How to Keep Your Kids Catholic

  “Sanctify your family and you will sanctify society.”  Fr. Mateo

A few months ago, we sent a link to our email subscriber list with a link to fill out our listener survey. We received SO MANY responses and unsurprisingly, the number one desire our listeners have is to learn how to keep their kids Catholic.

It’s interesting to read that because, while our culture has dramatically changed in the last 10 years, the desire of our listeners hasn’t – we’re still overwhelmingly trying to raise our children in the faith in such a way that they’ll stick around!

So what can we do practically to encourage our children to remain in the Church, and not just stay but to thrive in and love their faith as we do?

We have a few ideas!

 

Family Culture

We talk about this “family culture” thing a lot and it’s because it’s so important! The way that you run your home and the things that you prioritize will have a huge impact on your children. (Check out this link to learn more about family culture.)

When time spent together as a family praying the rosary, learning about and discussing the faith and focusing on intentional growth in virtue is prioritized, children are much more likely to remain Catholic as they age.

A few years ago, a study was done that showed that 62% of children who left the Church said that they did so between the ages of 10 and 17.

We can’t wait. We cannot rely on our Catholic schools to transmit the faith to our children. Nothing will replace our role as parents in teaching the faith – no young group, evangelization plan or school can do what we can do. We as their parents are their primary educators and have to take up the mantle as their guides in learning about and remaining in the faith!

The best way to do that is to center your family’s culture on the Lord. Find small ways to bring him into your daily life with your children. Make youth group meetings and Steubenville retreats essential for your teens. Show your children that faith and prayer are a priority in your own life by going on retreats and scheduling daily prayer time for yourself.

Children learn not by what we say but more by what we do. Model a Catholic Christian lifestyle to them by living it yourself and you’ll go a long way toward encouraging them to remain in the Church as adults.

 

Catholic Conversations

We mentioned this above but it bears more emphasis: talk about the faith at home.

Have you read the Catechism before? Or some of the works of the Church Fathers? We encourage you to do so and have regular conversations with your children about what you’re reading. You could even encourage your older children to read those things with you and discuss them around the dinner table.

Another way to have more faith-based conversations is to have some kind of daily prayer time as a family where you’re utilizing Scripture. There are a number of types of prayer that focus on scripture, including Lectio Divina and Ignatian Meditation.

Choose one and pray as a family for 15 minutes daily, including time to share the fruits of your prayer afterward. Not only will this encourage intimacy within your family unit, but also help to form that habit of daily prayer!

This can be done from a young age, in small doses. It’s never too early to start forming a habit of prayer and faith-based conversations in your home!

 

Enthronement to the Sacred Heart

You may have heard us talk about this topic before, but the number one thing we believe will center your family around Christ is to dedicate your home and family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

We usually encourage our listeners to do the enthronement in June, near the Feast of the Sacred Heart, but it can be done at any time throughout the year.

In a nutshell, enthronement means to place the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a prominent place of honor in your home. Enthroning the Sacred Heart is saying that your family is subject to Christ the King and your family does nothing without Him.

We usually encourage our listeners to do the enthronement in June, near the Feast of the Sacred Heart, but it can be done at any time throughout the year.

All studies show that parents are the greatest agent of passing on faith to kids. Putting an image of Jesus in a place of honor in your home is a simple but powerful way to be that witness of the faith for your children and ultimately pass on the faith to them. If your kids see Christ as the King of the home you are leaving a powerful mark upon them.

You can find instructions on how to do the Enthronement here: http://cdn.messyfamilyproject.org/Enthronement+to+the+Sacred+Heart.pdf

 

Final Note

The one big thing we as parents have to remember is that our children have free will. We can do all the “right things” that evangelists, theologians and researchers suggest, but our children still have the freedom to choose to stay or leave the Church.

While this is so heartbreaking if it is our child who chooses to walk away from the way we’ve raised them, it’s what God intended. Love without freedom isn’t really love. Our Lord wants us to choose Him freely because only then is it love. Without the freedom to choose love is a shadow of what it could be.

If we are in that scenario, the best thing we can do is pray for our children and continue to live our faith lives and share that with them. And remember that the Lord wants them to return even more than we do!

 

If you’d like to hear more on this topic, check out our most recent podcast episode.

You can find instructions for the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart here.

Learn more about building a family culture in your home with our free resource.