Human Dignity · Marriage

Parenting With Faith


Remember as a child when your parents would say how difficult it was to raise children?  Do you remember when you were expecting your first child and everyone told you how difficult the road ahead of you would be?  Now imagine if your parents would have known what society would be like forty years down the road.  Raising children today, with morality sinking lower and lower and people buying more things to try to make them happy, is more difficult than I could have ever imagined.  If you want to make it even more difficult, try raising Catholic children that have values and morality that are counter-cultural.

We have news headlines bombarding our kids every day telling them what to think, what to buy, and how to feel.  As a parent, I struggle on a daily basis to combat society and teach my daughters how to live out their Catholic faith, despite what is popular.  In trying to do that, we face another big hurdle.  Do we know what we believe as Catholics so we can pass it on to the next generation?

I don’t think you can turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or turn on your computer without blaring headlines about legalizing gay marriage, people changing genders, abortion rights, or racial injustice.  As parents, what do we teach our children about these issues?  The one thing I don’t think we should do is stray from our beliefs as Catholics.  As a Catholic, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and you are born man or woman and you can’t change that.  Abortion is wrong in every aspect and at any time of a pregnancy, and all people are equal regardless of skin color, gender, age, or religion.  We don’t lie or have sex before marriage, and we respect the law.  That’s difficult to say in today’s society when we are told the opposite and criticized for not following along.  What we shouldn’t do is treat people that have different viewpoints from us without love and kindness.

So, how do we teach our children their faith when we know how difficult society will be for them?  I wish I could answer that question.  I wish I could say that eventually all of the misconceptions that society has about Catholics will go away, and that people will take the time to understand our faith.  I don’t see that happening.  In fact, I see our society continuing to move down a slippery path.

“We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”(Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Moral Relativism)

I try to teach my daughters that every person has human dignity.  As Catholics we have to do everything we can to respect every person’s human dignity.  This means we don’t support abortion, we believe sacramental marriage is between a man and woman, and we would never change the gender which God gave to us.  However, other people have different beliefs than us, and we must respect their beliefs and dignity.  Sounds a lot like when we are told to do unto others as we would have them do to us.  Seems simple doesn’t it.  I have taught my daughters that we love and comfort women who have had abortions, and we love our friends and family no matter who they love.  It comes down simply to love and respect.  I also explain that they will be subject to ridicule because of these beliefs, and at times simply for being Catholic.  I hope I have given them the strength and the courage of their convictions.  And, even if their beliefs are misunderstood, it makes it easier for them to understand why we respect other people and maintain their human dignity.  It is not always easy to endure the criticism, and we can’t change what other people think, but we can inform people and show love and respect in our responses.  We are all called to take the love Jesus gives us and show it to others with our words and deeds.

As society continues on this path of moral relativism, it will be harder and harder for us to maintain our faith and to be proud of our Catholic identity.  Now is exactly when we need to embrace our faith and become counter-cultural.  This may not always be the popular choice, but it is the most important choice you will ever make.  When we make a choice to follow society, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.  But, remember that every choice we make to follow our faith or to turn away from it, will determine our fate for eternity.  I hope I have given my children the courage to make the right choice, and the compassion to share the love of Christ with everyone they meet.


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