It’s back-to-school time again.
Parents are scrambling to unearth last year’s backpack, purchase a mountain of school supplies, and find the perfect lunchbox that won’t become a fading fad a few weeks after school begins.
Yet, these seemingly menial tasks are important — the role of parents in education is vital to classroom success. Studies reveal that increased parental involvement directly correlates to increased academic achievement.
Our role as parents, therefore, is crucial. We take the education of our children seriously and don’t hesitate to drop everything to review spelling words, check homework or explain a math concept — not to mention the high volume of energy we exert washing school clothes, finding school shoes, making lunches, and carting children back and forth.
All of this is done in hopes of academic success and future security.
However, in light of these efforts, it is also important to examine what we as parents do for our children’s spiritual formation. Many years ago, as we held our children at the baptismal font, we promised to “accept the responsibilities of Christian parenthood” by teaching our children through “word and example.”
All too often, however, the spiritual formation of our children is lost in a sea of homework and extracurricular activities. We placate ourselves with the notion that they receive adequate spiritual education during religion class at school or through the parish religious education program.
Yet, we are exceedingly misled! Religious education is intended to merely reinforce what is taught at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children and are expected to pass on the faith through “word and example.”
“Parents are catechists precisely because they are parents,” explains the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the National Directory for Catechesis. “Their role in the formation of Christian values is irreplaceable. They should speak naturally and simply about God and their faith, as they do about other matters they want their children to understand and appreciate.”
Where do we begin? First and foremost, we must start with prayer and ask the Holy Family to guide our efforts in the spiritual education of our children. Bless the food before meals. Establish a simple routine of family morning and night prayer — a recitation of the “Morning Offering” upon waking, and an “Act of Contrition” at night is a sufficient starting point.
Also, keep in mind that it is impossible to pass on the faith to our children if we do not constantly pursue its knowledge and practice it ourselves. Faith formation is a lifelong process and we, as parents, are not exempt! Take advantage of the parish adult faith formation programs and seek spiritual reading — the Catechism of the Catholic Church
is a great place to start.
Rest assured that your efforts will produce a firmly grounded spiritual foundation for your children.
And the reward? An unwavering hope in life eternal!