Parents



confessionAll too often religious education programs help prepare children for their First Reconciliation but struggle to assist the parents in preparing their children.  They, after all, are the primary educators or might I say     “prepare-rs”.  This year I really wanted to look at our First Reconciliation parent meeting in a different way.  I wanted to touch parents lives so that in return they would be able to impact their children.  I found a very powerful video and showed it (outline below).  I didn’t want the meeting to just be me or someone talking up front, but since all these parents are part of our church family I wanted them to grow together and share their lives together. That is why I then had them interact at tables with small group discussion questions.  Below I have additional details regarding what I did but first and foremost it was about touching the hearts of the parents because if we can engage their hearts and minds it will naturally overflow onto their children.  I was grateful to hear that it was well received and parents were in fact touched by what they experienced.

 

I opened with a prayer and then went right into this video:

Forgiveness Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9J6xOT3Ldw

Then I had parents answer some questions about the video and about how theyprodigal Sonpic
have taught their kids about forgiveness and hope to prepare them as they
prepare their child for their First Reconciliation.

Following the small group discussions our Pastor spoke for about 5 minutes encouraging parents and then I showed the following video:

Sacrament of Reconciliation Explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtbpOERgMvk

Afterwards, I shared a few thoughts and went into some specifics from a folder of material we give about helping their children prepare for their First Reconciliation.

I ran out of time but I wanted to then share this video:

Beautiful Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls
picturegirl

 

 

What do you do to impact the parents at meetings like this?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Here are 5 ways to encourage parents to contribute to making their child’s Faith Formation most impactful:

parent working with child

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Parents are first – You are the first and primary educators of the faith to your children. How are you helping them, as Pope Francis says, “meet Jesus”?  How are they growing in “grace and wisdom” (Lk. 2:52) during the years you have them under your roof? Do your children see you taking time to pray & grow in your faith? The habits and attitudes you model are the most important ones in your child’s life and make the most impact. Your words & actions speak to what your kids see as most important to you.

 

  1. Attitude – Your attitude can make a world of difference to your child(ren). Weekly class attendance, family discussions about what was covered in class and general attitudes on going to Mass, praying together and involvement in the parish have an effect on your child.

 

  1. Faithfulness – God desires to reveal Himself to us because He loves each one of us so very much. Through weekly attendance in our School of Religion Program you are witnessing your faithfulness to the promise you made at your child’s baptism: to raise them in the faith and assist them in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to help your kids get to heaven – this is the most important thing you can do as parents.

 

  1. Prioritize – When your child sees (even when she/he doesn’t always like it) that you put weekly faith formation as a top priority they become aware by your example how important faith is to you as parents. Your actions and choices speak volumes!

 

  1. The power of praying parents – Pray daily for holiness in your family and for the spiritual needs of your parish community. Put your trust completely in God, our heavenly Father, who will hear you and do what is best for you.  After praying and seeking God’s intercession for a specific intention which was answered, St. Faustina said: “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God”(Diary 202).

What tips do you have?  Please share!


parents1Almost no one disagrees that we need to help parents pass on the faith but the perennial question is “How” to do that and “How” to equip parents.  Some might say that we need to drop our children’s catechesis programs and only have adult faith formation program, after all adult catechesis is the “chief form of catechesis”. Although this is true, it would seem that a more practical approach is to have both at the parish.  So how do we not only keep parents “in the loop” on what we are doing in our programs but also help them pass on the faith to their children?  I offer thee suggestions:

1) Pray, Pray, Pray for them to open their hearts.  Parents often are so busy doing good things for their kids, but too often the “One thing necessary” gets less attention.  Only the Holy Spirit can give parents the eyes and ears they need to see just how important their child’s faith formation is to their child’s development as a person.

2) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.  Make them aware of what their child is learning about and how they can be involved in the learning.

3) Empower, Empower, Empower.  Find ways to educate the parents.  Offer workshops, enrichment sessions, provide articles and resources for them to be able to grow in their knowledge and love for the faith.

What are you doing to “keep parents in the loop”?  Please share ways you inform and involve parents in the faith formation of their children.


busy-family1Husband: Honey, I have to work later than usual tonight and Thursday night so you are going to have to find a way to get Joseph and Abbey to their commitments on those days.  I don’t know is Susan has anything but check with her and see.

Wife: Honey, I also need work late on Thursday, so who can we ask to help get our kids to their commitments?  I also have something I committed to on Saturday so you are going to need to get the kids to their events and figure out meals for them.

