts, my desire to love and trust God more and that Heaven is our ultimate goal.
Sharing my faith with my children has opened up many opportunities to discuss and clarify aspects of faith and morals and has bonded us on many levels. Seeing me in action over the years helped them realize you don’t need to be anywhere near perfect to have a good relationship with God. The merit is in making a consistent effort.
Other questions I have been asked are:
Visuals are great. For example, having pictures of Our Lady or a crucifix in bedrooms and around the house has helped me raise my thoughts to God and include Him in my day. However, our homes do not need to look like churches! All we need is a glance, a smile and a short aspiration like “…please God give me some patience!”
Praying for others as we work is a way of keeping God in our day. For example;
- whenever I go up the staircase I ask for an increase in faith and when I go back down ask for humility.
- when I pass photos of the family I pray for an increase in our family’s faith, good marriages and vocations.
- when I see a child unstacking the dishwasher I’ll ask “Are you praying those souls out of Purgatory?” “See that plate you just took out, that was me suffering just waiting for that little prayer to push me up the line into Heaven!” Many lessons are learned through exercising a little humor!
Sometimes children assume faith comes easily to their parents when at times it doesn’t. For example, I was calling the children in for the Rosary one night when one of my teenage daughters said,
“It’s ok for you, you love saying the Rosary”. I corrected her and said, “No, in fact, more often than not it’s a struggle”.
Of course, there are times when you get those ‘good feelings’ but that’s not always the case. I find sharing my spiritual life with my children is a way to communicate not only my faith but my struggles to overcome my weaknesses.
In this way, I believe our children learnt that we are not perfect but constantly trying to improve in order to love God more and become better parents.