Welcome to Beyond the Pew. In today’s episode we’re going to talk about ways we can have conversation about the faith with our children, even when they might not be too excited about that idea.
A lot of times I think we get very timid as parents because we’re afraid if we talk about how much we love our faith or how much we love God we think our children are going to rebel against that, and that if we get excited about Jesus they’re going to want nothing to do with him. And that’s simply not the case.
Research shows that the best way we can see what our children’s faith will look like in 20, 30 years is to look at what our faith looks like now. So what does that tell us? The way that we live out our faith the way that we witness to our love of God makes an impact on our children. So even if when we’re talking about our excitement for God or our Catholic faith and they seem to tune us out or they’re opposed to talking about it, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to shut God out forever.
Another way to think about this is to think about the fact that Satan wants you never to talk to your children about the faith. You’re the first teachers of the faith to your children. So if the first teachers of the faith are not talking about the faith no one’s teaching the faith. So this should be a great encouragement to us. We need to talk about our love of God with our children.
So if the first teachers of the faith are not talking about the faith no one’s teaching the faith.
Now where we might run into trouble with that is if that’s all we talk about and it’s just out of proportion to everything else and it becomes really weird and overbearing for our kids because it just seems like all they ever hear about is God and how they need to love God that will turn them off to the faith. But we do need to witness to our faith and it just needs to be in balance. It needs to not be weird for you to mention God to your children or in your household.
One of the ways that we can be sure we’re going about these conversations in the right way is to start talking about our relationship with God first. And then it just becomes this beautiful witness to what the Lord is already doing in our own lives. We should be praying and we should have a relationship with him and should be seeking to grow in that and we’re just going to tell our children about that.
I think we often want to go for the hot-button issues about the faith first. We want to talk about that behavioral issue that keeps coming up and somehow make it a lesson about church. Or we want to talk about the one topic that we know our child is not in agreeance with the church about. Or we want to go after that social issue that’s just hard or the fact that our kids don’t really like going to Mass so we only talk about Mass. When we do that we’re starting in all the wrong places.
We need to start talking about our relationship with God talking about what God is doing in our lives and in our prayer as we talk to him in the ways that we see him in our daily lives. And we need to also share both the joys and the sorrows of that relationship. Our youth want to know the authenticity of our faith. And I think sometimes they might get turned off to talking about God because they think talking about God means pretending everything’s okay and that everything’s just rainbows and that’s not the case. God is merciful which means he enters into our suffering and so our young people need to know that God is with us in the midst of good times and in bad times. And they’re searching for that authenticity from you.
So again we want to witness to what God is doing in our own lives. It should just be an overflow of the love that he’s giving us. We need to start there when we’re having conversations about the faith.
They’re searching for that authenticity from you.
A few other tips and pointers from youth ministry that we as ministers try and keep in mind when we talk to young people about God.
The first one being that we need to match their level of excitement. So if your youth comes to you and says, “Hey mom, what time is Mass on Sunday?” and you’re thinking oh my gosh they never talk about Mass I’m so excited. And you say, “It’s at nine o’clock but I like to get there at 8:30 because I have this pew that I like to sit in and you should come with me because they pray the rosary and they’ve been doing this series on discipleship and I think you would really like it.” You’ve just completely overloaded them and they’ve tuned you out. It’s kind of like there was a little spark of excitement and you just dumped gasoline all over it and so the spark is out.
When they ask what time is Mass we need to say it’s at nine o’clock and leave it at that. We can ask then, “What makes you want to know what time Mass starts? Have you been thinking about going?” And then see what they say. But we need to match their level of excitement because if we come across as way excited and overbearing it’s going to be too much and overwhelm them.
The other thing I think is good that’s good to keep in mind is that when they ask us questions about the faith or we’re having these conversations about God and they pose a question we need to hear the question behind the question. So a simple everyday example of this is if your son comes to you and says, “Mom I did the dishes. Did you see that I did the dishes?” And we hear that but as parents you might know okay he’s asking me if I saw that he did the dishes because he knows that when he does the dishes he gets to play on his phone. So the real question that he’s asking me is mom can I play on my phone now. So there’s a question behind that question. That happens a lot in our faith life too.
A couple weeks ago a youth was talking to me about her relationship with God and she asked me, “Do you ever get angry at God?” And so my thought as I was listening to her was, “Why is she asking me this question?” And I know her situation what she’s going through I said what she’s really asking me is I’m angry with God right now. Is that okay? So when I answered her first question have you ever gotten angry with God I made it clear that yes I have and it’s okay and I talked to him about that. You need to make sure that you talk to him about that when you’re angry. So again there’s often a question behind the question.
So we need to be good listeners when we’re talking to our children about God and our Catholic faith and hear what it is that’s on their heart. What’s the question in their hearts that they’re seeking to know the answer to.
Please know that we’re praying with you as you navigate these sometimes difficult conversations with your children about the faith. We pray that the Holy Spirit’s working in their lives and in their hearts and that these are fruitful conversations and that you would be brave and have them. From all of us at Ablaze, God bless