I was raised in a somewhat Catholic home. My mom was the Catholic and my Dad was Jewish. But we were Catholic in name, not in practice. When went to church every Sunday and my brother and I were both altar servers. However, Catholism was not practiced within the home. My parents never prayed except for before dinner, constantly used the Lord’s name in vain, and never went to confession. As soon as my older brother was old enough to drive us to church, my parents stopped attending Mass. Needless to say, I had no clue how to be a Catholic or how important prayer is in our lives. Through my own struggles, I found my faith and my deep relationship with God through prayer. Now that I am a mother, I want to impart importance of prayer to my children.
This is what my husband and I are doing. Our children are still very young (one and two years old) but they are learning.
1. Attend Mass every Sunday and participate as much as possible. This can be really difficult with two small children, but we try. We emphisize how special that time is. We always dress up nice because it’s a special time. We don’t bring toys or run around. My husband and I hope that our children will see how important the Mass is to us and find importance in it as well. (REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE – After each Mass, my husband and I discuss what worked and what didn’t work with the kids. What factors helped, what didn’t, and what we can do better as parents in teaching them to participate in the Mass.)
2. We pray with our children before meals and bed time. Since they are young they can’t really remember prayers but they do fold their hands and listen quietly (generally – of course we still have to remind them every now and again). My oldest can make the Sign of the Cross and both say Amen at the end of the prayer.
3. We take our children with us to confession. This is something new that we just started. We are trying to regularly go to confession with the kids (every other month).
This can all be really hard and frustrating to do with young children but it is worth the effort and it does get easier. My husband and I are already seeing results, A couple of weeks ago, while I was praying after Communion my oldest daughter stood next to me and asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was talking to Jesus and thanking him. She told me she wanted to talk to Jesus too. I told her to fold her hands and say “Dear Jesus.” She repeated after me and then looked at me for what to do next. I told her that she could tell Jesus whatever she wanted to. She then thanked him for her family and told him that she loved him. I choked back a few tears.