Kid #1: My friend is going to church and learning about God why don’t we do that?

Dad: Because we have so much going on we are not able to do that right now.  You’ve committed to this team and you need to take responsibility and be committed to your teammates and not let them down.  God understands that we are busy and that we love Him.

Kid #2: Mom, can I go to the middle school youth program every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 – they have lots of great things going on and my friends are really excited about hanging out at church?

Mom: That sounds great, but I have to get your brother to his practice and then run to the store to pick up groceries for the week.  Maybe if we don’t have anything next week we can do it.

Kid #3: Mom and Dad when are we going to go out for Pizza like you promised?

Mom: Your Dad and I will look to see when we can do that, but probably not this week because there is a lot going on.

Kid #1 &3: But that is what you said last week.

Chaos, I tell you, Chaos

Our world is spinning at such a fast pace and well intentioned parents (myself included) say yes to doing x, y and z.  It’s mostly for my kids or for my work or for an organization I help out at.  With all the well intentioned committments parents make where is the time for God, for Religious Education, for family time and for quiet?  If you ask me it seems that the devil is pretty happy right now about the state of our busy lives.  We are so busy doing “good things” that we don’t have much time for God, much time for one another, much time for silence and prayer, much time to clear our minds so that we can make sure what we want most is happening – to get our family to heaven and to do it according to how God wants us to do it.

Challenge #1challenge

Ok, Ok, I know what your thinking: I bet I could list 20 challenges and you are beginning with #1.  Challenge #1 is key: Do you have a clear picture about what is most important and how we can accomplish this with our family?  Usually the answer is no.  Families often jump into the rat race becuase they want the best for their kids, they want to provide for their family and they want their kids to be involved.  However, what ends up happing is that at the end of the day or more specifically the end of the year, or “the years” will we see the fruit of all we did or will we wished we’d spent a little more time and energy on other things – time with our kids, time growing in our faith, time with our spouse?

I have never heard someone say: I wish I would have spent more time on the practice field, more time at work making a little more money, more time watching the football game or “The View”.  You know where I am going with this.

Challenge #2

The World…  It has sold us a bill of false goods.  Our friends, extended family, surrounding influences are encouraging us to get our kids involved, that we are building character in our kids through all these activities, that working more at work will help us provide well for our families and numerous other commitments often don’t lead us to the place we hope to arrive at.  The problem is we don’t know how to begin again, or change direction.

Solution #1

Not so fast.  The solution is not singular yet it is simple.  One of the most important steps is to take time to consider what is most important for your family.  And doing this with the lens of faith.  After all we have been created for a purpose: To know, love and serve God here on earth so we can be happy with Him forever in Heaven.solution

Solution #2

When we look back on our lives will we see the decisions we made as intentionally helping our spouse and our children not merely be a “good person” that is well respected in society, but will they be a person who desire to live for the glory of God and to serve as Christ would serve?

My friend Ryan, speaks about his intense involvement in middle and high school and how he was told that it built character and all the other things that justify the intensity of his involvement.  As a parent he now says what it didn’t build character as much as “bring his character out”.  He shares now how important family time is and how important helping your kids development academically.  He will have his kids be involved in sports but is clear about how it is not as important as God, family and or academics.   I would add helping kids interact with adults properly and have proper etiquette makes them much more successful and happy than the busyness of their childhood and not getting to see Mom and Dad enough because they were so busy “doing good things”.  Also, Mom and Dad were so busy that they put aside the “best things” — faith and family until later and when later came it was too late.

Helping Families

How do we help families discover what is most important or put another way how do we help families realize that having their kids (and themselves) over-scheduled is not what is best for their family (and that fact that it doesn’t have to be that way)?  It goes back to what I said earlier – parents struggle to stop once they have gotten on that busy schedule and the “next level” is expected of their kid and of the parents.

Holy Families

Families find their joy and peace most in seeking and serving God.  Currently too many families are so busy that they don’t have time for this and at times don’t see the great benefit to be holy.  Too many families are ok with just being “good” or “nice” person.  We must continue to pray for families and encourage them one by one to seek the things that are above.  This is not an easy task but with persistence and the Holy Spirit’s help we can help families create a more balanced and grounded family life.  Our world desperately needs this!


