Q. 1. I just had my first child. What do you recommend that I as a Catholic parent should do in the upbringing of my child in the hope that he shall remain faithful to the Catholic faith and teachings when he grows up?
A. 1. Before proceeding with my answer, it should be remembered that it is the responsibility of both, the parents and the godparents to raise children in the Catholic faith.
There are a number of actions that are equal to planting seeds within the soul of the child. The more seeds that you plant, the greater shall the faith foundation of your child be strengthened.
The first recommendation is that you consecrate your child to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This involves going into the Church before the Real Presence of Jesus in the Sacred Tabernacle and saying one of the Consecration Prayer that is found at http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/consecration.htm. Feel free to use a prayer of your choice that is suitable for the age of your child.
Having done the aforementioned, it should be remembered that there are two important areas that are necessary for the proper upbringing of a Catholic child. The first consists of exposing the child to religious articles/objects. The second consists of Catholic education.
Exposing the child to religious articles/objects
To achieve this goal, all of the following objects should be given to the child as a gift, based on his age, when the opportunity presents itself.
- A crucifix (not a cross) that shall be placed in the bedroom of the child. A crucifix is a cross with the figure of Jesus crucified on it.
- A Holy Bible. A picture Bible is suitable for younger children, such being replaced with a regular Holy Bible when the child reaches the age when he/she can read.
- A Holy Rosary. Every child should learn this devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The family is encouraged to say the Rosary together, at least once a week.
- Marian Sacramentals such as the Miraculous Medal and the Scapular. Their origin should be explained. This can be done in the format of story telling with younger children.
- A Holy picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This should be placed in the bedroom, either on the dresser or one that hangs on the wall.
- Holy pictures. From time to time, the parents and godparents are encouraged to give the child Holy pictures of Jesus, the archangels, the saints. Many children love to collect these.
- Books on the lives of the saints. These are appropriate at all ages. They are great for telling stories at bedtime. So are stories of the Old Testament such as the lives of the prophets.
- A missal. Many parents have found it beneficial for their child to own a Missal.
- Every child should learn about his/her Patron Saint and why their christian name was chosen by his/her parents.
- Children should be taught all the basic prayers as soon as they are old enough to learn them.
- The child should be taught that he has two mothers, one on earth and one in Heaven (the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
- Children are encourage to say their morning and evening prayer.
- They are also encourage to say their prayers before and after meals.
- Parents have an obligation to teach their children about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and in the Sacred Tabernacle. Children should also learn to kneel when they pass in front of the Sacred Tabernacle.
- Children should learn to properly do the Sign of the Cross. There are so many children who do it backwards, most likely from observation, because their parents and godparents have remained silent on the matter. (By backwards, it is meant that the children go from the right shoulder to the left shoulder. The proper way is first the forehead, second the stomach, third the left shoulder and fourth the right shoulder.)
- When the child enters the Church, he should remove his hat.
- He should learn to bless himself with Holy Water.
- He should learn to kneel before entering the pew. Kneeling means to touch the floor with one's knee. During the past few decades, many have adopted the custom of bending down a little bit. Such a substitute for kneeling in the House of the Lord is a disgrace.
- Children should be taught to behave in Church. If they need to talk, they should be told to whisper. Loud talking is not appropriate when other people are praying in the Church before Holy Mass.
- Children should also learn to walk in the Church, not run. There are many altar servers, children in the choir, and those who have to use the washroom during the Mass, who spend their time running (not walking) back and forth. This is very disruptive.
As can be appreciated, raising a Catholic child is an ongoing obligation. It does not end with the Sacrament of Baptism. Parents and godparents should ensure that their child will be confirmed, will learn how to go to Confession, receive the Sacrament of Confession, and will do their First Communion.
Finally, parents are encouraged to send their children to a Catholic School where the children will be able to enjoy a Christian environment that teaches sounds Catholic doctrines.