Parents are responsible for the material well-being of their children. Yet we know our children are spiritual beings as well. Here are five gifts you can give to nurture the spiritual life of your child.
1. Explain to your child why you gave him or her the name you did. In the Bible, names carry a lot of meaning. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (Greek for “rock”), which indicated Peter’s vocation as the leader of Christian community. By telling your child how you chose his or her name, you can highlight the spiritual hopes you have for your child and emphasize his or her connection to the larger community.
2. Tell stories about your ancestors. Explain, for example, how their grandparents or great-great grandparents came to this country if they are of immigrant heritage. Such stories—of the strength, perseverance, and faith of their forebears—will help them know that they are part of a larger, grander story than just their own.
3. Share with your child who your favorite saint is and why. Describe how you receive inspiration from the example or teaching of this saint (or saintly person, whether canonized or not). Explain to your child the reason you are devoted to this saint and talk about other people whom you admire.
4. Offer a story about how your faith helped you in a difficult time in your life. Think back to a time when you made an important decision and, if you are comfortable, share how your faith shaped the decision. Set aside time to also talk about how your faith helps you on a daily basis.
5. Give your child your time and attention; listen to their hopes and dreams. The care and concern you express for your child provides a foundation upon which your child can accept God’s love and the love of others. Every day you help to shape the attitude your child brings to prayer and worship. The loving attention you share with your child prepares him or her to encounter Jesus in the heart, in the Eucharist, and in other people.