Passing on our faith to our children may seem discouraging, still each parent can be effective in ways no one else can. Each child has a special bond with his / her parents and it is designed by the creator. Because of this special relationship , parents have a greater opportunity to teach and profoundly influence their children than anyone else. God, knowing this situation or recognizing this situation has commissioned parents with the task of training their children spiritually.
God has given us as parents the primary responsibility for passing on ‘His’ truth and the way of life to our children. Read God’s instructions in Deuteronomy 6;5-7, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart , with all your soul and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way , when you lie down and when you rise up “. St Paul told Timothy “From childhood you have known the Sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3;15). St Paul in his letter to Timothy says “ I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, which I am sure you have inherited”. ( 2 Tim. 1;5) Thus, the faith goes down to generations.
We catholic parents undoubtedly have a desire to see our children live by the truth taught by our Church. Some may exert pressure on the children to compete with others and shine in ranks, without inculcating in them the ideas and morals they should hold dear and the habits they should follow. We do notice that our society is deteriorating morally. Values taught by religions are not considered very important. Some argue that there is no absolute truth and so truth is considered as relative.That is why our Pope Benedict XVI always talks against relativism that is questioning and destroying traditional values. “ God has not changed in any thing” says Malachi ( Ch 3;6) “Christ Jesus is the same today, as yesterday and for ever.”( Heb.13;8) says St. Paul.
We parents have to do the teaching, guiding and setting the example. We can teach them only if we acquire some knowledge of the Bible and the teachings of the Church through reading and listening to preachings. We may feel inadequate in the task and that is why our priests, religious and competent lay persons give instructions through sunday classes. Very often we hear that sex education will be introduced in school. The parents are the best teachers on the subject because they can tell their children all spiritual aspects involved whereas the secular teaching is purely materialistic and even encouraging spiritually wrong ways to deal with problems.
But the children have to be receptive. “Hear, my child, your father’s instruction and do not reject your mother’s teaching for they are a fair garland for your head and pendants for your neck “ ( Prov. 1;8) Young people have a responsibility and duty too. They need to open their eyes and ears and in a willing attitude learn the truth as their parents are the most reliable teachers. Some children may resist. Mostly it may be due to our wrong approach or their misunderstanding, which can be rectified. When we speak from the heart in love about what is in our hearts from God’s Spirit , it is likely that we will see our children waiting to listen. If any child chooses not to embrace God’s truth and words, it should not be because we parents did not diligently teach them the Word of God and the sacred traditions. As we parents are responsible to teach our children, excuses like lack of time, lack of knowledge, lack of interest for listening and study by children should be overcome suitably.
Parents can play a powerful role in encouraging their children to choose God’s way of life. We may not be highly educated or trained for teaching. When we walk with God, the creator will show the way. Some may be more naturally gifted in teaching, but all share the duty and responsibility We also do affect the faith of our children even if it is only by our example. As parents let us make sure that we follow the divine instructions given in Deuteronomy 6;5-7. If we do our part, we can help our children embrace the true catholic faith. Like Timothy’s grandmother and mother, we too can pass this faith to our children from generation to generation.
– – – written by K. C. Thomas