Last week, I wrote about the importance of the adult faith formation “piece” of family catechesis. This week, I’d like to take some time to talk about assisting parents in actually doing the work of catechizing their children.
Most parents understandably react to being told that they are their child’s primary catechist by reminding us that they are not teachers. My friend David Heimann, Director of Religious Education at St. Andrew Parish in Chicago, explains that he reminds parents that they teach their children all the time: parents teach children how to walk, how to talk, how to tie their shoes, how to look both ways before crossing the street, how to know right from wrong, how to say “please” and “thank you,” and so much more. When it comes to family catechesis, we need to remind parents that they are not called to be theologians with extensive knowledge of Catholic doctrine, but rather role models who believe that God calls us to live as Jesus lived. They are called to teach their children not primarily doctrines, concepts, and dogmas, but a way of life.
It is important in family catechesis programs, then, not to overwhelm or intimidate parents with voluminous materials for teaching their children the Catholic way of life. At Loyola Press, our Family Catechesis programs boast of user-friendly At-Home Editions that assist the parents in accompanying their children as they walk through their Finding God or Christ Our Life children’s books.
The At-Home Editions for Finding God and Christ Our Life are available free online and consist of easy, step-by-step instructions to assist parents in sitting down with their children to walk through the chapters of the children’s books. The directions in the At-Home Editions guide parents in speaking to their children about the content of the chapter, inviting them to share thoughts and to ask questions to engage the children in conversation and to assist them in reading, comprehending, and putting into practice the teachings of the chapter.
Our first responsibility in equipping and empowering parents to embrace their role as the primary catechists of their children is to reassure them with the words, “You can do this!” The At-Home Editions of Finding God and Christ Our Life enable us to do just that.