Restoration

Restoration

Posted January 19, 2015:
Raising Our Children Catholic (Part 2)

by Ella Connor.

As I said in part 1, we first taught our children that there is a God and that we worship him, talk to him, ask for his help, thank him for everything, and tell him that we are sorry for the naughty things we have done.

In that way, we taught them the first great commandment, at least as much as they could take in when they were little.

That opened the door to the second commandment, "Love your neighbour as yourself."

Our first neighbour is our own family. We all know people who do marvellous things for others and yet fail to get on with each other at home. And I have often wondered why it seems easier to do things for people outside the family.

But if we don’t care for each other and treat each other as neighbours at home, we really have nothing to give outside the home. So it all has to start there: teaching the children not to be rude to each other and to be willing to share toys and sweets and time.

What a marvellous thing time is and how hard it is to give it up! We would rather give almost anything to people than our time.

I can remember asking the older children to go and get something for me when they were playing or busy doing something they wanted to do. They rarely wanted to leave what they were doing.

I think this is one of the most difficult things to get over to children, how to be unselfish and to be willing to do things for others even when they are doing something they like.

It is essential, too, I think, that they should be involved in helping out at home from an early age. And it helps if they see their parents sharing chores like gardening, washing up, or decorating the house. If the parents are working together, it is easier to draw the children into the general melee.

We always had a schedule of jobs for the children to do. Sometimes it is easier to do it ourselves, but I think the temptation must be resisted if the children are to take their part in the community at home.

It gives them a sense of responsibility as well as teaching them that they have to share in the less pleasant aspects of living as well as the pleasant and happy aspects.

When I was expecting our last baby, I had to rest almost all the time, and our four-year-old boy used to take a list of the groceries I needed to the grocery store. If there were not too many, he would carry them home. (The shop was only two doors away.)

If there were too many for him to carry, the shopkeeper would bring them along to me, so our son saw charity in action from someone else. Then we would discuss how kind it was of the shopkeeper to do this for us even though she was so busy herself.

Very mundane and ordinary, it happens all the time, you might say. So it does, but it is important to recognize the opportunities that arise and make sure the children see what is happening right under their noses.

With children everything is now. The past and the future don’t have much place in their lives. That is why it is so important to seize every opportunity to bring things to their attention. And it is important not to try to hide the unpleasant things but rather to put them into perspective as far as God and faith are concerned.

If you will bear with me, I will give you two examples of what I mean by pleasant and unpleasant. It’s all part of living in this world.

When our older daughter was two and a half, she was very friendly with the old man next door. Then he died. When she went to look for him in the garden, and he didn’t appear, I had to explain to her that he had gone to Jesus.

On the day of his funeral, I took her to the window, and she saw the coffin carried out of his house. I explained that this was just his body and that he was with Jesus now. Then we said a prayer for him.

Whenever we passed a funeral cortege in the street, we always said a prayer for that person, whoever they were. I haven’t asked the children but they probably still do it.

Another person our children learned from was our milkman, who was a cheery fellow. He always seemed to know when it was the birthday of one of them, and on that day, he would always appear at the door with a cake of some kind.

I told the children that he gave them the cake because he loved them and wanted to do something special to show that love. I hoped it would teach them that if you love people it is good to do something to show it.

Even now, I am sure that the mention of that milkman would immediately bring to the minds of my children the kindness of that man.

I have discovered since my children grew up that they remember vividly the good things that happened when they were little. They don’t talk about the cross times or the impatience or bad temper or, if they do, it is with humour.

These are just two really small. everyday examples, but that is exactly why they are so important.

Of course, if you use all these incidents and are successful in getting things over to the children, you must be prepared to be stopped in your tracks. That comes as quite a shock when it happens.

If one of their toys got broken or something unpleasant happened to them, I used to say to them, "Offer it up to Jesus," explaining that this was something they could offer up as a prayer or a sacrifice.

One day, I broke a cup and I must have been rather cross about it because my four-year-old son said, "Offer it up, Mum."

That certainly stopped me from being cross. I was delighted because I knew that what I had been saying to the children had made its mark.

Only recently, my younger daughter and I were having a conversation. I was discontented about something and voiced my discontent. She said to me, "It’s about time, Mum, you knew that material things don’t matter," and she went on a bit about it.

I laughed to myself because I had taught her that and now she was teaching me.

In part 3, I will talk about keeping the lines of communication open.

Part 1 can be found on the internet at www.madonnahouse.org/restoration/archives in December 2014.

to be continued

 

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