Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mother's Helper

In the comments on Mother's Guilt, we were discussing not having a manual or to-do list for raising our children. One of my highest priorities is to pass on my faith to my children, but I often wonder if I am prepared for this awesome task. PT is a natural skeptic, but I have found that reading this book, Catholic Truths for Our Children has really helped me to answer his questions, as well as to work matters of doctrine into conversation where appropriate. This is also a great supplement to the religious ed program we are using. Recently, we attended a wedding at an Episcopal church, and I was able to talk to the children more comfortably about why we don't genuflect in this church. Before reading this book, I was hoping that I could just keep my kids under my skirt for long enough and I would not have to answer the tough questions. The author makes the great case, however, of the future college roommate who may be an evangelical well versed in his faith and prepared to question every thing your child has believed. I saw so many young people leave the church because the evangelicals were, frankly, more bold in their faith and better prepared to explain it. We Catholics are the heirs of the one true Church of Jesus Christ and we need to arm ourselves and our children to bear witness to that truth, to defend our own faith and, when God calls, to share it with others.

Note: I am using what I am learning from this book to talk to my six year old, but I will continue to use it for his entire life, touching on different points in different ways as appropriate to his development. This book also gives lots of bible references, so it is particularly helpful in apologetics with our Protestant brothers and sisters.

5 comments:

B-Mama said...

Great reference, MA! I'm going to check it out... We can't start this type of teaching too early.

Bethany said...

I have two points to make regarding this particular topic.

First- the other day our oldest son (6 1/2) asked to attend a religious ed service that a friend of his across the street goes to a couple of nights a month. They belong to the Church of the Open Door, or something like that. I left the decision up to my husband, the theologian. He said it was okay and "The Boy" attended. We couldn't help but laugh, albeit nervously, at the questions that he was bound to come back with. This is the child who has said that "God doesn't exist because nobody can live in the clouds." He has also told me "You're not the boss, God is!" to which I calmly retort, "God put me in charge of you, for now."

He didn't, however, come home with any questions, really he didn't seem to care about it one way or another. Though my husband and I were a little miffed because he came home with a little pamphlet, with his "signature" saying "Today I accepted Jesus Christ and was Saved." Apparently parental knowledge of what they're asking the kids to do is not high on their priority list. We expected to have to explain this to him. But he never brought it up and went to Church last Sunday without any comment of the previous Wed. events. Good for him.

My second point is tooting my own horn a bit. After growing up in a agnostic family life and being exposed to many different religions via friends and other relatives, I converted to Catholicism in '99. Apparently, from what I have read and what my husband tells me, this is the opposite of most modern day Catholics who are searching outside their religion. I guess I felt the need to share this with you all, so you know that there are some people out there who are not fleeing from the faith, but rather fleeing to it. :)

Ken said...

I just ordered the linked book to go along with my growing collection. My eldest is 4 and we already talk to him about God a bunch, but we're always looking for ways to round out our children's formation.

I think Bethany makes the point better than I could with her example of her son being actively recruited to another Chistian church at only 6 (and don't think it was anything less than that). Converts such as Bethany and I have experienced what it is like to not be taught at a young age about this stuff. I know for me, that experience has made it incredibly important that I start young with my children and that I make it a part of their daily life to learn about God's revelation to us. I know what it was like to wonder that desert, particularly how easy it was to be deceived into false beliefs, and I pray daily that my children never have to do the same.

In today's society our children must be INCREDIBLY well armed in the Faith to be able to resist the pressures that are put on them to deny God and His Church. Additionally, they must be armed as young as possible because the attacks will start younger than we could imagine, as Bethany's example points out.

The worst part of it is that our parishes on average are not even doing their minimal part to help us parents. The responsibility has always been ours as parents, but it disappoints me to no end how little all of the parishes in my area (California valley) do in the way of formation beyond a nearly non-denominational "God loves you" even as a part of 1st Communion classes. There's a general aversion to teaching them any meaningful theology because they say "it's far more important that they feel God's love". While that is true, it's not NEARLY enough that all they ever feel is God's love and are effectively denied access to His devine revelation to us.

Sorry for the "rant" but it touched on a nerve. It really disappoints me as a father to see how poor the formation of most of the children in our parish is.

Right Said Red said...

MaryAlice,

What catechism book are you using with PT? Just curious.

Mary Alice said...

I am using the first grade book of the Faith and Life series. The book in itself is only sort of a spine, the teacher's manual has lots of good info, though, and points to further reading for the teacher, etc. I basically use the chapter each week to start a conversation. The work book is busy work like word searches, coloring, etc, we are not using that at all. I am thinking of using a more formal catechism for First communion prep, but I have to find out what is going to be required by my parish. Some parishes will not accept CCD done at home in the sacrament years, others require you to use the books that they are using.