Planting Seeds Of Faith in Our Kids

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” St Teresa of Calcutta (Formerly Mother Teresa)

I have 2 teenaged daughters, 13 & 19.

The oldest one is not interested in anything I have to say because she already knows everything. She is busy now with school and work and even though she lives at home there are days when I don’t see her at all. My influence over her is very small: She still asks me questions, then ignores any advice I give her. I am told this phase passes sometime in her mid-twenties. Sadly, as with many young adults her age, she no longer attends church regularly, even though she was raised to do so.

I still see the youngest one every day, even though she has clearly stated on more than one occasion that she really doesn’t want to spend any time with her parents anymore. She is completely baffled by my insistence in knowing what is going on in her life and who her friends are. She is also confused by my devotion to my faith. This is a faith she is very familiar with as she was required to attend weekly education classes from kindergarten through 5th grade and we were pretty good about going to weekly mass as a family.

Then things got harder at home and I just wanted to be able to go to church without the constant whining and complaining. I wanted to be able to listen to what the priest was saying and participate in the services. So, I made a deal with my girls. If they go without complaining or whining at Christmas and Easter I would not make them go the rest of the year.

Of course, they jumped at this offer and that is what we have done for the past couple of years. I know it may seem like the wrong choice, but for our family it works. Not because it means I get to go to mass every week and participate, but because it has opened up the conversation about why I do what I do. I still ask them each week if they want to come with me, and surprisingly they occasionally do. They love Palm Sunday for some reason and enjoy the carols we sing during advent. It isn’t much, but it is a start.

When I was forcing my children to go every week they couldn’t wait to be done. When there was an activity at church they had no interest in participating and actively lobbied against it. Now that they get to make the choice themselves they are more open to at least listening to me. For now, I am trying to bring them back to God by being a good disciple to them — by doing small things with great love.

I believe in what the bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:6–9 — We may plant the seeds and water the seeds, but God is the one that makes them grow.

I feel that it doesn’t matter how hard I work or how much I badger — I can’t MAKE my girls believe. I can only plant the seeds.

I realize this is not a solution that other parents may want to take, but I wanted to give you some background on where my family is at this moment.

I also want to help others who are struggling with religion. Studies have shown that people who fall away from their faith do it during their teenage and young adult years. If we can keep them from falling away during this time great but failing that if we can at least keep them talking and thinking it is a step in the right direction.

Our priority is to help our children build an authentic relationship with God such that they listen to Him and find their calling in life, whatever that may be. I want to plant as many seeds as I can right now so that God can help them flourish later in life, when the time is right.

We are a catholic family, but the ideas are not specific to that faith. I hope you find this series of articles helpful in your faith journey.

Next week — Let them see you live it.