In the Early Church followers of “the way” (Acts 9:2) would gather on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7) for “the breaking of the bread”((Acts 2:42).  This practice has been at the heart of the Church from the very beginning.  It is essential for the life of the Christian Community to gather each Sunday to honor God on the Lord’s Day.  Sunday Mass is foundational to living and bearing fruit in the Christian life.  Here are ways to encourage children and their parents to attend Mass every Sunday:

1) Share with them that they will be missed if they to not attend.family and mass

2) Communicate what God does every week at Mass (sharing His Word and His Body and Blood).

3) Discuss how faithfulness to the Commandments and the Precepts of the Church draw us closer to God.

4) Share the impact of the Mass in your life.

5) Pray for parents and kids to have the grace to respond to God’s love by coming to praise and honor Him each Sunday.


Recently our parish gathered all the parents and 2nd graders for a meeting.  This year was different than in years past because I’m trying to include the parents in more things this year.  Our parish is trying to make an concerted effort to involve the parents in all our programming.  We have approxamately 166 2nd graders this year.  With a group this large we put half of them in the church for the 1st 25 minutes and half in the Parish Hall and then we switched.  The part in the church was with our pastor talking about the Sacrament as well as my coordinator who spoke about many logistical things.  I led the part in the parish hall.

Here is what I did with the kids and parents:

1) I opened with prayer reading the parable of the Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-6)

2) I then had parents and kids read it from the Bible at their table and answer 5 questions (and then having kids come up and share their answers):

  • Who is the Vine and who are the branches (verse 1)?
  • What does Jesus ask us to do (verse 4)?
  • What happens if we do what Jesus asks us to do (verse 4-5)?
  • What does Jesus say happens when we sin and cut ourselves off from the vine (verse 6)?
  • How does this relate to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and our relationship with Jesus?

3) Next I asked for a Dad volunteer and about 5 kids.  They helped me reenact the parable:  Dad was the Vine and the kids were the branches.  When I shared that when we do things that are not what God would have us do (when we sin) we break off from the vine (a few kids broke off) but then when we are cleansed (through going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation – kids went over to a poster I had that said Sacrament of Reconciliation) we are connect back onto the vine (kids reconnected to the Vine).  And finally when we do God’s will and are connected to him we “bear much fruit”.  Everyone was given an apple to illustrate this.  

4) Then I asked all the 2nd graders to go to a table where I had two things: 1) a branch from a tree and 2) a holy card illustrating an icon of the Jesus the vine.

5) I shared with the kids and parents to take the branch home and watch it for a week and reflect how when the branch is not connected to the vine it withers and dies.  We are called to stay connected to Jesus and he wants us to.  This time of preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a good time to help us remember the need to be connected to Jesus the vine.

6) I closed with a brief prayer.

I think it went over very well.  I was pleased with how it turned out and the good vibe I received about these two 25 minute experiences.

 

What things have you done with 2nd graders and parents at the beginning of the year parent meeting?  I’d really enjoy hearing about what others do to engage both parents and kids.

 

 


How do you help others to discern their vocation?  We might think that it’s challenging to find opportunities to talk about one’s vocation, but I would encourage you to reconsider.  Weather you’re in a 3rd grade classroom, in an RCIA session or spending time with teens at a service project you can help those around you consider what God has for them in their lives.  Often the most missed opportunity is to encourage someone to consider the priesthood, religious life or marriage.  Ask them if they have thought about what God is calling them to do with their lives?  Encourage them to really pray about it and to talk with their parents, a priest, a role model in their life about it.  Helping others understand that God is calling them first and foremost to holiness and then more specifically to a vocation of marriage, religious life or holy orders.

God is calling each us us do something and he has great plans for us.  We want to help children, youth and adults be open to what God desires for them and what God is calling them to be.  Last January I posted the following suggestion and wanted to list them again.   Here are some great resources for helping people discern their vocation:

The Archdiocese of Kansas City has 10 suggestions in discerning a vocation.  They also have a good article on 20 signs that someone has a priestly vocati0n that is worth looking at.

Also, here are some great tips using each letter of the alphabet for parents to help foster the idea of vocation in the home and help foster a good foundation so that a person can discern their God given vocation.  Also, go to A Mother’s Rule of Life for some good reflection and input on how to foster your child’s vocation (Catechist can learn from this too).

Here are a few more good general resources:

National Catholic Register article by Matthew Warner: “Teach Your Kids to Help Save the World”

A Mom writes “Why I Encourage My Kids to Consider A Religious Vocation”

The Archdiocese of Boston has a great list of various Vocation Prayers (consider adopting one of them and praying it in your classroom or by giving it to your students.

The USCCB has some good videos.

What resources or tips do you have to recommend about helping others discern their vocation?

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