5 Steps For Christian Parents To Build Strong Bonds Between Their Kids And Church

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One of the great struggles we have today in the Church is preserving our children in the christian Faith. Too often they seem not to be interested. Can we somehow motivate our kids to be excited about following Christ and being Christians? I believe there is a way. It takes commitment and hard work, but it’s worth it.

1. Make Your Family Your Priority

More important than anything other than the Kingdom of God is our family. I believe if we’re going to raise Christian families, our spouses and children have to be our highest priority, next to Christ and His Church.

For the believer, our journey with Christ and His Church always comes first. On that matter, the Scriptures are clear, the Fathers are clear, and the Liturgy is clear. Our relationship with God comes first, our commitment to our family comes next, and our dedication to our work is third.

As parents, we need to make a vice-grip-firm commitment that above job, above our social life, above all the things that vie for our time, we will prioritize our families.

If you’re busy, find a way to compensate. Made appointments with your children. If your time is in heavy demand and you don’t block out time for the kids, you’ll never see them. If someone calls and has to see you, you say, “You know, Joe, I’ve got an appointment. I can see you tomorrow.” You decide to prioritize your family.

2. Tell Your Children of God’s Faithfulness

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is talking to the children of Israel about the importance of keeping God’s commandments. And then he speaks directly to parents and grandparents: “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

Maybe you are a parent who came to Christ later in life and feel you didn’t do a good job spiritually with your kids, and now they have families of their own. Well, now you’ve got a crack at your grandkids! This opportunity does not mean that you become your grandchildren’s parent. But what you can do is tell those grandchildren what God has done for you, just like Moses says. Talk to them. If you’ve become more dedicated to Christ later in life, tell your grandkids about that. Tell them lessons that you’ve learned. Tell them real-life stories about God’s faithfulness and His mercy to you.

Moses goes on to explain the importance of such conversations by recalling what the Lord had said to him: “that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10). Children who are rightly taught the Word of God will teach their own children.

How do we teach our kids? You can’t ram Christianity down your family’s throats. If you are a zealot, you may be tempted to force-feed them until they become rebels.

3. Love Your Spouse

We do our kids a favor when we love our spouses. Psychologists tell us that even more important than a child feeling love from parents is for that child to know mom and dad love each other. Kids know instinctively that if love in marriage breaks down, there’s not much left over for them.
The beautiful passage that describes this love is in Ephesians 5. It’s the passage that we read as the epistle at our weddings. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church”
(v. 25). That means, gentlemen, that we love her enough to die for her. We martyr ourselves to each other; that’s what the wedding crowns are about. I love my wife more than life itself. The crowns also speak of royalty. In my homily at the marriage of our younger son, I said, “Peter, treat her like a queen! Kristina, treat him like a king!” That arrangement works out really well.

4. Never Discipline Out of Anger

Immediately after St. Paul’s exhortation on marriage in Ephesians 5, he continues with parent-child relationships. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. `Honor your father and your mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: `that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth'” (Ephesians 6:1-3). This is another dependable promise. If a child obeys his parents, he’ll live a longer life. So we train them up to be obedient.

It is helpful now and then to sit down with our children and remind them why it’s so important to obey mom and dad. Because if children do not learn to obey their parents, they will not learn to obey God. And the consequences of that are dire, both in this life and the next. So one reason we obey mom and dad is that in turn we learn to follow the Lord.

The next verse gives the other side of the coin: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I encourage fathers to guard against a discipline or correction that engenders wrath in your children. After the correction, give them a hug and let them know you love them.There are times when a father may need to refrain from discipline on the spot because he is angry. Remember that line from “The Incredible Hulk”? “You won’t like me when I’m angry.” If that’s true for a cartoon character, how much more is it true for a real-life dad?

5. Help Your Children Discern God’s Will

Let’s look again at Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The phrase, “in the way he should go,” is not speaking of the way you want him to go. Rather, it’s the way God wants him to go. In other words, taking into account that child’s gifts, his emotional makeup, his personality, his intellect, his calling, you help him discern the path God has for him.

Our job as parents is to try to discern with our children what God wants them to do, and then train them in that way. Whether their calling is in business or law or retailing or service to the Church, we want them to be the best they can be, for the glory of God. And by the way, all of us are in the ministry of Christ by virtue of our baptism. We are ordained as His servants. Therefore, whatever we do, our goal is to do it for the glory of God.

May God grant you the joy in raising your family in Christ.

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