Well, what a title, right? I know it’s long, but it conveys the right idea; taking time to sit down with your children, siblings, or even nieces and nephews, is important all by itself. However, nourishing their souls with information about God will really help jump start their religious life, especially if they don’t go to a private school, or receive teachings on Sundays. Being a member of Christ’s body means more than just consuming the fruits of the spirit and going to church; God calls us to be missionaries wherever we are, and home is where it all begins.
Children look up to adults, and people who are older than them in general. If they see you praying, talking about God, or going to Mass, they are most likely going to follow suit, or at least have a good idea of what it is to be a Christian. You should act as Godly as possible, because they too, will pick up on that. Basically, your behaviour is their guide to life, to being a good Christian. It’s a big deal and needs to be taken as a serious role you are called to fulfill. Not only should you strengthen your own prayerlife through virtuous actions, but you should help the young people by setting a precedent.
Children follow in the footsteps of their family members. It’s been proven time and time again through statistics, some wonderful, and some somber. No matter the case, having this information can really help us learn to guide our children towards the Lord, and help them find joy every step of the way.
Here’s how I recommend getting involved with your children, or the youth in your life:
- When you pray, do so openly, and invite them to do it with you. For example, if you like to pray the rosary, get them a set of plastic beads, or let them use yours, and tell them all about Mary’s 15 promises. Then, pray it as they go about their day, and see if they want to join in. Make sure they know that prayer is a part of your life, and is something you want to share.
- Read the bible to them at night (if they’re old enough to understand all those words), or tell a less complicated version of a tale or two. They’ll appreciate the extra time you spend with them, and when they fall asleep to the soft sound of scripture, they’ll wake up with Jesus in their hearts.
- Pray at every meal, and let them lead it. Come up with a short prayer for them to say for grace, or let them use a traditional one. The first couple of times, you can say it, but after that, let them give it a go! Let them know that it’s totally okay to make mistakes when saying it, and congratulate them when they’re finished.
- During special liturgical seasons, talk about what it means. For Lent, give them a little sheet to fill out, like the one I made at the bottom of this page, or ask them what they want to do to make it a special time. For Christmas consider making or buying an advent wreath or calendar, and read all about the story of Christmas.
- Go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. They’ll learn through the homilies and gospels, and get to know their priests and deacons. If they’re old enough, see if they can take part in it by being an altar boy, or server. If they’re a little too young, just explain to them what each person does, and why every job is important.
- Tell them that Jesus loves them. Do this every day. It will really make a difference.
- Turn on 99.1 Joy FM, and try to find songs they enjoy. Then, turn those songs on through youtube when you’re at home so they feel like they’re in a godly atmosphere.
- Explain the sacraments, and get them into PSR or another group so they can receive them. Make sure they’re ready, and willing to do this, and help them by explaining how your sacraments went!
- Talk about the saints, and who they were. Find ones they can relate to, and do a fun research project on them.
- Write bible verses on their wall, or get a nice decal of one or two of them.
On this worksheet, explain to them what Lent is, and fill out the questions with them. Then ask them what each symbol on the sheet means (crown of thorns, crucifix, the colour purple). Then hang it up on their wall or on the fridge so they can see it easily 🙂 )
Source for Crown of Thorns: Waiting for the Word on flickr.com
Source for Crucifix: Knud Winckelmann and Nationalmuseet – commons.wikimedia.org – CC-BY-SA-3.
Source for Purple Circle: AzaToth