Most Catholic parents would like to think they can raise a child who is interested in Catholic life. Find out how to introduce your child to religion in a natural way.
How ever committed you are to Catholicism, it doesn’t always follow that your child will share your interests. With so many outside influences and a media which gives limited publicity to religion, it can seem almost impossible to bring Catholicism into everyday life. However, with a positive approach and some forward planning, you can bring religion into the heart of family life.
How to Bring Catholicism into Family Life
Bringing Catholic practices into everyday family life needn’t be a huge task. The key is to take a slow and steady approach and let things unfold naturally. If you approach the subject as a huge issue, there’s a good chance your child will feel afraid and rebel. Instead, aim to bring Catholic issues and ideas into the conversation and everyday life in a natural and unforced way.
On Catholic feast days, mention that it’s a special day and why. It can be difficult for children to understand why Catholics celebrate certain days of the year. For example, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi is an interesting feast for children, because of the connection with animals. Plan some interesting activities, maybe a nature walk or a collage of animals. The theme doesn’t have to be religious, it’s enough to start with that you’ve introduced the saint and the key ideas.
Cookery and craft projects are another way to interest your child in religion. Pancakes for the start of lent and a yule log for the beginning of advent are just two possibilities. You could create an advent calendar with drawings from the nativity story or an Easter drawing showing the joy of nature and new life.
Introduce a simple prayer at the start of mealtimes. If this is something your family have never done, start once a week, perhaps at Sunday lunch and let family members take turns to say a prayer, stating their own intentions. If children are allowed to participate, the ritual will mean more to them.
Introducing Children to Catholic Saints
The lives of the Catholic saints are a clever way to introduce children to the unique and varied Catholic heritage. There are so many saints that there are sure to be some which would interest your child. For example, Saint George, patron saint of England is perfect for boys interested in swords, knights and dragons. St Hilda of Whitby is an inspiring role model for pre-teen girls, with her example of leading a monastery of both men and women some 1400 years ago.
There are a number of Catholic websites with interesting resources and activities suitable for children. Some feature printable coloring sheets or projects such as creating a Mary altar at home.
As with all other aspects of this topic, the key is to keep things natural and only bring up the subject when it occurs naturally or you see a good opportunity. If you mention aspects of Catholicism as normally as you would any other subject, it should seem an ordinary and acceptable part of life to your child.
How to Interest Children in the Bible
Many adults struggle with parts of the Bible and perhaps feel unsure of how to interest their children when they don’t fully understand the Bible themselves. This is your opportunity to brush up on your knowledge. If there’s something you’re unsure about, you and your child can find the answer together. There are many good Bible stories for children with interesting illustrations and carefully chosen selections for particular age groups.
Bedtime can be a good time to read an occasional story from the Bible. Many stories from the bible are as interesting as any picture book for children. Noah’s ark, the tower of babel and the loaves and fishes are just a few action-packed stories to which children can relate.
Keep an illustrated bible in one of the family rooms and now and again, suggest a look through the pages. Intersperse Bible tales with other stories and watch them become a part of everyday life.
Keep things light, make your activities entertaining and be prepared to answer questions from your curious and interested child!