In Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids my wife and I share research showing that the likelihood that a child will grow up to own their faith is directly related to the degree they experience the faith as the source of the warmth in their home. Everything else–everything from mass attendance, to catechesis, to family prayer, to moral instruction–is essential, but secondary to the children’s experience as the faith as the source of the warmth in their home. Without this strong relational dimension to the faith, the other things tend not to stick as well–or, in some cases, at all.
It was in this context that I read Leticia Ochoa Adams brave piece at Aleteia about her reckoning with the mistakes she feels she made in the faith formation of her seven children. Mistakes that, she feels, resulted in all but two of her kids being driven from the faith rather than drawn to it. I deeply respect her honesty and willingness to share her powerful story. You should read the rest, but here’s a sample…
I nagged everyone to freakin’ death. I told them to dress right, sit up right, pray right, look right, behave right and on and on. I didn’t allow them to ask questions, and I made it clear that if they didn’t go to Mass, they were not going to live in my house. I even once kicked my oldest son out when he missed Mass at age 17.
I was making my family a means to an end. I objectified them to make me look good so that I could prove to everyone that this girl who had been dirt poor her entire life, came from the ghetto and was always sleeping around really did belong in this middle class suburban Catholic parish.
I never did prove that and in the process I pushed my kids away from God.
If I could go back and do it all over again, I would not be so afraid.
I was afraid of what people would think of me if I didn’t raise “good Catholic kids.” My only concern should have been their souls. READ THE RESTWhile it is true that our children have their own free wills and nothing we do can guarantee that our children will grow up to love the Lord, we can do much more than we think. Raising faithful kids isn’t like playing a slot machine where you do what you do and hope for the best. There really are tons of things parents can do to stack the deck in favor of raising truly godly, faithful kids–but it all begins with creating the kind of family life that enables your kids to experience the faith as the source of the warmth in your home. If you can do that, you will enable your kids to develop discipleship hearts that make them turn to you so that they can learn the secrets you have to share about what it takes to continue living life as a gift as they become adults. To learn more about creating the kind of home life that serves as an incubator for your children’s future faith, check out Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids. (Also, because many parishes are offering Discovering God Together as a gift for parents of kids making their First Confession, First Communion and/or Confirmation, Sophia Institute Press is offering a 50% discount on all bulk orders! Tell your Pastor or DRE! Call 1-800-888-9344 to learn more!)