Our children spend their days trying to understand the world that we live in…and we spend our days trying to help them! Unless we help them, they will never have that confidence about them and they will always be on ‘red alert’- scared -not knowing what is going on. We all look for more information when we don’t understand the world. That goes for adults as well as children. Remember the last time you went somewhere new…a new job..trying a new route somewhere…doing anything for the first time! It’s daunting. But for a child this happens most days!
To help children, parents need to frame everything for them- to help them understand how the world works. This way they can grow to be confident and comfortable within their world.
But they need more than just framing about how the world works…
They desperately need to know how the spiritual world works…and we have to help them. Perhaps we can blend the spiritual life in with our daily chat with them…?
I would not have understood the concept of the Holy Trinity had it not been for a nun at school explaining it using a 3 leafed clover.
For example at the ‘school drop off’ you could say, “You and God have a great time…hope the spelling test goes well….see you later!”
Perhaps we could frame our decision making to our children more spiritually?
For example, “2 years ago, God gave us this car- it’s on its last legs and we have been praying about it for ages and we have this amount of money and we are going to see what God does………so we are going to step out in faith and buy a new car”
With this type of conversation, our children will hopefully come to a place where they have become intrigued with what God is doing their lives-And we need to keep showing them.
God is with us in the everyday things of life: in the happy and the sad.
If your child is being bullied….you need to walk with him/her through their pain. As well as talking to the teacher…my suggestion is to frame it spiritually…
Children need to know where God is in the midst of the bullying and the pain. You could say something like, “Jesus understands what it’s like to be spat on and mocked….people spat on Him. Jesus forgave them-and ultimately, He wants us to do the same. But none of us can do this without Him. He will give you the grace”
We need to explain everything. Life with God and life in general will eventually merge..
We need to read the Word of God and explain to our kids how the Bible explains life to us and how scripture can be relied upon….and How God speaks to us through it
So, the story about David and Goliath….isn’t just about fighting a giant…it is the story about how David and God, in their life together, fought lions together and sang each other songs. David was the friend of God..David and God walked out on that field to face the giant – together…if we have God with us we can do so much more with Him!
Whatever your child is facing there will be some story in the bible that will be able to help…if you are having to move house….look at Abraham moving home to Ur …Ruth and Naomi moving home to Bethlehem. Look at fictional Catholic books about these issues too. For example, The Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity-Finding Patience by Virginia Lieto.
Why do we use incense? Is it coz God likes the smell? We might say something such as: “The incense in the thurible reminds us that our prayers that go up to God will make us more like Him and fit for the Kingdom of Heaven where we will worship Him with the angels and saints for all Eternity
Why do we praise God in song? ….
We could say something like: “When we sing to God it’s a way of our hearts touching God’s Heart and chatting to Him saying Yes I mean that – yes I love You. ‘I’ often don’t have the words to say what I want to say to God and the words in the song help me”.
What is happening at the consecration of the mass? Is Jesus really in the host?Do I have to pray? Do we have to go to mass? Children have so many questions.
With any question we can try a 4-pronged approach………….
Take the example of a question like “Is my pet gerbil in Heaven?”
We can panic “How do I answer this?” or try and stay calm..
If we don’t know the answer, we can show children how we can find the answer.
“Why don’t we ask, Jane? She knows more about death of animals than I do- when I see her next Tuesday- I’ll ask her – OK?”
Or we could say…
“I can tell you what happened when I lost my pet, Scratchy. I was sad and missed my pet. I felt that God was with me through it all and I knew that He would never leave me. I felt that He was taking care of Scratchy. How do you feel about it?”
What if, in explaining something, you have inadvertently told your child something wrong…just tell them you got it wrong! Be as relaxed as you can- and you can be, because this is about a relationship with God – it’s not an exam! You could say something like:
“I was thinking-this isn’t right! But I am going to find out more about from Fr. Xaviour and then I’ll tell you what he says, OK?!” They will see from your face that you aren’t worried because your knowledge isn’t perfect…we are all walking the spiritual learning curve together. We aren’t all St. Therese of Lisieux or St. Padre Pio!
Life as a Christian is a journey with God which will be blessed with peace, joy & consolation if we keep looking at Him 😊.
These ideas have been taken from a free online video course I recommend from ‘Parenting for Faith’
The presenter says it so much better than me!