The other day I was working
at my computer when things
in my house got quiet...too
quiet. With three kids, the lack
of noise usually means trouble. So I
quickly set out to discover what was up.
I found the older two, Maddie and
Alex, watching a movie in the family
room. Their three-year-old sister, Riley,
was in her room on the floor surrounded
by all of her plastic animals.
Right in the center of the animals stood
a tall figure. I leaned in the doorway to
get a better look and realized that it
was none other than St. Francis.
Apparently, Riley had managed to
retrieve her St. Francis statue from the
top of her dresser—I’m not sure I want
to know how—and had plunked him
down amidst her animal friends. Right
where he should be, I thought.
Intrigued, I stood quietly in the doorway
watching and listening. I was tickled
to hear her role-play St. Francis talking
to the animals. It was one of those
parental moments when you rejoice
that what you’re teaching your children
is actually sinking in. We had
always talked about St. Francis and his love for creation and all animals, but I
wasn’t sure if it ever really hit home.
Everyday Life Situations
My husband, Mark, and I have tried
to make sure that our kids are well educated
in their Catholic faith and how it
relates to their lives. Often, it’s not until
a certain issue, such as divorce, touches
their lives that they stop, take notice
and start asking questions.
And, unfortunately, sometimes those
encounters between faith and life are
not as simple as Riley’s. You can open
the newspaper, go on the Internet or
turn on the TV and realize that. Our
lives are constantly inundated with
issues that confront and challenge our
faith. In the past year alone, Mark and
I have had to address the topics of
lying, cheating, stealing, racism,
divorce, abortion and homosexuality
with one, if not all, of our children.
The older our children grow, the harder
the issues will become and the more
they will look to their parents and
grandparents for honest, thoughtful
answers. Here are some helpful suggestions
to keep the conversations
Talk, talk, talk. As most parents know,
kids are not likely just to open up about
things without being prodded a bit,
especially as they grow older. Try to
keep the conversations going so that
you have opportunities to turn everyday
events into potential teaching moments.
Trust your instincts. You know your
children best, and what they are ready
to handle. Try to gear discussions to
their age and maturity level.
Listen. Make sure your conversations
are two-way streets. While you can offer
your perspective, ultimately your children
will form their own opinions. Listen
to what your child has to say. You
might learn something yourself.
Offer praise. When you see your
kids applying their faith to everyday situations
in a positive way, let them
know you’re proud of them. Positive
reinforcement can go a long way in
encouraging children to repeat good
Lean on others. No parent has all the
answers—as much as we’d like our kids
to think we do. If you find yourself
faced with a topic that you don’t feel
comfortable addressing, promise to get
back to them and then ask for help.
For instance, if you’re not clear on the
Church’s position on a certain issue,
such as divorce and remarriage, ask your
parish priest. Not only are you educating
yourself, but then you can also
decide the best way to convey that
information to your child.