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.
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Summers were always refreshingly quiet at the Newman Center. Like any college campus, for a few precious months our public university was reduced to the satisfying hum of summer students and a steady stream of high schoolers coming for campus tours and orientation. I met many Catholic students and parents as they stopped by the Newman Center after their campus visit. There are a few of these students I will never forget, but there were also many whom I never saw again. In seven years of Catholic Campus Ministry at a public university, there was no shortage of parents calling us for help with a student who was struggling or who had stopped going to church. While we did what we could for them, their calls echoed the same question I saw in the eyes of my summer visitors: how can I help my child stay Catholic in college?
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.