Perhaps the question I am asked most when I’m on the road giving presentations is, “What can we do to get parents more involved?” Even Pope Francis issued a call for parents to “come out of exile” to educate their children.
From start to finish—from the first day that parents bring their children to religious education until the day they complete their formal formation—we should be speaking to parents, not about how they can pitch in to help us, but how we are here to help them. It begins with the mindset that the parents are going to have expectations placed on them. If that sounds heavy-handed, just stop and think of all of the activities that parents enroll their children in which require parent involvement, such as taking their turn to run the hot dog cart for the kids’ soccer game (as one basic example).
One of the best times to place this emphasis on parent responsibility is when children are preparing for the sacraments, especially First Eucharist and First Reconciliation. These are ideal opportunities to gather parents and empower them to help their children prepare to encounter Christ in the sacraments. To support these efforts, our God’s Gift: First Eucharist and First Reconciliation programs do much more than invite children to tear out a page to take home to their parents. God’s Gift invites parents to “come back from exile” and to accompany their children as they prepare to celebrate the sacraments, with resources including the Together Magazine family guide, the engaging video series, and keepsake booklets.
What have you found is the most effective way to engage parents in their child’s faith formation?