Maybe It's Not Just About the Kids - Becoming a Catholic Parent

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What does it mean to raise Catholic kids? I think it has more to do with forming Catholic parents first.

You know the saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? This is a part of parenting in which that is especially true - and also one where many are tempted to pretend it is not true. The reality is we can do x, y, z as perfect Catholic parents, but there is still no guarantee that we will get Catholic adults out of our kids.

There is no magic bullet for success in this challenge, however there is hope.

The best thing you can do to raise Catholic kids is to give them a Catholic parent serious about their own formation.

Your personal decision to take the charge of raising your children Catholic seriously is something you CAN guarantee. Here are three reminders that have been helpful to me in gaining perspective for teaching the faith to my own kids.

Treat teaching the faith like the J-O-B it is

If you were married in the Church, even if you are the sole Catholic spouse, you vowed to take on responsibility for raising your children Catholic. In that moment you gained a new job for life.

What would you need to do to do a good job at work? Show up, do what you say you will, make priorities, consult with coworkers, and adapt to changing circumstances. These are the basics of doing a good job. How could we expect our job of teaching the faith to require any less?

Just like in the workplace, not every endeavor, project, or attempt will be successful. That does not mean I'm failing at ALL THE THINGS. It just means I need to try something different.

For me this looks like:
Making sure the kids come to mass with me as much as possible.
Finding a way to go to the church at least one non-Sunday mass a week. That could be for a parish event, adoration, daily mass, or even just a pop into the church to say hi to Jesus.
Make my own faith formation commitments.
Seek out connection with others in the Catholic community, and feed those friendships.
Accept that life events happen, but those should mean a temporary change not a long term slide.

Know that I am not superwoman

There are many Church documents making it clear that Catholic parents are the primary educators of their children, but I have to be careful not to read "primary" as "only". The Church is not asking me to somehow form Catholic children on a deserted island. She has given me a husband, a parish, Catholic friends, godparents, and the larger Catholic community.

For me this looks like:
Taking advantage of any children's faith formation my parish offers.
Involving my husband in his own special way for the kid's faith formation. My husband likes to do Bible reading with the kids so that is a special thing they do with Dad.
Calling up, texting, or emailing trusted friends or family when I'm frustrated or need perspective.
Making sure the kids stay connected with their Catholic godparents.
Continue to reach out to other families and not settle into a clique.

Remember these kids are not just mine

My children are not mine to keep. They are beautiful souls entrusted to us for a time, but they are meant to become part of the bigger Church.
This concept is such a relief to me! It means that I do not need to mother hen them for the rest of their lives.
It also reminds me that my children ultimately have to choose to continue the faith as adults.
Faith formation is really about giving them as much of a foundation as we can so when the time comes to make their choice they are able to make a fully informed choice.

For me this looks like:
Praying for my children as individuals.
Praying for their future vocations and potential spouse.
Aiming to convey love and truth, not fear and anxiety.

Go over to the CWBN Blog Hop to read more takes on "Keeping our kids Catholic".

Do you do any of these things? What made a difference for you to stay Catholic?


  1. You make such a valid, great point! We can only control ourselves, and our contribution. So, to be responsible (and, since parents are called to "responsible parenthood" in the Catechism), we need to ensure we are doing our part in being up to speed on knowing, living, and transmitting the Faith.

    Thanks for your insight!

    1. I figure if God can respect our free will, while still insisting that we form our consciences properly in order to make full use of that free will, than I should at least parent like that!

  2. "The best thing you can do to raise Catholic kids is to give them a Catholic parent serious about their own formation."! Indeed! Lovely post! It is great to feel in tune with so many great Catholic parents around the world! Keep up with the good work.

    1. This hop is really fun just to read everyone's take from different places!

  3. I love this, Kirby! So beautiful, and such great reminders. I think you hit it spot-on. :)

  4. Primary does not equal only. What a great perspective! It's awesome that you see reaching out to other families in your parish and community as part of raising your kids in the faith. I've never thought about that before, but it makes total sense.


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