I googled “How to Raise Catholic Kids ” many times in the last two or three years. I’ve been focused on the desire for my children to know the Catholic faith and all it’s beauty. It is necessary for the parent to share their Christian Faith with the child for several reasons, but one I identify to be of utmost importance is so the child can make an informed decision on their faith as an adult.
I have no desire to pressure my children into Catholicism. My full intentions are to give our children the tools they need to walk confidently through life. Be it near other Catholics, near Atheists, or near their Protestant Brothers and Sisters. If I can raise Catholic Children who know their faith and why we believe in Purgatory, the Rosary, the Saints’ intercessions, and more, then I will call that a success.
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My Journey to Catholicism
I am what they call a cradle Catholic, meaning I’ve been Catholic from birth. However my journey still looks different from many others who could claim the same. I went through Catholic School and I made my Sacraments. I checked all the Catholic boxes, but never understood my faith until I almost lost it.
Moving away from family (and our Catholic community there), finishing up college, and working for and among very convincing non-believers, things began to spiral downward. I became very sad and angry about most of the things going on in my life.
One night after sobbing about how I felt “Life” was going, I decided to think of a person who seems to be living life well. I thought of my Grandma. Then I picked up my phone at 2am on a Friday evening and searched “How to be a Good Catholic Wife.” If you want to be like your Grandma, you have to start thinking like her, right?!
And so my journey began. From then on I questioned everything about my faith. I read books for and against the Catholic teachings. EWTN radio was one of God’s greatest gifts to me. Ultimately, I worked very hard to understand what it was the church believed and decide if I agreed… and I do, fully! It’s a truly beautiful faith
The Freedom that Comes With the Catholicism
It is hard to describe to some, but knowing my faith and following it as I feel God intended me to, has been so freeing. While I want that for my children, I know I cannot recreate any of that for them, but what I can do is answer some of their questions before they feel the need to ask it. They’ll still have to find out for themselves one day if Catholicism is what their parents have been suggesting, and some of our children may leave completely, maybe some will leave and then come back. I don’t know the future, but I plan to give our kids some tools to help along the way.
For children, things are usually good or bad/ right or wrong. This is why knowing the truth of the Catholic Faith
How do I Raise My Kids Catholic?
- Guardian Angels
- Make Sundays Great Again
- Be Charitable
- Celebrate the Saints
- Emphasize Confession and the Eucharist
- Pray the Rosary
- Decorate Your Home
This has been a great place to start for our family, especially since our kids are 6 and younger. I grew up saying the Guardian Angel Prayer, but never thought too much of my guardian angel outside of bedtime, and not as an adult until recently.
Do adults need Guardian Angels? Yes, of course we do! Each individual person is given a Guardian Angel as soon as they’re conceived. Saying your prayers and asking for their guidance is a good way to start making better decisions in life. This is appropriate for children who struggle with impulse. We are practicing talking to them all day long, to pray for protection and guidance, and even to help humble us.
But it’s hard to teach something to someone if you don’t really know the content first. So… This video by Fr. Ripperger on Guardian Angels is a good place for parents to start to understand the concept of Angels, so they can bring this gift to their children. My children enjoyed the little anecdote about St. Padre Pio and his Guardian Angel. I’ll admit to only listening to first 30 minutes of the video because the questions at the end were hard to hear. It is enough to get your started on your journey.
Make Sundays Great Again
I’ve always loved the movie Sound of Music, but more recently I’ve been quite interested in Maria von Trapp’s Book entitled Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family. This woman has introduced me to life in “the old country” as she puts it and I’m in love.
“To the ones who cooperated with this grace of dedication, however, Sunday turned immediately into a day of joy, because joy is the result of dedication. As soon as we surrender ourselves completely to God, our hearts will be filled with peace and joy.”Maria Augusta von Trapp
Sundays in America are filled with lawn care, or sporting events, running errands, and preparing for the week ahead. It doesn’t look much like joyous praise and thanksgiving to our Lord. We are new to this idea, and so we are a work in progress, but I’m taking up the responsibility to seeing to it that Sundas are observed to the best of our ability. May they consist of no work, nor errands. Let us visit our friends and relatives. May we pray unceasingly. Even visit the sick or to help the poor, perhaps making an acquaintance at the local nursing home, or even a neighbor down the street.
Sundays are for joy. They are for smiles, laughter, and happiness. I think that’s something we can do.
It’s tough for our family to join active charity work because we live without family and babysitters are pricey where we live (I swear they make more than teachers). But Jesus was merciful and charitable and following His example will encourage your child to live the faith. Many of our friends here in Tulsa take their children to Catholic Charities or to Night Light Tulsa so they can learn what it means to put others first, even strangers.
We are all made in God’s image and we are called to build relationships of love. You can teach this as well as the understanding of human dignity and the value of human life through any act of charity, big or small.
There is ONE catch, though. You can lead by example, only up until a certain point. This service is best done with your family. Too often, children and even spouses are left feeling second rate to the church. They’re not, and that feeling comes from their parent(s) constant involvement in the extra curriculars of the church instead of investing time within the family. If you want your family to grow up to love your faith, then show them the correct priorities: God, Self, Spouse, Children, and so on.
