How to Walk Your Child Toward God

By Marlon De La Torre

Director of Catechesis

North Texas Catholic

12/21/2016

A child will naturally seek out a parent for reassurance, comfort, and help in the joys and struggles of everyday life. The child recognizes that mom and dad have helped him cope with the daily challenges of life especially as he grows in physical, mental, and spiritual maturity.

 
A JOURNEY TOWARD GOD

As children created in God’s image and likeness, all of us are naturally in a constant state of journeying toward God. As parents, we must be keenly aware of our journey because of our role to help our children know and recognize who God is by our witness of faith.  We seek to help our children see and begin to understand the importance of building a relationship with our Lord. The child begins to know and understand who God is because he sees his parents actively walking with God and including Him on this journey through a daily practice of the faith, especially in the active participation of the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which serves as the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324). 

Our duty as parents is to provide the visible and tangible realities of God’s existence and Divine Providence within the daily structure of life. 

“Furthermore, wishing to open up the way to heavenly salvation, He manifested Himself to our first parents from the very beginning.” He invited them to intimate communion with Himself and clothed them with resplendent grace and justice (CCC 54).

Part of the task of leading our children to God is how we project our own faith in word and deed toward our children. If we express the Catholic faith as a chore, then our children will embrace a similar attitude to the point of making it part of their character. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if we as parents express our faith with a charitable attitude, intimately desiring a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, then our children would hopefully embrace this Christian attitude as part of their character.

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING
A parent can walk their child toward God in many practical ways. The FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICAL STEP you can take with your child is to be a visible instrument of prayer, where your son or daughter actually sees and hears you praying to Christ. This initial witness of faith is probably the most important because it sets the stage for everything else you want your child to learn about their faith. In prayer, the child begins to see the direct correlation between faith and prayer. This formula becomes the seed bed toward living out the sacramental life in word and deed. Thus, nightly family prayers, praying and blessing your children at bedtime, prayer before meals and praying for others sets the stage for their journey. 

A SECOND PRACTICAL STEP is making the sacraments, especially reconciliation and Holy Communion, a privilege and a priority. The sacramental life is rooted in Christ; to genuinely love Christ and His Church we must actively engage the gifts of grace we receive in the sacraments themselves. In baptism we enter in the Kingdom of God.  We can remind children of its importance by celebrating their baptism date as we would celebrate their actual birthday.

A THIRD PRACTICAL STEP to consider is to create a sacred space, i.e. a prayer space in your home. This typically consists of placing a Bible on a stand opened in a highly visible area where you reflect on the Word of God as a family at least two to three days a week, preferably every day. 

And this leads to a FOURTH PRACTICAL STEP — introducing the lives of the saints. The Christian witness of the saints can only strengthen the journey and give our children further hope that it is not impossible to have a relationship with our Lord and walk with Him.  
As you can see there are various ways we can lead our children toward God. Ultimately our role and function as parents is to lead our children to heaven, hence we walk to and with God alongside our children. 

St. Augustine, one of the greatest saints and Doctors of the Church, gives us a small taste of what it means to walk with God through a description of his intimate participation in the Mass:

How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears, distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face-tears that did me good (Confessions, 9, 6, 14; CCC 1157).

A child will naturally seek out a parent for reassurance, comfort, and help in the joys and struggles of everyday life. The child recognizes that mom and dad have helped him cope with the daily challenges of life especially as he grows in physical, mental, and spiritual maturity.

Published (until 12/12/2039)
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