Anyone with very small children – think, 0-3 years old – knows that things often do not go according to plan. There’s the blowout diaper right as you walk out the door. The nap-strike that leads to an emotional meltdown when dinner needs to be made. The relentless demand for a story when a deadline looms. Yet, we’ve all heard the adage “kids thrive with schedules.”
Most Catholic parents would agree on the importance of praying with our sons and daughters. The Church teaches us that we are the primary faith educators of our children, and what better way to teach them about God than by talking to God? That being said, praying with young kids can be difficult at times. It’s hard to get toddlers and small children to sit still for thirty seconds let alone engage in a focused dialogue with an invisible God, and it can be tempting to put off lessons about prayer until our kids are a little bit older.
During my daughter’s early weeks of life, I started to read her poetry as I fed her. I’d like to say it was because I knew she found the sound of my voice soothing, or because I hoped to instill in her a love of literature from an early age or because I believe that vocabulary formation begins in these first, tender weeks. These things may all be true, but that’s not why I fill her sweet little ears with metered verse. No, I read her poetry to pass the time.
Honoring the sabbath is a challenge for us all, but it is particularly acute for our busy teens. By introducing them to small practices like these, we can help them lead Christ-centered lives.
Parents (and all people) today are rightly concerned about the safety and well-being of our children, especially when it comes to sexual abuse. While we can and should put institutional safeguards in place to reduce the risks of abuse, we parents can also teach our children to speak up when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. For that to happen, we need to invest our time.