Celebrate the Saints
Mary and the rest of the saints are honored for living great lives, often in difficult circumstances. Most, if not all, saints suffered greatly. Learning more about the lives of the saints can support your children’s journey. Some of the saints’ lives are quite relatable. It’s also nice to know that regular people can accomplish amazing things.
Learning about the saints is fun. There are some great kids’ books, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Celebrate the feast days as well. The book The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life by Kendra Tierney is a blessing for parents to know just how to make each feast day special.
Does your child have a Saints’ name? Celebrate that child’s Patron Saint’s feast day and involve your kiddo in the planning. It really is a blast.
Emphasize Confession and the Eucharist
If you’re background is like mine, you might not go to Confession except for the obligatory once a year, and receiving the Eucharist feels more like autopilot than a sign of reverence. Now is the time to stop those behaviors. It takes work on the part of the parent, but the most important gift you can give your children are these two Sacraments. Pay attention here.
Going to confession once a month or more will change your life, considerably. I, personally, believe the more I am aware of my sins, the less I sin. Confession is one of those gifts Catholics take for granted. I used to feel embarrassed in the confessional, worried the priest would recognize me. I cried afterwards because I felt so guilty for being so “bad”. That’s because I rarely went to confession. Now, I enjoy getting those weights lifted off my shoulders and I give praise to God for His Mercy. Be an example. Take your kids with you even if they’re too young to confess. Let them see how important it is from a young age.
The Eucharist was taken away from all of us during the Covid Pandemic of 2020. In my case, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I was overcome with emotion when I would watch mass at home with my family and say the Act of Spiritual Communion. Believing in the Transubstantiation and the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the Catholic belief. Show your little loves what it means to honor God and be reverent in receiving the Eucharist.
How to Show Reverence the the Eucharist
- Practice taking Communion at home with a cracker or a small flat piece of bread.
- Show them how to act in line on your way to receive Communion. Folded hands, singing the Communion song.
- Bow your head slightly before looking at the host and firmly say “Amen”
- Make a “throne” with your hands to hold the most Holy Eucharist.
- Better yet, kneel and receive the Eucharist on your tongue. (I believe this to be the most secure way to teach the children how precious the gift of the Eucharist is.)
- Make the Sign of the Cross after receiving the host.
- Fold hands in prayer as you process back to your pew.
- Finish the Communion Song with the congregation.
- Make a Prayer of Thanksgiving like the Anima Christi.
Have your children watch the Communion procession each week to find the good examples of reverence. This will help them teach themselves the proper way to love the true presence in the Eucharist.
Pray the Rosary
Your children are not too young to be introduced to the Rosary. If that introduction is just merely them watching you take time to say your own Rosary, that’s a great start. In our home, we have started saying the Rosary with our 6, 5, and 4 year old. The 4 year old has trouble following along with the beads, but is still actively participating in prayer. Many families will begin by only saying a decade or two when kids are young.
Note: It takes approximately 20 minutes to say the Rosary from start to finish. I expect them to do it, because I have seen them sit through a 30 minute TV show without flinching at anyone walking past. Don’t be afraid to expect more of your kids.
My devotion to the Rosary comes from phenomenal events that even non Catholics witnessed. The biggest and most profound witness was the 70,000 people who saw the sun “dance” in the sky at Fatima. I don’t want to send you to any specific site, because I think you should investigate on your own. Feel free to look up anything on Our Lady of Fatima or the Miracle of the Sun. I first heard about Fatima & the Miracle of the Sun from Unsolved Mysteries.
Decorate Your Home
You can decorate your home with Sacred Art, as we have done, little by little. There is no need for your house to look like a church, but ultimately people should know you’re Catholic when they come to visit. Many people suggest a crucifix in every room, We have them in all the bedrooms, and one over our front door. Blessed Candles will help keep evil things, not of God, away from your family. And Holy Water Fonts even make appearances in many Catholic homes.
Why does decorating with Sacred Art help my kids be Catholic? Because surrounding yourself with things that represent God, and by people who act like God, will keep you and your family close to God. What you focus on, you’ll get more of. I usually use that phrase for discipline children or teaching them chores, but it’s easily used in this situation as well. Etsy and even Amazon have some great choices for Sacred Art that is beautiful and will go with your farmhouse look, or your sleek white living room, etc.
Essentially what you are doing here, is creating a Domestic Church.
What is a Domestic Church?
Domestic church, in a nutshell is about forming the faith and bringing “church” to your home for the benefit of your family. No one’s faith is formed in just one hour of church a week. Not even sending your kids to Catholic schools will give your children the tools they need to defend their faith, to love their religion, and walk with Christ. The parents are the best teachers of the faith. It is a role that can feel very overwhelming but ultimately you just take it day by day.
St. Teresa of Calcutta says, “Do small things with great love.” And while the below tips are often seen as small acts, they will also make a difference in your children’s upbringing and carrying their faith farther than home.
- Take kids to mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation
- Go to daily mass, at least occasionally.
- Pray together before and after meals.
- Pray at bedtime, making sure to thank God for the good.
- Sing songs of worship.
- Focus on Christ during Easter and Christmas.
- Read the Bible, or Bible stories for kids.
- Be an example.